Mom mines many sources for summer activities

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 Summer is well underway, but Valerie Mirshak isn’t hearing, “Mom, I’m bored,” just yet.

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Valerie Mirshak spends time with her boys Ben (center) and Sam during a trip to the Appleby Library. Mirshak writes a blog, called Kidding Around in Augusta, which focuses on activities for children in the Augusta area.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Valerie Mirshak spends time with her boys Ben (center) and Sam during a trip to the Appleby Library. Mirshak writes a blog, called Kidding Around in Augusta, which focuses on activities for children in the Augusta area.

The Augusta mother of three is always on the lookout for something interesting for her sons Sam, 6, and Ben, 3, to do. (Baby Nick, 5 months, goes along for the ride.)

From the library reading program to art classes at the Morris Museum of Art and a visit to Feathered Friends Forever, a parrot refuge in Harlem, Mirshak tries to plan at least one outing or activity every day.

“There are a lot of things to do,” she said.

She recommends starting with community calendars, such as those found in magazines and newspapers, which are helpful for finding family events. Other parents are also good resources.

“I realized if I go to playgrounds and just start talking to all the parents there, usually they’ll say, ‘Oh, this is going on this week there,’ and ‘We’re going here on this day.’ I collect little bits and pieces everywhere,” she said.

Her family has been enjoying art programs at the Morris Museum and Michael’s craft store. They also enjoy visiting the Augusta Museum of History and stop by the adjoining visitors center to pick up brochures about area attractions.

“Most people who live in the city don’t do that,” she said. “I guess because I move all the time I’m always having to do research like that to figure out where to go and what to do.”

Mirshak said she moved 17 times growing up in a military family, and she is used to finding new places to explore.

“I always see it as a challenge,” she said.

Since moving to Augusta, husband Brian’s hometown, two years ago, she has been on a mission to find things for their children to do. She writes about them in her blog, Kidding Around in Augusta.

“One of the reasons I did the blog is because I found out when I moved here that there is a lot (for kids to do), but it can be hard to find,” she said.

Need help finding something to do? Here are just a few suggestions to help kids stay busy until the first day of school.

THINGS TO DO

WATER

 The coolest way to while away a summer afternoon is to spend it splashing around in a swimming hole. You can find a complete listing of swimming pools and water parks, along with hours of operation and admission fees, at www.chronicle.augusta.com/things-do/applause/2013-06-05/summer-guide-where-swim.

But if the kiddies want to just get wet (which can be almost as much fun at home with a few friends and a garden hose), take them to a local splash park. The fountains at Riverwalk Augusta and Brookfield Park are free. Other splash pads include:

• Columbia County Splash Pad: 7022 Evans Towne Center Blvd.; free; open dawn to dusk

• Charles H. Evans Splash Pad: 1866 Highland Ave.; $1.50 per person; 1-6 p.m. daily through Sept. 18

• North Augusta Splash Pad: Summer­field Park, Old Edgefield Road; 10 a.m. to sunset through Labor Day weekend; free

ART ACTIVITIES

 • Michael’s offers children’s art classes on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays for $2 per session. A class schedule is available at michaels.com.

• The Morris Museum of Art presents several family art activities monthly. Find activities in the calendar at themorris.org. Here are a few:

2 p.m. July 7: Artrageous! Family Sunday: World of Anansi the Spider; after watching a performance by the Columbia Marionette Theatre, children can create their own marionette; free

2 p.m. July 27: Drum Circle with Not Gaddy from IDrum2U; refreshments included; free

2 p.m. Aug. 4: Artrageous! Family Sunday: Granny Mother Goose; classic songs and stories; afterward, children can decorate a wooden egg; free

OUTDOORS

 There are plenty of outdoor places to run, play and explore that go beyond your neighborhood playground.

• Phinizy Swamp Nature Park: Dawn to dusk; free, guided tours at 9:30 a.m. the first Saturday of every month; www.naturalsciencesacademy.org.

• Reed Creek Nature Park: Nature trails open dawn to dusk; a variety of educational programming includes pond exploration and wilderness survival; outdoor movie nights on Saturdays; www.reedcreekpark.com.

Other places to hike or bike include the Greeneway in North Augusta, the towpath at the Augusta Canal and the multiuse trail at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

LIBRARY ACTIVITIES

 Every area library has story time at least one day a week. But libraries also play host to a variety of other activities, including games, magic shows, book clubs and crafts. Activities are available for adults and teens as well as younger children.

A complete schedule of story times and activities for each area library is available on the East Central Georgia Regional Library’s Web site, www.ecgrl.org.

CATCH A MOVIE

 • Regal Cinemas offers G- and PG-rated movies for $1 at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays through July 31. The schedule is: July 2 – Coraline (PG); July 3 – ParaNorman (PG); July 9 – Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax (PG); July 10 – Big Miracle (PG); July 16 – Yogi Bear (PG); July 17 – Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG); July 23 – Racing Stripes (PG); July 24 – Happy Feet Two (PG); July 30 – African Cats (G); and July 31: Chimpanzee (G)

• Free family movies are shown at 1 p.m. Wednesdays through July 31 at Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center at the Columbia County Library. The schedule: July 10 – Hotel Transylvania (PG); July 17 – Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax; July 24 – The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG); and July 31 – Journey 2.


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