Blasting into Summer at COSI

The family and I have been working on the summer bucket list, as time permits, and this past weekend we had the opportunity to take the girls to COSI for the day. Just about an hour drive from Dayton, Columbus always has things going on and COSI is a favorite no matter what time of year for a quick day trip.

It worked out that we could go while the Big Machines exhibit was out. Kids (and adults) got the chance to climb into all sorts of construction equipment and even get to work the arms on a few of them. It’s an annual event so it won’t be back until next June but Farm Days, August 9-13, will feature tractors and combines, a chance to meet farmers, and even get to milk a fiberglass cow. Check back on COSI’s website every so often to find out what special exhibits are being planned.

My oldest, Kelsey, loved getting right into the chairs and making things go. Folks from Operating Engineers Local 18 were on hand to help kids get in and out of the equipment and show them how to use the arms. It was great for kids to see both men and women skilled at working with these powerful machines.

IMG_0146

Back inside, we spent the most time in three exhibits: Be the Astronaut, Gadgets, and Little Kidspace. In between we checked out fun hallway exhibits, activities, and shows that had the girls building arch bridges and learning about recycling different materials, feeling electrostatic shock, identifying insects, and making a drum beat in time with their heart beat. Kelsey just really excited about the High Wire Unicycle so we may have to look into that more next time we visit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Be the Astronaut is part of COSI’s Cosmic Summer programming running through September 4, 2017. In addition to the interactive exhibit, there is a giant screen movie and planetarium show exploring the future of space exploration. This particular exhibit is geared towards older kids and adults more than my two, but they still enjoyed the touch screen puzzles and trying to fly space crafts and rovers.

The girls have been interested in all thing space lately so this was a great chance to let them pretend to be astronauts for a little while. My husband had fun flying space crafts, too. With plenty of stations, there was no waiting around and everyone got to play on any style of console they wanted. We capped off our day with some astronaut ice cream from the gift shop.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The girls could have spent all day in the Gadgets exhibit (Facebook Live video here) if we had let them. They had a blast while learning about motion and mechanics. The girls launched balls across the room, pulled themselves up with pulleys (video here), explored how gears work, and made their own creations with large foam pieces.

We spent a good amount of time in this room and still didn’t see every display. We’ll have to make time to check out the Gadget Café next time, too, to get to take apart an appliance.

IMG_0171

I definitely see why a membership to COSI would be a good investment. Little Kidspace was yet another space the girls could have spent all day in. It’s designed for kids 6 and under to give the youngest kiddos a space without older kids. It has several play spaces to pretend to be everything from an ambulance driver, to life on a farm , to housing construction.

We more or less made a beeline straight to the end with the water and art spaces. My girls have always enjoyed playing with water – at home a bucket of water can entertain them for three hours! In the Splish Splash area they experimented with floating items, directing water flow, and filling and dumping. For the older infants, they have a table with built in chairs and little streams of water that was honestly the best thing to sit and watch all day.

The art space was another big hit with open invitations to paint, make collages with found items, and play with color mixing. Kelsey jumped right on the climbing wall every chance she got. When it was finally time to go, we had to show a slip of paper that we received on the way to ensure we were leaving with the same number of kids we came in with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A couple of tips to help you plan your visit to COSI:

  • Parking fills up quick. This may be elevated once they finish construction on the new underground parking, but for now, be prepared to walk a bit.
  • You can pack a lunch or but one. They are tables to sit out inside and out to eat. There are plenty of restaurants in Columbus and near COSI but if you don’t want to leave the building, keep it simple and order from the quick serve onsite. They have a few kid friendly options that make pictures with food and a selection of meals for adults and other snacks.
  • Bring a bag. You won’t want to need to go back to the car if you can help it or lose anything so bring a backpack or tote to let yourself be hands free while hanging on to the hats, snacks, and odds and ends the kids pick up. They do also have storage lockers available for rent.
  • Do a little research. Take a look at the exhibits on the website before you head out and pick a top three of exhibits your family would be most interested in. There are so many things to see and do you may not get a chance to see and do all of it. At the same time, don’t be surprised if an area catches their attention and you end up spending 30 minutes at one activity.

We had a great family day at COSI and I want you to get the chance to take your crew there for the day, too! Gather your crew and explore space through the eyes of an astronaut, with three amazing experiences this summer at COSI.

Enter to win!

Two winners will get a four pack of tickets to COSI! To enter, just visit COSI’s website and then come back here and comment on what your family would be most interested in exploring.

Enter HERE through Rafflecopter to make it official and earn extra entries. Giveaway ends on July 11, 2017 at 11:59pm. Good luck!

19250536_1757889160894919_3097340714766256082_o

Domesticating Michelle was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Domesticating MichelleCOSI Ticket Giveaway

Advertisements
Video

Letters Make Words

LettersMakeWords

My 4 year old doesn’t turn until 5 until January so we have one more school year before Kindergarten. At daycare, she has been moved to a Pre-K class but even before this move, her teachers have been doing a great job of getting her interested in writing and reading more and more.

It still impresses me when she points to a word and can tell me what it is. Wasn’t she just learned how to walk yesterday?! I have been trying to work in ways to encourage her to practice identifying words at home.

When we were practicing recognizing letters I came up with this fishing game. I revisited the idea with words she knows. When she catches one, she has to say what it says, maybe find a matching fish, etc. I plan to make more of these using sight words to reinforce those as well.

2015_08_07_9999_4

Words used: hat, bee, mop, pop, map, dog, top, fun, bat, log, tap, sun (Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop provided some inspiration on word choices.)

I was fortunate to get to review these Bath Toy Organizer with 36 Alphabet Letters and Numbers from Brilliant Babyz. Almost immediately, my 4 year old started trying to make words with the letters she was wading through and it has continued to be a popular activity.

In the video below, you can see what we talk through swapping letters out and sounding words out to get to a new word. My almost 2 year old participates in playing with the letters by putting them on and off the wall and I name the letters and numbers as she picks them up.

2015_08_09_9999_14

The foam letters, once wet, stick right on to the shower wall and side of the tub without any damage to the wall grout, etc. The best part is the organizer it came with sticks right on to the wall so all the letters can dry out between uses. My girls can also put them away by themselves.

2015_08_09_9999_15

You can see I am all about the bath toy storage. My Pinterest-y solution was putting a shower curtain rod across the back of the shower and attaching a couple of dollar store bins to it. They slide across, I can add more if I need it, and it only cost a couple bucks.

With summer, incorporating word practice into water activities has been an easy way to make it interesting. I’m going to have to work on some other ways as we head into the cooler months.

How do you encourage kids to practice letter recognition, letter sounds, and sight words?

*I received a product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Encouraging STEM with My Daughters

2015_04_04_9419I was never very good in math growing up. When it came to the sciences, I did well in biology and anatomy but horrible in chemistry or anything that required working with numbers. I know part of it is innate ability, but I am hoping that my daughters won’t be quite so math-phobic especially as the world is more and more geared to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related areas.

Regardless of whether or not they pursue careers in STEM, I want my girls to be able to keep up with the new demands of school as they get older and know that any career path could be for them. I am hoping that the everyday things I have been doing with my now 4 year old and almost 2 year old since they were born are laying the groundwork for math skills once she begins school.

  • Counting everything – Whether it’s the number of horses, the red fish at the aquarium, or the number of apples at the store. I try to remember to incorporate counting, adding and subtracting into everyday life so it becomes second nature. I am happy that my 4 year old can already do simple addition and subtraction.1415100_10100655504401116_470902690_o
  • Helping around the house – Whether it’s matching socks or setting a plate and fork at each place at the table, they are working on basic concepts for math.
  • Helping in the kitchen – Counting out how many scoops of flour, adding up fractions, and learning the differences in sizes are all incorporated in assisting with making cookies. Cutting up an apple is a great chance to review fractions so we’ll talk about cutting in half makes two, cut those in half marks 4, etc.
  • Children’s programs – whether it’s science museums or the monthly kids builds at home improvement stores, I use children’s programs to gain access to other toys and ways to encourage design.
  • Puzzles and building sets – In addition to matching and sorting, I encourage them to play with a variety of building sets to explore creating something from pieces that can then serve a function.

As my daughter starts the transition from preschooler to kindergartener, I’m exploring fun new ways to keep her interest. I was happy to get the chance to review ThinkFun’s Maker Studio Gears Set. It comes with a variety of pieces and gears to build a racecar, a cable car, a 3-wheeler and a motorcycle.

Maker-1701-LoResSpill

Each kit includes:
• 1 Spool
• 2 Long Connectors, 3 Medium Connectors
• 1 Large Gear, 1 Medium Gear
• 2 Large Wheels, 2 Medium Wheels, 2 Small Wheels
• 3 5.5″ Rods, 3 1.5″ Rods
• 13 Hub Caps
• 1 Hole Punch
• 3 Rubber Bands
• 10 Engineering Challenges

For each build you’re given Engineering Challenges – experiment with friction, torque and propulsion as you engineer your solutions. My 4 year old is also working on following picture directions so I like that she could work with her father on identifying the parts and putting them together. The challenges do a good job of walking you through so that even if you aren’t an engineering expert, you, as the parent, can follow along and understand the concepts, too. Once you’ve mastered all four builds, you can get creative and design something that’s all your own! My husband enjoyed following along right with daughter.

2015_08_02_9999_9

While we are still working up to being able to complete the projects (at 4, she’s not quite ready for utilizing the entire kit just yet) it will be a product we’ll be able to keep coming back to and trying new things. I also can’t wait to explore some of ThinkFun’s other offerings – Robot Turtles Game just went on the Christmas Wish List! To pick up a kit of your own, visit ThinkFun’s website or order through Amazon. You can also check them out on YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Websites I like to follow:

Home Depot and Lowe’s have free kid’s workshops every month. If you are military, be sure to check the Blue Star Museums program for free admission to museums and centers nationwide.

*I received a product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.*

Video

Heroes of the City YouTube Review and Giveaway! #SummerLovin

Heroes of the City are an animated TV-series about rescue vehicles in a small town where everyone can be a hero! Follow the fantastically exciting adventures along with friends in town. Meet Paulie Police Car and Fiona Fire Engine as they help the townspeople find thieves, put out fires, and solve one of the many mysteries that happen in the otherwise quiet town. You will also get to know Calamity Crow, the most unlucky bird in town. Emphasizing friendship, Heroes of the City contains a great deal of warmth and what may be accomplished by helping each other. The cartoon is primarily targeted at children age 3 – 7.

They recently added a few more options on their YouTube Channel. In addition to new videos, giving you 6 hours of entertainment for 2-6 year olds, it is available in 18 different languages. Great for those of you with extended family or multilingual homes.

They have also added the Calamity Crow Kids Crafting Show. It provides tutorials for you and your children to watch and create together making wonderful, simple crafts with things found around the house.

Crafting_Show

On the Calamity Crow Sketch and Guess show, you’ll have to try to guess what’s being drawn before the picture is completed.

Finally, in On Patrol with Heroes of the City, kids will follow the heroes on patrol in the city and help them out along the way. On Patrol with Heroes of the City is fun memory training for the younger children. There is an easy, medium and hard version of each reconnaissance missions.

Be sure to stop by the Heroes of the City YouTube Channel then enter to win a prize pack below. Keep scrolling to learn more about the Summer Lovin’ Giveaway Hop!

heroes prize pic 2

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 6/18/15 at 11:59pm. Winner will be notified by email and has 24 hours to claim prize. Prize will be fulfilled by Heroes of the City. I have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Summer Lovin

Welcome to the Summer Lovin’ Giveaway Hop, hosted by Viva Veltoro and Lindsey Blogs. This giveaway hop is full of bloggers who are ready to celebrate the warm temperatures of Summer with some fabulous prizes. Be sure to hop around to them all, including the TWO Grand Prizes – the first on Lindsey Blogs at SEBG and the second over at Viva Veltoro!

Summer Lovin Grand Prize

Click here to enter and view this list…

So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, and the Summer Lovin’ participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Monster Faces Activity

Halloween is around the corner and this year my almost 4 year old is into monsters. I love that the library near us has book bundles, a handful of books banded together on various topics that are on display. It makes it easy to grab a few books without trying to keep track of two girls heading in different directions while reading book spines. The latest batch that Kelsey picked out is a Monster themed set.

One of the favorites has been Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer. It’s about a monster who is like every other monster except she has some hobbies the other monsters just don’t get.

monsterly

In my usual fashion, I had some materials laying around, in this case sheets of felt, and had a quick idea. In the end, we have a fun new “busy bag” idea that my preschooler enjoyed and even my 1 year old had fun checking out. To create your own Monster Faces Felt Activity, just get a little creative with some scissors and felt and cut out shapes that could be eyes, mouth, etc. I just used basic shapes like triangles, circles, and squares in various sizes and some zig zag pieces that could maybe be hair, or teeth, or eyebrows.

Monster Face Collage

That’s pretty much it! It took a few minutes to get started and I just kept making more pieces from the scraps after cutting out bigger shapes. The girls played with these for a while until, well, the 1 year old started acting like a 1 year old and trying to grab all the pieces. You can only do so much.

Don’t mind the bedhead. We were still in pajamas at almost lunch time – who doesn’t love a lazy weekend morning. I hope your little monsters enjoy the activity, too!

 

Lessontrek: Online Homeschool Lesson Planning Tool

lessontreklogo

I was given the opportunity to have a family member try out this homeschool lesson plan website. Lessontrek.com features include a lesson tracker, grade recording, printable options, secure information service, and copy/paste options between weeks. As a new service, there are still many features in development such as a gradebook, sharing subjects across students and attendance tracking.

Lessontrek.com has a responsive costumer support system but you do need to be somewhat tech savvy to take full advantage of the features in this lesson plan template system.

My sister-in-law homeschools five children from high school to kindergarten. Lessontrek.com also proved to be a little tricky when trying to see all the grades and activities for one day at the same time. It may be best for families developing homeschool lesson plans for children close in age or 1-2 children. For another review of how to use the lesson plans features click here.

Are you interested in trying it for yourself?

Lessontrek would like to offer ALL of my readers 50% off a 1 year subscriptions. This will make their program very affordable for even tight budgets. Families can get a full year access to Lessontrek for just $30. You just need to click the $60 yearly and enter the code 2IOL50 in the Payment Info section. Your credit card will be charged $30 for a full year and then renew for $60 each year thereafter.

 

*I was compensated for this review. All opinions are my own and that of my contributors.

5 Ideas for Celebrating Earth Day with Toddlers and Preschoolers

I grew up participating in Girl Scouts and we did a lot of community service over the years. As an adult I continued to volunteer with college groups and other organizations. When I had children, I knew it was something I wanted to continue doing with them. With Earth Day this week, I wanted to share 5 ideas of things that you can do with toddlers and preschoolers to celebrate Earth Day and any day.

Participate in a Clean Up
Litter removal projects are the easiest way to get little ones involved. You’ll have to point out to little ones what to pick up but you can make it interesting by discussing the colors or shapes of what you are picking up. They also love to hold the trash bag so that is a task they can do as well. Another nice feature is that they are walking and moving around which gets them nice and tired for nap time.
Check with your local parks and recreation, county or state parks departments, or solid waste management district for opportunities in your community. Just make sure you are able to pick a location that is a good distance away from water and traffic.

10269519_10100843520395556_5789285862869645852_n

Plant Something
Do a little research and find a little space to plant wild flowers or a butterfly garden this summer. It’s a great way to put those fine and gross motor skills to work scooping and dumping and placing seeds and flowers. You’ll also doing something good for the butterflies and insects and you’ll have a lot of garden visitors to discuss. It can also be a way to teach responsibility and an easy chore for little ones since they require some upkeep and maintenance. A lot of areas have somewhere that gives away tree seedlings this time of year.

Jack’s Garden is a children’s book with a nice overview of the process of how plants grow and the illustrations have labels insects, birds and flowers to use a guide as the season continues.

525362_10100441936418066_952002786_n

Recycled Art
There are tons of project ideas out there for things to do with milk jugs, toilet paper rolls, and other items. You usually just need a few basic art supplies to create something useful. Check out Pintrest to get started.

Recycle Relay
Are your recyclables just sitting there waiting to be picked up? Why not play a little relay race? Depending on the age of your child, gather a variety of recyclable items and get a few boxes or containers. Label them “paper,” “metal,” and “plastic” either with words or pictures and place them a little distance away and encourage your child to sort the trash by running it over to the correct box. This can also be done with a group.

945987_10100582491150256_1467103653_n

Get Outside
Make it a point to get out and visit your local parks. Not only does it get you out of the house and away from the TV and computer, but kids love exploring leaves and sticks and climbing on things. Just being out in nature can teach your children that it is important to maintain it. Plus, lots of parks have programs, for free or cheap, to teach about a variety of topics.

*Post contains affiliate links.