Peninsula SPCA Barnyard

Located in Newport News, the Peninsula SPCA Barnyard is a great take to place kids to feed goats, chickens, llamas, and donkeys. Admission to the barnyard is only $3.00 for ages 4 and up. The food cups are $1.00. 

The barnyard is open year round, but will close for weather. It's best to call before visiting to ensure they are open. Their hours are Monday through Saturday from 11:00-5:00. 

The barnyard also hosts birthday parties. The area is fenced in and there are ten tables, electrical outlets, fans, and a freezer. It's a great way to support the Peninsula SPCA. 


Using Reciprocity from Local Museums

One of the things that I love most about having memberships to local museums is the reciprocity benefits that they offer. In my opinion, if you travel at all, it is worth it to get the next level up for these perks. A note I should include is that many of these programs do have restrictions, such as being able to use them only outside of a 90 mile radius, so it is smart to call ahead. 

Become a member of any of these and join the ASTC program with over 360 participating science museums. For this one, you must be 90 miles outside of Nauticus AND 90 miles away from your home, as the crow flies. You will need your ID and your membership card. A note: All Nauticus memberships include this, but at other museums, like the Children's Museum, you'll need the higher level membership. 

Some favorites that you can use this include the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Marbles Children's Museum in Raleigh, and the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. It's a little further away, but we have also used it at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. Although we haven't been yet, the Children's Science Center in Fairfax, the Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke, the Virginia Discovery Museum, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, and Port Discovery in Elizabeth City are all included in this also. 

The Children's Museum of Virginia: 

If you're a member of the Children's Museum and you are level Stargazer or above, in addition to the ASTC program listed above, you'll have access to NARM, the North American Reciprocal Museum Association. Use this in Richmond at The American Civil War Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Maymont, and the Wilton House Museum or at several other museums across Virginia and more. These feature a lot of history and art museums. You'll also join the American Children's Museum Reciprocal Network. We have used this to get into Port Discovery in Baltimore and the Richmond Children's Museums for half price. 

The Virginia Zoo/ Virginia Aquarium/ The Living Museum:  

Both our zoo and aquarium are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. If you are a member of one, you can get in the other for half off. Also use this at the Baltimore zoo and several zoos and aquariums in North Carolina including the OBX Aquarium.

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Our gardens are part of the American Horticultural Society, with over 300 other gardens. Use this at Maymont and Lewis Ginter in Richmond as well as several other gardens across the US for free admission. 

We love these programs because they allow us to visit places while out of town. Check your memberships before you travel. You may find something new! 

Casemate Museum

Located on Fort Monroe, the Casemate Museum details the military history of the fort. Fort Monroe, also called Freedom Fort for its role in the Civil War, is the oldest defensive fort in the United States. Its construction began in 1609, and the museum shares more than 400 years of history. The brick casemates held both weapons and prisoners, the most famous being Chief Black Hawk and Jefferson Davis. 

The museum is free to visit and is open Wednesday through Saturday 10-4. Tickets are required and can be picked up at the nearby Visitor Center. There is free parking in front of the center. From there you'll walk across a foot bridge, over the moat, and into the museum. We spent about 35 minutes in the museum. Afterward, walk around the fort itself and up to the pet cemetery. 

Isle of Wight County Museum

Smack in the middle of Main Street, the Isle of Wight County Museum takes visitors back to the 19th century. Step into an old drug store and play checkers or complete the scavenger hunt. Then more back further in time to the history of the Native Americans in the area. Dig through sand pits and look for shells and shark teeth. See the world's oldest peanut and the world's oldest ham. 

Admission is free for children 17 and under, and $2.00 for adults. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00-4:00 and Sundays from noon until 4:00. The museum is about a three minute drive from Windsor Castle Park

Windsor Castle Park

Windsor Castle Park sprawls across 208 acres in Smithfield, Virginia. Walk along the four miles of wooded trails and let the kids play in the nature playscape. Let them climb up rocks to slides, walk on logs and beams, and play in sandboxes. On site is a dog park, a kayak and canoe launch, and a fishing pier. Visitors can also visit the manor house, which was part of the original land from 1450. The park is included on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail.  Windsor Castle is inspired by Central Park, green space inside of a city. Spend a little time seeing the sites, and all that the park has to offer. 

Sum One Cares

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I wouldn't be the teacher that I am today without the guidance of Sum One Cares owner Nancy Estepa. We taught third grade across the hall from each other and collaborated constantly. She became a math specialist and continued to fight for students. Nancy has always been a fierce advocate for public schools and the challenges that students face. She spoke at school board meetings, stood up for students in SPED meetings, and put her whole heart on the line. But when she wasn't getting the results that she knew students needed, she took matters into her own hands and opened Sum One Cares. 

Sum One Cares has grown into a business with multiple instructors and several different offerings. They offer professional development for schools and school systems, but more importantly, they work directly with students to work smarter rather than harder. Sum One Cares meets students where they are, and every student has a customized support plan. Offerings include summer camp, after school tutoring, and home school groups during the day. 
Students play games and have fun while developing skills in math, reading, science, technology, and more. During camp, students are even exposed to music, art, passion projects, in-house field trips, and they work with community partnerships. 
We chose the one night a week tutoring option this summer to avoid the summer slide. Small groups have up to six kids and last for one hour. Every time I came back for pickup, the kids were all smiles. You could see their confidence built from being successful during the sessions. Tutoring groups continue this summer and throughout the school year, and homeschool groups start up soon. More information can be found on their website.