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All hands on deck for hands-on learning

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These words may not always be typical descriptions of learning, but when the learning takes place at Newton’s Attic in Lexington, these are exactly the words that come to mind.

“It’s everything a kid likes,” says Gabe Nazario of Lexington. “It teaches science, engineering, programming, everything. It’s amazing. It’s awesome. It’s fun.”

Newton’s Attic is one example of the many hands-on learning opportunities across Kentucky. Founded in 1998, the nonprofit is dedicated to giving students unusual educational experiences and providing educational resources to parents, students, and teachers.

Through exciting hands-on projects, engaging classes, and ever-expanding summer camps, it stimulates interest in science and engineering using the concept of play as the ultimate learning tool.

Year-round programming includes after-school programs, home school services, field trips, Scout campouts, and more than 30 unique project-based summer camps in the areas of robotics, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), aviation, computers and coding, chemistry, biology, and electronics.

Newton’s Attic
4974 Old U.S. Hwy. 60
Lexington, KY 40510
(859) 368-7334

Though certainly not all-inclusive, here’s a list of many other opportunities to enhance what your child is learning in school—all with the focus on family fun.

Natural Bridge State Resort Park
2135 Natural Bridge Road
Slade, KY 40376
(606) 663-2214

Surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest, the park takes its name from a 65-foot-high, 78-foot-long natural sandstone arch. Daily programs range from cave tours and guided hikes to live animal shows and crafts. Coming September 10–11: The Great Caterpillar Count.

Jefferson Memorial Forest
11311 Mitchell Hill Road
Fairdale, KY 40118
(502) 368-5404

The 6,600-acre forest is a woodland tribute to Kentucky veterans, anchoring the new South Points Scenic Area that highlights cultural, historical, and natural attractions of southwest Louisville—plus the Go Ape Aerial Adventure Course. Wilderness Louisville’s free Fall Hike and Outdoor Adventure slated for October 15.

Carter Caves State Resort Park
344 Caveland Drive
Olive Hill, KY 41164
(606) 286-4411

Carter Caves State Resort Park offers kids’ caving programs; hikes to scenic areas; canoe paddles on tree-lined Smoky Lake; and the Stream Stomp, a creek adventure with dip nets to collect freshwater invertebrates.

Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site
94 Green Street
Wickliffe, KY 42087
(270) 335-3681

Wickliffe Mounds was the site of a Native American village, and a museum now showcases its way of life and artifacts, complete with “touch table.” Programming this year is geared to families and kids, including Kids Club Saturdays and a daily Archaeology

Big Bone Lick State Historic Site
3380 Beaver Road
Union, KY 41091
(859) 384-3522

Open Memorial Day–Labor Day, recently redone interpretive exhibits highlight the natural drama that unfolded at Big Bone Lick’s springs during the most recent Ice Age. Weekly programs offer fun crafts, nature activities. Don’t miss the live bison herd, including babies.

Fort Boonesborough State Park
4375 Boonesboro Road
Richmond, KY 40475
(859) 527-3131

The working replica of a late 18th-century fort is the site of a September 24–25 re-enactment of the Shawnee attempt to take the fort from Daniel Boone and the pioneers.


Old Fort Harrod State Park
100 S. College St.
Harrodsburg, KY 40330
(859) 734-3314

See handmade items used by
pioneers at this multiple-structure fort. Interpreters in period dress demonstrate living history April through October.

Old Mulkey Meeting House State Historic Site
38 Old Mulkey Park Road
Tompkinsville, KY 42167
(270) 487-8481

The oldest (1804) freestanding log meeting house in the commonwealth and its grounds are described as serene and peaceful. Pioneers and Revolutionary War soldiers are buried in an adjacent cemetery.

Butler-Turpin State Historic
House Site
1608 Hwy. 227
Carrollton, KY 41008
(502) 732-4384

Revel in the history of Kentucky’s foremost military families from Colonial times through the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and  the Civil War. Tours Friday-Sunday.

Blue Licks Battlefield State
Resort Park
10299 Maysville Road
Carlisle, KY 40311
(859) 289-5507

The park museum covers the history of the area from prehistoric to more modern times. Annual Revolutionary War battle re-enactment celebration is third weekend of August.

Perryville Battlefield State
Historic Site
1825 Battlefield Road (Ky. 1920)
Perryville, KY 40468
(859) 332-8631

Perryville was the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War in Kentucky and is commemorated every October. This year’s re-enactment promises to be a huge national event with lots of family activities.

Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park
6614 Danville Road
Nicholasville, KY 40356
(859) 881-5716

Camp Nelson was the site of a Civil War Union Army supply depot, training/enlistment camp, hospital, and refugee camp that today offers a house museum, interpretive features, and reconstructed barracks. Special programs include summer archaeology digs, a re-enactment of a slave wedding, and an October ghost hunt.

Columbus-Belmont State Park
350 Park Road
Columbus, KY 42032
(270) 677-2327

This significant Civil War site on the Kentucky Great River Road and the Civil War Heritage Trail holds events for kids and families throughout the year. The Friday of its annual “Civil War Days” weekend is “education day,” dedicated to kids.

Civil War Fort at Boonesboro
1250 Ford Road (Ky. 1924)
Winchester, KY 40391
(800) 298-9105
The Civil War Fort at Boonesboro was built in 1863 by Union soldiers to defend the ford and important river crossings at Boonesboro.

White Hall State Historic Site
500 White Hall Shrine Road
Richmond, KY 40475
(859) 623-9178

Open for tours April through October, White Hall was built in Georgian and Italianate styles in the late 1700s, with a major addition constructed in the 1860s. Special events include hearth cooking demos, teas, and a Christmas celebration.

Waveland State Historic Site
225 Waveland Museum Lane
Lexington, KY 40514
(859) 272-3611

The Antebellum house and three original outbuildings at Waveland State Historic Site offer more than tours. The site also has the state’s only accredited vintage baseball team, with 1840s-style games set for September 24 and October 15.

Lincoln Homestead State Park
5079 Lincoln Park Road
Springfield, KY 40069
(859) 336-7461

The Lincoln Homestead includes four cabins, including a replica of the home where Lincoln’s father grew up and a house where his mother once lived. The park is one of the stops on Kentucky’s Lincoln Heritage Trail.

John James Audubon State Park
3100 US Hwy. 41 North
Henderson, KY 42419
(270) 826-2247

See the world’s largest displayed collection of art and artifacts by John James Audubon, and learn more about the artist in the park’s theater. The Nature Center houses a native fish aquarium, wildlife observation area, and discovery center.

Kentucky Reptile Zoo
200 L&E Railroad Place
Slade, KY 40376
(606) 663-9160

Eighty reptiles, mostly snakes, are on display at this zoo. Its primary mission is extracting snake venom for antiserum and research, but it’s also open for educational public tours and programs for all ages. You can watch venom being extracted from snakes most days, but call ahead to be sure. Hours vary by season.

Wild Thyme
1060 Chino Drive
Lexington, KY 40502
(859) 523-2665

During the school year, kids can take Chef in Training classes and when school is out, attend weekly Summer Thyme Camps with different themes, like “Cooking Like a Food Network Star.” There also are classes where parents and kids can learn together.

Jenny Wiley Theatre
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park
121 Theatre C
Prestonsburg, KY 41653
(606) 886-9274

Take your pick of 13 stage productions, from Mary Poppins to Hairspray, Dracula to A Charlie Brown Christmas, and even a night of favorite songs in Broadway Under the Stars, playing from June 16–December 18 at the Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonsburg.

EKU Center for the Arts
Eastern Kentucky University
1 Hall Drive
Richmond, KY 40475
(859) 622-7469

EKU’s 2016–2017 season includes a sparkling variety of family-friendly productions, including Peppa Pig Live!, Elf: The Musical, Seussical, and Sleeping Beauty by the Russian National Ballet. KL

More ways to learn

The internet is full of endless opportunities to learn. Sometimes, there are so many options, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Let us help—here’s a great starting point for everything from algebra to spelling.

Try a whole-brain approach to algebra. The site,, is especially good for middle schoolers.

Comic Book Writing
If you have an inner Charles Schultz or Garry Trudeau, here’s a quick and easy way to create your own comic strip. The site,, offers an array of characters you can use, and the text can be done in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Latin.

The site has also launched a new writing feature called Digital Write-Able, which allows you to write stories directly on the screen as you fill in the writing prompt. You can then print your work.

Do dogs really eat homework? How many blocks make an igloo? What makes hair grow? Find the answers and a lot more at, a website by the Louisville-based National Center for Families Learning.

This free site has lots of interactive STEM and literacy-building topics designed to help families learn together, and it makes the process fun with lots of pictures and catchy text.

Create, study, print, share, and download millions of flashcards. Some sites also have interactive games and practice tests. Try these:

Widely praised as one of the most innovative math learning games, the site,, focuses on having fun while learning math. Designed for everyone from very young kids through 12 and up, the video learning game levels range from basic numbers through algebra and geometry.

The website,, is the kids’ version of the weekly news magazine for adults, with short articles relevant to young people. Full functionality requires a membership. Subscriptions are available for classrooms and home schools.

If you’re into reading, you’re probably familiar with Join the reading club and play online games involving the world, animals, language arts, health, science, math, and the brain. Book suggestions also are available based on age and interest.

Try, an award-winning, game-based learning program for vocabulary, spelling, phonics, writing, and language arts. The program is available on the web and as an app on iPads, iPhones, Chromebook, and Android devices. Some functions are free; memberships also are available for premium service.

 Debra Gibson Isaacs from the August 2016 issue  Tim Webb

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