Okay, parents: it’s time to start planning for spring break. You can make this year’s vacation fun and entertaining for your kids while still keeping it local and cost-effective. Here are some ideas to get you started. 

For the Littles

Photo scavenger hunts. Make it all about them. If they just learned the color red, walk the block and take pictures of all things red. Appeal to their senses and find things that are fuzzy, smooth or smell good. Older preschoolers can take photos themselves. 

A zoo scavenger hunt might be 10 pictures of silly snouts, tails or antlers. A farmers market scavenger hunt may encourage them to try new foods. Print the pictures for a homemade book and send it to preschool for show and tell. 

For Bigger Kids

Kids love spaces they create, like forts, tree houses and tents. These special spaces can house books, slime, oobleck, art materials, dogs and special treasures. Where you can, add a homemade balance beam, ropes for climbing and pails and pullies to develop the crucial skill of discerning good risks from bad. Ambitious types can create a low-to-the-ground zipline. 

For Tweens and Teens

Organize a movie night, game night, or pizza night. Start a project, the kind that lets you model good humor, imagination and responsibility that will make them forget that they have phones. How about building a Little Free Library? You can repurpose something or find fun plans at littlefreelibrary.org/build.

For the Whole Family

At City of Phoenix libraries, families can check out Culture Passes that are good for 17 arts and cultural events in the city, or “check out” seeds to plant a spring garden.

The Full Moon Hike at Usery Mountain Park happens to fall during spring break on March 8. It is a two-mile, ranger-led walk where you can experience the desert at night, illuminated by the full moon.  

Families can also take advantage of free museum days during spring break:

• Creative Saturdays: Free on the final Saturday of each month, youth under 18 receive free admission all day (including special exhibitions), with free scheduled activities from noon – 4 pm. The next Creative Saturdays are February 29 and March 28.

• Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, March 12 and 14.

• The Desert Botanical Garden, March 10.

Whatever you choose, enjoy each other. 

— Nola Enge, PhD, is director at The Hills School at Shepherd of the Hills. For more: thehillsschool.org or call 602-952-2616.