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Summer Still in Session: Virtual Programs for Tompkins County Kids

By Clara Enders

This article is a transcription of a segment that originally aired on Talk of the Town on 7/3.


This summer is not what any of us imagined, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have some fun!

With camps and in-person summer programs cancelled across the country, local organizations are thrilled to host a number of unique, engaging, online activities for children and families. Such a wide variety of options guarantee that there’s something for everyone in Central New York this summer.

If your child has a flair for the dramatic, consider Hangar Theatre Company’s Virtual Next Generation School of Theatre this summer! Younger campers can find programs like virtual sing-alongs, musical theater workshops, and filmmaking classes. Older campers entering grades six through 12 can learn about Shakespeare, improv comedy, playwriting, and more. Programs run from July 6 to August 21, and you can email for more information.

The Hangar’s KIDDSTUFF Theatre series has gone virtual this summer as well, with the world premieres of The Magic Paintbrush on July 18, and The Velveteen Rabbit on July 25. Past virtual performances, and information about upcoming shows, can be found at

Local organizations can’t wait for some all-natural with for your family this summer! The Ithaca Children’s Garden is leading a series of community engagement activities for all ages. Through activities like setting up a worm compost bin, community growing guides, and an “ask me anything” series where you can submit questions to top plant scientists, the ICG continues its mission of connecting us with nature. will lead you to articles, videos, and more resources to get started on some awesome, nature-centric activities.

For months, your kids have been thinking strictly indoors, but now, encourage them to think outside the bucket! Children in Madison County can register for Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth program, where campers will gain access to pre-recorded instructional videos and daily live check-ins. Campers will also receive a bucket full of the supplies needed for instruction each day. Projects will include making birdhouses, scribble bots, fitness challenges, planting flowers and vegetables, and more! More information on Cornell Cooperative Extension’s “Thinking Outside The Bucket” can be found at

Libraries in our area continue to provide space for communities to gather, even online.

The Ulysses Philomathic Library is excited to present its 2020 summer reading program, entitled Imagine Your Story. This summer, the library has set a community reading goal of 20,20 books, and audiobooks, graphic novels, and picture books which all count towards that total. Your family can register at and view your virtual reading log, as well as a schedule of take-and-make activities that can be picked up during the library’s grab-and-go hours. You will also see virtual programs, and StoryWalks around Trumansburg. There is something for everyone at the library this summer! Visit for more details.

We’ve all had a lot of time to reflect over the last several months, and now you can channel your thoughts into the Tompkins County Public Library’s QuaranZine. This digital community scrapbook is looking to capture memories and sentiments from March to July of this year. Once completed, contributors will be emailed a PDF version, and physical copies will be kept in the local history collection at the library. Photographs, art, and written content are all acceptable, to write your place in Tompkins County history, visit

If your youngest scientist is looking for ways to keep learning this summer, look no further than the Sciencenter and the Paleontological Institute. Every weekday morning at 10:30 AM, Ithaca’s Sciencenter has been facilitating live activities via Zoom, with recordings being uploaded to Facebook. Past activities have included building paper bridges, making zip lines, taking about frogs, and more. Every Tuesday, the curator of live exhibits offers tours of the Animal room at 2 PM on YouTube Live. Additionally, while in-person camp is cancelled this summer, children entering grades K through 6 will love the virtual summer camp programs! Starting July 27 and running until august 24, weekly themes alternate between invent, design, build, and explore the natural world. Visit to see a complete list of offerings.

The Paleontological Institute will continue to intrigue audiences with its vast supply of online resources to learn about Earth past and present! Activity sheets will help your child learn about the fossils of Central New York, the science of modern and prehistoric animals, and geology of our area. The Institute has also published a virtual collection of fossils on display at the Museum Of The Earth, and some behind the scenes details from the Research Collection. More fun can be found at


Is there a virtual kids' program we missed? Email us at


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