The Youngest Children Help Wake Up Brother Bear at Imagination Stage
A live performance where children are not expected, or even encouraged, to stay in their seats is a dream come true for the five-and-under set. A live performance without any seats is even better. Imagination Stage knows what appeals to the youngest theatre-goers in Wake Up, Brother Bear!, the latest show in their popular My First Imagination Stage series. By allowing children to sit on a circular cloth that doubles as a stage, children are able to be a part of the show rather than spectators. Being close to the action, and armed with a bag of child-sized props upon arrival, children are help the actors tell the story of what happens to Brother and Sister Bear throughout the course of four seasons. Children become a part of the action from the very first moments of the performance when Sister Bear, invites them to help wake up Brother Bear, who is still hibernating from the long winter. Once both Bears are awake they discover their springtime environment by watching a butterfly visit a flower held by each child and exploring a water created by children holding long pieces of blue cloth. The highlight of the show for many children is, […]
Cartography at the Kennedy Center
With recent headlines, many adults and children alike may wonder what the refugee crisis is really like. How can another child ends up having to leave home and spend days without where or how their next day will be like, or where? Cartography seeks to explain what leads some people to leave their homes and seek a new refuge. Told through the stories of five different refugees seeking asylum in the United States, Cartography explores the refugee experience through the eyes of families seeking to escape the effects of climate change, poverty, disease, and war. Children, women and men, seeking a different kind of life, come from all over the world. They lament leaving relatives, friends, entire lives. The only places they have known as home are left behind, as they travel to the United States seeking safety and security. Cartography explores the uncertainly of nearly every aspect of the refugee experience. The play explores the mundane and the outright terrifying: From waiting, sometimes for months, at different boarder checkpoints; to suddenly risking all sorts of dangers and injuries, often life-threatening. The play also explores the acts of human kindness refugees find along the way and how they form […]
OurKids.com Government Shutdown Guide
There’s no reason for family fun to shut down! Find here the places that will be closed, along with great open alternatives.
Cirque Dreams Holidaze: A Must-See Performance for the Whole Family
An exhilarating and attention-grabbing performance for all ages at The Theater at MGM National Harbor.
The Nutcracker at The Puppet Co.
This year’s production of The Puppet Co.’s Nutcracker delighted and awed my toddler throughout the entire runtime.
OurKids.com Christmas and New Year’s Fully Special Guide
Bookmark this page in the web browser of your internet fridge!
Making A Winter Day Out Of Great Wolf Lodge And Busch Gardens Christmas Town in Williamsburg
Just a couple of hours from DC, the chock-full of attractions Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg makes for a perfect mid-week getaway. And just 15 minutes aways, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens makes for a great winter add-on to your trip. And don’t miss an exclusive OurKids.com discount!
The New National Law Enforcement Museum
The new National Law Enforcement Museum explores both the history and modern-day world of policing. If you thought DC already had a museum covering every conceivable topic you would be wrong.
ICE!® featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas at Gaylord National
This year’s ICE! exhibit at Gaylord National features two million tons of hand-carved ice. Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Elf the Musical at Olney Theatre
The 2003 movie Elf does not seem like an obvious choice to turn into a Broadway-style musical. Nevertheless, Elf the Musical is a fantastic show that the whole family can truly enjoy.
Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas at Adventure Theatre MTC
Nancy is ‘fancy’ because she loves learning and using big, fancy words like splendiferous!
Cinderella at Imagination Stage
This version of Cinderella, the first show where Imagination Stage’s new lobby is open, has it all.
‘New Nature’ and ‘Pulse,’ Two New Interactive Art Exhibits in DC
Make a day out of DC’s great interactive art exhibits!
Can’t Miss Halloween Events In DC
The best halloween events in the DMV for 2018.
Blue at Imagination Stage
By Jamie Davis Smith A live performance where children are not expected, or even encouraged, to stay in their seats is a dream come true for the five-and-under set. A live performance without any seats is even better. Imagination Stage knows what appeals to the youngest theater-goers in Blue, the latest show in their popular My First Imagination Stage series. By allowing children to sit on a circular cloth that doubles as a stage, children are able to be a part of the show rather than spectators. Blue takes place in a world full of blue in all shades, from nearly-white pastel blue to deep navy blue. Inky Blue and Pale Blue, dressed in all blue, delight in their all-blue world and play games like peek-a-blue. Everything is going well, until Pale Blue decides he is tired of his mono-chromatic life. Pale is delighted when one day a red flower sprouts and he works hard to overcome Inky’s resistance to accept not just red, but later pink, yellow, orange, and green into their lives. Eventually Pale convinces Inky that he can still love blue while accepting all of the colors of the rainbow into their world. Each new color is […]
Hansel & Gretel at The Puppet Co.
By Jamie Davis Smith A visit to the Puppet Co. is always a fun afternoon for kids and parents alike. My three year old son likes to tell people “I like puppets!” and he delights in seeing the puppets at the Puppet Co. Theatre come alive. As with other Puppet Co. productions, a new twist is given to a classic fairytale. In this version, the young siblings Hansel and Gretel travel deep into the woods to gather strawberries for supper after their mother accidentally spills some milk. Along the way Hansel and Gretel have some adventures and the Sandman eventually comes to lull them to sleep. When the pair wakes up they are next to a Gingerbread house covered in gumdrops and candy – and that’s where the trouble begins. Hansel is captured by a tree whose branches turn into limbs and Gretel narrowly escapes being thrown in the oven by a witch who wants to eat the children. Clever Gretel tricks the witch into getting into the oven instead and manages to free Hansel. Delighted, the children return home with a basket full of candy – and a giant witch cookie they pull out of the oven the witch […]
The Glow: A Jack-O-Lantern Experience
By Mara Surrage As soon as October hits, my daughter starts getting excited for Halloween. Dressing up, trick-or-treating, and carving jack-o-lanterns are all on her must-do list. This year, we got to check out something new for Halloween – The Glow: A Jack-o-Lantern Experience in Reston, VA. The Glow offers an immersive Halloween experience as you walk through over 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins. And these are not the usual jack-o-lanterns that you see in your neighborhood on Halloween. The master carvers have offered up some of the most amazing Halloween displays ever. As soon as we entered, we realized just how incredible this was going to be. Large pumpkins were put together to create huge jaw-dropping displays. From dinosaurs to a giant skeleton band, there was something for everyone. My daughter’s favorite were the dragons, especially the one that appeared to be swimming through the park. She also loved the Harry Potter display, complete with a Hogwarts Express made out of pumpkins. And the dinosaurs and giant skeleton band were a huge hit with all of the families around us. In between the large themed displays are smaller displays with the most detailed jack-o-lanterns I’ve ever seen. We loved the Disney […]
Draken Viking Ship at The Wharf
Vikings hold a special place in the hearts of many children (and adults) alike. It’s rare to experience a piece of Viking culture up-close, but with the Draken in DC Viking enthusiasts have the opportunity to see a slice of Norse life up close.
Disney on Ice Presents Mickey’s Search Party
By Jamie Davis Smith Disney on Ice is back with a new show full of favorite stories, old and new. Mickey’s Search Party tells the story of classics like Rapunzel and Aladdin through more recent favorites including Toy Story, Moana, and Coco. The show is woven together by a search for clues to find Tinker Bell after Captain Hook tries to capture her magic and progress is monitored through a Magic Meter. I’ve seen a few Disney on Ice productions in the past and Mickey’s Search Party makes a leap in performances. This production includes acrobatics and some performers who do not skate, including impressive larger-than-life Dia de los Muertos during the telling of Coco. The Aladdin telling creates an incredible carnival-like atmosphere. There are also plenty of special effects in Mickey’s Search party from “real” snow falling during Frozen to thousands of bubbles floating above the ice during Ariel’s story. Although there are princesses throughout the show, this production of Disney on Ice is not as focused on Princesses as others. My sons (10 and 3) enjoyed the show just as much as my daughters (8 and 12). Another Mom told me that Mickey’s Search Party was her 10 […]
Cirque du Soleil: Crystal
Cirque du Soleil is known for being other-worldly and fantastical. The current production now in Baltimore, Crystal, does not disappoint and is a great choice for those who would like to introduce their children to the world of Cirque du Soleil.
Maryland Ice Cream Trail
Did you know that Maryland has an Ice Cream Trail?
Which Amusement Park near DC is Right for Your Family?
The DC area is well situated to access a number of amusement parks within an a couple of hours, making a trip to ride a roller coaster manageable as a day trip or weekend getaway. With so many options, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Hershey Park: Hershey Park bills itself as the Sweetest Place on Earth. While Hershey Chocolate Milkshakes and easy access to giant chocolate bars are undoubtedly part of the appeal, the real appeal lies in the attractions. Thrill seekers will love roller coasters like the legendary Super Dooper Looper. There are also plenty of attractions for younger visitors. There is also a waterpark included with admission with a large spashpark with waterslides and water-based thrill rides for adventure seekers. Although Hershey Park is a manageable day trip from DC as it is about a two hour ride, it is a great choice for an overnight trip with a stay at the affiliated Hershey Lodge which features a candy-themed indoor water park, outdoor pool, and mini-golf. Next to park, visitors can also explore Hershey’s Chocolate World to see how chocolate is made and make their own enormous chocolate bar. Highlights for […]
Co-Working Spaces With Childcare
I don’t know any parent who doesn’t struggle with childcare at some point, whether it’s difficulty finding a babysitter, an unpredictable schedule for freelance work or a side hustle, a deadline that is looming, or just to enjoy some quiet time to catch up on a to-do list. It’s not an easy problem to solve, but we are fortunate that a few area parents recognized this gap that needed to be filled and stepped up to provide co-working spaces with childcare that also create strong support communities for the parents who use them. Workafrolic Visit: https://www.workafrolic.com/ Workafrolic was started by a Mom who gets it. She wanted an indoor playspace for her little one, then thought about how great it would be if she could get some work done while her son played nearby. Not finding anything nearby that fit the bill, she decided to create the space herself. Workafrolic is located in a converted rowhouse in Eckington with two playspaces for babies starting at four weeks up to six years old. Upstairs is a quiet workspace with desks, couches, and chairs, and a conference room. I recently visited with my three year old son and we both loved the concept. […]
Peter and the Wolf at The Puppet Co. Theatre
I’ve learned that I can’t tell my son too far in advance that we are going to see a puppet show because he becomes reluctant to do anything else because he wants to be sure he won’t miss even a minute of the show.
Modarri Toy Cars
When we opened up our shipment of Modarri Cars to play with for this review, there was an audible “Woah!” from both my 10 and 7 year old boys.
In all honesty, it would be possible to write a review for the Ecuadane in one word: yummy.
Fun House at the National Building Museum
Many DC area families look forward to the National Building Museum’s summer installations each year and this year is the museum’s biggest and best installation yet.
Olney Theatre: Pirates of Penzance
When my children and I first walked into the Olney Theatre to see the Pirates of Penzance I wasn’t sure we were in the right place. Although we arrived just a few minutes before the show was scheduled to begin, no one was lined up ready to file into the theatre and no one was sitting quietly in their seats. Instead, there were beach balls flying everywhere and roving musicians playing guitars singing and interacting with the crowd. Everyone was having a great time and I even spotted some parents having an adult beverage. After confirming with an usher that we were indeed in the right place and hadn’t inadvertently crashed a party, I was told that we could make my way in to find our seats. Or grab a seat on the stage or floor if that sounded better. I was also told that I might not even notice when the play actually started. To get started, my kids choose an empty kiddie pool to settle into to volley some balls back and forth, although at various times we found ourselves sitting on the stage, on some stage props, and on the floor. Eventually we were aware that the […]
Alexandria Soft Playroom at Chinquapin Park Recreation Center
Another cold day with nothing on the schedule was the perfect opportunity to explore another indoor option for the toddler/preschool set. The Chinquapin Park Rec Center’s website has such an amazingly brief description of its soft playroom that my expectations were fairly low when I ventured to Alexandria with my 3-year old reviewer and my Mom. This experience just verified that you definitely should not judge a book by its cover. Location and Parking The Recreation Center is right next to TC Williams High School on King Street. Signs in front of the Rec Center parking lots make it look like you are not supposed to park there on first appearance, but they are actually just warning high school students not to park there. We parked in the upper lot and walked into the rec center. As you enter there are huge windows overlooking the beautiful pool. An information desk is in the center of the main lobby. We paid the attendant our entrance fee and he informed us that the playroom would close in 40 minutes for a private party. The website warns you to call ahead as the playroom can be reserved for parties or closed for cleaning. […]
Faberge Egg Family Festival
Overlooking Rock Creek Park, Hillwood Estate celebrates spring with an annual Russian festival revolving around the country’s culture, music and admiration for Fabergé eggs. While the gardens weren’t blooming yet, it was quite crowded just after the opening of the festival. To understand the history of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, you have to know a little bit about Marjorie Merriweather Post. Her father manufactured Post brand – think Grape Nuts and Fruity Pebbles. She owned Postum Cereal Company and founded General Foods, Inc. At one time, Marjorie Post was the wealthiest woman in America. This former socialite had a flair for the finer things in life, including her beloved Hillwood. To celebrate Marjorie Merriweather Post’s life, she requested that her estate become a private museum. During her lifetime, she collected French and Russian works of art including furniture, paintings, and Fabergé eggs. The mansion is exquisite and gives you insight into the socialite lived. However, strollers, food and flash photography are prohibited. When you enter the visitor center, the staff greet you with a map and schedule of the activities. From the moment we entered until we left the festival, we interacted with over half a dozen employees, all […]
An Insider’s Look at Deep Creek Lake
Ever see those white, oval stickers that say “DCL” and wonder what or where the heck that is? DCL, or Deep Creek Lake, is the largest lake in the DC area, boasting 64 miles of shoreline with depths of up to 75 feet (but an average depth of 25 feet). Built as a hydroelectric plant in the late 1920s, this dammed river became a popular resort destination soon afterwards and remains (no thanks to me) one of the best-kept vacationing secrets in the mid-Atlantic. DCL is a year-round outdoor escape and resort area with many family-friendly adventures to partake in, as well as great places to just chill in the mountains, on the water, or in the woods. Popular summer activities at the Lake include boating, swimming, golfing, white-water paddling, water-skiing, mountain boarding, mountain biking, wakeboarding, tubing, sailing, boating (jetskis, kayaks, power & sailboats abound) and fishing. If you visit the Lake during the winter, you can ski, snowboard, snow tube, take a mountain coaster ride (gravitationally-pulled roller coaster down the front of Wisp), snow mobile or even ice fish. We are fortunate enough to have a second home at this year-round wonderland. The following review is a compilation of […]
Family Adventure Cruise with Urban Pirates
Gather your swashbuckling friends and head to the Fell’s Point waterfront in Baltimore for a seafaring adventure with Urban Pirates. Family friendly cruises set sail daily in summer at 9:30am, 11:00am, 12:30, 2:30 and 4:00pm. Check in for your cruise begins at one of the times listed above but the boats generally sail a half hour later. Your adventure begins with important pirate prep work – dressing in pirate gear, choosing a pirate name and getting tattoos. If you arrive the full 30 minutes before sailing your kids may begin to get antsy but plan for enough time to make it to the dock from the street parking and still have time for the introductory activities. If the Urban Pirate issued vest and sash doesn’t quite get your kids in the pirating mood, additional gear such as eye patches and bandanas are sold at the check in kiosk for $1.00 each. Swords, hooks and pistols are also for sale for $5. You can also come prepared from home if your kids already have pirate garb of their own. Once everyone is looking like a pirate, the crew goes over some safety information and then moves right along to lessons on […]
The Franklin Institute
After an afternoon at The Franklin Institute, we left knowing we had barely scratched the surface. The hands-on science and technology institute immediately captured the imagination of the three children (ages 6, 10 and 13) on the review team. Walking into the Memorial Hall, the 20 foot tall marble statue of Benjamin Franklin made a huge impression that we were about to have a unique experience. That expectation was definitely exceeded. The 10 and the 13 year olds immediately made their way to the SkyBike: a bicycle on a tight-wire which patrons can ride over the Atrium three stories up. The rides cost $3.00 each (in addition to the price of admission) and gives riders the opportunity to go back and forth across the wire two times at their own pace. While there are nets to prevent any mishaps, the ride can get a bit nerve-wracking because the bike tilts ever so slightly and the rider has to balance. One word to the wise, it was not clear at the admission line where the rides were paid for that there is a height restriction (4’8″) to ride the SkyBike – a fact that led to great disappointment on the part […]
Music and Children. Seems to go together like peanut butter and jelly. I’m constantly singing to my girls, making up my own rhymes to foster directional cues and for some reason it works. Despite my inability to stay on tune, my toddler will no doubt clean up her playroom as soon as I start singing our clean up song. We have also been working on potty training. Singing songs like, “Sam peed today! Sam peed today! Hi Ho the Dairy Oh, Sam peed today!” are encouraging to her and bring a wide smile to her face. What is it about these musical ditties that capture a child’s attention? I just chalk it all up to the fact that music is a child’s best friend. It is true, though, that encouraging music involvement in a fun way strengthens children’s physical, emotional and educational development. As a former teacher, I would teach the continents to my 2nd graders through song and spit out a tune on the water cycle to help the concept stick in their brains. If you haven’t noticed, I am a fan of music and learning which is why I’m excited to introduce you to a fantastic company that […]
Chevy Chase Playrooms
Two little-known indoor playrooms are hidden in Chevy Chase — one in Maryland in the heart of Friendship Heights on Wisconsin Avenue and one in DC right on Connecticut Avenue. Although both playrooms are basic, they can be fantastic places to go with your kids if you need a low-key place to spend an hour or two or find yourself in the neighborhood running errands with little ones who need to burn off some energy. These playrooms have saved the day on many occasions when my kids needed to be active and I needed to get out of the house but the playground was not an option either because of the weather or because I didn’t have the energy to keep up with my kids in a large outdoor space. Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center The Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center has a soft playroom good for infants through toddlers. Soft blocks, tunnels, balls, and a mini-basketball hoop are available to keep children busy. The playroom features a soft floor good for both crawling babies and older kids climbing on the soft equipment. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30am to noon a nearly identical set of play equipment is placed […]
Half Pint Kids Club
Shopping at the Whole Foods in Rockville qualifies as a family outing in my book, but combined with their monthly Half Pint Kids Club classes you can spend a whole morning enjoying this new space. Held the third Tuesday of every month from 11am to 12pm this class aimed at kids ages 2 to 6 combines crafts, music, story time and a free snack. The best target age for the activities seemed to be 3 to 5 on the day of our visit. The 2 year olds were a little young for the craft and my 6 year felt a little awkward during some of the music portion. I guess she has officially outgrown the “If You’re Happy and You Know It” phase. The class is held in the cafe and is supposed to be by registration only. We registered early and several friends who called later were told that the class was full in the days leading up to the date. However, only 8 kids were present (from a cap of 15) and people who were passing by were allowed to drop in to the activities. We were asked if we had registered when we arrived but no one […]
Dynamic. Engaging. Lively. Mobu Kids is a children’s learning studio that boasts a variety of activities and classes geared towards children ages 6 months to 5 years old. When you walk into the facility, you will be greeted by bright colors and a clean open play room. A shoeless entry, the open play floor features foam play equipment and safety flooring so that children can play as they please. Your child will enjoy their hand at the rock-climbing wall, climbing structures, balls and slides! It’s really a fantastic space for children who love to climb and run around. Open Play is just one of the many offerings at MoBu Kids. There are a gamut of classes that children and parents can attend. Try out music and movement, art or ballet. All classes include access to the open play area. There are ongoing special events, Parents’ Night Out and preschool spring and summer camps offered throughout the year as well. We were lucky enough to pop in on one of the music and movement classes. The class took place in the open play area so all of the children felt comfortable and ready to take part in this high-energy class. Led […]
Rise + Rhyme
Rise + Rhyme is not your typical kids’ activity and it may be the kids’ activity you’ve been looking for. Hosted at Busboys and Poets Hyattsville location, Rise & Rhythm is a music and story time that offers as much for children as it does for adults. Rise + Rhyme is held in a large room separate from the main seating area of the restaurant. This gives kids the run of the place without fear of disrupting diners who have arrived without children in tow. Tables are cleared in front of the performance space to allow children ample room to dance or lounge on the floor in front of the performer. But, plenty of tables remain set-up for grown-ups to enjoy coffee and breakfast within viewing distance of their children enjoying the entertainment. As a bonus, complimentary herbal tea and apple juice are provided. At a recent performance I attended, I was able to enjoy a delicious breakfast burrito with a friend (uninterrupted!) while we watched our two-year olds rock out to Liz aka “The Singing Lizard.” Once we were done, we joined our children in front of the singer to help play some musical instruments Liz had brought along […]
Eastern Market, oh how I love thee! I remember in college spending Saturday mornings boarding the metro to discover new wonders at the bustling farmers market. Over the years, the only change in the market is that it has gotten bigger in volume. Thirteen merchants make up the South Hall Market with everything from flowers to food. Eastern Market is comprised of four areas: South Hall Market, North Hall Events Space, Weekend Farmers’ Line and Weekend Outdoor Market. The South Hall Market is open Tuesday to Sunday and is the best destination for gourmet grocery shopping. There are butchers supplying all kinds of meats from ostrich to lamb. While I’m not a fan of pigs’ feet, Canales Quality Meats did have a nice display of chicken sausages and prosciutto. If you are stuck for dinner, head here where there is a fantastic selection of prepared foods at reasonable prices. Fresh made guacamole, soups, and quiche to heat and serve crab cakes for $4.95 a piece, tamales for $4.50, spicy seviche and meatballs in Sunday sauce. I never did get to find out what defines Sunday sauce, but wished I lived closer because they looked scrumptious paired with fresh, handmade pasta […]
The Young Spectaculars and the Front Yard Adventure
Founded in 2010, Arts on the Horizon is a non-profit theatre that provides performances and education offerings to the age group that does pretend play the best. Geared towards ages 0 to 6 years, Arts on the Horizon sparks imaginative play and engages the creative side of children. Their newest production, The Young Spectaculars and the Front Yard Adventure is a spectacular 30-minute adventure that you will surely not want to miss! Head on over to Downtown Baptist Church located on S. Washington Street in Alexandria, VA and see what brother and sister Andrew (played by Stanley Andrew Jackson, III) and Emma (played by Melissa A. Caffrey) are up to in their front yard. As you are waiting for the show to begin, you and your child can hang out and play with a variety of toys and books. The kids won’t even know that they are waiting. The seating is first come, first served and on the particular day that we were there, there seemed to be just the right amount of space for adults and children to sit. The back of the theatre area is lined with chairs for adults but you are welcome to sit on the […]
Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tour
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing Factory in Downtown DC is one tour you will really wish gave away free samples at the end! Watching how our US currency is created is an educational experience for both parents and kids alike. Tours of Engraving and Printing are held weekdays only beginning at 9am. The logistics of touring the plant vary greatly depending upon the time of year of your visit. From September through February no tickets are required for the tours. Groups are taken every 15 minutes from 9 to 10:45am and 12:30 to 2pm from the line out front of the Visitor’s Center on 14th Street. Beginning in March through August, visitors wishing to take a tour must obtain a free ticket from the booth around the corner from the Visitor’s Entrance. The ticket booth opens at 8am daily and remains open until all of the day’s tickets have been distributed. Additional tours are held from 5 to 7pm in spring and summer. Tours of the “money factory” begin in the Visitor’s Center with a short film about the process of making US money and how that has changed over time. There are displays on the walls of this […]
Living Classrooms Children’s Museum
Perhaps you have passed by the Living Classrooms Children’s Museum on your way to a show at Glen Echo Park. I have often been curious what hides behind the woods past the bridge. On a clear day, I brought my preschooler with me to go on a nature quest. The Children’s Museum is formerly known as The Discovery Creek Children’s Museum. While the name has changed, it is still operated by Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region. Located at the old stables building near the park entrance, the entrance to Living Classrooms is adorned with colorful insects. While the entrance is accessible, be forewarned that the terrain is a combination of giant slate stones and mulch making it unfavorable for strollers. Open to the public only on weekends from 10am to 3pm, this little gem is yet another great reason to visit Glen Echo Park. While the $5 per person admission fee sounds steep, remember that this is a non-profit organization. Children under age 2 are free, but I recommend the museum for ages 4 and up. The theme of the museum is “Let’s Play.” There are plenty of opportunities both outdoors and inside to entertain children. Watch the […]
One World, One Sky and Flights of Fancy
You would not normally expect to hear a movie geared towards preschoolers to be described as the most beautiful thing she has ever seen by a grown woman, but that is exactly what one Mom said upon leaving One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure at the National Air and Space Museum. Shown in the Museum’s Einstein Planetarium, One World, One Sky is projected on the theatre’s enormous domed screen making the movie a one-of-kind experience for the museum’s young visitors. Children start their adventure on the familiar terrain of Sesame Street with Big Bird, who is soon joined by Elmo and Elmo’s friend Hu Hu Zhu, a visiting Muppet from China. Big Bird describes how your imagination can take you anywhere and Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu use their imaginations to travel to the moon explore the stars, sky, and mysteries of gravity. Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu also make a stop in China to explore how the sky looks the same there as it does on Sesame Street. Along the way, children are introduced to various shapes, colors, and exposed to a fair amount of Mandarin. My two-year-old has been a fan of One World, One Sky since […]
Billy Goat Trail – Section B
“Dad caught something!” my 7-year old yells and scrambles over the rocks to see what my husband reeled in from the Potomac River. A small bass thrashes on the hook and after my three kids have a quick look at its glistening scales, my husband lets the fish swim away. Along the Billy Goat Section B trail, there’s something for everyone in my family. Fishing for my husband (he hooked a big ol’ catfish a few minutes after the bass), rock scrambling for my 9 year old daughter, wildlife-spotting for my 7 year old son, flower and leaf admiring for my 4 year old daughter and some (mostly) peaceful exercise for me. To reach the 1.6-mile long trail, you cross a picturesque wooden bridge and walk along the flat gravel of the footpath that adjoins the C&O canal for about a half mile. About five minutes into our May visit, my son spotted a large turtle half submerged in the canal. My youngest, not to be outdone, pointed out the dragonflies buzzing around overhead. A few minutes later we matched steps with a Canadian goose quietly paddling in the water. We are all glad to get away from the hot […]
Frying Pan Park: Putting the Animals to Bed
I have a really unique event to share with all of you! Frying Pan Park offers a plethora of hands-on learning experiences during the daytime hours, but did you know that they also offer a peak inside the farm as the sun is setting? We spent our Tuesday evening saying goodnight to a variety of animals at Frying Pan Park. What fun! The program is called Putting the Animals to Bed. It offers 3 to 5 year olds a chance to see what happens when the sun goes down and the lights are off on the farm. We met up with our tour guide at 7pm just beside the climbable tractors. You will want to dress according to the weather and definitely bring a flashlight for you and your child. Once you check in with the friendly tour guide, the group will head over to the barn. There will be some introductions and some engaging questions about what children do before they go to sleep, all setting the tone for the adventures ahead. After chatting and finding out more about how animals sleep, it will be time to go check things out up close and personal! While at the farm, […]
Marker-Miller Orchards Apple Picking
There’s something about driving along quiet roads with the wind in your hair, the smell of crisp leaves and the excitement of going apple picking. Such is my family’s yearly tradition. We almost didn’t do it this year, but my daughter asked if we could visit an orchard. It had been a few years since we visited what I believe is the best all-around orchard and market in Virginia. Marker-Miller Orchards in quaint Winchester is farmed by fourth and fifth generations of the Marker and Miller families. On any given fall day, Marker-Miller Orchards has a line of cars stretching down the country road. Have no fear though, good things come to those who wait. The property is teaming with giddy children, families and visitors from all over the east coast because the crops and the offerings in the farm market are that good. Over a dozen yellow and white peach varieties along with plums, apricots, red raspberries, blackberries and tomatoes are available for picking in July. In August, peaches, berries and tomatoes continue, but look for the first crop of apples in the form of Ginger Gold and Gala. Pears are making their debut here in 2017, […]
Sandy Point State Park
Pack up your kids and head to the beach, on this side of the bridge! In the shadow of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the water’s western shoreline is Sandy Point State Park. This Maryland state park is a great option for giving your kids a fun beach experience without the 2.5 hour drive to get to the Atlantic coast. The beach area at Sandy Point is patrolled by lifeguards from 11am to 6pm on weekdays and 10am to 6pm on weekends. The beach is wide with course sand and a lot of shells and rocks. The water remains shallow after a quick one foot drop off and the waves here are very small (and only come after boats have passed). My 5 and 6 year olds, who are not big ocean swimmers, loved the calmness of swimming in the bay. Tubes, floats and noodles are allowed on the guarded beaches. Sandy Point State Park is a trash free park so be sure to pack some trash bags if you are bringing a picnic lunch or snacks with you. You can eat on the beach or at one of many picnic tables located on the grassy area. Picnic areas and […]
Trail Discovery for Kids: Stone Bridge Loop Trail
Hike Information 1.1 mile circuit hike on a wide trail with crushed gravel and raised wooden walkways. The hike has one moderate hill to ascend and descend, hiking clockwise or counter-clockwise. Each has steps that are widely spaced. After the Stone Bridge, turn right or left to start the circuit hike. An extra 1/4 of a mile may be added to the hike past the Van Pelt Site along the field to Bull Run (hiking counter-clockwise). Hike both in the woods and open field. Trailhead and parking lot on Rt. 29 two miles east of Sudley Rd. Link to the trail map. Age Appropriateness This circuit hike is appropriate for all ages because it is short and jogging stroller passable for toddlers. However, it can be a section of a longer hike for children elementary age and older. What is fun for kids? Easy access to Bull Run to play in the stream or throw rocks. Great Civil War interpretive signs of the First Battle of Manassas. Being able to use the natural environment to play act the battle. Activities in the Park: Stone House, Henry House, and the museum and movie about the Civil War at the Visitor’s Center. […]
Top Golf Miniature Golf
Looking for a place where the entire family can enjoy golfing? TopGolf in the Kingstowne area of Fairfax County is the place to visit! With a bi-level, climate controlled driving range for the adult golfers and miniature golf on two separate courses, TopGolf delivers a variety of family fun. Beginners, intermediate and advanced golfers can all find somewhere to practice their skills. Entrance to the facility is up a steep flight of stairs or via the accessible ramp for strollers and wheelchairs located to the right as you are facing the main entrance. Patrons enter a large, open area where you check in for either mini golf or the driving range. Adjacent to this foyer are a large party room and lounge with two flat screen televisions. This room which has both high top and low tables can be rented for private parties. The restrooms (no changing tables) are immediately to your left inside the front door. An ATM is conveniently located in the foyer. After paying for your games, $7 for adults, $6 for kids 13 and under, and collecting equipment, you walk through another lounge area which includes an adult bar serving beer, wine, bottled juice, sports and […]
Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole
Our favorite part of summer is the pool. My daughter can’t get enough of being outside in the water, so we were so excited to check out the Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole in Reston. The Water Mine is a water park designed specifically for elementary age children. It features slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables, and interactive play features, all circled by Rattlesnake River – a gentle lazy river. The park looks like a wild west town based on a legend of Pete the Prospector, who was digging for gold but found water instead. My daughter and I easily found lounge chairs to lay our towels on and quickly headed into the water. I was surprised at first at the size of the park – it was smaller than I expected – but it turned out to really be the perfect size for a 6 year old. Big enough to have plenty to do but small enough to not be overwhelming. Slides were our first order of business, and my daughter was excited to try each of them out. There are two large slides (Big Pete & Little Pete), and several smaller themed slides. Big Pete was a big hit […]
Ghost Story Tour by Historic Strolls
Played more for laughs than chills, the annual Ghost Story Tour is a fun way to see the old city in a new light and to get some beautiful nighttime views of the White House. The owner of Historic Strolls, Natalie Zanin, leads the tour in costume and with good-natured, gossipy humor. (The audience can win a cheesy prize – not cheese, by the wayâ€”for guessing the character that she is playing. Hint: there will be hints.) An Our Kids team of ghost busters took a recent tour on a moonlit night. Two adults and three boys, aged 13, 11 and 7 1/2, gathered at McPherson Square with a group of young ladies in town for a sorority convention, two other boys, and a handful of additional adults. The destination was Lafayette Square, “the most haunted square in haunted Washington, DC!” The content and tone are less “Creepshow” than “Real Housewives of the Capitol City.” Untimely deaths have a way of arising after an unmarried man and woman “played cards without a chaperone.” After she tells such a story and reports the subsequent sightings of ghostly faces behind curtains or the clatter of rattling keys, Zanin often gives a giggle […]
ChristmasTown: A Busch Gardens Celebration
Our family has been lucky enough to visit Busch Gardens® several times in the past few years. We have reviewed it, and I’ve also chaperoned several band field trips here, so we are very familiar with the park. I have to say that my favorite time of year to visit though, is during the annual Christmas Town™ event. We loved our first visit in 2011 and now two years later, the celebration has gotten bigger and better. With over six million lights throughout the park, a visit to Christmas Town really is magical. As always, Our Kids recommends that you plan ahead before you embark on this holiday adventure: Consider your group’s stamina, the number of thrill-seekers in your party, and how the trip and the weather may affect each. You can view an interactive map online to start thinking about all the options. The park opens at 3pm during the season and you’ll either have until 9 or 10pm to visit, depending on the day of the week. You can also view the behind-the-scenes video which gives a nice overview of everything. If you don’t want to feel rushed to visit everything in one evening, consider getting a Christmas […]
Santa Claus is coming to Old Town
Editor’s Note: This review was written in 2011; so pricing and other information may be a little different. Click here for information on the 2012 holiday season festivities in Old Town. From trees lit along King Street to the grand tree in Market Square, the spirit of Christmas emanates in Old Town. Stay away from the crowded malls and spend time in this quaint, historic 18th-century seaport lined with brick and cobblestone streets. The Old Town Boutique District has set up three wonderful ways to embrace the festive season. Window Wonderland Old Town takes pride in designing their window displays. Stroll through the sidewalks and enjoy a window wonderland. Ornaments, baubles, twinkling lights and snowflakes grace the scene. With so many unique stores, there’s bound to be Christmas gifts for everyone on your list. Vote online for your favorite boutique window between now and December 5 for a chance to win breakfast for four with Santa. I particularly loved the window of dachshunds pulling the sleigh at Diva. Photos with Santa Every child loves meeting Santa. Hands down, the best Santa Claus is in Old Town. From his long red cloak to his natural white beard, this Santa is authentic. […]
Union Market traces its roots back to the 1800s. It has had its ups and downs over the last 140 years and its latest incarnation is definitely an up. A large open space filled with a huge array of restaurants and grocery items it is worth spending some time walking around before making any purchasing decisions. After checking out the offerings on a recent visit my toddler and I enjoyed freshly made bagels from Buffalo & Bergen followed by a homemade lemon cupcake from Curbside Cupcakes. I washed it all down with a micro-brewed coffee to order from Peregrine Espresso. I am looking forward to going back to check out some of the specialty items, including the vendor dedicated to a variety of olive oils, and the spice seller offering spices sourced both locally and abroad. Union Market has a bustling lunchtime crowd. Dining options range from oysters to Mediterranean fare to empanadas. Many locals regularly frequent Union Market’s butchers, produce stand, creamery selling organic small-batch products, and specialty bread and cheese shops. If you go, be sure to check out these out to see if there is anything you would like to take home. Many vendors sell food that […]
Birthday Parties at Build-a-Bear Workshop
After attending a friend’s party at Build-a-Bear Workshop, my daughter was excited to host her own “bear party” to celebrate her 4th birthday. We had a fabulous experience and her party was one that we will not soon forget. Booking the Party Booking your party is super easy. I booked our party online, paid the $75 deposit, and was emailed a receipt. Build-a-Bear has resources online for planning your party, including printable invitations, to make everything go as smoothly as possible. We also set a price limit for each child (though this can be changed on the day of the party) On the day of the party, all you have to do is show up and have fun – the Build-a-Bear staff takes care of the rest. The Party We were assigned an enthusiastic employee who was in charge of our party. After giving my daughter her special “It’s My Birthday!” nametag, she made name tags for all of our guests and helped keep them entertained while we waited for the rest of her friends to arrive. They were then taken over to the animals, shown which to choose from, and each was helped to select their new friend. The […]
Volcano Island at Algonkian Regional Park
Journey to the tropics at Volcano Island this summer. The Polynesian themed water park is decked out with palm trees, tiki thatched buildings, and island statues. I loved the layout of the park, the lack of crowds on a weekend afternoon, and how it was perfect for toddlers up to age 8. Locker rooms have a dressing area, showers, baby changing station, and lockers can be rented for .75 (bring quarters). There is a first aid station and complimentary life jackets. I suggest bringing your own flotation devices as there were only infant life vests available. I was impressed to see lifeguards everywhere, even walking around the spray park area. They conduct safety breaks for ten minutes at the end of every hour. Only the splash pad remains open during the breaks. Tables and lounge chairs along with oversized umbrellas dot all areas of the water park. This was great because you could easily move and find a spot to keep an eye on family members. Main pool The main pool has two tree stump slides for good swimmers. Surprisingly nobody was on the pair of waterslides at the park. Both the waterslides and tree slides drop pool goers into […]
A Summer Vacation in Massanutten
Instead of the beach this year, we opted for a vacation in the mountains. Situated between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, Massanutten is a close-by retreat from the greater DC metro area. Accommodations We rented a home in the Massanutten resort area, a perfect size for our family of four. We had plenty of room and it could have easily fit 1-2 more families. We chose to rent from VRBO.com, but there are many other options for renting a home or condo. You can also stay at the Massanutten hotel. For a full list visit the Massanutten website. Activities in the Resort The general Massanutten Resort area has plenty of activities year-round. No doubt the area is huge for skiing during the winter months, Massanutten bills itself as a four-season resort. There is a family activity park, zip-lining, fishing, mini-golf, go-kart racing, swimming pools and more. One of our activities during our stay was to do a family hike along the ridge line of Massanutten mountain. We started about one mile from our rental property and went a pretty good distance. The views were very pretty of the resort, the Blue Ridge and other areas of the […]
Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel
My nine year-old daughter and I kicked-off the Halloween season with a visit to the fun and affordable Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park. This annual event includes a train ride, a carousel ride, and free movies. The decorations in front of the train station, three zombie cut-outs for photo opportunities and a graveyard immediately put us in the Halloween mood. An inflatable train with skeletons advertises the ride ahead. The train rides are around 20 minutes and trains depart every half hour from 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. We arrived at the train station at 5:45 p.m., the recommended fifteen minutes before the 6 p.m. departure time. Make sure you arrive at the train at the time designated on your ticket. A family in front of us was asked to leave the train because they had gotten in a half hour early, and another legitimate family was waiting. The train goes through the woods, over a bridge, and finally through a darkened tunnel. On the way, you will see a toxic waste site, Dracula’s castle, a gory car accident, and a coffin. Skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, and tarantulas abound. Costumed actors jump out at the riders with knives […]
The Nutcracker at the Puppet Co.
The Puppet Co.’s interpretation of the holiday classic The Nutcracker goes well beyond ordinary hand puppets. In fact, much of the performance features adult actors donning oversized papier mache heads, using body language and movement to convey emotions and plot. There are also marionettes in varying sizes and a few special effects, but no spoken lines. My four-year-old son had never seen a Nutcracker performance, so he didn’t know the story or what to expect. Nevertheless, he sat attentively through the show as Clara and her nutcracker battle the Mouse King and then explore Sugar Plum Land. With the familiar sounds of Tchaikovsky’s score piped in, the performers move about with some very simple choreographed steps (nothing too complicated or those giant heads might throw off their balance). Some of the characters, including Clara and her nutcracker, are at times marionettes and at other times actors sporting jumbo heads. There is a lot of smoke used onstage throughout the show. It first appears when a grandfather clock moves and then bursts with smoke, a special effect that sent a few kids in the audience scurrying off to find their parents. The other special effects are less scary, […]
The Singing Lizard Releases Make Believe
Let me catch my breath! I just spent the past hour dancing it up with my 4 and 2 year old to The Singing Lizard’s hip techno flair CD Make Believe. Liz DeRoche brings us all back in touch with our imaginations through all 14 songs on this new release. Her songs are relatable and will have you digging into your imagination, using props around the house and shaking your tail feather! With songs like Pirates and Bicycle, DeRoche sets up opportunities for you and your children to get out your pretend handlebars or hop in your pirate ship and sail off into a sea of confidence! While listening to Pirate, my daughters and I hopped on the couch (a.k.a. as our ship) and sailed away with The Singing Lizard. Shortly there after we turned our dancing scarves into handlebars and maneuvered our way around the kitchen on our imaginary bicycles. Each song is a soulful pop adventure and the lyrics are full of positive messages! The Singing Lizard performs around town so be sure to check out the live show schedule. Some of her upcoming dates include: January 16th at BloomBars in DC, January 22nd Boogie Babes at […]
Route 11 Potato Chip Factory
The Route 11 Potato Chip Factory is a great spot for kids and adults to learn about how the popular snack food is made. The factory is located just off of Interstate 81 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and is a great stop on the way to or from some of the popular diversions in the area such as Massanutten Resort, Bryce Ski Resort and Shenandoah Caverns. The factory is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm and offers self-guided “fry viewing” as well as delicious samples and friendly staff. The facility is clean and spacious with large windows looking into the factory at each stage of the chip making process which begins with whole peeled potatoes and ends with chips sealed in bags. You can view the slicing, frying and bagging areas on the first floor and the seasoning and sorting sections on the second floor. The employees working were happy to give a friendly smile and wave from behind the large windows and the owner/founder of the company talked with us for about a half hour about the company’s history and current production. Route 11 Potato Chips currently makes 8 varieties of chips – Lightly Salted, […]
Fairfax County Public Libraries
We are spoiled; the libraries in Fairfax county are some of the best in the nation! It does however, take a bit of effort to look up, schedule, and reserve spots for the programs. I usually seek out the childrens events that are a little more unusual than typical story times. These often occur randomly and I’ve never been disappointed with these events. We especially seek out the library events at Fairfax City, Tysons Pimmit and Great Falls libraries. These libraries always seem to do events out of the norm. The Fairfax County Library website has an option where you can search events by location (or if you’re an Our Kids member, all the events are listed in the members calendar). If you’re not a member, go to: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/events/ and click on “calendar of events.” I choose “All LOCATIONS” but focus on “PRESCHOOL” and “SCHOOL AGE” categories. One of our favorite monthly Fairfax City library programs is called “Sweetchills.” The event is NOT at the library but across the street. The energetic librarians meet the children in downtown Fairfax City at a darling frozen yogurt shop with the same name “Sweetchills.” Sponsored by the library, the librarians read stories that […]
PEEPS Easter Package at Gaylord National
PEEPS: so cute, sugary, and shockingly pastel colored. And now the theme of an Easter Weekend package at Gaylord National Resort. The package will be next offered April 19, the Saturday before Easter, but my family and I had the opportunity to experience it this past weekend. It’s a great excuse to fill up on PEEPS and enjoy a weekend exploring National Harbor as well. The package includes one-night room accommodations with early check-in at 1 p.m. Our first order of business: manicure. The resort’s Relache Spa offers a special PEEPS Princess Manicure and Pedicure. This isn’t included in the package but the package does include $50 resort credit that you can use in the hotel’s restaurants or the spa. My seven-year-old daughter opted for a manicure. She had her choice of five sparkly PEEPS candy-scented nail polish colors (she chose purple) and was offered water and fruit. She also got to take home the PEEPS nail polish kit, which included the five polishes, a file, and two foam separators. The manicure cost $35 (weekend pricing) and a 20% gratuity is automatically added to the bill (I am not a fan of automatic gratuities because even though you can adjust […]
For my Mother’s Day outing, I took my husband and two daughters, 9 and 13, to the National Gallery of Art’s new exhibition Degas/Cassatt with visions of ballerinas and rosy cheeked mothers and babies dancing in my head. The exhibition is on view on the main floor of the West Building through October 5, 2014. Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was one of the founders of Impressionism. Ironically, he is perhaps best known for his sculpture “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen,” although it was the only sculpture he ever exhibited in his lifetime. The majority of his works were of ballerinas. Cassatt is best known for her works depicting mothers and children. In 1877, Degas invited American Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) to exhibit with the Impressionists. When they met, Degas said, “there is someone who feels as I do” and she said that Degas “had changed her life.” Both artists had much in common. They came from well-to-do, educated families, moved in the same circles, enjoyed doing interior scenes more than the other Impressionists, and experimented with printmaking. Degas collected around 100 of Cassatt’s works; while Cassatt promoted Degas to collectors in the United States. Their friendship would last until Degas’s death in 1917. […]
New Products from Diono and Little Tikes + a Giveaway
Diono is synonymous with quality products for children. They have recently teamed up with Little Tikes, maker of the iconic red and yellow Cozy Coupe car and the result is some adorable products irresistible to kids and parents alike. There is a Cozy Coupe® Shopping Cart Cover that goes beyond the standard piece of cloth. There is lots of padding to make sure your little one is sitting in comfort and adjustable straps to make sure your child stays safe. But, this cover also helps with entertainment. The horn on the Cozy Coupe cover beeps loudly enough for the child to hear but not loudly enough to bother anyone else. There are also two loops to which toys can be attached. The cover can also be wiped down easily. As a bonus, the cover rolls up into an attached pouch for easy storage. For toddlers that don’t want to sit but roam instead, Diono has you covered with an adorable Cozy Coupe® Harness Backpack. I will admit that before having kids I was horrified by the idea of harnesses, but then my little one became a runner and I now appreciate how a harness can keep her safe. This one […]
Spy in the City
Have you or your children ever imagined what it would be like to be a real spy? With the Spy in the City program at the International Spy Museum you can participate in a mission to take down a secret agent by following clues on a handheld tablet on the streets of DC. Admission to the museum is not necessary to participate in Spy in the City The cost of the tablet is $14.95 and you can decide whether to work together as teams of 2 or more or use headphones for independent spy work (disposable headphones are available at the tablet pick up or you can bring your own). Our family of 4 shared one tablet and while it was a little difficult to hear the directions a few times due to traffic noise, we found that it was fun to work together to read and decipher the clues. Spy in the City is recommended for kids 10 and up but my 8 and 9 year olds really got into it. There is a lot of reading involved both on the tablet and on landmarks around town so kids who can read independently will get the most out […]
Library of Congress Young Readers Center
Our outing to the Library of Congress Young Readers Center began with two whining girls: “What? A library? Seriously? We have to go to a library?” And a couple of hours later: “Wait! We can’t go yet! We haven’t seen this yet! When can we come back?” The 12-year-old and 7-year-old had been thoroughly impressed and won over. Housed below the gloriously breath-taking Great Hall of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, the Young Readers Center is an oasis for kids and families who love books. We made our way from the Great Hall down to the ground floor and down a long, dim corridor. At the end we reached a bright and inviting 3-room space that houses both current and classic books for children and teens. Upon entering, we were immediately welcomed and given a brief tour of the Center. A member of our group asked if we could check out books, and we were told that we could enjoy the books onsite; if we found one we especially liked, the librarians would gladly help us locate a circulating copy at our local public library. The preteen who was previously unexcited about the outing was quickly impressed by […]
Angelcare Baby Monitor Product Review & Giveaway
A baby monitor is a must for all parents, or at least for any parent who wants to get something done while their baby is sleeping rather than running to check on their little one every ten minutes. Angelcare is well known as one of the best available for its innovative system of monitoring baby’s movements to alert caregivers when a baby stops moving to allow caregivers to act quickly. Of course you hope this never happens to you, but the peace of mind of knowing you will be alerted in case of a worst-case scenario is priceless. Angelcare makes several models of monitors in various price ranges with various features. The Angelcare AC701 has a nice touchscreen feature that allows you to monitor not just baby’s movement and sound, but also can be set to alert a caregiver when the temperature rises or falls below a set level. Other helpful features are that the monitor can also act as a nightlight and, one of my favorites, a two-way feature that allows you to talk to your child from wherever you are to calm her, be it in your own room or even from another room. The Angelcare AC1100 has […]
Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag Product Review & Giveaway
When I had my first baby, I was horrified at how many plastic bags I used for storing clothes that had gotten wet or dirty, sippy-cups with a leak-risk, and other assorted items I didn’t want just floating around my bag. When the kids started school, I was again horrified at how many disposable bags I was using to pack lunches. I was very happy to find Planet Wise to ease my guilt and help me pack better and more efficiently. Plus, they are not boring – they’re really, really cute! The various products come in a plethora of colors and patterns. I love using the Planet Wise Wet Bag for swimsuits and packing snacks/drinks with any chance of leaks. It comes in three sizes — small, medium and large. The wet bag (and the Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag) have two compartments making it a great choice for a diaper bag – perfect for keeping the necessary “extra outfit” and diapers in while having a ready-made place to store the dirty outfit when needed. There are three options for the wet/dry bag (regular, hanging and travel size). Best of all they are made in the USA, are plaPVC Free and […]
Stuart Little delivers big laughs! Based on the classic book by E.B. White, Adventure Theatre-MTC’s production of Stuart Little convincingly brings the little mouse to life. A family in New York City is surprised to learn that their new son is in fact a mouse. Nevertheless, they love him and appreciate the things he does to help around the house that only a mouse can do, such as retrieving items that fall down the drain. Although Stuart Little is played by a fully-grown actor his small size is conveyed through everyday objects appearing enormous in his hands, including a wedding ring almost as big as he is and a ping-pong ball that is the size of a beach ball in his hands. As Stuart Little gets older he goes on great adventures, including captaining a boat to win a big race, all while eluding the family cat, Snowbell. One day, Stuart’s mother brings home a small injured bird named Margalo. Stuart is immediately smitten and couldn’t have been happier when Margalo decides to stay with the family permanently. However, after learning that Snowbell is after her, Margalo disappears. The heartbroken Stuart packs his belongings in his handkerchief, leaves his […]
Food: Our Global Kitchen
As a foodie and cookbook addict, my idea of a romantic weekend away was visiting Food: Our Global Kitchen at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City two years ago. I had no idea then that the exhibition would one day travel to the National Geographic Museum. Last weekend, we were finally able to share this exhibition with our children. Food: Our Global Kitchen will be on view through February 22, 2015. The exhibition covers almost every aspect of food conceivable and is divided into six sections – growing, transporting, cooking, eating, tasting, and celebrating. A five and a half minute film introduces the exhibition. We loved the round pod seats that looked like a apple, strawberry, peach, lime, onion, and olive. Growing, the first section, was one of our favorites. The entrance features an 18-foot tall hydroponic vertical growing system including greens and herbs. This area traces the history of breeding chickens and strawberries and explains different methods of farming around the world. All of us were fascinated by the enormous cassava, square-shaped watermelons grown in Japan, the weirdly shaped and colored potatoes from the Andes, and the assortment of peppers arranged by their degree of […]
Misty Meadow Farm Creamery
I know it sounds funny, but I drove my family 1 ½ hours to have ice cream. Ice-cream on a cold and windy fall afternoon. Meeting up with friends, we planned a visit to Misty Meadow Creamery in Washington County, Maryland. The small farm is open year round and is great for families, especially those with young children. The ice cream parlor is always busy, but the friendly staff keep the line moving. Fifty varieties of ice cream rotate at the Creamery with choices like Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dizzy Cow, Sweet Cream, Grapenut, and seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Pie. I sampled Granny’s Crumbs, which was a biscotti flavored ice cream swirled with cookie crumbs…oh my! Then I decided to sample Apple Streudel and Vanilla which were all delish. Yes, sampling is encouraged! Feeling tropical, I went with Orange Pineapple which I didn’t sample, but was surprisingly balanced with the two flavors. While I feel it would be an insult to not order ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt are less caloric options. Make your treat even sweeter by turning it into a sundae, banana split, float, or shake. Compared to local chain ice cream stores, I found the prices here to […]
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
“I love magic.” – Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. If you love magic too, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will cast a spell on you. I am a bonafide Harry Potter fangirl and I eagerly awaited each book and movie as they came out over the years, so when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando, Florida, I could not wait to visit. There are two parks within the complex – Universal’s Islands of Adventure houses Hogsmeade (opened in June 2010) and Universal Studios houses Diagon Alley (opened July 2014). With a 2-park ticket you can go between both parks on the Hogwarts Express Train. Pure genius on the part of the marketing department and simply magical as you experience different adventures on each leg between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Plan to ride it both ways. Both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are located at the back of their respective parks. Our Kids suggests you arrive at Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios right when they open and then head straight for the Harry Potter section. If you arrive at the park later, fret not. Visit the other attractions within the park and […]
My family goes to plenty of activities that are all about the kids, but my favorite activities are those that are designed with the parents in mind as well. The brains behind DC’s Baby Loves Disco have recently introduced a new event where there really is something for the whole family to enjoy. Brunch Box is a pop-up event that was recently held for the first time at the H Street Country Club in the rapidly expanding H Street Corridor in DC. There was a full brunch buffet with kid and adult friendly food including substantial breakfast burritos, scrambled eggs, French Toast, scrambled eggs, and fruit. There was also plenty of coffee and the bar was open for parents who wished to partake. After eating, kids and adults spent the morning playing the games that are a mainstay of the H Street Country Club – indoor shuffleboard and mini-golf, which were included in the price of admission plus Skeeball games that were only $1.00. I had wanted to take my kids to the DC-themed mini-golf course at the restaurant since I found out about it several months ago, but since the golf course is usually 21+ only, I wasn’t sure […]
Best Hikes with Kids, Washington, D.C. The Beltway & Beyond – Book Review
I enjoy spending time outdoors with my children and hiking is a big part of that. It is my long-held belief that spending time outside is a vital part of childhood and yes, adulthood. When my kids were little, I looked for local family-friendly hikes, but there was no one resource out there that laid out those types of hikes. That is why I was thrilled to stumble on Best Hikes with Kids, Washington, D.C. The Beltway & Beyond, by local mom, business-owner and avid outdoor enthusiast Jennifer Chambers. Jennifer is well-known for her work with Hiking Along, and she’s contributed several Trail Discovery articles for Our Kids over the years. For us, family hiking is a bit of a balancing act. When our kids were younger, less scheduled, and less screen-friendly, they also had less stamina, so drive-time plus time on the trail could be a challenge. Now that they are older, they’ve got the energy, but it is harder to get unscheduled time. I’ve come to believe that this time together, away from daily distractions, is also a great time to have “incidental” conversations – you know, the ones that we need to have from time to […]
Awesome Con DC
This year was my family’s third year visiting Awesome Con, DC’s version of Comic Con, and it keeps getting bigger and better. When entering Awesome Con, or even if you are few blocks away, you can’t help but notice the multitude of impressive costumes people are wearing . There are favorites from comic books, like Batman, as well as characters from video games, movies, princesses, and more obscure characters I had a hard time placing. There are many favorites from Star Wars as well, including replicas of BB-8 and R2-D2. Nearly everyone is willing to pose for a photo if you ask! This year’s Awesome Con has plenty of kid-friendly activities – and new this year is Awesome Con Jr. There is an entire section devoted to activities for teaching scientific concepts to kids. My children really enjoyed learning about the upcoming solar eclipse and scoring a pair of eclipse-friendly glasses and playing with small robots. The Smithsonian and NASA have booths with kid-friendly exhibits as do many other organizations. There is also an Awesome Con Jr. section with other family-friendly events including a PAW Patrol photo op and life-size version of Toothless the Dragon from How to Train […]
Visiting the National Gallery of Art with Kids
Some museum spaces can be large and intimidating for a family audience. The National Gallery of Art might, at first, seem like such a place. For audiences of all ages, engaging with the art will make the experience much more enjoyable. Here are a few tips and pieces to check out on a family visit to NGA. Start off heading in the western entrance, located on 7th street. There are a few shallow steps, so if this is not an option, take the accessible entrance on Constitution. Please note that any back-pack style bag will need to be checked at the coat check, all other bags should be fine. Beyond the foyer, the first gallery that is on your left, number 19, is a great place to start. This room is designed to look like the great hall of a castle. It has soaring ceilings with heavy beams and walls covered in tapestry. The furniture is lined with velvet. I suggest bringing a scrap of velvet, if you have it, to let children touch and scrunch. I also like bringing a sample piece of marble to feel its coolness against the skin. Castle walls were made out of stone and […]
Italy with Kids
Italy has always been on our family’s bucket list. My daughters, 11 and 15, have been learning Italian since kindergarten and this year my oldest one got inducted into the Italian Honor Society. Now seemed a good time to finally take the plunge and see how much of Italy we could cover in just two weeks. General Tips | Rome | Tivoli | Pompeii | Amalfi Coast | Naples | Florence | Venice | Murano and Burano General Tips My husband’s major tool for planning our trip was www.reidsitaly.com. The only guidebook we took on our trip was Frommer’s Easy Guide to Rome, Florence & Venice 2015. Currently, a Euro (€) is $1.20. Bring lots of cash. You will be surprised by the number of places that do not accept credit cards. Hide your valuables in a money bag or belt. Pickpockets are said to be common although we were lucky. Most Italians speak at least some English and of course, our daughters were a big help. Packing for this trip was a bit problematic. Many churches in Italy will not let you enter unless your shoulders and knees are covered. Since Italy has gorgeous churches around every corner, we […]
Worry Eaters Product Review + Giveaway
Although we all wish for our children to be happy and stress-free all the time, the reality is that children have their own sets of worries. For some, it is the first day of school. For others it is a trip to the dentist, the impending birth of a sibling, an upcoming move, or a math test. Because I can’t magically wave a wand and make my children’s worries disappear I try to give them tools to cope with their worries. I was very happy to be able to try Worry Eaters (2014 Creative Child Awards Plush of the Year), new to the U.S. market from the Haywire group to use as another tool in my children’s arsenal to help when they have something weighing on their minds. Worry Eaters are cute plush creatures with a twist – they have a zipper mouth that kids can open to place their worries inside. My second grader, who can write, fed his Worry Eater, Saggo, his concerns about a mean kid at school. My kindergartner, who cannot yet write, drew pictures about her worry about going into a new class and fed it to her worry eater, Betti. Both kids requested to […]
On a brisk fall day, after a light rain had fallen, I bundled up my eight year old because I promised her that we would attend a fall festival known as Cows-n-Corn. In the past, we had gone to extravagant places and I explained that this would be a low-key, no frills event this time around. What surprised me was that sometimes the simplest things to do with children are what they enjoy the most. What sets Cows-n-Corn apart is the fact that the festival is situated on a working dairy farm. I love establishments that focus on farm life, not just what fun things you can do in preparation for the harvest or for Halloween. A short drive from Manassas, Cows-n-Corn remains in a country state of mind. The property has been operated by the Leonard family since the 1930’s. Sarah Leonard, one of the family members, gives a wonderful history of how her grandparents bought the farm and carried on a family legacy. While being led slowly through the farm on a tractor driven hayride, educational tidbits abound. There are over 100 cows on the property including Holsteins, Jerseys and Brown Swiss herds. As only female cows […]
A Lump of Coal for Christmas
A Lump of Coal for Christmas, directed by award-winning Holly Twyford, brings to life the magic of the holiday season in its latest production. This comedic and heartwarming adventure about a Lump of Coal who wants to aspire to be more than well, a lump of coal, takes place at Adventure Theatre-MTC from now until December 31st. Playwright Norman Allen presents the perfect present for you and yours in this uplifting tale. Rufus (Kevin Grieco) is stuck at home with his lack luster uncle, Otis (Eric Messner) who could care less about all of the wonderful Christmas Eve traditions his nephew is stirring about, including receiving a brand new book every Christmas Eve. Eventually, Uncle Otis gives his nephew a copy of the book Don Quixote, complete with no pictures but as Rufus reads the book he can’t help but bring the images in his head to life! While Rufus gets lost in his new novel, Uncle Otis leaves the house to go take care of some things. On the other side of town, a bigger than life Lump of Coal (Erin Weaver) has the entire audience captivated with her toe tapping moves and magnetic personality. With spectacular stage […]
JACK and Phil, Slayers of Giants-INC
The latest play at Imagination Stage, JACK and Phil, Slayers of Giants-INC,. has a mouthful of a title – but it’s appropriate, considering gigantic teeth appear several times in this production. Jack and Phil updates the classic “Jack and the Beanstalk” fairy tale, making it often uncomfortably topical and dialing up the comedy. The setting isn’t a medieval village but Pleasantville-like Chewsville, where Jack and his mother are about to have their house foreclosed. The news that his best friend will have to move stuns Phil, Jack’s neurotic, nerdy next-door neighbor. Impulsive Jack persuades the cautious Phil to accompany him to a pawn shop to trade in a family heirloom gold watch for easy money to buy back the house. But there’s something fishy about the pawn shop owner. Maybe it’s the fact he looks and talks like an extra from Pirates of the Caribbean? Despite Phil’s misgivings, Jack agrees to trade the gold watch for a couple of magic beans. Jack’s mom, already humiliated about the “for sale” sign out front and the meager amount of food in the house, is not amused. Phil’s hardware-store-owner dad, Bill, comes by with a plate of cookies but she feels even more […]
NoVA PlayLabs: Open Play for Preschoolers
NoVA PlayLabs is an indoor play and learn center geared towards children 12 months to 14 years of age. We decided to take a peek at their open play program for preschoolers. Getting There Located in Chantilly, Virginia, NoVA PlayLabs is a bit difficult to locate. The GPS will take you to the actual building site, but NoVA PlayLabs does not have a name listed on the business directory sign nor is there a sign displayed on their unit. When you pull into the parking lot, look for a pendant banner and Unit 10. This will get you to your destination more quickly. Offerings NoVA PlayLabs offers a large amount of opportunities for children to grow and learn. If you are just looking to take your preschool aged child on an indoor play space adventure, then you will find a playzone, broken up into three main areas. The play area is a two-story climbing structure that allows children to use their imagination all the while developing their gross motor skills. Socks are a must in this area. Be careful if you have a small child playing, as the area can occasionally become crowded and busy. There are a bunch […]
Gunpowder Falls State Park – Hammerman Area
A day of swimming on the Gunpowder River is a great way to spend a warm summer afternoon. Located Northeast of Baltimore, the Hammerman Beach area of Gunpowder Falls State Park is a popular place to cool off during the hot months of June, July and August. Gunpowder Falls State Park has several unconnected areas spread throughout Baltimore and Harford Counties. The park has many hiking trails and even a few swimming holes scattered within its borders. For a hot day in July, we decided the Hammerman beach area was the best choice for our family. The 1500 foot sandy beach on the Gunpowder River has several lifeguard-protected beaches and a large boathouse to rent windsurfing equipment, SUPs and kayaks. Other amenities in the Hammerman beach area include a bathhouse with toilets, showers and lockers, The Riverside Grill and snowball stand, picnic tables and a playground. It is important to note that lifeguards are only on duty here from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday during the summer. The concession stand operates on the same schedule. The beach is popular with families from the Baltimore area and is known to fill to capacity on weekends. Thursdays and Fridays […]
Ocean Dunes Waterpark
My family has been to several Northern Virginia Regional Authority Parks, but this was our first opportunity to experience Ocean Dunes. The Ocean Dunes Waterpark is part of Upton Hill Regional Park. We arrived on a mid-summer’s day at lunchtime. I thought for sure it would be crowded, but it wasn’t, which was great for our family. There was no line and we put on our suits and headed outside. The pool is divided into different sections. In the far back of the park is the toddler pool. This is a fenced area with a maximum depth of one foot. Fountains bob up and down before you enter and a shade cover encompasses the entire tot area. This is very helpful and important in protecting little ones skin. For those that want to exercise, there is a designated lap pool. The water is only 4 feet at the deepest point, which I found to be shallow. Behold the bucket! Ahh yes, who doesn’t love getting drenched by a giant, blue, tipping bucket! The colorful structure is flanked with a fast waterslide, tunnel, bobbing fountains, pulleys and water cannons galore. Every 50 seconds, gallons of water erupts from the bucket […]
A Balancing Act: Technology vs. Outdoor Play
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion on the role technology should play in our children’s lives. On one hand, parents are complaining about how engrossed our sons and daughters are when it comes to videogames and social media. However, the practical sides of us understand that technology is here to stay and will play a crucial part in our children’s lives in the future. The connectivity of our devices and benefits of instant messaging have revolutionized the way we communicate, work, and play in astonishing ways, but it has also raised concern. The Problems of Too Much Technology Unfortunately, if left unbalanced this technology rich diet can dish up a host of negative side effects in our kids. Many of us have heard or read the media’s stories about Internet addiction, increased violence, and obesity that is credited with our children’s intake of all things digital. This is a little unnerving, especially, when we consider that today’s research shows that our youth are spending an average of 7 hours everyday utilizing and tapping screens. Listed below are possible risks associated with too much screen time: Feelings of anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. Disrupted sleep schedules. Increased joint and […]
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel
Arena Stage delivers a unique take on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel this holiday season. Under the direction of Molly Smith, the show tells a timeless tale full of heartache, love, healing and forgiveness. With a simplistic, yet effective set, mesmerizing carousel lights, and a show-stopping orchestra, Carousel allows the audience to be transported to another place and time. The show opens to a quiet town in coastal Maine, where Julie Jordan (Betsy Morgan) and best friend Carrie Pepperidge are mill workers. That evening, they go to the town’s carousel where Julie meets the rebellious Billy Bigelow (powerfully played by Helen Hayes award-winner Nicholas Rodriguez). Julie is banned by her boss from returning to the carousel after Billy flirts with her on the ride. Billy loses his job after defending her to the authoritative Carousel owner Ms. Mullin (E. Faye Butler). Meanwhile in a supporting storyline, we get to know Carrie (Kate Rockwell), a sweet, beautiful and hopeful young woman who has found her true love in an enthusiastic Enoch Snow (Kurt Boehm). Billy and Julie end up marrying, but unfortunately this relationship is very complex. Julie confides in Carrie that Billy beats her, which was a difficult thing for me […]
Tiny Tots: Nutcracker Fantasy
With just a week left before Christmas, I took my 16-month old daughter to the Tiny Tot puppet show the Puppet Co. in Glen Echo park on a Sunday morning. We easily found parking nearby and walked over the bridge to the park. If you’ve never been to Glen Echo, it’s a really interesting place in that it used to be an amusement park. There are signs to follow so you can easily find what you’re looking for: parking, puppet shows, bakery etc. Nutcracker Fantasy is a 30-minute puppet demonstration that features Nutcracker music. The puppeteer was an amazing man who has been in the puppet industry for over 60 years. The purpose of Tiny Tot Theater performances are to expose young children to the arts. It’s a starter program, shorter in length, which allows children to learn the art of sitting and watching a show. My daughter was attentive the entire time and she loved how the puppeteer interacted with the puppets. At the end of the show, the puppeteer allowed the kids to come up and interact with a few puppets as well. The show is very low key and they barely dim the lights so you can […]
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
The world of Arabian Nights has seemingly landed in a corner of Glen Echo Park. For its latest production, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Adventure Theatre has hung ornate metal lanterns from the stage rafters, covered the wall in Oriental carpets, and piped in Middle Eastern music. It feels like stepping into a bazaar in Marrakech. The authenticity is thanks to consultants from the cultural offices of Egypt, Oman, Qatar, and Morocco. It’s not just the set and sound design that re-create the magical world of Aladdin, but also the costumes, which are wonderfully detailed, and come in sumptuous jewel colors. These real-world elements help to ground a story that is all about dreams and genies. Aladdin (pronounced in the play Ala ad-Din) is a poor tailor’s son who meets the sultan’s daughter, Adora, after she has run away from her overprotective father in order to explore the world outside her palace. They immediately hit it off. But Aladdin gets waylaid by a magician who needs to find someone “without greed in their soul”, someone who can imagine magic, in order to open a secret cave that contains priceless treasures. Gentle and kind, Aladdin fits the bill. For the sake […]
Soar into Summer with a Space Scooter!
Update to Review (7/3/17) — DISCOUNT OFFER! Use code OURKIDS4JULY to take $50 USD off the red-white-blue model (SKU USS2TRURWB). Order online today as the discount ends on Sunday, July 9, 2017. When my kids were in elementary school, they were scooter fanatics. They would ride them everywhere they could and we loved that they were portable and easy to bring along. Soon they outgrew their scooter, so I was thrilled to learn about Space Scooter, an innovative, sporty new scooter that has two options for riding. You can ride it like a regular scooter OR you can ride it with a pump and go action – where you ride with both feet on the board. It’s almost like a teeter-totter and it’s pretty easy to get the hang of it after a couple of tries. When you ride it with that pump & go movement, you can go fast! Space Scooter comes in two options — the Junior X360 for ages 5 to 8 and the X580 for ages 8+ (up to 200lbs). We took the X580 out for a spin and my kids had a blast on it. The scooter comes folded in its box, but once you […]
Family-Friendly Exhibits at the Hirshhorn
The modern art exhibits at the Hirshhorn are often interactive, family-friendly, and appealing to children making it a great stop for families who usually shy away from art museums or don’t think their children will appreciate art made with something other than finger-paint. The Hirshhorn is currently showcasing works by Yoko Ono and Ai Weiwei made out of many children’s favorite toys – Legos. Two exhibits in particular are a summer must-dos for families. First, spanning the length of the Hirshhorn lobby is Ono’s My Mommy is Beautiful exhibit. A table with paper is set-up where visitors write a favorite memory about their mother, something special they want to share about their mother, or really anything at all then tape it to a huge wall. Visitors can also bring photos of their mothers to add to the wall. For my family, it was nice to share memories I had with my own mother as well as hear what my children love about me. It was also fun reading what other visitors had left. Another fun exhibit is Ono’s Wish Tree. The tree is celebrating ten years at the Hirshhorn and lives outside in the museum in the sculpture garden […]
“Some pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.” I remember E.B. White’s book well from childhood and I have read it to my own child. Imagination Stage’s production of Charlotte’s Web is set for the stage with the addition of music and creative acrobatics and I love that they bring audience interaction into the mix. “If you love me, I will love you.” In these tender words to Wilbur, Fern saves the runt pig from her father’s axe. Uncle Homer Zuckerman is eager to sell Fern’s beloved pet. The chorus sings Wilbur’s hour-by-hour schedule of fun, which consists of eating, sleeping, playing and scratching his back against the fence. None of the barnyard compatriots want to play with Wilbur. Templeton is a selfish rat, Goose and Gander are preparing to welcome goslings and sheep is too old, hobbling along with a cane. The rain begins to pour turning Wilbur into a pit of sadness. He says “I want love. I want a friend. I want someone to play with me.” “Salutations,” said Charlotte, who instantly befriends Wilbur. The star of the show is indeed Charlotte whose friendship and love is unwavering. Shanara Gabrielle, who plays Charlotte, brings the charismatic grey spider […]
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Have you ever had one of THOSE days? You know, one of those days where everything goes wrong. The kind of days where all you want to do is move to Australia? Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, based on the book by Judith Viorst, is the story of Alexander who is having one of THOSE days. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and now he has gum in his hair. And his brothers each found a prize in their cereal boxes but all he found in his was cereal. School isn’t much better – his teacher doesn’t like his singing, his best friend isn’t his best friend anymore, and his mother forgot to pack him dessert in his lunch box. And there were LIMA BEANS for dinner. YUCK. It’s really been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is one of my favorite books and the musical did not disappoint. The story is so relatable to kids (and adults) of all ages. Each time something would go wrong for Alexander, kids around the theater were nodding their heads as if […]
Spartan & The Green Egg – The Poachers of Tiger Mountain
The Poachers of Tiger Mountain is the 4th installment in Nabila Khashoggi’s Spartan & The Green Egg series. As explained on the website for the books at www.spartanandthegreenegg.com, Nabila verbally created the Spartan series when her own child was a toddler as a way to expose him to ideas about the world and the environment. For young readers, The Poachers of Tiger Mountain is definitely an opportunity to expose young readers to the world, as the story is set in the country of Bhutan. And, the story also has a specific environmental focus as the characters must help deal with a problem of Bengal Tiger poachers. The story is one of non-stop adventure for a group of four children (Spartan, Max, Katie and Tor) and their dog Grimm. This team is led by Spartan, but their adventures are facilitated by Egg, a green alien being (origin unknown) who whisks the kids around the world, makes sure they always have the tools and materials necessary to solve the problems they encounter and offers opportunity for exploration of issues big and small. In this book, Spartan and the gang are shuttled to the country of Bhutan. For the first […]
Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival
When I think of a sheep and wool festival the first thing that comes to mind is the “baa, baa, black sheep” nursery rhyme. In the rhyme the question is asked if the person has any wool with the response of three bags full. Well, there were plenty of people carrying several bags full of different colored wools, most from newly sheared sheep. The annual free festival draws over 10,000 patrons each year to the Howard County Fairgrounds. We arrived at noon to find what would have been close to a two-mile walk to the entrance. Luckily, we had a handicap sticker and were able to park a little closer to the grounds. I did notice that a couple tractors were taking people near the road to get to their cars. If you like to feast on lamb, there is a cooking demo worth checking out. For crafters, there is a communal spin-in competition. Contests included spinning the longest yarn and spinning blindfolded. While there was a specific area for sheep shearing demonstration, visiting any of the barns would allow you to view the process. It was really neat seeing the diverse types of sheep from all over the world. […]
“Plants are not optional.” This is the slogan for the Washington National Cathedral event — Flower Mart. The outdoor festival is held annually on the first Friday and Saturday of May. The family friendly event offers something for everyone, including the non-gardening enthusiast. Each year a different country is represented through its floral history and culture and this year the United States was the recipient. We began our day with a visit to the “America the Beautiful” mural where children used crayons to draw what makes America beautiful to them. Two lovely ladies from the All Hallows Guild, the volunteer organization that sponsors Flower Mart, gave us several packets of North American Wildflower Seed packets to take as a souvenir. Next to them was the National Park Service with a touch table of animal skins and items native to Rock Creek Park and the surrounding area. There were a plethora of flowers, plants and hanging baskets. Prices range from $2 to $20. We noticed perennials and annuals to exotic orchids and bonsai trees. Inside the Nave is an art exhibition representing floral arrangements from 17 embassies. Booths We popped our heads inside the used book sale which also featured CDs […]
I am all about kitschy attractions. The quirkier they are, the more likely I will check it out. Whenever our family heads to Skyline Drive, we pass the roadside forest affectionately known as Dinosaur Land. I finally caved to letting my daughter go because she has developed a fascination with dinosaurs. I have no idea where this interest came from. My inner child immediately thought of the 70’s TV show, Land of the Lost. Enter the age of the dinosaur. “Wow” was the first word out of my five year old’s mouth when we pulled into the parking lot. She couldn’t wait to see and touch the over 40 behemoth creatures. The outdoor Jurassic park was built in 1963 by sculptors James Q. Sidwell and Mark Cline. I’ve seen Cline’s work at Clarks Elioak Farm and his version of Foamhenge, that’s right, I said Foamhenge. All of the animals are made of fiberglass and paint. While the dinos are dated and weathered, they provide an educational look at the first animals who roamed the earth. Each dinosaur is labeled with its name and interesting facts like when it lived and what it ate. My husband and I were surprised to […]
Flag Ponds Nature Park
Flag Ponds Nature Park in Calvert County, Maryland is a great place for a day at the beach without the hassle of crossing the Bay Bridge. Located just north of Calvert Cliffs State Park on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Flag Ponds’ sandy beaches are only an hour’s drive from the Capitol Beltway. At an entry fee of $6.00 per car, it is an affordable and fun family day trip. Our crew decided to make the drive here on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Even in the middle of a holiday weekend we had no problems finding parking or a spot on the large sandy beach. The beach is about a half mile walk from the parking area. The walk takes you along a shady trail and passes an old fishing shanty and restrooms along the way to the shore. Bring bug spray and consider your little one’s walking abilities if you will be carrying lots of beach gear with you. The beaches along Calvert County are known to be home to a large number of fossils and shark’s teeth. The small Visitor’s Center near the parking lot has a display case of the various types of […]
Turkey Hill Experience
The new Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, Pennsylvania is a place where you and your family can spend a day learning about how ice cream is made and trying free samples of both ice cream and Turkey Hill iced tea drinks. Open since June, this facility is a cross between a factory tour and a children’s museum. For interested foodies there is plenty of information about the process of making Turkey Hill ice cream and the products that go into it. For rambunctious kids looking for fun, there is a ball pit, slides and plenty of interactive experiences. Tickets to the Turkey Hill Experience are $11.50 for adults and $9.50 for kids ages 5 and up. Children aged 4 and under are free. The self guided tour of the facility took our group of two moms and 4 kids ages five to ten about two hours. There is no timed entry or exit from the facility. Upon entry to the second floor the first thing our kids raced to do was to “milk” the mechanical cows. Three life size cows are set up among the “pasture” of Lancaster County, PA with milking buckets and stools for young farmers to get […]