7 ways to get your kids excited for school to start

Back entrance of the Franklin Park Zoo.
The back entrance of the Franklin Park Zoo. –John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe

The school year might be around the corner, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. These activities are equal parts entertainment and education — the perfect formula to get your kids back into a classroom mind-set.

Get your hands dirty at the Museum of Science
The museum’s variety of hands-on activities will surely get the kiddos pumped for science class this fall. Programs vary by day, including opportunities to explore the Charles River’s ecosystem, tackle a design challenge, and make your own electricity. (Daily, times vary; Museum of Science, Boston; free with museum admission; all ages)

Play at the ICA
On the last Saturday of each month, the ICA focuses a full day of programming on its youngest visitors in a themed series called Play Dates. August’s installment is centered around the sea. Kids will learn about art and the ocean through pop-up discussions, interactive gallery games, and art-making activities. (Saturday, August 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; free admission for up to two adults accompanied by a child 12 or under; all ages, programs best suited for children ages 6 and up)


Drop by the Education Station at the Franklin Park Zoo
Before making a beeline to see the giraffe or red panda, stop by the zoo’s education kiosk. Kids can “create a critter” while learning about everything from pollination to animal adaptation. (Daily from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Franklin Park Zoo, Boston; free with admission; all ages)

Celebrate (and calm nerves about) starting kindergarten
Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Public School Superintendent Tommy Chang will welcome the district’s newest families at the Citywide Kindergarten Celebration, an event for kindergartners and their parents. Soon-to-be schoolgoers can get in an elementary school frame of mind by watching a play, touring the Boston Children’s Museum, climbing aboard a school bus, and getting free dental and eye screenings. Meanwhile, parents can receive information on community resources and answers to last-minute questions. (Tuesday, August 29 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Boston Children’s Museum; free; all ages)

Accept a Lego Challenge
Every Saturday through early September, the Boston Society of Architects opens its doors and, more importantly, its Lego collection to the public for a chance to brainstorm a solution to a particular design task. Participants may be asked to build the tallest tower, reimagine a Boston neighborhood, or think up ways to improve resiliency against rising sea levels. (Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; BSA Space, Boston; free; all ages)


Buy extra notebooks for a cause
Shopping center CambridgeSide has partnered with East End House community center for the Pack-A-Backpack School Supply Drive to make sure everyone starts the school year ready to roll. The organization has put together a wish list of school-related materials—take your kids with you to drop off new and unused backpacks, crayons, binders, and more at CambridgeSide’s Welcome Center. (Through August 31; CambridgeSide, Cambridge; all ages)

Visit work created by kids at the MFA
This past year, Boston-area children met with local artist Julie Martini for the MFA’s 12th annual Artist Project. The result? A wall of Plexiglas panels featuring student work inspired by their museum observations and buildings in their home communities. Make a stop here so the kids can see art made by their peers, then head off for an educational day viewing the almost 500,000 other works in the museum’s collection. (Through October 15; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; $25 for adults, $10 for children ages 7-17, or free on weekdays after 3 p.m. and on weekends; all ages)