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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LEGO City Police Birthday Party

 

Our oldest little turned 5 and the one thing he wanted this year for his big day was a LEGO City filled day with his best buds! So, mama got to work on this Pinterest inspired LEGO City Police party with tons of inexpensive DIY’s!

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We opted out of a birthday cake for a donut tower this year, in honor of all those officers who love their holey powdered treats!

Everything Is AWESOME, When You’re Organizing LEGO

If you’re a mom with boys who are LEGO crazy like mine, this post is FOR YOU! Read below for tips, tricks, and my favorite supplies for some AWESOME LEGO organization.

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First, you’ll need to start with clean up and color sorting.
You’ll need:
7-9 bins preferably ones that come with lids
A rug to dump onto
A patient mind

For our LEGO bricks, we use this collection from IKEA. The bins slide out and have lids, the unit fits easily into a standard closet, and it has a sturdy table top for building.

Trofast Frame

2 Storage Box

5 Storage Box

7 Lids

The time this task will take really depends on the amount of LEGOs that your family owns. Don’t pressure yourself to complete the entire task in a day or two if you have 5000+ bricks and pieces. Our LEGO collection took me a total of 5 days on and off to completely organize and color sort…and we still have a few small boxes of miscellaneous pieces laying around the house!


BRICKS
Tip #1 I highly recommend doing this on a clean rug or carpet. It can become very daunting to pick up those tiny pieces and bricks on a hard floor.
Tip #2 Start with one color at a time. When you’re bored of that color, move on for a few minutes. This sounds funny but, you will likely become bored of picking up only blue little blocks for 45 minutes straight! I always start with red. It’s easy to see and my eye immediately goes towards pulling those first. Then, I move on to yellow and orange, brown, blue and green, white and tan, and finally I separate the black from the gray. We always seem to have the most of black and gray so rather than taking the time to separate those from ALL of the other colors, I leave them for last and just separate them from each other.

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Tip #3 Don’t forget while color sorting, to pull out small pieces like weapons, minifigures, heads, arms, legs, hands, accessories, animals, etc. and toss them into their own pile or box.

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Tip #4 Don’t throw anything away. Unless you are 110% sure that a piece does not belong in your collection, keep it. I come across pieces all the time that I don’t think belong to our bricks collection and my four year old is quick to tell me not to toss it. This includes hands, arms or legs broken off, and capes. They can all be reattached! Let’s not forget that they’re ridiculously pricey so, try not to vacuum those little suckers up either!
Tip #5 Try to reserve time for this task without the kids. It will save you time, frustration, and probably a brain meltdown.


MINIFIGURES

Tip #1 This is where you might want to pull a kid into the room, let them go ahead and reassemble minifigures. Unless it’s clear as day, I don’t try this myself without the brain of my LEGO expert. He knows which body goes with which legs, which head goes with certain bodies, etc. So, to let him get his hands into the task, I give him this job.

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Tip #2 The best advice I can give you is to hit up your local Dollar Tree. They often carry small plastic tackle box inserts near the car supplies and home repair stuff. We like those for traveling with our little men as well. For a larger minifigure collection, you may want to go the route we chose: large tackle box insert sets. Gander Mtn. has a great selection here.

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Tip #3 Make a place for everything. We separate guns from knives, walkie talkies from binoculars, spare legs from spare bodies, even down to a small area within the tackle box for just spare arms and hands. Believe me, this will come in handy when someone is on the hunt for a specific hand color, it does happen.


 

OTHER SMALL PARTS

Tip #1 Back to the tackle boxes. These clear boxes come in handy so often when organizing your LEGO collection. When digging through your color coordinated bricks, it can still be daunting to find a specific small piece that is desperately needed for a vehicle rebuild. Sorting out small crystals, wheels, windows, doors, etc. will save you tons of time later on.

Tip #2 When your boxes are sorted with small pieces, I recommend making these boxes, “OFF LIMITS.” Because one tiny slip on the LEGO building area can lead to a disaster of 100’s of tiny pieces, our boys are only allowed access to these boxes when we are present. I made the mistake of granting free access to all of the LEGO boxes at first…That will never happen again.

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FINAL PRODUCT

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This post is not sponsored or endorsed by LEGO. All opinions are my own.