Afraid your kid's brain will turn to mush over the summer but don't have the bucks to pay for tutoring? Fear not. There are economical options beyond book logs and workbooks.
Hey, you parents in Penfield, Rochester, Brighton, Greece, and anywhere else fuzzy math has infiltrated. Is your kid a little vague on mental arithmetic now that rote memorization is out of vogue? Head to the East Avon Flea market. Armed with a few bucks, she'll get plenty of practice when she sees the toys, clothes, and room décor items offered at bargain prices. Talk about making math relevant! The East Avon Flea Market is open Sundays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Take 390 south to the Avon exit, bear right onto Routes 5 and 20, turn right at the intersection of Route 15. The Flea is a mile down on the left. Free admission. For info go to www.lakemetro.com/vintage/flea.htm or call 226-8320.
Maybe your kid's great with math, but hates history. I mean --- insert eye roll here --- who really cares about all those dead people anyway? Sure, they're boring if all they are is dead. But not if you learn something about how they lived.
At the Greece Historical Society's museum, kids can learn about the silly rules teachers had to follow over a hundred years ago, including my favorite, no hair dying. Other kid-friendly displays include the town's first fire wagon and a Native American encampment. The exhibits on olde time cooking and laundry practices scare some adults, but thankfully kids are immune to the horror of housework. The museum is located at 595 Long Pond Road. Open Sundays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Free admission, donations appreciated. Go to historicalsociety.greeceny.org or call 225-7221.
The Irondequoit Pioneer House gives kids the chance to see how a mid-19th-century family of ten lived. Here's a hint: It wasn't easy. Dating to the 1830s, a cutaway section shows how Pioneer House's walls were made using lath, plaster, and horsehair. Suddenly, a little cat hair on the couch doesn't seem so bad. There will be free concerts in the nearby gazebo at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays from July 10 through August 21. Pioneer House is located on the Irondequoit Town Hall Campus, 1280 Titus Avenue. It's open Sundays 2 to 4 p.m. Free admission. Donations welcome. Visit www.irondequoit.org/community/pioneer.htm or call 467-2206.
The Big Springs Museum in Caledonia has three floors of local history including 19th-century room displays, clothing, toys, blacksmithing, and farming tools. An extensive rock collection assembled by Girl Scouts in the 1960s is displayed in cases from the late great Sibley's department store. That's a local history twofer! There's also an exhibit about Spring Creek's impact on the area, including photos and artifacts from the first fish hatchery in the Western Hemisphere, established on the creek by Seth Green in 1864. A park behind the museum features the spring itself, a picnic shelter, and nature trail. The museum is located at 3095 Main Street, Caledonia. Open Sundays 1 to 4 p.m., Mondays 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or by appointment. Free admission, donations appreciated. For info go to www.cal-mum.com/bsm or call 538-9880.
Stop by the Caledonia Fish Hatchery on your way out of town and see how Department of Conservation employees carry on Seth Green's work. Most of the fish are kept in 35 massive cement ponds resembling huge swimming pools. It's what the Beverly Hillbilly's backyard would look like if they had Donald Trump's money.
Up to 800,000 brown trout are raised for release into ponds each year, as well as 500,000 schnook salmon. No piranhas or sharks, so it's safe to give the kids 25 cents to buy a handful of fish food to feed the large display fish. There are no public restrooms. You've been warned. The hatchery is located at 16 North Street, Caledonia. Open daily 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Group tours by appointment. Free admission. Go to www.cal-mum.com/fishhatchery.htm for more info, or call 538-6300.
When I tell people I have one of each, they think that means a boy and a girl. But what I really mean is a Yankee and a Rebel. The annual Civil War reenactment at Genesee County Village and Museum in Mumford offers kids an interactive experience they can't get from movies and textbooks. Visit the Union and Confederate camps and talk to reenactors about the people they're portraying. Most are soldiers. But there are also wives, children, surgeons, and trades people. Don't miss the presentation by the Confederate undertaker. Who knows, maybe your kid will be lucky enough to be chosen for the embalming demo?
This year's Civil War reenactment is July 16 and 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The encampment and reenacted battle, complete with rifle and cannon fire, simulated casualties and occasionally gruesome medical procedures --- sure to appeal to preteens --- is included in the price of admission. It's $12.95 for adults, $7.50 for kids ages 4 to 16, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. Kids under 3 are free. Info at www.gcv.org or call 538-6822.
Kids already like history? Good, then they're ready for an advanced placement class in cemetery appreciation.
Summer's a great time to visit the small cemeteries in the area with graves dating to the early 1800s. Try Hoosic Hill Cemetery in Parma at the intersection of Route 104 and Manitou Road. The name "Hoosic" supposedly derived from pioneer housewives shouting, "Who's sick?" across the fields. Foster appreciation for modern medicine. Explain to your kids that the shots they get at the doctor's office have helped recent generations of children avoid sickness and death. On a lighter note, the ornate carvings and statues in older cemeteries can be appreciated for their artistic merit. Bring a sketchpad in case your kid gets inspired.
There's no telling when an economical, semi-educational joy ride will turn into a treasured childhood memory. Try one with your family this summer and see for yourself.