Summertime smarts

By Katie F. Boltuch
contributing writer

Between the end of one school year and the start of the next, every student risks summer learning loss. According to the National Summer Learning Association students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in reading and mathematical computation skills over the summer. For many, this statistic is incredibly worrisome. But, rest at ease, there are two simple words that can help prevent the ‘summer slide:’ enrichment and involvement.
Regardless of whether you have the ability to travel or can only stay on your local base or post, there are plenty of ways to stimulate your children to keep those brains pumping. Challenge yourself this summer by deciding to enrich your children so they can return to school without losing their academic footing.

Photo by Blend Images /

Visit the library
If you have limited means of travel this summer, your best option is to take advantage of your surroundings. A family trip to the library is a wonderful source for many activities. Ramstein and Vogelweh libraries both offer story time for kids aged three to five at 10 a.m. on Thursdays and 11 a.m. on Wednesdays, respectively.
Baumholder Library holds story time every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. for children of all ages. Children will be introduced to reading and language while listening to songs, rhymes, and stories. You can also encourage your children to take turns reading to one another, write about and discuss the different choices of reading materials, as well as encouraging creativity to create their own stories.

Photo by Nailia Schwarz /

Explore museums
Who doesn’t love field trips? All of these options are within a 1- to 1.5-hour drive of the KMC area. There are almost too many to choose from!
Located in Pirmasens, the Dynamikum science center offers nearly 160 exhibits for children to explore. The one time shoe factory now focuses on education, particularly in the area of motion. The museum encourages visitors to experience its eight divisions of friction, impulse, energy, research of natural motion, aspects of biological mechanics, and the power of the mind. Open every weekday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and every weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If you’ve already been to the Dynamikum, take a ride to Frankfurt for a visit at the EXPERIMINTA Science Center. With more than 120 experimental stations involving natural sciences, math, and information technology, children will be challenged to expand their minds. Experminita offers more than 70 workshops for children ranging in age from 5-7, 8-10, children with parents, as well as parents, grandparents and adults! Hours of operation vary throughout the week. For more information, visit

Open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and about an hour east of the KMC area, the Speyer Technik Museum will excite the technology lover. With a wide range of exhibits from wandering around an original jumbo jet to walking through Russian space shuttle BURAN, visitors can also see vintage cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Unique to Speyer, the IMAX Dome movie theater offers patrons a movie experience out of this world! For more information, the IMAX schedule and museum information, visit

Need something a little sweeter? Take a trip to Pirmasens Wawi World of Chocolate to experience up close how handcrafted chocolate is made. After watching the chocolatier make delicious confections, be sure to visit the chocolate museum! For tour information visit:
Have a future paleontologist on your hands? Natural history museums abound within a few hours of the KMC area. Take time to visit Gondwana – Das Praehistorium in Saarland. Visitors can see the largest worldwide dinosaur show! The museum also includes Dinowelt, a playground area with a fun obstacle course for toddlers and kids. Praehistorium’s hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day with the last admittance at 4 p.m. For pricing information visit:
Also located in Frankfurt, Germany’s second largest natural history museum, Naturmuseum Senckenberg, offers the most comprehensive exhibition of large dinosaurs in Europe including a dinosaur fossil with its scaled skin preserved! In addition to dinosaurs, the museum has an expansive collection of over 2,000 stuffed bird species. Offering regular evening lectures and tours, the museum is open 7 days a week. Hours of operation vary. Visit for more information
The Wiesbaden Museum combines natural history with contemporary art and antique paintings. Using four themes, this museum shows its exhibits through the use of color, shape, movement, and time. The museum is also home to objects, sculptures and paintings from the latter half of the 20th century. Open Tuesday through Sunday, hours of operation vary, you will find them at
Looking for a place where you don’t have to utter the phrase, “don’t touch!”? Don’t miss out on a visit to the Kinder Museum in Frankfurt. Part of the Frankfurt Historical Museum, the Kinder Museum is specifically designed for children. Visitors play an active role by touching, testing, and trying things out on topics of local historical and cultural relevance. Children can learn basic principles and development of a craft in a variety of 2-day workshops. They also offer bookings for themed birthday parties. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, visit

Visit the zoo
If you’re willing to drive an hour and a half, be sure to visit the Fasanerie Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Wiesbaden. Not only can guests see up to 50 types of animals but also the gardens allow visitors to explore the exotic and indigenous plant life in the meadows, woods, and water. Entrance is FREE and open every day from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, visit
With more than 4,500 animals and over 450 species, visitors will not be disappointed at Frankfurt Zoo. Throughout the year, the zoo has a wide range of programs that enriches its visitors’ experience. Tours are offered for all ages, including through the aquarium and reptile house known as the Exotarium. Individual tours can also be arranged to see your favorite animals and get answers to any questions you may have. Hours of operation are every day from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Check out their webpage at for upcoming events before you plan your trip.

Photo by chasdesign /

Take it outside
Who says learning can’t be fun and good for your health? If you haven’t heard of Barefoot Park in Bad Sobernheim, keep reading! A favorite for kids of all ages, the barefoot path enables visitors to walk through clay, grass, sand, stones, and bark mulch. Not sure how this relates to learning? The visit teaches kids, and you, how to strengthen and build muscles and ligaments in your feet and arches. The walk promotes posture improvement as well as blood circulation. Guests can also walk through the Nahe River depending on river depth. Hours of operation are every day from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more information, visit

How about a challenge to your logic and reasoning skills? The Fun Forest Abenteuer Park in Homburg is right up your alley. Covering two acres, this climbing park features easy and advanced climbing courses as well as a children’s course. When you’re ready for a break, be sure to take the zip line over the entire lake! Their newest addition, Pirate Island, is a course offering pure adrenaline with unique climbing elements and challenges. Non-climbers can enjoy a day on the water or take a stroll in the recreation area. Fun Forest is open daily from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more information, visit