MONEY Travel

Millions of Families Will Soon Get Free Admission at National Parks

family sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon
Jens Lucking—Getty Images

A new initiative called Every Kid in a Park will give fourth graders and their families free admission to national parks and recreation areas for a full year.

President Obama will be in Chicago on Thursday to designate the Pullman District as a National Monument. While he’s there, Obama will also introduce a very special program called Every Kid in a Park that will provide free admission to fourth graders and their families at national parks, forests, monuments, and other federal lands for a year.

The Every Kid in a Park initiative will be available to families at the start of the 2015-2016 school year, in advance of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service being celebrated in 2016. How it works is that next fall, all interested families with fourth graders will essentially be provided with a free annual pass (normal cost: $80) granting admission to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, including world-famous national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon—which each normally charges $25 to $30 per vehicle for a seven-day pass.

The program is “a call to action to get all children to visit and enjoy America’s unparalleled outdoors,” a White House press release explains. “Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens instead of outside.”

Why only families with fourth graders? Presumably, it would be too costly—and likely, too crowded at the parks—to give free admission to everyone. What’s more, the thinking is likely that fourth grade is an ideal time to expose children to the wonders of the outdoors, with the hope that doing so promotes a lifelong interest and appreciation of nature.

The initiative actually has a parallel in the ski industry. Around the country, Vermont, New Hampshire, Colorado, and several other ski-friendly states offer ski and snowboard passport programs that typically provide a season’s worth of free lift passes for fourth or fifth graders. The concept makes sense because kids don’t go to the mountains alone; their families generally come along, and they spend money at the resorts. The program also obviously helps get kids interested in winter mountain sports, potentially turning them into paying customers for years to come.

Likewise, free admission will nudge families into visiting national parks and recreation areas. And ideally, the kids who go hiking and camping and whatnot will fall in the love with the experience, and become lifelong visitors and supporters of the parks and the great outdoors.

As for those who don’t have a fourth grader in the house, you’re not entirely left out of the freebies. Every year, the National Park Service lists a handful of fee-free days, when admission is free for all visitors. Last weekend, in fact, admission was free in honor of President’s Day. The next freebie event is the weekend of April 18-19, which kicks off National Parks week.

TIME Books

Celebrate the New Dr. Seuss Book With a New Fact About the Author

Dr Seuss Holds 'The Cat In The Hat'
Gene Lester—Getty Images Dr Seuss sits at his drafting table in his home office with a copy of his book, 'The Cat in the Hat', La Jolla, Calif., Apr. 25, 1957.

'What Pet Should I Get?' will be released in July

Fans of cats in hats and pops being hopped on learned on Wednesday that a new Dr. Seuss book is on the way: in July, Random House will published What Pet Should I Get?, a manuscript the late and legendary writer likely completed in the late 1950s or early ’60s but never published.

Just a few months ago, several stories that Seuss wrote for Redbook in the 1950s were published under the title Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. In honor of that released, we combed TIME’s archives for some Seuss-ian history, and turned up these five facts:

Dr. Seuss wasn’t necessarily for kids.
The career-making images that TIME cited? An advertising campaign for Flit insecticide.

Dr. Seuss’s wife helped him develop his stories.
Their marriage was financed, TIME reported, by a “cartoon of egg-nog-drinking turtles” that Dr. Seuss sold to Judge magazine in 1927. (Sadly, she died only a few months after that 1967 profile was published.)

Dr. Seuss had no formal art training.
He walked out on “a high-school art teacher who refused to let him draw with his drawing board turned upside down” and that was that. For non-art education, he went to Dartmouth and Oxford.

Dr. Seuss’s early vocabulary was inspired by school curricula.
Many books meant to teach kids reading used standardized lists of basic words that should be known by students of various ages, and Dr. Seuss’ work — despite the fantastical nature of the stories those words created — was no exception. He stopped using the lists when he no longer found them adequate, “because,” TIME explained, “today’s television-viewing children have an expanded vocabulary.”

Dr. Seuss worked on an Oscar-winning animated short film.
Dr. Seuss’s Gerald McBoing-Boing cartoon won the Academy Award in 1951.

Now, in honor of the new story coming to light, here’s another fact to add to the list: Dr. Seuss said that he thought the idea of academic analysis of his work was pretty silly. His books were, as he put it, “logical insanity.”

Read the full 1967 profile of Dr. Seuss here, in TIME’s archives: The Logical Insanity of Dr. Seuss

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 12

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Proprietary tech under the hood means farmers can’t service their own equipment. Time for open source tractors.

By Kyle Wiens in Wired

2. These grassroots efforts to improve life are glimmers of hope for Guatemala.

By Shannon K. O’Neill at the Council on Foreign Relations

3. Secular Americans aren’t morally adrift. For many, altruism is their moral compass.

By Nick Street in Al Jazeera America

4. It takes a package of policies to substantially reduce poverty.

By Linda Giannarelli, Kye Lippold, Sarah Minton and Laura Wheaton in MetroTrends

5. “Ultimately, the most effective way to create shareholder value is to serve the interests of all stakeholders.”

By Marc Benioff in the Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME curiosities

These Are the Cutest Pictures Ever Published by LIFE

Decades before YouTube gave us cat videos and giggling babies, LIFE already had the cute animal/adorable kid formula down pat with this photo essay featuring 30-inch horses and their toddler friends

The days preceding LIFE’s December 22, 1952, issue made for a slow news week. The editors could have chosen a photograph of U.S. steel mills or a harrowing image of violence in French Morocco for the cover, but—this being Christmas week—they went with the cutest photograph they could possibly find.

On the cover, three-year-old Cynthia West stands beside three-foot-tall Chauncey, a miniature horse imported from England by animal trainer Willis Parker. Parker’s Lilliput Ranch in California supplied animals for movies and television, and the four 90-pound horses he had transported from Sussex were sure to be a hit not only among producers, but also among neighborhood children like Cynthia.

As LIFE reported, “In California, where everything is usually bigger than ordinary, an animal trainer named Willis Parker decided to reverse the usual situation and establish a ranch where all the animals would be smaller than average.” Once he built corrals for the mini horses, Parker planned to get “miniature deer from East Africa, tiny dogs from Mexico and small ducks from England to provide the horses with suitable company.”

Miniature horses have historically served a purpose beyond cuteness: their small stature made them a good fit for coal mines in 19th century England and America after child labor was outlawed. The horses came to be prized as show animals and pets during the 20th century. While some work as service animals for people with disabilities, they have a few disadvantages. Unlike, say, dogs, the mini horses are livestock animals that fare better in outdoor stables.

Cedric, Chauncey and Ronnie had little Cynthia begging her mother to buy her a mini horse for Christmas. Parker’s animals, alas, were not for sale, dashing yet another girl’s dreams of owning her very own (if very tiny) pony.

Life Magazine Cover, December 22, 1952

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Parenting

16 Clever Ways to Entertain a Child Who’s Home Sick

girl-drinking-from-cup
Getty Images

Watching Frozen isn't the only way to brighten up the young one when they're feeling under the weather

Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane
Pull out your child’s baby book or family photo albums and leaf through them together. Children rarely tire of remembering vacations or hearing about the day they were born—and thinking about the good times can distract them from their sore throat or crummy tummy.

Create a Secret Hideout
Forts or special nooks are cozy places for kids to pass the time while they’re recovering. Drape blankets over chairs or create a tent in a corner. Fill the space with a sleeping bag, pillows, favorite stuffed animals, a child-safe camping lamp or flashlight, and some books or toys.

Play Hospital
Misery loves company, and so do most sick kids. Set up a doll or animal hospital and let your child play MD, tending to stuffed patients and dispensing Band-Aids with abandon. Just say “ahhhh”!

Hit the “Spa”
Run a hot shower and let your child sit in the bathroom, soaking up the steam, for 15 minutes. The warm, moist air will help alleviate coughs and soothe the nose and lungs. Plus, misty mirrors are great canvases for budding Rembrandts. Warm baths can also help, and bundling up in pajamas and fluffy robes afterwards brings extra comfort.

Close Your Eyes and Listen
If your child isn’t up for much activity, try listening to audio books. Pick a favorite story and hear it in a new way, or find the latest book everyone’s talking about at school and settle in. If stories aren’t your thing, try lullabies.

Stick With Magnets
Pull out a cookie sheet and fill it with magnets, so bedridden kids can play without running around. Younger kids can use letters to make words; older kids can use poetry sets to unleash their inner bards.

Make Ice Pops
For sore throats, nothing says “I love you” like popsicles. Try some of these recipes to soothe swollen tonsils. Or use the Zoku popsicle maker to make frozen treats in minutes.

Pull Out the Play-Doh
Make homemade Play-Doh and let your child create mosaics, mazes, and a mushy multitude of other options. You only need flour, oil, salt, cream of tartar, food coloring, and a stove. Essential oils are great additions (try peppermint, lavender or eucalyptus to help clear the nose and lungs).

Give Presents
Next time you’re at the dollar store, pick up a few toys or games your child might like. When your son or daughter is sick, you can wrap one up and give them a “Get Better” present.

Try Out Tattoos
Face paint might be too much for a sick day, but temporary tattoos (favorite superheroes, dinosaurs…even glitter hearts) are an easy way to make a dull afternoon a little more colorful. And if your kids start looking like Kat Von D, they can wear long sleeves when the fever breaks.

Get Into Graffiti
With Crayola Window Markers, your child can create designs or doodles on any glass surface—from cups and windows to picture frames. She can play graffiti artist to her heart’s content, but her masterpieces will wash off easily with soap and water.

Travel Back in Time
Travel back in time with nostalgic toys and games like Smethport magnetic boards, Shrinky Dinks, Mr. Potato Head, Cooties, Operation, and Silly Putty. They’re all readily available in stores and online, and (a blast from the past) none of them involves staring at a screen.

Tour the Globe
Use a globe or map to pick fantasy trips—from Disneyland to Denmark. Talk about why you want to travel there and what you’d do, even if you’re just making it all up. Check out National Geographic’s website for stories and stunning pictures of destinations both far-flung and domestic.

Make Astronaut Tea
Mix equal parts (roughly 20 ounces each) powdered Tang and powdered sweetened lemon ice tea in an airtight container. For an extra kick, add one teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground cloves. Shake well. Add 2-3 heaping teaspoons to hot water and enjoy. It’s full of sugar, but your little astronaut will probably be over the moon.

Create a Scavenger Hunt
If your kid is up to it, ask him find 10 things that are blue or 20 things that start with the letter S—or hide his favorite stuffed animals around the house and give him 20 minutes to find them. Reward him with Popsicles or tomato soup with goldfish crackers.

Take a Short Walk
Sure, it’s tempting to stay in bed all day, but so long as your child is comfortable and not running a fever, a short walk can do wonders to clear out a cough and get the blood flowing.

If all else fails, go ahead and pull out the movies or turn on the TV. Sometimes, mindless entertainment is truly the best medicine.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

More from Real Simple:

TIME Research

There’s a Growing Health Gap Between Rich and Poor Teens

International efforts to improve health for the under-5-year-olds are not being matched for older children, a new study reveals

Disparities in health between rich and poor adolescents grew globally during the first decade of this century, according to a survey conducted in 34 countries in Europe and North America.

The study, published in the Lancet, reports that “socioeconomic differences across multiple areas of adolescent mental and physical health increased between 2002 and 2010.”

According to the research, adolescents from the most impoverished socioeconomic groups are more likely to suffer from poor health thanks to diminished physical activity and larger body mass indices.

“A strong international focus on reducing child poverty and mortality in children under five years has not been matched by a similar response in older age groups, resulting in widening socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent health,” says Frank Elgar, a psychiatry professor at McGill University in Montreal.

Researchers behind the study relied on data compiled from 500,000 young people from across Europe and North America who participated in a World Health Organization survey.

[Science Daily]

TIME App

Now Your Kids Can Watch 6-Second Videos That Match Their Attention Spans

Resistance is futile

Vine has unveiled a new kid-friendly app that will allow your children to constantly scroll through six-second videos of silly characters on your iPhone while you wait in line at the bank.

The new app, called Vine Kids, is the same as Vine except it’s loaded with age-appropriate content, such as cartoon animals who make funny sounds. You scroll left or right to switch videos, and you tap to hear sounds.

Here’s how much kids love the idea:

Resistance is futile. Say goodbye to your iPhone.

TIME Television

Meet Disney’s First Latina Princess

PRINCESS ELENA OF AVALOR
Disney Junior Princess Elena of Avalor

Princess Elena of Avalor will make her debut in 2016

There’s a new Disney princess in town – and for the first time, she’s Latina.

On Thursday, Disney Junior announced that Princess Elena of Avalor will make her debut in 2016 on a special episode of Sofia the First, the network’s hit show for preschoolers.

Princess Elena is “a confident and compassionate teenager in an enchanted fairy tale kingdom inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore,” the network said in a statement.

After her introduction on Sofia, 16-year-old Elena will star in her own spin-off series, Elena of Avalor, also set to debut on Disney Junior in 2016.

Dominican Republic-born Aimee Carrero of ABC Family’s Young & Hungry, 26, will voice Elena, whose backstory is connected to the magical amulet Sofia wears on the show.

The story goes that Elena was imprisoned in the amulet by an evil sorceress, Shuriki, decades ago while Elena was trying to protect her little sister, Princess Isabel. Decades later, Sofia “discovers the truth . . . and sets out to restore Elena to her human form and help her return to the kingdom of Avalor.”

In 2012, Disney executives responded to questions about Sofia’s heritage after early hints that she had Hispanic roots.

“Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world,” said Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide. “All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Read next: How 7 Disney Princesses Could Change the World

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME celebrity

Kim and Kanye Working on Difficult Second Child

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian arrive to Soho House New York.
James Devaney—GC Images Kanye West and Kim Kardashian arrive to Soho House New York.

The celebrity tells People she and Kanye West are "trying for another kid"

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have unveiled their winter project — a younger sibling for baby North.

“We’ve really been trying for another kid,” Kardashian, 34, told People. More kids can’t come soon enough.”

The newlyweds had their first child, North, nineteen months ago.

This has been a busy 12 months for Kardashian. Not only did she break the internet, but Kardashian also got married, launched a mega-successful smartphone game, wrote a book (about selfies), and starred in a Super Bowl ad (also about selfies.)

Read more at People.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

Violent Psychopaths Don’t Register Punishment, Study Says

Getty Images

Violent psychopaths seem to have abnormalities in the parts of the brain that learn from punishment, according to a new study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. Knowledge about these brain differences could one day be used to help children whose brain makeup puts them at risk for psychopathy.

Using fMRI imaging, a team of researchers looked at the brain signaling of 50 men: 12 violent offenders—all people with antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy who had been convicted of murder, rape, attempted murder or grievous bodily harm—20 violent offenders with antisocial personality disorder but not psychopathy, and 18 non-offenders.

While their brains were being scanned, the men completed an image matching test that measured their ability to change their behavior and choices based on feedback they were getting from the game. The psychopathic men had a much harder time with changing their behavior, and they took significantly longer to adapt when the game changed its rules.

Scans of the psychopaths’ brains looked different from both non-psychopathic criminals and non-offenders, showing noticeable abnormalities in their white and gray matter—both of which are involved with connecting brain regions. The abnormalities were observed in areas of the brain where emotions like guilt, embarrassment and moral reasoning are processed. Some of those abnormalities were linked to a lack of empathy.

Prior studies of psychopaths have shown that rehabilitation efforts often fall short, which is why the researchers looked into the underlying mechanisms.

The authors write that many of the characteristics of psychopathy appear very early in age, and if caught early enough, interventions could alter brain structure. The researchers hope their findings could lead to the development of programs for parents who observe callousness and repeated violent behavior among their children early on.

“As most violent crimes are committed by men with this early-onset stable pattern of antisocial and aggressive behavior, interventions that target the specific underlying brain mechanisms and effect change in the behavior have the potential to significantly reduce the rate of violent crime,” the authors write.

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