Whatever the time of year it's good to get the family off the couch, out of retail establishments and up close and personal with nature. Here are just a few ideas:
Arboretums and Botanical Gardens: What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! Most arboretums and botanical gardens are non-profit organizations that both educate you and certainly stimulate the mind and senses. Some, such as the Los Angeles Country Arboretum & Botanic Garden or the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, house endangered or protected species and frequently have special exhibits. Some even have cooking demonstrations, lectures and classes for both adults and children.
Farm It Out: Haven't been to a farm since you were in the 4-H Club? Maybe it's about time to revisit. A visit to a farm is a great way to give kids' perspective on how their food gets from its origins to the kitchen table. Go to a wheat farm to learn more about how those crackers get into your lunchbox or to a dairy farm to see that milk really doesn't magically appear in a carton.
Alternatively, consider taking trips to the local farmer's market. Kids and parents alike can learn more about locally grown vegetables and organic farming - and, in the meantime, save some dough on the week's dinners.
Grocery Stores = Fun Local Spots?
Turn chores like grocery shopping into a scavenger hunt. Parents: Print out a list of items for each kid to (quietly) find. Using a camera phone, have them take a picture of the item and write down the price. This will give them insight as to how the stores stock their shelves with like items, plus give offer perspective on just how much the grocery bill costs!