Summer is finally here. YAY! Angel is in a 12-month school program, so this leaves us with a limited amount of time to plan fun activities for him. He gets one week off before summer school begins and another three weeks off before he starts kindergarten in the fall.
Warning: You need a walking GPS to find the Central Park Zoo.
After wandering around for over thirty minutes, we finally found it. I literally lost count of how many people we had to ask to point us in the right direction.
We got the Total Experience tickets for $18 each and spent an additional $13 for Angel’s ticket. Each ticket included entry to the Main Zoo, the Tisch Children’s Zoo, and one admission to the 4-D Theater. Whether we had a total experience or not, is still up for debate.
Our first stop was the Tisch Children’s Zoo. We had to pop two quarters in a candy-like dispenser to get a handful of pellets to feed the animals. Angel got a kick out of feeding the sheep and goats. He giggled every time one of them grabbed a pellet with its mouth and its warm tongue licked his fingers. He also loved jumping on the spider-web trampoline. Occasionally, we had to put him in his stroller because he was constantly trying to bolt away from us to go off exploring. (Yes, I use his stroller sometimes but that topic is for another blog post.)
Next, we went to the 4-D theater to catch a 13-minute showing of Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure. Our experience in the 4-D theater was “heightened by a variety of sensory effects.” We used all five senses, including our sense of touch. Every time Dora and Diego’s boat made a quick turn or splashed water, we got sprayed. It was an enjoyable experience for the young and old. Angel had a hard time keeping his 4-D glasses on long enough to get the full effects of the film but he seemed to enjoy it.
After exiting the theater, we went to the Main Zoo. I must say I was very disappointed. Last March, we went to the Bronx Zoo and we barely got to see any animals because it was too cold. This time we barely saw any animals because it was too hot. The rest of our visit ended up feeling like a nature walk through the botanical gardens.
On our way out of the zoo, Angel was mesmerized by some stuffed animals being sold on a nearby cart. Within minutes he grabbed some of them, including a penguin and a raccoon. Then, he proceeded to walk toward a nearby bench. I had to explain to him that we had to pay for items before removing them from the cart. I ended up spending $19.99 on a medium-sized penguin. It was a toss up between that or the large for $28. A bit much for a stuffed animal but it was so, so cute! Overall, it was a good day for Angel and the start of a great summer. Now we are brainstorming ideas to make the rest of the summer a fun and educational experience for him.
Last summer, we visited the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. This museum is a sensory child’s dream. We will definitely go again. Angel absolutely loved it, especially the water play area. He loved it so much that instead of just standing by the tubs to play with the water toys he actually climbed into one of the tubs fully clothed. I promptly took him out kicking and screaming, took off his plastic smock, and we headed to the restroom for him to be changed. (Oh the memories!) (Tip: Always bring a change of clothes AND shoes when visiting this museum.)
This summer we are also considering taking Angel to Luna Park at Coney Island, the New York Botanical Gardens, making a couple of trips to the beach, visiting Sesame Place, and exploring the Splish Splash Water Park. Angel loves our neighborhood playground, so he will continue to spend a lot of time there.
I asked other parents of children with special needs to share their ideas. Here are some of the activities that they have done or plan on doing with their children this summer: trips to the museum, walks and hikes,
day camps, arts and crafts, swimming, gardening, and carnivals and fairs. One mom is even taking her son to Disney World.
Reminder: Please be mindful of your child’s special needs and possible sensory issues when planning summer activities. You may have bought a ticket for an all-day experience but your child may only be able to handle an hour or two. Leave early if you need to.
What plans do you have for your child with special needs this summer?
Please share. I look forward to hearing from you.