Tag Archives: itinerary

The Culture of Baseball

I like baseball, not only the game, but the culture of the sport. I cannot think of any other sport where opposing teams join together to sing a song other than the national anthem. Whether it is a backyard game with the neighborhood or watching a favorite major league team at the stadium, baseball represents an experience of connecting with family, friends and even strangers.

My earliest baseball memory from five years of age included a line drive into my shoulder. It was a short game! I recovered to play another game, but with Wiffle balls. My neighborhood friends and all of our dads would block off the street dividing our houses and set up bases in various yards. We wouldn’t really keep score and just kept playing until one of the dads had to go help with housework or it was time to eat.

It was just as much fun watching our local triple-A minor league team play. Not necessarily because they were good, but because it was an opportunity to spend time together as a family – not to mention the eating, singing and traditions of the sport. I loved the ice cream served in a helmet, the obnoxious bell (Columbus Clippers ring your bell!), and the anticipation of maybe, just maybe catching a foul ball in my glove.

Here are some ideas for the baseball lovers in your family!

Itinerary: San Diego, California
Check out the Padres at Petco Park in downtown San Diego. Make a reservation to tour the stadium before the game. Then, visit the Park at the Park to play your own game of Wiffle ball. Keep the stats during the game, or play a friendly game of baseball bingo (see below). If you are inspired by your baseball experience, try one of the activities below.

Try This
1. Baseball Bingo: Find some scrap paper and use a ruler to divide the paper into nine equal boxes. Using the list below (or create your own), add one potential play to each box. Note that some baseball plays are more likely to occur than others. Decide as a family, how difficult you want the game to be. You can organize the list by difficulty and require every person to include at least one difficult play on their bingo card. To maximize your use of the Bingo cards, laminate them. Once the game starts, use a dry-erase marker to check off each play that you have on your card. If you get three in a row, shout BINGO!

Potential baseball plays:

  • Bunt
  • Strike out
  • Strike out looking
  • Walk
  •  Single (hit)
  • Double (hit)
  • Triple (hit)
  • Homerun
  • Slide
  • Stolen base
  • Error
  • Double play
  • Triple play
  • Pop fly out
  • Diving catch
  • Out at first
  • Out at second
  • Out at third
  • Out at home
  • 7th inning stretch (free space)

2. Family Trading Cards: Each family member can create their own trading card. Include some of the following stats on the back:

  • photograph or self-portrait
  • nickname
  • personal mascot
  • favorite stadium food
  • warm-up song
  • baseball position (spectator, referee, heckler, vendor and coach all count)
  • favorite baseball movie
  • favorite traditions (the wave, a rally icon, etc.).

Family Bonding with Bike Rides

I like bikes. I remember the feeling of accomplishment when my dad let go of the bike and I was riding all by myself for the first time, but I think we forgot to discuss how to stop! Occasionally, my family would pack up our bikes and drive to a special bike path that was built into an old railway. We would ride for an hour or so and end up at a little old-fashioned ice cream parlor, where we would refuel with a cold treat before riding back to the start. I loved the feel of wind in my face, and when I dared, the freedom of riding with no hands!

I have always loved cities that provide some sort of trail system for walking, biking or skating, which are generally along waterfronts. Here are my favorites:

Portland, Oregon
One of my favorite bike rides as an adult was in Portland, which is known to be bike-friendly and has one of the highest bike commuting rates. The majority of my ride was not on the Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River, but actually through Forest Park to St. John’s bridge and back along the east side of the river.

Austin, Texas
Austin has hike and bike trails along Town Lake, but the paths near Barton Springs can get pretty congested on weekends. I found the northeast side of the lake to be a faster trail for bikes. This ride took me to a New Belgium Brewery festival called Tour de Fat, which is all about “the positive societal offerings of the bicycle.” There were games, interactive art and many, many unique and interesting bicycles.

Yosemite National Park
Rent bikes at Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, grab a bike path map, and pack a picnic lunch for an enjoyable bike ride through the Yosemite Valley.

San Francisco, California
This bike ride started at the piers, rode along the harbor, crossed the Golden Gate bridge and ended in San Marino with lunch before a ferry ride back to San Francisco.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
This small island town near Cancun is less than 5 miles long and less than a ½ mile wide, so my bike ride spanned the entire island from the few touristy hotels on the north end to the Mayan temple on the southern tip.

Durango, Colorado
My ride in Durango was a short one through town, but the city and surrounding area seemed to be popular for mountain biking. There is also the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic event in which riders get to race a train from Durango up the mountain to Silverton.

Research trails near your city, pack a picnic lunch, and head out for a family bike ride.

San Diego, California
Bring your own bike or rent one. Then start your ride near Seaport Village (note bicycling regulations along the boardwalk). Enjoy a coffee, sweet treat and shopping before or after your ride. Click here for a San Diego region bike map.

Option #1: Ride your bike along the harbor, past the airport, under Harbor Drive bridge and across the pedestrian bridge to Liberty Station, where there are a number of restaurants to dine for lunch.

Option #2: Ride your bike a short distance north to the Broadway Pier ferry landing or south to Embarcadero Marina Park South/Convention Center ferry landing. Buy a ticket and board the ferry to Coronado, where you can take a 7-mile trip around the entire “island” and enjoy lunch and shopping at the Old Ferry Landing Shopping Center before heading back on the ferry.

Try This:
1. Discussion: Relive the experience at lunch or dinner by having each family member share their favorite part of the ride. If everyone has multiple favorites, keep going around the table until you have shared them all. Try not to repeat a part of the trip that someone else has already shared, so each person has to come up with something different!

2. Map your ride: Work together as a family to create a collage of the trip on a big piece of poster board. Start with a map of the area (harbor or Coronado) – print one from the Internet or grab one from a visitor center. Draw your route and add images from tourist brochures, photographs or family drawings that show things you saw on your ride. You can even add bicycle images with headshots of the family.

3. What if…bikes could make ice cream? As a kid I would flip my Big Wheel Trike upside down and pedal with my hands to “make” ice cream. Play the “What if” game by imagining different functions a bike could perform. Check out this website for some inspiration, but beware of the “Chick Bike” if you share the photos with your kids. Here is a website with photographs of bicycle-powered sculptures.

Seeing Multiples

I like repetition
, or as the San Diego Museum of Art says, multiples. I recently visited their exhibition Young Art 2011: Making Multiples, featuring student artwork hung in the galleries among artists like Andy Warhol and Josef Albers. Student artwork, which is only on display through May 29, 2011, was created in a variety of media with subjects such as a field of sunflowers, a classroom of desks, ceramic toes, a carousel of horses, a tree of owls and a 3-headed monster.

The exhibition also featured an interactive wall display for visitors to record their thoughts on the following prompt, “To me, making multiples means…” Did you catch the alliteration, or letter ‘m’ repetition? A few of my favorite responses included: family, being a twin, and “the stars are multiples of the sun.” This display got me thinking beyond exhibitions and museum collections to the repetition/multiples surrounding us everyday – both physically and conceptually. Keep reading for crafty ideas to explore repetition.

Here is my growing list of multiples (in no particular order of thought):
•       a rose garden
•       stairs
•       stamps
•       chicken pox
•       a forest
•       boats in a harbor
•       a litter of puppies
•       a box of crayons
•       tongue teasers
•       popcorn
•       a library or bookstore
•       Portland (Oregon) bridges
•       wrapping paper
•       a bag of skittles
•       bulk food bins
•       traditions
•       laundry

What’s on your list? Beware, it is difficult to stop thinking of multiples once you start.

Try This:
1. I spy…multiples! Visit your local park, museum, or farmer’s market and try to find one multiple for each letter of the alphabet. Write the letters of the alphabet down on a piece of paper. You can complete one paper for the entire family or race to be the first to complete the entire alphabet. Or, create a multiples notebook with each letter of the alphabet on a separate page. Whenever your family finds a little spare time, illustrate your notebook with the multiples you see around you.

I Spy variation: I Spy books are full of repetition. Visit your library and check one out to explore with your family. Then, visit these blogs to learn how to create your own reusable I Spy book or placemat.

2. Tongue Teaser Alliterations: You already know “how much wood can a woodchuck chuck” and that “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.” Create silly alliterations with your family.

3. Printmaking: This is as easy as carving into the surface of Styrofoam using a toothpick, but don’t push all the way through. You will need ink and a roller from a craft store. Visit an art museum or grab an Andy Warhol picture book for some inspiration!

4. Optical Illusions are often filled with repetition. Check out the work of M. C. Escher  and then visit your local science center for some brain teasers!

Itinerary: [insert your city here]
You can look for multiples everywhere – in nature, museums, stores, harbors or even at your house. Here are a few of my favorite places to search:

Balboa Park, San Diego – Don’t miss the Rose Garden, Mingei International Museum (Beckoning Cats through January 2012), San Diego Museum of Art (Making Multiples through May 29, 2011), Palm Canyon and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for optical illusions.

The Huntington near Pasadena, California has a little bit of everything – gardens, library and art collections. Perfect for a game of I Spy.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh – don’t forget The Andy Warhol Museum!

A local Farmers’ Market – produce, art, rows of booths…

Things To Do on raveable

Book Museums & Book-Making

Create your own monster!

I like books…especially picture books. My childhood favorite was Each Peach Pear Plum because I could recite the rhymes as though I were actually reading the book. As a teacher, one of my favorites was Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin. When I taught second grade, my students created their own diaries as an animal of their choice. We started with a group brainstorming session to identify factual characteristics of the animals, such as their habitat and food. The students then incorporated these details into their fictional stories and added illustrations with captions. The results were so creative! I think every picture book has a creative, hands-on way to engage children beyond simply reading. See my ideas below.

Did you know there are picture book museums and exhibitions? I have seen a couple of exhibitions of children’s book art, including Over the Rainbow and Down Rabbit Holes at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 2008 and Monsters & Miracles: A Journey through Jewish Picture Books at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles in 2010. These exhibitions were completely different and both have moved on from these museums, but what I loved about them were the interactive elements. There were audiobooks playing from tall, green hedges, picture book libraries, and hands-on activities like designing book character masks and writing/drawing prompts to inspire your creativity. I even wrote my own library catalog card to file away for other visitors to discover. Plus, I got to create a monster!

Japan has about 20 museums that celebrate picture book art, but the U.S. has a limited number. One is the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts, which has more artwork than just that of Eric Carle. ImaginOn in North Carolina is a collaboration between the award-winning county library system and the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte with the mission of bringing stories to life. What picture book art exhibitions and museums have you seen?

Try This:
1. Make a Book: As a kid I would staple together pieces of paper to create books.  My favorite kind to make was a tiered, flap booklet where each flap was a little shorter than the next one so that a portion of each page of the book could be seen when closed.  Unfortunately, I cannot find directions or a template on the Internet so here is my attempt.

  • Cut a piece of paper in half lengthwise (hot dog).
  • Fold one of those pieces so that 1 inch of the paper is exposed (half A).
  • Fold the other piece so that 2 inches of the paper is exposed (half B).
  • Line up the seams so that half A is inside of half B and staple at the seam.

2. Rhyme Time: Read Each Peach Pear Plum or another rhyming picture book. Create new rhymes for the story using your homemade booklet. The rhymes can be written on each tier.

3. Write your own Diary of a ___________ [hamster, hawk, lizard, etc]: Start by brainstorming factual characteristics of the animals that can be written into the stories, such as the animal’s habitat and food.

4. Act it out…have each family member choose a favorite character (from different stories) and act out what happens when these characters meet.

5. Create your own book museum!

  • Choose 3-5 favorite books for your exhibit.  (Older kids can try to design their exhibit based on a theme).
  • Visit Amazon.com to find the cover artwork for your books and print them out OR draw them.
  • Glue each little artwork on an index card and write a label for the book.
  • “Hang” these artworks in a shoebox museum. You can even paint the walls first and add benches.

Itinerary: A Day of Dr. Seuss (San Diego)
Background: Theodor Seuss Geisel lived in La Jolla, California atop Mount Soledad. In 1954 he wrote The Cat in the Hat using only 236 words for beginning readers. His illustrations were said to have been inspired by the unique plants of Balboa Park’s cactus and desert gardens.

  • Pack a picnic lunch, a few Dr. Seuss books, a sketch pad (one per child/person) and possibly a camera.
  • Take a stroll through the desert garden or the cactus garden – grab a map from the Visitor Center for directions.
  • Find a comfortable place to picnic and read Dr. Seuss classics.
  • Using the illustrations in the books and your imagination, match the drawings to plants in the gardens.
  • Sketch or photograph the actual plant that may have inspired Dr. Seuss OR let the plants in the garden inspire your own magical shapes and creatures.

Optional Excursion: Drive to the top of Mount Soledad in La Jolla, the site of Dr. Seuss’s home. Do you think he was inspired by these surroundings? Visit Geisel Library at UCSD. Check the exhibits calendar to see if his original artwork will be on view to the public.

Trains Big & Small

Northwest Railway Museum

I like trains. Who knew? On a drive from Snoqualmie Falls to Seattle, I found myself driving alongside the longest, most colorful museum I had ever seen – the Northwest Railway Museum. There was simply no driving by this museum; I had to make the stop! A couple hours of climbing trains and a few dozen photos later, I had to admit that I like trains. After a visit to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, I am now quite fond of model railroads too. See the train itineraries below for San Diego and Snoqualmie, Washington.

On a trip to Mesa Verde in 2010, I spent the night in Durango, Colorado. The next morning included a bike ride (free rentals included with the hotel) to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum. This is an old line (operating for over 125 years) that connects Durango to the old mining town of Silverton on a scenic trip through the San Juan National Forest. You can even race the train on bicycle as part of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. While racing the train may not be in my future, another visit to Durango with a train ride to Silverado has made the list.


San Diego

  • Start your day in Balboa Park at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum with a game of “I Spy” as you explore the models.
    • Here are a few to get you started: I spy…a truck, chickens, a train crash.
  • Walk a short distance to the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad for a half-mile, 3-minute train ride.
  • Head downtown to visit the historic Santa Fe Depot. Check out this old photograph. Note: observe parking signs.
  • Cross the street to the America Plaza station and take a 40-minute trolley ride to the San Diego Railroad Museum (La Mesa Depot Museum) via the orange line to La Mesa Boulevard. This is approximately 12 miles by car.
  • Option: Take the Coaster for a scenic train ride up the coast.

Snoqualmie, Washington (45 minutes from Seattle)

  • Start your day at the Northwest Railway Museum where you can explore the Depot Museum and see countless locomotives and cars.
  • Enjoy a 75-minute train ride to Snoqualmie Falls.
  • Don’t forget to visit the bookstore before you leave the museum.
Try This:
Use the train vocabulary below to:
(1) write a story – think about what the train is carrying and where it is going
(2) label a drawing or photograph
(3) as a scavenger hunt at a railway museum

Train Vocabulary
  • “All aboard”
  • caboose
  • conductor
  • depot
  • engineer
  • locomotive
  • platform
  • railroad
  • ticket
  • timetable
  • Two Little Trains by Margaret Wise Brown
    This picture book follows the parallel journey of an actual train and a model train. Compare their journeys to the sights on your itinerary.
  • Freight Train by Donald Crews
    This picture book compares different types of train cars. Can you find the different types of cars at your museum?
There are close to 300 rail museums in North America! Visit www.railmuseums.com.