Summer “school” is funner school

Just because school’s out doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning cool and interesting things.

Here are some activities that are guaranteed to make learning fun— all summer long!

History in the Making

Take a stroll through Heritage Farm Museum and Village in Huntington and you’ll be transported back to Appalachian life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. You can tour a 1-room schoolhouse or learn about the history of transportation. There’s even a Children’s Activities Museum where kids can take part in the daily tasks of our ancestors.

Pioneer Heritage Days at Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park in Parkersburg features living history demonstrations including blacksmithing, candle making, leather making and basket weaving. While you’re there, you can tour the stately 18th century mansion.

Colonial actress at Blennerhassett Island State Park, WV

Prickett’s Fort State Park in Fairmont is named for the rustic log fort re-created from the original Prickett’s Fort of 1774, which was a refuge for settlers from Native American war parties on the western frontier. On Wednesdays, the living history encampment has Colonial Children’s Games with fun and educational activities for kids. You can also watch demonstrations like sheep shearing and cooking over an open hearth– just like the pioneers did!

Learn about the war that birthed West Virginia at Harpers Ferry. The Eastern Panhandle park has living history weekends, like the Battle of Bolivar Heights, a re-enactment of the town’s 1862 surrender to Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson. Other living history weekends recreate different scenes from the Civil War and even the Revolutionary War.

Man trip cart and miner, Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, West Virginia

The West Virginia State Museum at the State Capitol Complex tells the story of West Virginia’s origin from prehistoric days to present days along an interactive path through 26 Discovery Rooms. You’ll learn all about the ancient Native American mound builders, frontier life, the Civil War, coal mining and all the aspects that made West Virginia what it is today.

The Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley is your chance to ride a real mantrip down into a coal mine, where veteran miners explain how coal was mined in the early days. You can also tour the period coal camp buildings on the grounds or visit the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia’s interactive exhibits.

Hands-On Fun

The Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley in Wheeling presents a hands-on exhibit in living history, and workshops where you can tackle cool projects like stop-motion videos, circuitry, woodworking and all kinds of art.

Young boy plays at the Clay Center, WV

Kids can learn about the weather in space and how it affects Earth, or even dig for dinosaur bones at Spark! Imagination and Science Center in Morgantown!

The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston has several science exhibits, like the popular Milton Gardner’s Earth City, where you can explore geologic elements like tornadoes and waterfalls, and Bugging Out, a hands-on look at invasive insects in West Virginia. The Clay Center also airs planetarium shows and nature documentaries in its newly renovated Digital Dome.

Putting the “Wild” in Wild, Wonderful

At Hovatter’s Zoo in Kingwood you can book a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a lion cub and feed several animals, including giraffes. The zoo is home to more than 30 species of native and exotic animals.

West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek is home to the famous French Creek Freddie– the Mountain State’s own fortune-telling groundhog. Catch native and introduced wildlife from black bears to bobcats along a 1.25 mile-long interpretive trail through hardwood forest.

Kids meet a kangaroo in West Virginia

The Good Zoo at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling has animal encounter programs where guests can help feed and train zoo animals and learn about the natural history and conservation of the species. It’s your chance to meet ring-tailed lemurs, mongoose lemurs, red pandas or river otters!

Three Rivers Avian Center in Brooks is open once a month for public tours, or you can catch TRAC’s “Wings of Wonder, Birds of Prey” traveling show to learn about West Virginia’s state bird, the golden eagle, and other raptors.

West Virginia State Parks sponsor nature programs all summer long, including the popular Snakes of West Virginia (with live snakes you can touch!) and wildlife identification walks. Tygart Lake’s new Shoreline Tube Tour can even be tailored to feature nature and science learning themes about plants and animals.

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This post was last updated on March 16, 2022