Summer is in full swing and the East Texas area offers numerous ways to keep kids and teens entertained.
Not only does the area provide activities to burn off some energy, there are also plenty of ways for children to stimulate their minds while school is out but still have fun while doing so.
Among the things to do is recently-opened Tyler business Code Ninjas, 8926 S. Broadway Ave. Code Ninjas gives kids the opportunity to learn coding activities in a fun, dojo inspired setting. Not only does Code Ninjas offer a year-round program called Create that is inspired by the system of karate dojo, it also has summer camps.
In the Create program, kids ages 7 through 16 begin at a white belt and work their way up to a black belt, said Tyler location owners Ashley and Chris Smith. As participants work through the “belts,” which are colored bracelets, they also advance in coding languages.
For younger children with an interest in coding, Code Ninjas also offers a program called Jr. for ages 5 to 7.
While the kids may be learning to code, “our No. 1 thing is to have fun,” Ashley said. As they learn to code, children are working with video games and even have a time just for play at the end.
“The kids get to experience video games that they love but in a different manner,” Ashley said. “They're not just mindlessly staring at a screen, they are building skills and learning new things that they haven't done in the past.”
Throughout the summer, STEM-based camps such as 3D printing, how to become a YouTuber, composing with coding and more are offered, Ashley said. These are all week-long camps that last three hours a day.
Both Ashley and Chris are engineers with a coding background so being able to share their knowledge with children in an entertaining way is something they enjoy, the couple said. Exposing kids to STEM and coding is something they find important, especially today.
“Technology is not going away, so this really is the future of these kids,” Ashley said. “Regardless of what they decide to do as a career, this will give them an excellent foundation.”
For more information about Code Ninjas and its programs, visit www.codeninjas.com/tx-tyler .
In Longview, among the many activities is a visit to the children's museum Longview World of Wonders at 112 East Tyler St.
“Longview World of Wonders inspires a lifelong love of learning by giving children the opportunity to imagine, create, and explore in a hands-on educational environment,” according to Longview WOW.
There are many exhibits that teach kids about practical skills, building, inventing something new, natural resources, inspiring play and more.
Some exhibits include The House where kids can see the inner workings of a home in a new perspective; The Market where they can learn about how food is grown; The Park where they can produce a play or puppet show with friends; Build It where children can create using legos and many more.
Longview WOW will also have fun activities throughout July such as its space lab and baking classes including donut making, pie making and cookie decorating.
For more information about Longview WOW and to sign up for any summer activities, visit www.longviewwow.org/ .
Stimulate your mind
Longview Museum of Fine Arts, 215 E Tyler St. in Longview, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. LMFA offers educational activities and classes centered around art, including their summer art classes which last until July 28. Information: www.lmfa.org/ .
The Discovery Science Place, 308 N. Broadway Ave. in Tyler, summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; offers summer camps that can be found online at discoveryscienceplace.org .
TJC Earth and Space Science Center at Tyler Junior College, 1411 E. Lake St. in Tyler, noon to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Information and tickets: sciencecenter.tjc.edu .
Music lessons at Kilgore Mercantile, 105 N. Kilgore St, Kilgore. All skill levels welcome to book a lesson. Prices and information: www.kilgoremercantile.com/home .
Tyler Museum of Art, 1300 South Mahon Avenue, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Information: www.tylermuseum.org/ .
Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, 105 Airport Dr., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Museum offers children a chance to learn about the history of aviation. Information: www.tylerhamm.org .
Public Libraries: The Tyler Public Library, 201 S. College Ave. in Tyler, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Longview Public Library, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Both libraries offer programs for children and a summer reading challenge. Information: www.cityoftyler.org/ or www.longviewtexas.gov/ .
The Mud Hut, 103 W. Loop 281, Suite 410, Longview, noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; noon to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, offers the chance to paint pottery.
Gregg County Historical Museum, 214 N. Fredonia, Longview, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Information: (903) 753-5840.
Burn off some energy
Splash pads and pools: In Tyler, there are four splash pads located at Bergfeld Park, Woldert Park, Faulkner Park and Fun Forest. Tyler’s public pool is also located at Fun Forest. Times and locations: www.cityoftyler.org/ . In Longview, there are five splash pads including the Jack Mann Splash Pad, Broughton Park, Rotary Park, Spring Hill Park and Stamper Park along with public pools at the Ingram Pool, Longview Swim Center and Paula Martin Jones Recreation Center. Times and locations: www.longviewtexas.gov/ .
East Texas Zoo and Gator Park, 9515 FM 1255, Grand Saline, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Information: (903) 962-5630.
Caldwell Zoo, 2203 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Tyler, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Summer camps held weekly from June 6 through Aug. 12 for ages 4 to 13. Information: caldwellzoo.org/ .
Parks and trails: Both the City of Tyler and Longview have over 20 parks to enjoy. The cities also have numerous trails to walk or bike on. Information: www.cityoftyler.org/ or www.longviewtexas.gov/ .
Texas East Ninja Kids, 1914 Deerbrook Drive, Tyler, over 20 summer camps to choose from. Information: (903) 509-3547 or www.texaseastkids.com/texas-east-ninja-kids/ .
Trampoline Parks: iJump, 2029 Capital Dr., or Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park, 8958 S. Broadway Ave., in Tyler. Information: www.urbanair.com/texas-tyler/ or https://ijumptyler.com/ . In Longview, Air U Trampoline Park, 4300 US-259, or G-Force, 4800 Gilmer Rd. Information: www.airu-longview.com/ or www.gforcelongview.com/ .
Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari, 1200 CR 4405, Jacksonville, admits cars from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Information: (903) 683-3322 or visit http://www.cherokeetrace.com/
Billy Bob’s Zipline, 4079 Hwy 79 N, Carthage. This zipline experience is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. There is also a go-kart track. Information: www.billybobszipline.com/ .
Lazer-x, 2523 Judson Rd., Longview, 7 to 11:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, offering laser tag and arcade games. Information: (903) 757-4544 or www.lazerxtx.com/ .