School’s in for the summer

Why should history class end just because school lets out for the summer? Taking the kids to some nearby historical locations is a great way for hands-on learning in the midst of family-friendly summer fun.

The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, 1 S. 151 Winfield Road, (630) 668-5161, is great for families. Walk through trenches and an underground bunker to experience the sights and sounds of WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War. Outside, children can play and climb on authentic tanks and artillery.

A visit to Naperville this summer must include a trip to Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster, (630) 420-6010, where families can picnic and explore 13 acres of history come alive. The settlement is a village of historic homes and businesses that even includes a one-room schoolhouse and covered wagon.

“Costumed villagers bring the past to life in our historic buildings and there are hands-on exhibits that let children explore history in a whole new way,” says Donna DeFalco, Naper Settlement’s marketing coordinator.

Learn how blacksmiths, spinners, potters and weavers of the 19th century performed their trades at Blackberry Farm in Aurora, 100 S. Barnes Road, (630) 892-1550. Costumed re-enactors demonstrate period crafts at historic buildings connected by an old-fashioned train that winds throughout the park. Enjoy a picnic along the lake shore or buy food from the Summer Kitchen, the outdoor pavilion at the park. Little ones can even enjoy a pony ride on the property.

Kline Creek Farm, 3 S. 580 Naperville Road, in Winfield (630) 876-5900, is great for children of all ages who want to get their hands dirty. Younger kids will love Story Hour on Monday mornings, where employees in costume read stories published in the 1890s. Older kids will definitely be more eager to do their regular chores after they try their hand at Farm Chores Thursday and Friday afternoons. Here they’ll do laundry the old-fashioned way, learn to make rope and even help build a barn. Call to learn more about these programs as well as one-time-only events at the farm.

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