Prevent Summer Slide at These Kid-Friendly Places Around Sacramento
Summer will be here before you know it. For school-aged kids, summer means carefree days playing with friends, splashing in the pool, and most importantly — no homework! And while unstructured playtime is certainly important, being away from the classroom for too long can lead to what’s known as summer slide, or summer learning loss.
To help keep summer learning loss at bay, kids should spend some of their free time engaged in educational activities. This isn’t to say they should be heads down in textbooks or math worksheets, but instead participating in activities that stimulate critical thinking, like reading, puzzles, games, building, or visiting museums. Not only do these activities help keep kids busy over summer, they help keep their little minds engaged.
Sure, there are plenty of summer camps in Sacramento, but if you’re looking for educational activities to do together as a family, check out our list below. From museums with an educational focus to nature-centric tours and workshops, the following can help your child avoid learning loss this summer.
Sacramento Regional Fire Museum | West Sacramento
Aspiring firefighters will love this little museum in West Sacramento, which showcases the history of firefighting in the greater Sacramento area. They have antique fire trucks and other firefighting equipment, as well as uniforms and memorabilia from companies around the region. Guides are on hand to explain all about firefighting techniques and their evolution over time.
Maidu Museum & Historic Site | Roseville
The Nisenan Maidu people once lived on the land on which this Roseville museum is located. Winding trails lead to hundreds of bedrock mortars, ancient petroglyphs and native plants and animals. The museum has exhibits on the Maidu’s traditional practices such as acorn processing and basket weaving.
California State Railroad Museum | Old Sacramento
Kids young and old can step back in time at this world-renowned train museum in Old Sacramento. Visitors can learn about the history of railroading, ride an old-timey excursion train, and tour antique rail cars. They also have a junior ranger program for kids 7–12.
California Agriculture Museum | Woodland
The Sacramento area has a rich agricultural heritage, which you can learn more about at this one-of-a-kind museum in Woodland. They have an impressive collection of antique tractors, wagons, harvesters, trucks and other farming artifacts. They also have an early barns exhibit and a blacksmith shop.
Gold Rush Museum | Auburn
Housed in a historic train depot, this small-but-mighty museum in Auburn takes visitors back to the Gold Rush. You can learn all about gold mining and even pan for gold in an indoor panning stream. The grounds comprise an operating stamp mill and mining artifacts such as a dredge bucket, a flume segment, an ore bucket and a giant statue of a Chinese mine worker.
Effie Yeaw Nature Center | Carmichael
Comprising a 100-acre nature preserve along the American River in Carmichael, Effie Yeaw has it all, including resident animals, a Maidu village and a butterfly garden. You can explore the trails and learn about the riparian habitat and the native people who once lived here. They also offer guided river walks and naturalist-led talks on topics such as medicinal plants and birding.
Ag in the Classroom | El Dorado County
Based in El Dorado County, Ag in the Classroom is a grassroots nonprofit that teaches children the importance of agriculture in our daily lives. But their programming goes far beyond the classroom. They also offer parent-child summer camps that focus on farming! The half-day camps will be held June 22 at Smokey Ridge Ranch in Placerville and July 13 at Rainbow Camino Ridge in Camino.
Soil Born Farms | Rancho Cordova
This urban farm along the American River in Rancho Cordova aims to educate the community about food and the environment. In addition to their popular summer camps for kids, they also offer Saturday Kids Adventures through the summer for kids ages 6–11. Participants can explore a creek, plant seeds and create art out of natural elements.
Bohart Museum of Entomology | Davis
Is your child fascinated by terrestrial arthropods, better known as insects? This unique museum in Davis has more than seven million specimens, including butterflies, beetles, bees and bugs. They also have special weekend events on dedicated topics such as forensics and ants. They also have a traveling exhibit for schools and other public facilities.
Sacramento Zoo | Land Park
Whether you love lions, tigers or bears (or reptiles or amphibians), you’ll find them all at the Sacramento Zoo. Located in the Land Park neighborhood, the zoo offers much more than observation. You can also feed the giraffes, ride on the zoo train, or watch lion training or alligator feeding.
Folsom Zoo | Folsom
Located in Folsom, this zoo is actually an animal sanctuary, serving as a haven for animals that have been rescued and cannot live in the wild. They house everything from bears and bobcats, raptors and raccoons. They even have a kinkajou or two. They also offer junior zookeeper camps.
Explorit Science Center | Davis
Hands-on exhibits make up this science-based exploration center in Davis. Your kiddos can learn about paleontology and dinosaurs, visit a pollinator garden, even get up close and personal with reptiles and other animals. They also offer summer camps with themes such as engineering and outer space.
Community Observatory | Placerville
This free public observatory in Placerville is a great way to introduce the littles to astronomy. You can see the stars through two reflecting telescopes and follow the moon and planets as they travel across the sky. They also offer solar viewing the first Saturday of the month. Docents are on hand to answer any questions.
Aerospace Museum of California | Sacramento
Located in the McClellan Park area of Sacramento, this kid-friendly museum is all about aircraft! They have more than 35 historic airplanes in their air park, including fighter jets, helicopters and more. There’s also a flight simulator and other hands-on activities for kids.
MOSAC | Sacramento
The SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity, MOSAC, features exhibits designed for hands-on learning. There’s a planetarium show, a NASA spacesuit, animals, a kinetic sand table and plenty of opportunities to build and create. They also host monthly talks on topics such as building Sacramento and saving the bees.
Roseville Utility Exploration Center | Roseville
This unique learning center in Roseville aims to inspire kids to protect their natural resources. Exhibits depict the utility systems that keep us running, and teach kids how to conserve energy and water. They also have a League of Explorers, in which kids take on a “mission” each month to earn a badge on topics such as composting and solar power.
Art & Writing
916 Ink | Sacramento
Is your child an aspiring Shakespeare? This arts-based creative writing and literacy nonprofit empowers children of all ages through the written word. They help kids find their voice through writing workshops and summer camps. They have a one-of-a-kind “Imaginarium,” a whimsically designed space aimed at sparking creativity.
Crocker Art Museum | Sacramento
The Crocker is the Sacramento area’s preeminent art museum, housing one of the largest collections of California art. They also have many programs designed for families, including gallery adventures, baby art walks, and galleries made for touching. They also have art labs just for teens, with diverse topics such as building with clay and printmaking.
Blue Line Arts | Roseville
This art center in Roseville has a rotating collection of works from local artists as well as workshops. For kids, they have First Saturday, a monthly arts and crafts program where children can create their own themed projects in a variety of mediums. They also have a broad range of summer camps.