Give Your Kids The Greatest Summer Of All Time In Clearwater!

I know what you’re thinking, “SUMMER of all time in Clearwater?! We’re only right smack in the middle of Spring Break!” but, Summer will be here in no time and you’ll be looking for anything to get the littles out of the house while wearing down all of their batteries!

So, to help you cross one more thing off your long, daunting, never-ending parental to-do list, I’m giving you 3 totally awesome bucket list ideas to help give your kids the Summer of all time in Clearwater!

For all my Florida parents who follow along and even those just coming to our beautiful Sunshine State to visit for the summer, Clearwater is a must as your Summer vacay spot this year! Clearwater is home to one of our most beautiful beaches but, too much fun in the sun can get exhausting quick and a break from the rays does us all good. So, these bucket list ideas are sure to keep the fun rolling without burning you and the littles to a crisp while continuing to strengthen their brains!

Before adding these awesome spots to your summer bucket list, check out what Barbara over at Edutopia has to say about Summer Learning Loss! I like to encourage our boys to always do something fun but, stimulating for their brain…Something that will continue on the knowledge after the school year has ended!


1. Snapology

First on the list is Snapology! They just opened a brand new franchise in Clearwater and it will get your kids’ minds working as they play! Let them free to tinker, build, and experiment!  Snapology’s mobile service makes the fun super easy and they offer AMAZING summer camp opportunities! Need a break to get grocery shopping done or just want to lay on the beach solo?! Maybe a camp class is more up your alley! Enroll them in one of the totally rockin’ Summer programs offered at the Clearwater location!

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Your littles are guaranteed to leave wanting more so, once you’ve arrived home from your visit, check out more about Snapology online to stay up to date on classes, programs, and more! Better yet, live the Snapology way and open a franchise of your own! Check out more info on Snapology in my previous post HERE!

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2. Heritage Village

Once you’ve gotten their brain gears turning over at Snapology, go back in time at Heritage Village Museum. Wander around the grounds to get a feel of life back in the early 1900’s. Take in the school house, sugar mill, water tower, and over 15 other historic buildings! While you’re there, think of some fun questions to ask them as you explore! (i.e. “What do you think that does?”, “What would you say this cost back in the old days?”, “How do you think life has changed since this was used?”, etc.)

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3. Whimzeyhouse

Ready to zoom forward in time after your visit at the Heritage Village Museum? Slap on a yin-yang necklace with some bell bottoms and take the littles to see the coolest bowling ball collection you’ll ever lay eyes on! Todd and Kiaralinda Ramquist are owners of the super rad bowling balls and have an abundant collection of other quirky, unique gifts, art, and items on display! You’re guaranteed to leave here inspired!

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Well, there it is! Can you tell we like to carry on the whole “learning vibe” even after the school year has ended and we’re enjoying the summer off!? Take it from Morgan and David over at Brookings: Summer learning loss can significantly change the way a child starts their following school year! We don’t want that now do we? So, add these spots onto your list and keep that craving for knowledge strong!

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What’s one of your favorite spots to continue education while having summer fun?

 

Comment below to let us know!

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Disguise Learning with Play using STEM! (+ A Snapology LEGO GIVEAWAY!)

I’m so excited to be partnering with Nakturnal for a giveaway! Read below to find out how you can enter to win a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot- Sebastian Gator! Find a full disclaimer on the sidebar of my blog!


It’s no secret that we eat, breathe, live LEGO and all things STEM-based in our home. Not a day goes by that one or both of the boys isn’t stimulating their brain with those small colorful blocks, folding a paper airplane out of an old piece mail, or manipulating K-Nex into crazy, crime-fighting vehicles and winding roads.

When we realized that Col was a little different than other kids, it took no time at all to see the potential benefits of what STEM-based learning could do for him. Writing, Reading, and Speech as separate subjects are definitely a must-have in your child’s learning plan but, for kids like Colin, a science and mathematical learning environment is the most beneficial way to grow their unique little minds!

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Fast forward to when we had K! We were quick to realize once he was at a play age that typically developing kids thrive in the same STEM-based environment as well! Which made play time between the two of them a bonding experience and way to encourage them to teach each other new ways of learning!

Now that you know our little back story, let’s get to why you’re really here: “How do I disguise learning with play using STEM and what exactly is it?”

  • What is STEM?

STEM is a way of learning based on the idea of educating children of all ages in four specific areas — Science, Technology, Engineering, + Mathematics in an applied, hands on approach. Rather than teach the four subjects separately, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.

Pretty cool, huh?

  • What are the benefits of STEM?

1. It’s CURRENT!

In a technology-based society, science is forever changing and growing. As work places change by frequently updating their software, and equipment that we use in our daily lives becomes more advanced, STEM knowledge is vital. Staying up to date on the latest techy trends is a must in today’s world!

2. GET CREATIVE!

Creativity is one of the many benefits of a STEM education by implementing the idea of “Learning by Doing!”

Ironically, creativity is also the result of a STEM-based education ! STEM-based learning encourages students to get their hands ‘dirty’, solve problems, create new designs and functions, and make tools out of something that otherwise wouldn’t be!

3. INNOVATE, INNOVATE, INNOVATE!

With the growth of technology, is the freedom to invent and engineer almost anything you can dream of! Starting at a young age, we can encourage our kids to use their minds and create the impossible with STEM.

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1. OFFER THE RIGHT TOYS

I’m totally not suggesting that you go out and spend hundreds on an entirely new toy collection but, when birthdays and holidays come around, encourage friends and family to give more significant gifts that stimulate learning rather than the typical stuffed animal or piece of junk that will end up in a garage sale pile a few months later!

Some of our favorites:

  • LEGO
  • Magna-Tiles
  • Tegu Blocks
  • KIDS FIRST Engineering Tubs
  • Marble Run
  • Lincoln Logs

When choosing toys, try to make sure they incorporate and/or encourage one of the following: tinkering, building, circuit creation (adding pieces and parts to the toy that make it GO! or turn on and off), problem solving, or tech-based growth and learning.

Does the anticipated and totally loathed “LEGO dump” have you resisting adding them to your STEM collection?! Check out my post to help with that!

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2. ALLOW UNINTERUPTED + FREE WILL TINKERING

Sometimes, regardless of the mess it makes, you just have to let your little ones free with their tinkering toys without borders. I know, I’m with you. Walking into our home to a ‘road’ of K-Nex that stretches from the front door to, well, I don’t ever really know where, can be super annoying and seemingly pointless but, they’re actually using their little minds to create something super awesome and through the mess is some really great learning!

3. HELP + ANSWER WITHOUT FRUSTRATION

I know this one can be a bit difficult, especially when your knee deep in your own project but, when your little comes to you for advice or answers, they’re seeking you out for a reason! Curiosity is natural for growing minds and by shooting them down or showing frustration when they’ve asked the same question every single day for a week, you’re discouraging one of the greatest forms of learning. If you don’t know the answer to a question yourself, let them watch as you figure it out. Whether it be from a book, video, or the internet, seeing you seek out an answer encourages them to continue doing so through you.

4. ALLOW FREE PLAY WITH CRAFT SUPPLIES

Yes, for real. I mean, don’t give your kid all access freedom to liquid glue and finger paints but, offer them a bucket of dry supplies! Rubber bands, tape, twine, paper clips, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, clothespins, dowels, empty toilet paper rolls can all be used in creating some really awesome things. Change it up every other week or so with fresh supplies and new tools!

5. TRY A “BUILDING SNACK” TRAY

Similar to free play with random craft supplies, you never know what your little one will come up with when you offer them a tray of “building snacks” at the table! We love pretzel sticks, mini marshmallows, grapes, sliced olives, cheese cubes, and cheerios. You’ll be amazed at their first cheese cube-pretzel stick car with grape wheels!

6. INCORPORATE EDUCATIONAL SHOWS DURING SCREEN TIME

If you allow screen time in your home, there are a TON of education shows that go hand-in-hand with STEM-based learning! One of my favorite things as a mom to my littles is walking in on them super indulged in old school Bill Nye and The Magic School Bus. I love when they approach me to spill their guts about friction or some other super sciencey topic three days after watching an episode. It’s always a proud moment for us, even if they got it from a screen!

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We use all of these tools in our day to day life as a family and although it took a little practice, it’s now just routine! Our family truly enjoys play time together AND apart because of this method and as parents we’ve learned to embrace the repetitive questions and constant mess of LEGO!

 


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Giveaway closed.

Congratulations to Jenna!


Want to win a Snapology Sebastian Gator LEGO Set?!

(Recommended for ages 6+)

As parents of special needs + typically developing kids, we know from experience that every child is different and so is their preferred method of learning. So, as a soon to be family of three crazy boys, all different and unique, we’d love to know: Which of the ideas in this post is your littles’ favorite way of STEM-based play? (Haven’t tried one yet? Answer: Which idea are you most likely to implement first?) Comment below to be entered!

*Winner will be chosen at random 10 days from the post date on July 23, 2017 and will be notified via email. US entrants only please. Prize is a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot, Sebastian Gator, mailed directly to your home!


Curious about Snapology?!

Snapology is a STEM-based kids’ facility that hosts totally rad play dates, birthday parties, field trips, workshops, + summer camps where littles (ages 1 and up) use LEGO, K’nex, art + mosaic, code, robotics, and more to learn through play! Sounds super awesome right?! Well, they’re looking for someone interested in becoming a franchise owner in the Central Florida region! Give them a call or apply online today if this sounds like the spot for you!

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DIY Valentine’s Day Slime

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You’ll Need:

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pour liquid starch and clear glue into your Ziploc bag (in that order).
  2. Shake, shake, shake your bag!
  3. As you’re shaking your bag, mush the glue to spread it throughout the liquid starch while the bag is still zipped.
  4. Open your bag, pull the slime out, leaving excess liquid behind, and start molding, twisting, and mushing it together. It will be super gooey and slimy but, the more you mush and twist it together, it will form into a not-so-sticky and slimy, slime! This could take a few minutes so, don’t get discouraged and DON’T wash your hands with water! As your slime starts to form, it will collect all of the goo from your hands! Adding water will double this process time because of the extra moisture on your hands!
  5. Once your slime has formed, add your glitter and sequin hearts!
  6. Store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container. We found these really great small storage containers for all of the kids at our play date at Hobby Lobby! (I love to use plastic test tubes for our Halloween slime!)

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DIY $5 Shark Costume

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FREE Thumbprint Activity

What you’ll need:

  • Tiny fingers
  • Washable stamp pad
  • Counting in 5’s Thumbprint Activity printable

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Grab yours here: Counting in 5’s Thumbrint Printable

The Happening Housewife Blog | 2016 For personal use only. Not to be copied, distributed, altered, or sold. thehappeninghousewife.com | themomsofmeltdownmadness.com

Why I Chose NOT To Share My Special Needs Child’s Swimming Success On Facebook

Okay, I know what you might be thinking by the long title up there…”uhh, it doesn’t make a difference to us either way…” Maybe, maybe not. But, if you’re interested in knowing why, I’d love to share with you.

So, I am totally the type to post all of my kids’ success stories on Facebook. I mean, I’m obviously biased when I say that i think I have the coolest 4 year old on the planet but, hey sometimes we’ve got to keep a bit of their coolness under wraps so the other little tots don’t get jealous, right? Totally kidding.

Okay so, rewind three weeks back when hubby and I were almost ready to give up this summer on teaching the little man to swim this year. We’ve had that kid in the pool EVERY SINGLE DAY. Once the pool was warm enough-ish to swim, he was in the pool with a cheer squad rooting him on at the side lines and GUESS WHAT? He DID IT! Right as we were ready to stick him on a noodle for the rest of the summer, HE DID IT.

I could already see it: long Facebook post about how incredible it was to see him swimming before his 5th birthday, tears rolling down my face as I shared our success with the online world, and all of our friends and family commenting their praise. It would be perfect.

Why didn’t I do it? Why didn’t I share our triumph on the one platform that we knew everyone would see? It’s simple really: SOME THINGS ARE MEANT FOR US & ONLY US.

There are so many things we, as “millennial parents” share with the world. What we eat, where we vacation, our good and bad relationships, our stance on politics, the things we think are funny, hell, even the things we see in our most private moments…you know, on the toilet. BUT, sometimes there are things that should just be kept sacred. Maybe not forever but, at least enough time to embrace the moment without a phone in your face or a camera strap hanging over your shoulder. Do I have photos and video of that day? Duh. I mean, I’m not saying that I don’t want to remember this amazing moment but, am I going to share them with you? Not right now, maybe not ever because this is something I want to keep to myself.

Now, cue the tears. There are so many things we question in our life with Col. Will he grow up to live on his own someday? Will he have successful friendships and relationships when he gets older? Will he get married some day? Shit, I even question (and secretly hope) that he will become the next Bill Gates, seriously.

One of the things we have recently questioned is if he would swim before he was in school…before he was surrounded by other kids his age who would or just had another possible reason to bully him. At the beginning of the summer, I remember specifically telling hubby that I thought for sure the little would swim before Col. I was wrong and I feel so guilty for it but, I am SO happy that I was WRONG.

I wish I cared a little less about being so selfish and keeping this moment to myself…actually, no i don’t but, I am sorry that I won’t be sharing this HUGE moment for our family with you and I hope more than anything, this post encourages you to do the same with some of your kids’ major moments in these few little person years that you have with them.

So, to end this…I would tell you to comment your recent kids’ success story below but, that would end this post as an oxymoron so, instead, I want you to remember it a little longer with your family and embrace these moments that you have with them!

 

 

 

 

FREE Hiking Scavenger Hunt Printable

Going hiking? Sometimes it’s hard with kids! Make it interesting and purposeful for them with this FREE Hiking Scavenger Hunt!

Download your FREE Hiking Scavenger Hunt here!

 

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Hiking Scavenger Hunt

The Happening Housewife Blog | 2016 For personal use only. Not to be copied, distributed, altered, or sold. thehappeninghousewife.com | themomsofmeltdownmadness.com

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FREE Doctor Play Set Printables

Does your little one love to play pretend? Mine do! To make their set up more fun, add this free printable set to your little Doc’s kit!

Laminate for best results!

Print HERE!

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The Happening Housewife Blog | 2016 For personal use only. Not to be copied, distributed, altered, or sold. thehappeninghousewife.com | themomsofmeltdownmadness.com

FREE Around the House Printables

Is your little one itching to start reading? These Around the House labels will help get your child reading ready!

Print, cut, and pick up some label pockets like these ones I found at Target, for a fantastic visual aid to prep your child for reading!

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The Happening Housewife Blog | 2016 For personal use only. Not to be copied, distributed, altered, or sold. thehappeninghousewife.com | themomsofmeltdownmadness.com