Learn how different teaching models can help your child get ahead in school.

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Looping, Flipping and Globalizing Classrooms


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Decades ago, going “back to school” entailed fairly homogenous experiences. With few exceptions, kids boarded school buses in autumn to return to standard schools with standard classrooms that followed standard formats.

How things have changed.

Now parents can choose from home schools, magnet schools, charter schools, year-round schools, modified-traditional schools and more. The education scene has broadened and, today, many Triangle schools are experimenting with new teaching techniques to inspire and encourage students. Here are some of the new classroom models possibly coming to a school near you.

Flipping for Homework Help

It’s the word that sinks the hearts of students everywhere, killing Friday night plans and creating battles between parents and children over “just getting it done.” Homework. It isn’t always busy work, either. Students must extend learning outside the classroom to fully understand topics briefly touched on during their fast-paced school day. Homework can frustrate everyone, especially when kids have questions parents can’t answer.

Flipping is one solution to this tangle. A concept created in the early 2000s, flipped (sometimes called “inverted”) classrooms turn the equation around.

Students use materials prepared by the teacher or a third-party source (like free instructional videos from Kahn Academy at kahnacademy.org) to learn basic concepts on their own at home. Then, during class, they work out problems — previously considered homework — or have discussions with the teacher. Teachers act as tutors or guides in the classroom to ensure students have a solid understanding of the material.

“When students learn the basic facts on their own through a reading assignment or by watching a video, that frees up classroom time for you to really apply those concepts together,” explains Ken Nagel, a teacher at Apex High School who uses the flipped model to teach Advanced Placement Environmental Science. “If they come to class already familiar with basic facts that they’ve learned the night before, you can get much deeper into those concepts and students can get a much stronger comprehension of the material.”

Nagel says he doesn’t expect his students to spend any more time working at home than they otherwise would. “It’s just different work they’re doing,” he says.

Instead of sending students home with a worksheet based on concepts he covered in class, Nagel has them learn those basics at home and then fill out the worksheet while he — instead of a parent who may not know the subject well — is available to help.

Sarah Echols, a sixth-grade teacher at Davis Drive Middle School in Cary, says flipped classrooms give students ownership of their education.

“By creating instructional video lessons of my own and allowing students to preview them before they come to class, I’m allowing students to take ownership in their own education. Students can retain the information easily by taking their own notes, rewinding and rewatching the videos at their leisure,” she says. “Once students in my classroom watch the videos, we can begin to have more meaningful conversations about the current math topics in the classroom setting.”

Unfortunately, not every student can participate in flipped classrooms. For the format to work, students need access to a home computer at a minimum and, most often, Internet access. Students must also be motivated and responsible enough to do the “home” portion of the class before coming to school so they can fully participate, or else class time is wasted while the instructor attends to students who didn’t do their “flipped” homework.

But when everything works as it should, flipped classrooms can produce exciting results. Clintondale High School in Detroit flipped its classrooms and reported that while more than 50 percent of freshman failed English class prior to flipping, that number plummeted to 19 percent after. The school also reported that the freshman math class failure rate decreased from 44 percent to 13 percent under the flipped classroom model. Dare we say it? That’s something educators can really flip over!

Looping Comfort and Productivity

Every school year, teachers face a new group of students they don’t know and must figure out the best way to reach each child. That’s why when the new school year starts, many teachers spend the first couple of days conducting “getting to know you” exercises.

What if a teacher already knew that Jared only recently mastered his multiplication tables at the end of fourth grade, or that Kaitlin struggles when writing essays?

Looping makes it happen. Using the looping model, teachers simply pick up where the class left off the previous year because he or she stays with the same group of students for several years before “looping back” to start with a new class. This makes for a seamless start to the new school year.

“You really hit the ground running,” says Lisa Spalding, principal at Turner Creek Elementary School in Cary, which follows a year-round calendar. “You know what the kids’ interests are, what works best for them, and you don’t have that transition period of relationship-building each year. Teachers love doing it because of how close they get with those kids.”

It can be a comforting situation for everyone involved. When students walk through the door for second grade, they’ll see the same teacher who taught them first grade. That can give the classroom a family-like atmosphere, because kids are familiar with their peers and teacher. And the teacher, being familiar with each child’s strengths and weaknesses, doesn’t experience a long learning curve to determine how best to reach each child.

Looping may not be right for every child (or teacher). If a class has bad chemistry, several years of being together can create unpleasant experiences. Also, looping teachers need to be sure they’re up for teaching material for different ages and grades, and sometimes very young students have trouble transitioning to a new teacher after they leave their looped classroom.

But when looping works, it’s hard to find an unhappy customer. Each new school year, Spalding gives parents the opportunity to decline looping their child. “I’ve never had anyone opt out, though,” she says.

Globalizing Communities

Thirty years ago, kids hid under the covers past bedtime with a flashlight and book. Today’s kids hide smartphones when chatting or gaming with pals in different time zones. That might not be bad (if they aren’t breaking house rules) since today’s kids, more than ever before, are part of a shrinking world where tolerance and understanding of other cultures can be the difference between success and stagnation.

That’s where globalized classrooms come in. Generally, globalization refers to the growing interdependence and interconnection of the world’s communities. Global teachers use technology and international connections to bring the outside world into their classroom.

An elementary school class might explore Chinese food or connect with a classroom overseas via email. An American high school class might regularly interact with a German high school class via Skype to discuss current or historical events from different viewpoints. The goal of the global classroom is to widen students’ perspectives as they work their way through class materials, helping them understand information as it relates to a larger community.

“Teachers look to the standards to decide how to incorporate aspects of different cultures into their classes,” says Amy Rickard, principal at Morris Grove Elementary in Chapel Hill, which offers globalized classrooms and has international teachers on staff. One of those teachers, Amanda Woodroffe of England, has been teaching in the U.S. for several years.

“What’s really interesting is not only introducing the kids to different cultures, but also helping them understand they also have a culture,” she says. “By learning about other people, they’re also getting a better understanding of their own heritage and traditions, and why they do what they do here in America.”

Globalization helps increase students’ sensitivity to differences in values and cultures and offers an opportunity to think about their position in and view of the world. That can translate into expanded options as they head out into the brave, global world.

“One of the things we’ve seen as part of the program is the growing confidence the kids have about other cultures,” says

Morris Grove Elementary teacher Alison Livingston. “They can travel and interact with members of the international

community in a positive and respectful way. That’s something they’ll always be able to use in today’s world.”


Kathleen M. Reilly is a freelance writer and mom in the Triangle.

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Calendar

August 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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June 30-August 12; 8:30 a.m.– 5:00 p.m. Come to Historic Yates Mill to see a new temporary exhibit, Rich in the Rare, on loan from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. This...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Shop antiques, crafts and art, and enjoy food trucks at this artisan and vintage market in downtown Cary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Fidelity Bank Parking Lot
100 W. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Contact Name: Leslie & Jessica
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Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Join staff and volunteers from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) and Raleigh Astronomy Club (RAC) for a free skywatching...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Examine “Shinrin-yoku," a Japanese healing technique that "takes in the forest atmosphere." Visit a natural area in the park and walk in a relaxed way to receive calming,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Contact Name: Rebecca Cope
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Squish, touch and feel your way through center-based activities to explore the senses.  Make a smelly painting and splash in a sink/float bucket. Ages 18 months-3 years with an...

Cost: $2/child

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Enjoy a family-friendly movie. See the website for the movie title. Showings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Website »

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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Observe the 41st anniversary of Elvis' passing by seeing two tribute bands, Scot Bruce and The Fab Four, face off in an adrenaline-pumping musical showdown. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Fletcher Opera Theater
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Meet a favorite princess or superhero from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Learn froggy fun facts through trivia games and activities. Discover the differences and similarities between frogs and toads. All ages with adult. Registration required online. Meet...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Weekly basic skills cooking class for children aged 5-10 at Whole Foods North Raleigh.  This free class meets each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and is offered by registering in advance...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Take the family for Kids Night at Chick-Fil-A in Garner. Enjoy a free indoor playspace, face painting and balloon twisting with Mimi the Clown. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chick-Fil-A
2720 Timber Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: The MelodyMaker Entertainment
Telephone: (919)639-9328
Contact Name: Melody Scruggs
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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Website »

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Read "Froggie Babies" by Suzanne Farrior and make a froggy craft. Practice jumping skills, learn to "ribbitt," and examine the differences between the frogs and toads. Ages...

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Enjoy a Build-A-Bear activity, storytime, games and painting from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Expand your knowledge of our local flora and fauna by exploring a different area of the park each month. Join park staff as they "nerd out" over amphibians, birds, insects, spiders, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Celebrate National Tell a Joke Day by sharing some jokes with the park community. Meet in the Exhibit Hall. Drop-in program. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Contact Name: Rebecca Cope
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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Enjoy an easy-paced and stroller-friendly walk along the greenway. Suggested for ages 3 and younger with parent. Register online. Choose course #219872.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2761
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Website »

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Ages 7-12 enjoy fashion and design activities from 11 a.m.-noon.; ages 13-18 enjoy the same activities from 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Website »

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Celebrate Raleigh's creativity under the beautiful lights and cobblestone streets of City Market. Find locally-made goods and enjoy a night filled with music and entertainment with over 30...

Cost: Free

Where:
City Market
306 Parham St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
Contact Name: Sara Buxton
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

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Experience the the excitement of wheelchair basketball in preparations for August Madness. Whether your team is practicing for August Madness or you're looking for a fun Friday activity, all...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Campus YMCA 'Cage' Court
304 Blackwell Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Bridge II Sports
Telephone: 18668802742 x12
Contact Name: Katharine Doyle
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Take a walk with a park naturalist to explore the woods and fields at this special time of day.  Register online.

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson Nature Preserve staff
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See the PG-rated movie under the stars at Booth Amphitheatre. After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother,and her friend to space in order to...

Cost: $5 ages 13 and older. Free for ages 12 and younger.

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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Kindergarten students entering the traditional school calendar practice a lunch line, get moving at recess, hop on a school bus and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call the park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. All...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Young entrepreneurs, ages 6 -14, have an opportunity to sell their products or services to the general public. Participants can keep any profits from sales they make at the fair and will earn cash...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Triangle Children's Business Fair
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Enjoy a celebration of products, services and resources for families featuring local organizations focusing on education, health and wellness, safety, special needs, child care and more....

Cost: Free

Where:
JD Lewis Multipurpose Center
2245 Garner Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Sunshine Family Expos
Telephone: 813-463-2712
Contact Name: Melinda Perez

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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an interactive dance story and craft time. Ages 3-7. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Graceful Expressions Dance Education
312 W. Chatham St., #103
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Graceful Expressions Dance Education
Telephone: 191-975-86003
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Search for snakes, salamanders, turtles and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Children's booksellers read their favorite picture books. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn more about pollinators during this family friendly event. Sample and buy local honey and honey-based products.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

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Take the family for treats, music, art and more. See a special exhibit showcasing the work of Artspace's talented young artists.

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Stop by a discovery table to learn fun about the animals that live in Crowder Pond. All ages. Registration required. The display table is located at the Upper Playground.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Explore how bees pollinate flowers and help gardens grow. Discover how bee hives work and learn the ways that bee-keepers have historically housed and cared for their hives. All...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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See the PG-rated movie "Jurassic Park," part of the City of Raleigh's Movies by Moonlight series. Also enjoy food trucks. Register online....

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park Flowers Field
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh
Telephone: 919-996-6688
Contact Name: Joseph Voska
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Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2018 Readers' Favorites are.