8 ways to keep the kids busy (without resorting to electronics)

lpemberton@theolympian.comMarch 31, 2013 

Looking for something to keep the kiddos busy this spring?

Here are eight exceptional ideas for outings in and around South Sound:

Check out critters: Spring is a great time to see baby animals. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (pdza.org) in Tacoma has meerkat kits and tiger cubs and Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle (zoo.org) has quadruplet lion cubs and jaguar triplets.

For a more natural experience, the South Sound Estuary Association is offering a Pier Peer night-lighting event at 8 p.m. Saturday at Boston Harbor Marina, 312 73rd Ave. NE, Olympia. Participants will be able to view jellyfish, sea slugs and other creatures. Registration is required and space is limited. Cost is $10 per adult and free for children, although this event is not advised for kids younger than 5. For more information, call 360-878-9320 or go to sseacenter.wordpress.com/pier-peer.

Visit a farmers market: The Olympia Farmers Market (olympiafarmersmarket.com) opens for the season Thursday and promises plenty of produce, veggie starts and locally made crafts. The Puyallup Farmers Market (puyallupmainstreet.com) returns April 13.

Plant a tree: The city of Lacey’s annual Arbor Day seedling giveaway will be from noon- 3 p.m. (or until supplies run out) April 13 at Huntamer Park, 618 Woodland Square Loop SE, Lacey. The seedlings will be as tall as 3 feet; there’s a limit of one per person. For more information, go to ci.lacey.wa.us.

Create artwork for the Procession of the Species: This year’s Procession of the Species – a colorful pageant celebrating the natural world with costumes, animal creations and dance – will be April 27 in downtown Olympia.

To help folks prepare for the event, the procession has several classes for children younger than 12 (with an adult) in batik, headdresses, costume-making and other arts.

Batik projects can be made at the Butterfly Annex, 406 Water St. SW, Olympia. Giant puppets and papier mché projects can be created at the Whale Annex, 600 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia. And luminary supplies will be available at the Procession Luminary and Special Project Studio, 311 Capitol Way N., Olympia.

For more information, go to procession.org or call 360-705-1087.

Go bird watching: The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is one of the region’s top birding spots, with habitats that attract migratory waterfowl, songbirds, raptors and wading birds. The refuge offers a guided bird walk at 8 a.m. every Wednesday for birders of all skill levels. It also offers a free Junior Refuge Manager program for kids ages 4-11.

For more information, go to fws.gov/nisqually or call 360-753-9467.

Take a hike: The Washington Trails Association’s Families Go Hiking program offers suggested kid friendly trails and other resources. For more information, go to wta.org/hiking-info/children.

Put in some community service: April is a popular month for park restoration and community cleanup efforts.

The Woodland Trail Greenway is hosting a cleanup from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday at Monarch Sculpture Park, 8431 Waldrick Road SE, Olympia.

For more information, go to facebook.com/woodlandtrail greenwaysssociation.

Bounce into spring with Whirligig: Always a springtime favorite, Whirligig offers bouncy houses, face painting and kid-friendly entertainment. This year’s Whirligig will be from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m., April 6-21 at the Seattle Center Armory (Center House), 305 Harrison St., Seattle. The annual carnival is designed for ages 12 and younger. Ride tickets are $1.50 each, $7.50 for an all-day pass and $4.50 for an all-day Toddler Zone pass. Rides are free on Thursdays.

To avoid crowds, organizers recommend going Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. For more information, call 206-684-7200 or go to seattlecenter.com.

Lisa Pemberton is one busy mama, raising three children while working as a reporter at The Olympian. Reach her at lpemberton@theolympian.com.

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