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Making Excursions Fun

At this age, an outing is what you make of it. A day at the zoo can be dull if you just wander around. And a run to the library to return a book can be an educational feast if you talk to your toddler about the flowers outside and the sights inside, and then read together. Use these tips to make any outing stimulating.

Mix it up. Low-cost destinations that feed your tot's senses (and yours):

• Art museum. Talk about the colors in the paintings and tell stories about what's happening. But be prepared: Sculptures can sometimes be scary.

• Farmers market. Take in the sounds and bursts of color.

• Botanical garden. Smell the flowers.

• Bookstore. Read!

• Pet shop. Tons of fun  -- as long as you can resist taking home a puppy.

Observe. You'll sense  -- from your toddler's wandering attention and restlessness  -- when she's learned all she can and needs a change of pace. You'll also know  -- from seeing what she stops to look at and what she wants to touch  -- the things that excite her, be it animals, people, or plants. You can then plan another field trip around her interests.

Be realistic. Your newly mobile tyke is not going to sit in her stroller in Starbucks while you sip a double cappuccino. After enjoying the rich aroma with her, take her to the park.

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