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8 February break camps, activities for kids on Long Island

Veronica Sayers, program coordinator, describes activities at Sweetbriar

Veronica Sayers, program coordinator, describes activities at Sweetbriar Nature Center's "Winter Discovery Days." Credit: Rachel Brightman

Students will be off from school for a week in mid-February, and parents may want to take advantage of some programs that will give kids a chance to get out of the house. Kids can tap a tree to make maple sugar candy at the Science Museum of Long Island, learn about the critter who lived in "Charlotte’s Web" at the Sweetbriar Nature Center or feed the stingrays at the Long Island Aquarium.

And, if you’re looking for fun for the whole family, there’s Family Dino Day at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning and extended hours at the Long Island Children’s Museum.

Here are some February break options, including one virtual activity for those who are hesitant about their kids leaving the house:

Winter Recess Holiday Break

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Science Museum of Long Island, 1526 N. Plandome Rd., Manhasset

INFO $85/day, 516-627-9400, smli.org/holiday-workshops

Each day offers a full program of hands-on science activities, says Huse Kivrak, program manager. One day, for instance, features a maple sugaring workshop, during which the kids will tap a tree on the property and make maple syrup candy, he says. The program is for ages pre-K to sixth grade, with children separated by age into groups of up to 10. Masks and social distancing will be required, Kivrak says.

Maker’s Week

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 15 to 19 at Gallery North, 90 N. Country Rd., Setauket

INFO $500/week or $100/day, includes all project materials and daily snack. 631-751-2676, gallerynorth.org

Activities include creating stamp art, doing STEAM challenges, building with cardboard, silk screening and making things by recycling items that normally would be tossed out, says Larissa Grass, education director. The program is geared to ages 6 to 11 and can accommodate 10 children per day with masks required. Children are seated with six feet of table space and their own supplies, Grass says.

Midwinter Recess Holiday Camp

WHEN | WHERE Programs are running at the YMCA at Glen Cove, Huntington YMCA, Patchogue Family YMCA, and Great South Bay YMCA in Bay Shore

INFO Times and prices vary by location, ymcali.org

Each YMCA is offering its own programming, says Tamar Simpson, director of marketing and communications for the YMCA of Long Island. Activities at the Glen Cove YMCA include STEM, arts and crafts, swim, move and gym activities. The Patchogue Family YMCA and Great South Bay YMCA activities will include swimming, sports, arts and crafts, outdoor playground and Gaga. The Huntington program offers themed days including science, LegoMania, Frozen Friday and more. COVID guidelines are being followed, Simpson says.

Fun-Cation Camp

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 15 to 19 at the Long Island Aquarium, 431 E. Main St., Riverhead

INFO $200/week or $50/day, 631.208.9200, ext. 426, longislandaquarium.com

Kids will tour the aquarium, feed stingrays, see a sea lion show, watch a movie, make a craft and more. The stingrays are always a "huge hit," says Darlene Puntillo, marketing director. "They feel like jelly; they feel so strange. They’ll come right up to the surface looking to get food," she says. The program is geared to ages 5 to 11 and follows CDC guidelines for masking and social distancing, she says.

Winter Discovery Days

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Dr., Smithtown

INFO $80/day or $350/week, 631-979-6344, sweetbriarnc.org

Each day has a different theme, including, for instance, "Who’s in Charlotte’s Web?" about critters with six legs, eight legs and more or "Caring for our Barnyard Friends" during which kids will meet and learn about barn animals. Most of the programming will take place at the Nature Center’s Red Barn and outdoors. The program is for ages 5 to 11. It will be limited to 10 children per day; masks will be required and social distancing respected, says Veronica Sayers, program coordinator.

School’s Out Winter Camp

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with optional aftercare until 5 p.m. at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning, 1450 Tanglewood Rd., Rockville Centre

INFO $65 day if signed up before Feb. 12; $75 a day after that, $10 for aftercare, 516-764-0045, cstl.org

Kids perform hands-on science activities that explore chemistry, engineering and more at this program which takes place in the center’s classrooms, says Kevin Sanders, project manager. "We spend time outside each day; we explore the grounds of our preserve," he says. The program is for ages 5 to 12 and groups are divided by age. Masks and social distancing will be required, he says. While the camp doesn’t take place in the center’s Dinosaurs! exhibit, if families want to explore that area, the center is also offering a Family Dino Day from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 21 for $20 a person. That program offers a behind-the-scenes look at the dinosaurs on a guided tour led by a paleontologist, Sanders says.

A Zoom Option: Journey Into Space

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. to noon or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. online, offered by the Long Island Explorium of Port Jefferson

INFO $200/week for half-day, $300/week full day; children must sign up for full week

Kids will be "journeying into space from home," says executive director Angeline Judex of the weeklong Zoom program for kids in grades K to 6. It’s especially fortuitous that the theme of the week is outer space because NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is scheduled to touch down on that planet on Feb. 18 and be streamed live, Judex says.

Extended Days and Hours

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday (typical hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday) at the Long Island Children’s Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City

INFO $14 per person, 516-224-5800, licm.org. Sign up online in advance for a timed-entry spot because admission is limited to 25% capacity due to COVID-19

While this isn’t a drop-off program, the extended museum hours do allow families the opportunity to visit during the entire break week. In addition, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day, the museum will offer a free workshop for ages 3 and older called "Blast Off!" Participants will create their own NASA-inspired sticker scenes to celebrate Black History Month and pay tribute to Mae Jemison, a NASA astronaut who became the first African-American woman to travel to space in 1992 aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. Other family venues such as ice rinks, crafts studios and more may also be offering extended hours or activities during the break. Check with your local businesses for times and dates.

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