Archives For kids activities

Family time fun at Busch Gardens

We had so much fun that day at Busch Gardens being outside and playing, from my 8 year old to my 18 year old.

How is your Summer going? Ours has been a mix of great fun and some quiet indoor days. I am not a super outdoorsy person and I definitely feel guilty when I am not out and about with the kids, doing outdoor activities.

Yet, most of my kids are pretty content to watch movies and play online, so while that mitigates my guilt, I still feel it IS better for kids to be outside, being kids, whether that is just going to the pool or running around the neighborhood.

Just recently, we all got off our electronics though! I had a “Mommy and Me Meetup” at Williamsburg, Busch Gardens. This ended up being a fantastic opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy time with my children.

Note: “I attended an event on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Busch Gardens. I received free admission to the park as a thank you for participating.”*

Once we got there, we had an awesome breakfast buffet and meeting. I loved how the Busch Gardens team prepared for our kids. They know little kids need to have stuff to do, and the tables even had paper and chalk for drawing and little buckets with toys.

Busch Gardens Breakfast

Busch Gardens Breakfast

While the kids were eating and playing, Stacy from Mom Central Consulting and the Busch Gardens Team gave a fascinating presentation about how our children are described as the generation of digital natives. We heard about a study of 900 Moms, which showed that most mothers struggle to find a healthy balance of indoor and outdoor play.

I totally agree. I know I ran around outside crossing our little creek and climbing around in the woods as a kid. I wish my kids had more natural outdoor fun, but where we live now it just is not as easy. I have to worry about safety and neighbors, and the kids want to play video games.

 “According to a just-released survey of nearly 900 moms conducted by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Busch Gardens®, kids spend only two hours during the week participating in natural, unstructured activities such as playing tag, riding bikes, and exploring nature, and these activity levels increase only slightly on the weekends to a little more than two hours.”

It is almost as though, as parents, we really need to work to help our kids play outside and have that old fashioned fun. And some days I do try hard to set up more outdoor play. But, it really is work for me though I know it is worth the time to get.

With the meetup focus, we heard about how Busch Gardens is trying to help fill that need for outdoor natural fun for whole families. It makes sense. They have over 100 acres of lush land at this location. They have been voted the world’s most beautiful theme park for the past 23 years! I took a few photos from the The  Aeronaut Skyride because the trees and foliage are just gorgeous.

The Aeronaut Skyride

Anyway, Busch Gardens wants to share that “Fun Grows Here”

outdoor fun clip

they have a kind of triple play of gorgeous nature, animals and rides. So, any family can find their niche while enjoying being outdoors together.

The Aeronaut Skyride

I think that is fabulous and I love that Moms and Dads can have the fun also. My kids love it when we play with them and this trip made it so easy to just go play outdoors!

It was, overall, such a relaxing, enjoyable experience. At the beginning of the day (and at the very end) we had some rain showers. I freaked out and figured we’d have to go home, but there was no lightening and the kids could have cared less.

girl at Busch Gardens with Umbrella

A teeny bit after I calmed down, the sun popped out and the weather was fantastic most of the day…and no one got sunburned.

We got our maps and those of us with smart phones had the Busch Gardens App, which is great because it shows where you are, directions to rides and such and even updates the showtimes around the park. It proved to be a useful App.

The older kids got to run around on the roller coasters and thrill rides, while we did some of the younger kids things, marked as KIDsiderate with our youngest:

Kids roller coaster at Busch Gardens

and then we all met up, throughout the day, to do some rides together, watch some shows, have some treats and check out the animals.

The pompei ride at Busch Gardens

The kids on the Pompeii ride

Dad even found a new ride he liked:

Europe in the air ride

 

As we walked through the park I did test some of the employees {grin} I knew I would be writing a review and I wanted to be able to share the truth of our experience. I had been told that the Park employees with animals were friendly and if I asked, would tell us all about the animal. So, we talked to several park employees who were with animals. We first hung out with the sheep in Scotland and learned tons about the baby sheep and border collies and Clydesdales. My daughter was so into that!

girl and Clydesdales at Busch Gardens

I was impressed with the employees knowledge and willingness to chat with us. We also went to the pet shenanigans show, and I liked how after the show, people were encouraged to come up and talk to the people and visit with the animals.

Pet Shenanigans show at Busch Gardens

Again, my eight year old enjoyed that very much. We also spoke with a woman with the most adorable little owl and she gave us so many facts, Emma could write a report.

Busch Gardens Owl

The roller coasters were my teenagers favorites and they rode those over and over, as the wait times were not bad at all. My children declared Griffon® the “best ride ever”.

Griffon Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens

One thing they noticed was that many of the coasters and thrill rides like the Battering Ram and Da Vinci’s Cradle had accelerometers on the rides, and they were curious to do some of the educational activities when they came back again.

I loved it that I did not push them to do the educational stuff, yet they became curious and want to follow up for themselves. Now, THAT’S natural learning.

I hear that Busch Gardens is homeschool friendly, with many new homeschool opportunities coming up.

For example, they have a Launch Into Physics: The Mars Mission program where kids can learn about momentum, acceleration and g-forces.

I see that this Summer there will be NASA Exploration Days (Aug. 2 – 3) and they have ongoing Conservation programs. You can check out their website to read about how to do Behind the Scenes Tours with groups of 15 or more. As a homeschool Mom, I will be keeping a watch for these things!

Anyway, we meandered through the park and ate crazy good ice cream cone sundaes in France and fat pretzels in Germany (the pretzels in Germany are the best get yours there). I felt like a kid myself.

ice cream at Busch Gardens

As a parent, it is so much fun to watch your kids enjoy themselves! I got a kick out of doing some old school rides like the bumper cars…

IMG_2233

and the carousel…

Busch Gardens carousel

Haha! We made Big brother go with us

and we planned our day to culminate at the Celtic Fyre® a show with singers, musicians and Irish dancers, which was so enjoyable and a great end to the day.

I didn’t have time to do everything. I missed taking the Rhine River Cruise, which sounds beautiful. Next time around, I want to try the Escape from Pompeii® and Roman Rapids®. There is so much to do!!

I know that this trip is something all of my kids that went with us will remember forever. It was just that fun and doing it all together made for a great memory.

You can find more information on the Park on the Busch Gardens website. You can also follow Busch Gardens Facebook. An upcoming event that looks great is the return of IllumiNights: A Busch Gardens® Encore.

So, that was our experience. Here’s to enjoying outdoor fun as a family! #NaturalFun and #MC.

Creativity For Kids Party

Heather —  August 23, 2012

Party Poses with Creativity for Kids Party

We just threw a Creativity for Kids Party! It was amazing. Want your kids to engage in more  creative play? Check this out.

As mom of an artist, I am familiar with the name Faber-Castell. I always associated the name with quality art supplies that my son would appreciate.

Just this Summer, when I was chosen to host a Creativity for Kids Party, through Faber-Castell and MomSelect, I got a chance to see all the new kids products they have unveiled.

I received two giant boxes of craft kits and we immediately broke them open and began playing  um, practicing for our party.

My daughter and I made headbands first. I love these things! I am the kind of mom who does not love messes. (I know, not creative and cool) I’m just like that. I try. Somehow, my kids are super creative in spite of me.

But, with the kits we tried, I was so impressed that everything we could need was at our fingertips and we were not even making messes, really, just REALLY making something we could actually use. Our “homemade” headbands looked like we bought them (maybe a little more glittery). I liked how we had all sorts of small embellishment materials there and my daughter could just dive into her imagination and make her very own creation.

The girl fashion kits are just the thing for a fantastic crafting day party or slumber party or Birthday party. Or just to have some fun!

After that experience, I took a look at many of the products we received so I would know what we were doing for our party. Most everything looked like things the girls would really like, fashionable for the time and with lots of choices on how the finished product would look.

Creativity for Kids Kits

So then we sent out our evites!

creativity invite

What did we have to share? Well, lots of accessories kits to make the following: Fashion headbands, Fashion Bracelets, Pop-Art Necklaces and Stuck on Fashion Tote bags. We had aprons and goodie bags and loads of party ideas!

So how did it go?

FANTASTIC! The girls had such a blast. Every craft was received with oooohs and ahhhhs! We did the bags first, so the kids would have a bag to put their creations in. I was surprised by how they all focused and played with just designing the bags! It was neat to watch how differently they all created even though they had all the same kit materials.

The same thing happened with the necklaces and headbands. I found it fascinating how different all their creations were. Talk about using their imaginations! One child even put two headbands together to make another look.  One little girl took some materials from the necklaces, some from the headbands and made a special hairclip with dangling feathers. Now, that was extra creative!

Creating an original clip

Meanwhile, I did let them eat too much sugar! We had fruit kabobs, tea party sandwiches, punch, candy and strawberry cream cake.

After the first three crafts and eating, we were already going over time. Now that is something I have never had happen during a kids party. I am usually hard pressed to add in activities to keep them busy. Not so with this craft party.

Photo 15

They were super excited about the Shrinky Dinks, so I pulled those out and we all had fun with that. I even made some.

hard at work with shrinky dinks

Shrinky Dinks are from back in the day, you know?! Haha. It was fun to see them watching the oven.

Waiting for the shrinky dinks

After that, I really had to wrap things up–it was time to go! We still had time for some Vogue posing and a Fashion show!

more posing

If I had had this for my daughters birthday before we held a Roller Rink Birthday Party, I would have done this instead. The kids love activities like this. These are great for a rainy day or slumber party…any group gathering as a special thing or just a mom and child thing! I found the art materials so nice. The little pencils are marvelous, even.

Do take a look at the Creativity for Kids site and enroll in the Creativity Club. They have all sorts of printables, craft ideas, a craft of the month, and good directions to get your craft just right! #CreativityforKids, #FaberCastellParty.

http://creativityforkids.com

http://blog.creativityforkids.com

http://www.facebook.com/CreativityforKids

http://twitter.com/creativity4kids

http://www.youtube.com/justaddimagination

 

Right now through 8/31/12, get 20% off online purchases when you use code ANYTIME. Continental US shipping address only and eligible on Creativity for kids products only.

PS: Thank you to my older daughter who made the party so fun with a great playlist, dance party and fashion show!! You are AWESOME!

Striking a pose

Our party was sponsored by Faber-Castell’s Creativity for Kids Craft Kits in partnership with MommyParties. I received products for the party and a few additional products for my child. I have given my honest opinion on the products.

Dad’s Desk:

During Family Game Night, it’s pretty common around our household to stir up and renew our video game rivalries.  After we have had our share of nachos, veggies with dip, and root beer floats, we turn our attention to the game at hand.  We especially enjoy EA Sport’s NCAA Football 12.

NCAA Footbal 12 for Xbox 360

Over the years we have moved around the country; so as we pick our teams, we often choose a team from where we have lived.  The stadium graphics are incredible and bring back fond memories of when we saw our teams compete in person.

 

Play Selection

We have six kids of all different ages.  Recently, during our Family Game Night, we have started having our youngest take part in learning to play.

Friendly RivalryIn our latest showdown, she threw a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown to win with no time left on the clock (sounds like the ending to a famous Boston College game from days gone by).  I was “schooled” by my 7 year old :).  After wallowing in my defeat, I was heartened by the fact that there will be another Family Game Night where I will have the opportunity to regain my former glory.

EA Sports in conjunction with Walmart is getting ready to launch the latest title in the franchise- NCAA Football 13.  It will be available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  The release date is set for July 10, 2012.  This latest version of an already extremely popular video game will take your gaming experience to the next level.

 

Game On!

 

There are several new features that EA Sports has added that will get you hooked.  Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. You can become one of 10 legendary Heisman Trophy winners (Robert Griffin III, Doug Flutie, or Herschel Walker–just to name a few).  Use their strengths and talents on your favorite team to help them in their quest to regain the Heisman Trophy.
  2. The Passing game has been improved-both from a Quarterback and Wide Receiver standpoint.    As the QB you will have more control on the ball’s trajectory and on how you use play action and the option.  As a WR you will have a greater ability to read and react to the defense; so you can make that catch.
  3. Reaction time will depend on who you are.  Football players have differing abilities and now that is factored into the game.  The game slows down during key times increasing your on-field awareness and opening up more opportunities as you sense things before they happen.
  4. Impact your ability to recruit the talent your team needs with Dynamic Dynasty.  Your recruiting grade can change from week to week.  And your Game day Saturdays will come to life with live studio updates and commentary by Rece Davis.

Another great feature of this game is going to be their You’re Covered Program.  You will have the opportunity to add your picture (or anyone you know who loves college football as much as you) to the cover of the game.  This is video game cover personalization like you have never seen before.  In four steps you can customize your cover.

Create Your Own NCAA Football 13 Cover for Xbox 360

This all comes in time for the 2012 – 2013 NCAA College Football season, which is about to get under way.  In my next post, I am going to share with you my review of NCAA Football 13 and offer one lucky reader a chance to win their own copy of this newest release by EA Sports.  In the meantime, take a look at the You’re Covered Program and if you don’t win, get ready for a great deal on your copy of NCAA Football 13 at your local Walmart.

Disclaimer:

*I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Electronic Arts #CBias #SocialFabric”   But all opinions are my own–whether I like it or not–you will know.

 

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Have you heard of the new app Family Bible Adventures?

A few months ago, I reviewed some wonderful videos for kids from Rising Star Studios, called Meteor and friends. I really loved these!

Now, the same studio, in partnership with Faith Inkubators, has released a new App that is an interactive Bible experience for children.

The App has several parts, using videos with animated illustrations, games, quizzes and songs to teach children about the Good News of Jesus Christ. Em and I checked it out and from what I see, the original app contains a lot of content, with 5 major Bible stories and accompanying games and quizzes and music for each story. The app is set up so you can add to your collection within this same app, and eventually, I suppose, have most of the major Bible stories.

This first App tells five Gospel stories, beginning with Christ’s birth.

So what did we think?

Well, I think Emma said it best:

“The pictures and voices are a bit weird, but it tells the stories. The games and quizzes and coloring pages are so fun. And, the music is the best,” says Emma.

I agree. The narrating character is a Rev. Fink and I don’t love his voice, but Emma didn’t seem to care as much as I did. The story animation illustrations seemed kind of…what’s the word?? Maybe cheeky. Silly to me. BUT, the storylines were very biblical and I began to get used to this style. I think this was a personal feeling on my part. I am going to ask our children’s pastor what she thinks, she is a bit “cooler” than I am and knows what the kids like!

With that said, I DO like this app. I like how the stories are reinforced by the games and quizzes. I think Kids will really retain the information. I LOVE, Love the music. There is a “jukebox” and this application works really well. The songs are all straight scripture and are gentle and sweet. Emma played with listening to the music quite a bit. I would pay more just for this music. My daughter has been coloring on the coloring pages like crazy. Just a lot of thinks to do in one little app. I am impressed. RECOMMENDED!

The app is designed with the FAITH 5 concept in mind. This stands for Faith Acts In The Home and is a 5 step nightly process for having caring conversations every night in the home – teaching prayer and openness in the home.

What’s inside Family Bible Adventures HD:

  • 5 beautiful motion storybook videos – God’s Big Plan, Mary’s Song, The Birth of Jesus, Baptism & Wilderness, and Fishing For People.
  • 5 great original songs taken from scripture.
  • A fun quiz with each story to reinforce the message.
  • A music Jukebox to play all your favorite songs in whatever order you like.
  • An awesome match game with Easy, Medium and Hard difficulty settings (with art and sounds from the stories)
  • A custom coloring book featuring artwork AND a built in music player to listen to your favorite FBA songs while you draw.
  • Parent’s Corner shares with you the FAITH 5 concept– five easy steps to help keep your family together in a world that could tear it apart. – Share, Read, Talk, Pray and Bless.

You can find out more at www.familybibleapp.com. Do go “like” them on facebook!

FAMILY BIBLE ADVENTURES HD trailer from Rising Star Studios on Vimeo.

*I received the Family Bible Adventure app in order to do this review. I have given my honest opinion.

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Always ice cream site

My daughter uses Always Ice Cream and I have a little nephew checking out Clever Dragons.

This online gaming and social site is, to me, very well managed. They have moderators and security and parents are given updates on the girls and boys activities on the site.

Many of the games are educational, but some stuff is just plain fun, too. Looking at safe funny videos on here, keeps your kids off of some of those questionable sites!

There really is tons to do. This online community and educational site for girls ages k-8, is one Emma does not tire of. I hear great things about the boy one, too. Read my original review. They often have deals and you can try them out for free.

Right now, through April 10th, the company is offering Family Lifetime Memberships for families of many children with an introductory offer of $149 instead of $259 for 4 children!

The offer will only be good for 10 days. After that a Spring Special for individual lifetime memberships is coming!

Note—if you have more than 4 children k-8, contact the company for your special deals.

Go try it: http://www.always-icecream.com/login

Imagine my surprise when one day, I’m standing in the kitchen and as I listen to a bit of a clip from a cd a friend forwarded me…and my daughter comes running in asking me to turn THAT UP, please!

Is this the kid who usually looks bored out of her mind when I try to pop an audio book into our quiet time?

Well, I did turn it up…and then asked for the CD, as my daughter was so enthralled!

So what got her so excited?

Kid’s Fairytale Audio Theater for Kids, by Kids from 6 Pence Productions.

And I was left standing in the kitchen, thinking, “What a genius idea—kid’s theater performed by kids. Why didn’t I think of that?”

Em and I listened to the The Fairytale Collection and Princess Reform School. While all the tales are performed by kids ages 5-17, they sound so professional. I think the writing and sound effects are excellent, and I was pleased to see Emma really paying close attention. It was fun to have no visuals and just try to imagine all the players.

The “official” bit:

fairytale_cover2Fairytale Collection – 5 classic, magical children’s fairytales brought to life and voiced entirely by KIDS aged 5-17.

  • Three Billy Goats Gruff 9:32
  • Cinderella and Friends 11:08
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes 14:53
  • The Three Little Pigs Meet the Big Bad Wolves 8:24
  • Princess and the Pea 13:02

Princess Reform School – Being born a princess is no guarantee that you know how to behave as one! However, isprincess_reform_school_cover learning to balance your tiara or to perform the perfect curtsey the limit to the power a princess possesses? Societal expectations, pressures and the role of modern-day females are questioned by a gaggle of familiar, and brand new, fairy-tale princesses. The fantastical backdrop, complete with dragons, toads, and castles, in addition to several uniquely forward-thinking princesses, illustrates the joy and power discovered in a young girl’s self-acceptance.

Listen to samples of the 6 Pence Production Fairytale Collection!

The website has a great page where you can help your child explore their imagination and create some fairytale magic with finger puppets, coloring sheets and more.

Overall, I am impressed with the storytelling. The stories are well written, the player’s voices so pleasant…it is just a joy to sit and listen. My daughter remains spellbound and has even made her 16 year old brother listen. Haha!

I just love these. Something old made brand new again with fresh writing and voices!

Want to win one?? I am pleased to be able to offer a giveaway!

For your mandatory entry, please go check out 6 Pence productions on Facebook. Like what you see? then “Like” them, too!

For additional entries, share some info about 6 Pence productions with your friends and let me know what you did! (includes FB sharing, tweeting, Blog posting…2 entries for each “share”) IF YOU SHARE, give yourself 2 entries for each share!

Go ahead and listen to samples and buy your own on the website.

I will draw a winner February 4, 2011. Good luck!

As a member of Christian Mommy Bloggers, I received these cds in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Preschool Storybook Piano is out today! Encourage your children to be creative through song and play.

01

This is adorable–the App is a singing piano storybook designed to educate and entertain young children. And….it was created by a preschool teacher and an platinum award-winning children’s singer/songwriter. We loved the colorful graphics and my daughter already loves playing the piano. I especially like that she is seeing the patterns in music, while just playing around and having a good time!

02

Mostly, the App is just plain fun….but, for us Mom’s who want even more…it does that too! The simple-to-use interface allows children to:

  • watch the story unfold and hear the song being sung
  • press the start button and sing along
  • record and hear their own voice
  • select 7 different types of instruments and learn about the sounds they create
  • add animal sounds to the song
  • watch the piano keys light up one-by-one with the melody
  • follow the lighted piano keys to play the song
  • match the colorful music notes to the piano keys and play along
  • sing and read karaoke-style lyrics in English, French and Spanish
  • include their parents as they sing and read together
  • increase their vocabulary and language awareness
  • improve their auditory comprehension and listening skills

03

CONTEST!! To celebrate the launch of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star “ Preschool Storybook Piano App, Kiboomu is hosting a contest to give away 200 copies of its’ iPhone app. It is open to everyone with a US or Canadian iTunes account. The contest begins at 9:00 AM PST, on June 10th 2010 and ends at midnight PST on June 11th 2010. All you have to do is go to www.kiboomu.com and enter your email address and location!

Or, just Download the App by visiting http://www.kiboomu.com –It’s just .99 cents:)

The Preschool Storybook Piano App is compatible with iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

About Kiboomu Kids Inc:

Kiboomu is a kids’ digital music and app company created by Canada’s top 100 Women Entrepreneurs. Their mission is to inspire children to learn, laugh, sing & grow. A portion of all sales goes toward feeding kids through the Kiboomu Kids Foundation.

I received this app to review. I have given my unbiased review. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.

Colorful App Teaches Alphabet, Numbers, Shapes, Colors

I am having such a good time playing with itouch apps lately—that is, when I can get my touch away from my 5 year old! This newest app we just got is so cute and the music is very pleasant. She enjoys playing with it, although I think it would be perfect for a child a bit younger—definitely for the preschool set. Sweet game for .99!

Fish4_PlayFish School includes 8 fun educational activities for preschool-aged children.  In this interactive app, colorful schools of fish transform themselves into different letters, numbers, shapes, colors, matching games, and more.  Music recorded especially for this app includes the popular ABC Song and Mozart variations.

  • LETTERS – Learn the alphabet.  Watch fish make the letters and discover that “A is for apple…”
  • NUMBERS – Learn numbers by counting fish from 1 to 20.
  • SHAPES – Follow the fish as they make different shapes.
  • ABC SONG – Sing this favorite song and watch as the letters change to match the song!
  • COLORS – Pick a swimming fish of any color, and watch the ocean scene transform into that color.
  • DIFFERENCES – Figure out “Which fish does not belong?”
  • MATCHING – Find the matching fish in this memory game.
  • PLAYTIME – Play with a sea of colorful fish and watch what happens when you touch them.  Tap a fish to make it

Available for iPhone, iPod touch on iTunes for $.99: http://tinyurl.com/fishiphone

Fish School HD – by Duck Duck Moose–Available for iPad on iTunes for $1.99: http://tinyurl.com/fishipad

YouTube Video: http://tinyurl.com/fishdemo

About Duck Duck Moose (http://duckduckmoosedesign.com/)

I received this app to review. I have given my unbiased review. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.