Winter break classes and camps for kids on Long Island
Winter Break is the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and start exploring all the fun things to do at local nature centers, science museums and wildlife sanctuaries on Long Island. A number of family-friendly destinations are offering exciting opportunities for kids to go digging for fossils, join in on scavenger hunts, build hovercrafts and meet local animal ambassadors.
TAKE ON SCIENCE AND STEM PROJECTS
The Center for Science Teaching and Learning
Located within the Tanglewood Park and Preserve, this organization works to inspire a love for learning science, and its Presidents Week sessions, aimed at children ages 5-12, take place daily through Feb. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sessions will focus on physics, chemistry and biology with hands-on experiments. Outdoor hiking is also part of the activities. Classes are $75 each and advance registration is required.
INFO 1450 Tanglewood Rd., Rockville Centre; 516-764-0045, cstl.org
Garvies Point Museum
This North Shore preserve and institution will host a “Winter Scavenger Hunt” (10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.) on Feb. 22, then an “Animal Stories” jaunt on Feb. 23 (10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.) that will help kids learn how to recognize the tracks left behind by local animals. Feb. 24 has a “Bird-Watching for Kids” opportunity (10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.); Saturday, Feb. 25 is “Geology Day,” which will involve both indoor and outdoor activities focusing on our planet’s structure and makeup. Each day features a craft-making option (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and short films are shown (except Feb. 25) on the half-hour from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Museum admission is $5, $3 ages 5-12; Feb. 25 everyone age 5 and older is $5. All attendees should be dressed for both indoor and outdoor activities.
INFO 50 Barry Dr., Glen Cove; 516-571-8010, garviespointmuseum.com
Science Museum of Long Island
Designed with kids ages 4-13 in mind, SMLI has put together a series of events that each run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Feb. 22, there will be an up-close meet-and-greet with the institution’s animal ambassadors. Feb. 23 will be a crime mystery-solving foray into forensic science, then for the final day on Feb. 24, guests will learn about maple sugaring by drilling into a maple tree and learning how to make syrup before digging into some pancakes. Each class is $90 for nonmembers, members get 10% discount; classes are broken down into age groups of 4-5, 5-8, 8-13. Advance registration is required.
INFO 1526 N. Plandome Rd., Manhasset; 516-627-9400, smli.org
Long Island Science Center
Ever-focused on its mission to help with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) learning, the facility plans to mark the break week — which also happens to be “National Engineers Week” — with 60-minute, instructor-led winter break classes offered on a daily basis from 1 to 2 p.m. through Feb. 24. The remaining classes in the series include an alternative energy machine construction class on Feb. 22, and a bridge building session on Feb. 23. The final class on Feb. 24 is "Catapults," where attendees will construct and test their own launching device. In addition, there will be a "Science Saturday" Feb. 26 with interactive workshops. All sessions are $20 per child, which includes museum admission; attending adults pay $15 general admission to enter.
INFO 401 Tanger Mall Dr., Riverhead; 631-208-8000, sciencecenterli.org
Long Island Explorium
This cozy center for hands-on learning in Port Jeff Village has prepared STEM-focused sessions for kids in grades 3-6. “Engineering Wednesday” (Feb. 22) will put kids' imaginations to the test with projects to design and build, then “Mathematics Thursday” (Feb. 23) will be a day of engrossing math activities before “Game Theory Friday” (Feb. 24) closes the week with a chance for those who’ve attended all week to use what they’ve learned to engage in STEM activities. Camp is $375; Advance registration is required.
INFO 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson; 631-331-3277, longislandexplorium.org
EXPLORE NATURE, ANIMALS AND THE ARTS
The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center
Behind this facility in the Hamptons lies Vineyard Field, a former vineyard that’s part of the Long Pond Greenbelt: a vast area of wetlands, woods and ponds known for its resident rare animals and plants. The break week will see daily hourlong walks (10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) into the field. A nature scavenger hunt happens Thursday (Feb. 23) before the week wraps with a bird-spotting stroll (Feb. 24). Each event is $15 for adults, $10 ages 3-12; this includes museum admission, members attend for free. Advance registration is required.
INFO 377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Tpke., Bridgehampton; 631-537-9735,
Long Island Aquarium
Long Island's only aquarium, it holds its winter break annually and this year’s edition runs from through Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open to kids ages 5-11, kids who attend will get a full experience of what this facility can deliver, including tours of the aquarium, a chance to watch the sea lion show, a stop by the “Butterflies, Bugs and Bees” exhibit, some time in the arcade, opportunities to feed the stingrays and craft-making sessions, among other doings. The camp is $50 daily; lunch is an additional $10 daily, and is a choice of chicken fingers, pizza or a hot dog plus either French fries or apple slices, with a cookie and a choice of milk, juice or water. Advance registration is required.
INFO 431 E. Main St., Riverhead; 631-208-9200, longislandaquarium.com
Sweetbriar Nature Center
Both a rehabilitation center for native wildlife and a place to learn about nature, this facility also features dozens of acres of preserved land that holds a variety of natural habitats. Its winter break program (for ages 6-11) runs daily through Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes things to do such as games, craft-making and other activities, as well as chances to meet the resident animal ambassadors. Wednesday’s “Behold the Cold Critters” includes an outdoor exploration; Thursday sees “Snowflakes and Snow Birds,” which covers how area birds can take flight and stay warm during the winter, before Friday’s “Winter Wildlife” intro to what makes some animals unique when it comes to how they winter. The camp is $75 daily for members; $85 daily for nonmembers. Advance registration is required.
INFO 62 Eckernkamp Dr., Smithtown; 631-979-6344, sweetbriarnc.org
Nassau County Museum of Art
Held over three days (Feb. 21-23) for guests ages 2-12 (plus adult guardians; teens are also welcome) at this facility’s Manes Art and Education Center. The days are each broken down into two timed 90-minute sessions (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 1 to 2:30 p.m.) and are inspired by the museum’s current “The Big Picture: Photography’s Moment” exhibition and the Lunar New Year. The opening Tuesday classes are “Sculpting in Light and Color,” where patrons create 3D art by using recycled photo slides, followed the next day by a “Year of the Rabbit” puppet-making opportunity. The final day is “Architect for the Day,” when guests create 3D city scenes with the aid of urban photos for idea-mining. Classes are $10 for children and adult members, $20 for adult nonmembers; Advance registration is required.
INFO One Museum Dr., Roslyn Harbor; 516-484-9338, nassaumuseum.org.