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Send kids indoors for educational fun this fall

Visitors to the Bellingham Train Museum, at 1320 Commercial St., get to run the model trains.
Visitors to the Bellingham Train Museum, at 1320 Commercial St., get to run the model trains. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

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Indoor activities

Fall means the return of the rainy season in Northwest Washington, where we learn to “dress like a duck” with special rain gear to enjoy the outdoors despite the occasional drizzle. But what if it’s pouring like crazy? Here are three area museums to stimulate young minds:

Spark Museum of Electrical Invention: Spark’s galleries explore the science and history of electricity, with exhibits tracing its development from the discovery of static electricity to the Golden Age of Radio in the 1940s. Its collection features rare and fascinating electronic devices, including antique radios; a theremin, which turns electrical waves into music; and the spectacular Mega Zapper, a 9-foot Tesla coil that fires impressive bolts.

1312 Bay St., Bellingham 360-738-3886 sparkmuseum.org.

Bellingham Railway Museum: Climb aboard this ode to Whatcom County’s railroading past with exhibits that fascinate both parents and children. You’ll find railroad artifacts, such as a collection of lanterns, and historical photographs and displays that describe the train’s importance to America’s development and westward expansion. Meanwhile, you’re surrounded by the nostalgic sounds of model trains as they chug through layouts that reflect Whatcom County’s logging traditions and railroading in general. Other displays feature locomotives and specialized train cars used for a variety of purposes. There’s even a hands-on area for children to create their own imaginative railroading stories.

1320 Commercial St., Bellingham 360-393-7540 bellinghamrailwaymuseum.org.

Skagit County Historical Museum: Located at the top of the hill in the historic waterfront village of La Conner, the museum’s galleries and full-scale diorama depict the area’s Native American culture; early industries such as logging, mining, fishing and farming; and the daily lives of pioneer settlers. On a clear day, there’s a stunning view of the Skagit Valley and the North Cascades.

Recent special exhibits included “Salt Of The Earth: The Story of Seasonings,” and a late 1800s motorcycle, built in Skagit County. “Back To Our Roots: The History of Farm to Table in Skagit County” runs through Oct. 11.

501 S. Fourth St., La Conner 360-466-3365 skagitcounty.net/museum.

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Getting in the Thanksgiving spirit

Find all kinds of crafts to keep your children occupied on Thanksgiving at various online sites, including Parenting magazine, the Kids Network and Pinterest. At Parenting, for example, you’ll find directions for a replica Mayflower ship, a turkey, Native American jewelry, and musical shakers filled with dried beans.

▪  parenting.com/gallery/thanksgiving-crafts-ideas

▪  allkidsnetwork.com/crafts/thanksgiving

▪  pinterest.com/Artsy_momma/thanksgiving-craft-ideas-for-kids

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Reading can be a very connective activity, and when students Skype with an author, they create an unforgettable personal connection between the two people most invested in a book: The writer and the reader. My students love asking authors questions, and they range from ‘How to be a writer’ to ‘Why did you do _____ in the book?’ to ‘Do you have any pets?’ Authors become both experts and ‘real people,’ inspiring new readers, writers along the way.

Adam Shaffer

Fourth-grade teacher at Irene Reither

Elementary, whose classes use social media to

engage with the authors of books they read

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