Subduing the long winter break boredom

• Islands and Ocean center offers variety of entertainment for youth

By Sean Pearson
Homer Tribune

If the first weekend of Christmas break has already seen your youngsters bouncing off the walls from candy cane-induced sugar overload, it’s certainly not too early to consider how to keep those school-starved offspring entertained throughout the remainder of their time off.
This year, instead of plopping them down in front of a variety of electronic entertainment, try sending them over to Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center for a full schedule of WinterFest activities.
The visitor center, in partnership with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, offers nearly two full weeks of hands-on and outdoor activities to keep their blood pumping through the cold of winter.
“We started WinterFest in 2004, and it has just continued to grow over the years,” said Rebekah Jones, volunteer coordinator at Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. “It has certainly morphed quite a bit, based on what people have shown more of an interest in. I think we have sort of settled into a pretty good program now.”
Jones said the WinterFest program started as a way to give kids something to do while they’re on break.
“It gets them out of the house and into the visitor center – which is always a good thing,” she explained. “It’s a great way to keep them learning while they’re out of school.”
According to Jones, the idea is to provide a variety of activities that appeal several different ages.
“While the younger crowd generally tends to gravitate toward hands-on activities like arts and crafts, we’ve also included some things I think even parents would be interested in,” she said. “We’re going to have a really cool program that focuses on owl migration. I can really see the adults getting into building an owl nesting box.”
Activities at the center run through the end of the year, wrapping up with two special events on Saturday, Jan. 2. For more information on activities offered, check out the Islands and Ocean Web site at


Art in Nature Crafts
Wed. Dec. 23, 2-5 p.m. Seminar Room
• Look closely and you’ll see the art in nature. Drop in and decorate your very own magnet picture frame. Then create a rubbing from natural objects, draw or paint a wild creature, or write a poem about nature to display in your frame.

Wed. Dec. 23, 2-3:30 p.m. Auditorium
Catie and Jolee will read a story, followed by a craft you can take home.

Art in Nature Crafts
Thur. Dec 24, Noon – 3 p.m. Seminar Room

Bird Crafts
Sat. Dec 26, Noon – 5 p.m. Seminar Room
How do birds survive in the winter? Find out with these fun crafts and activities. Decorate your very own bird ornament, and then play games to find out what your bird sounds like, and whether it stays in Alaska or leaves each winter.

Build an Owl-Nest Box
Sat. Dec 26, 2 – 3:30 p.m. Auditorium
Would you believe that Homer is an owl mecca? Jason will share interesting tidbits about our nocturnal neighbors and help the first 25 participants assemble their very own owl box.

Sea Star Crafts
Tue. Dec 29, Noon – 5 p.m. Seminar Room
Sea Stars capture the imaginations of people world wide. Bring the beauty of one of these fascinating creatures into your home by decorating your very own sea star ornament. Then watch short movies about sea stars, put together a sea star puzzle, watch real live sea stars in our aquarium, and read a story about a lonely sea star named Stanley.

Icefishing Mini-Lab
Tue. Dec 29, 2-3:30 p.m. Lab Classroom
Learn all about this fun and interesting sport, from what kind of gear you need to which local lakes have the best fishing. Skills taught in this lab will prepare you for an actual family ice fishing experience on a nearby lake in February.

Sea Star Crafts
Wed. Dec 30, Noon- 5 p.m. Seminar Room

Flashlight Tidepooling
Wed. Dec 30, 6-8 p.m. Bishops Beach Parking Lot
Join Carmen and Conrad Field for an evening of low tide exploration on Bishops Beach. Bring a flashlight, warm clothes and a sense of adventure.

Sea Star Crafts
Thur. Dec. 31, Noon-5 p.m. Seminar Room

Birds and crafts
Sat. Jan 2, Noon-5 p.m. Bird craft and activities for younger kids, with a complimentary goshawk visit from TLC Bird Treatment Center personnel from 2-3:30 p.m.

Open House
Sat. Jan 2, 6 p.m. Wynn Nature Center
Followed by an astronomy and moonlight snowshoe hike at 8 p.m.

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Posted by on Dec 23rd, 2009 and filed under Youth. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Subduing the long winter break boredom”

  1. The Open House, astronomy program and moonlight snowshoe hike on January 2nd are at the Wynn Nature, who partners with Islands and Oceans for WinterFest each year. We hope to see you all there, as well as at the other WinterFest programs!

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