Tuesday, March 21, 2017

FREE fun at the Lancaster Science Factory

Saturday we took the kids to the Lancaster Science Factory.  One of our local libraries has museum passes that you can check out for free and it allows you free admission into various museums.  If you can't get a museum pass, you can still get in for free.  This Saturday, March 25th, the Lancaster Science Factory is having FREE admission, no museum pass needed.  Regular admission is $8.50 per person which can quickly add up for a family of 6, so we're always on the look out for a good deal and free is even better.  You can check out their website HERE.  This post is not sponsored by the Lancaster Science Factory, I just wanted to share a good deal and a fun place to take the kids.



The science factory is great fun for kids of all ages (including adults).  The place isn't that big so it's easy to keep and eye on your kids when they all want to play in different areas.  It can be as fun or as educational as you want.  Each 'station' has things to do, kind of like a science experiment, and tells you how it works.  It is very interactive and some of the stations require team work, while others let you work alone.  We did most of the stations and stayed for about 3 hours.

My two year old was especially fond of anything that had to do with balls.  He loved watching the balls roll down this gravity well.

Of course my oldest daughter had to check out the art and music stations. 

There were several puzzles and brain teasers that kept my teenage son and husband busy.  Seriously, my son must have spent a good 30 minutes figuring out the Towers of Hanoi puzzle.   

Pulleys, more balls and dam building. 

It took some teamwork but they finally built the arch and even got it to stand still for an entire second until it came crashing down. 

Making designs with the sand pendulum.  

Gears, gears and more gears. 

Colored shadows. 

In case you are wondering about what types of stations or exhibits they have, here's the list:

Light & Vision:
  • Benham's Disk
  • Color Changeup
  • Color Filter (Chameleon)
  • Color Illusion Disks
  • Colored Shadows
  • Duck-Under Kaleidoscope
  • Lens, Mirrors & Filters
  • Scope on a Rope
  • Visual Illusions
 Electricity & Magnetism:
  • Crank Power
  • Conductors and Insulator
  • Electrical Circuits
  • Light It Up
  • Magnetic Field Visualization
  • Magnetic Sculpture
Mechanics & Motion currently on display in the Museum:
  • Ball Tracks - Galileo Track
  • Ball Tracks - High Road/Hilly Road
  • Ball Tracks - High Road/Low Road
  • Ball Tracks - Identical Tracks
  • Gear Power
  • Gravity Racer
  • Gravity Well
  • Kinetic Energy Machine
  • Magnetic Pendulum
  • Mechanical Advantage
  • Mini-Racers
  • Newton's Cradle
  • Pegboard Pendulum
  • Pendulum Lab - Period
  • Pendulum Snake
  • Roller Coaster
  • Sand Pendulum
  • Super Bounce
Structural Engineering:
  • Catenary Arch
  • Ceiling Beam
  • Earthquake
  • Truss Bridge
Acoustics:
  • Bongophone
  • Drumbone
  • Whisper Dishes
Fluid Dynamics:
  • Air Play
  • Dam the Creek
  • Flight Deck
  • Hero's Fountain
  • Minimal Surfaces
  • Parachute Launch
  • Tennis Ball Launcher
  • Water Tornado
Puzzles & Brain Teasers:
  • Army Ants
  • Big Magic
  • Box of Many Holes
  • Circle Packing
  • Crossing the River
  • Cyclograph
  • Horse & Cowboy
  • Hyperbolic Slot
  • Magic Square
  • Pyramid Puzzler
  • Shut the Box
  • Square Deal
  • Tangram
  • Towers of Hanoi
  • Trapezoids 2 Triangle
  • Vanishing Leprechaun

With kids of varying ages and stages, from toddlers to teens, it can be a challenge to find activities that everyone likes.  The Lancaster Science Factory is one of those places where everyone can play and have fun.  I'm sure we'll be checking out the free museum pass again and again.




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Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to Turn a Gift Bag into Art

I love shopping the post holiday clearance racks.  You never know what will be left so I try to think of creative ways to use what I see if I'm not planning on storing it away for next year.  I happened to be at Walmart when they had their Valentine's Day stuff for 90% off and picked up a cute gift bag.  I liked the wood grain pattern on it and thought it would make a cute piece of art.


Here's the original gift bag.  Cute enough on it's own and I could have packed it away to use for next Valentine's Day, but instead I wanted to make something out of it.


Do you see that price tag?  It was already cheap but at 90% off, that means I scored it for just .09¢.


I wanted to display it on my mantel next Valentine's Day so I thought putting it in a frame would be the easiest way to do that.  Luckily I had the perfect size frame in my stash of unused pictures and frames in the basement.


I just cut the top of the bag off, where the holes for the handles were and it fit into the frame perfectly.


It looks cute with the infinite love block I made last year.  
Click HERE to find out how I made it.



Anyone else shop the after Valentine's Day sales?  What did you pick up?


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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt

Here's a recap of what we did for Valentine's Day with the kids.
While the three older ones were at school, my little helper and I made some treats.  
He helped lay the pretzels on the baking sheet and add the white chocolate candy melts on top.  Then I baked them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 5 minutes to soften up the candy melt so it would stick to the pretzels.  One I took them out, we added some red sprinkles.  He was so pleased with himself for making these that when the kids came home he could hardly wait to say, "Look what I made".


They don't do anything for Valentine's Day in middle school, but it's a big deal in Kindergarten.  My daughter had a mini party and passed out her own valentines as well as received valentines and candy, lots of candy.  Of course I had to make sure these kids were dressed in red to celebrate this day of love.


After dinner we had a Valentine's Day scavenger hunt.  I got the idea and clues from HERE.  I did have to tell the kids that they had to work together and wait for each other until they read the clues.  I had the running all over the house - from the living room, to the office, to the upstairs bathroom, back down to the kitchen sink, to the office again and then back up to our bedroom where the gifts were laid out on our bed.



After our scavenger hunt we watched a movie and had dessert.  I made THIS yummy cake that is so rich and chocolate-y it doesn't even need icing.

Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day celebrating with the ones you love.




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Monday, February 6, 2017

Valentine's Day Garland



I had to buy some pom poms for my daughter's science project.  She was making a model of the chemical element Fluorine.  She needed pom poms to represent the electrons.  We bought a bag of various brightly colored pom poms at the craft store.  She used purple for her electrons and I figured I could use the leftovers for holiday decorations.  I took out all the red and pink ones, arranged them in a pattern and threaded them together.  With the other colors, I figure I can make a St. Patrick's day garland, an Easter garland and a Spring garland.  Since they are just strung together using needle and  thread, I can easily undo them to create whatever pattern I want.  


I just hung them up on my mantel to decorate for Valentine's Day.  Now I need to get working on those 'LOVE' blocks I mentioned in my last post so my Valentine's Day decor doesn't look so sparse.



How do you decorate your mantel for Valentine's Day?  




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Thursday, January 26, 2017

DIY Wooden Name Blocks

I made these cute wooden name blocks for my even cuter niece for Christmas.  They were pretty easy to make, the hardest part was choosing which pictures to put on them.  


I started with some 3" by 3" blocks that I got from a free bin at a yard same.  They were painted primary colors but I knew I could do something with them.


First I painted the edges in case they showed through.  Then I used Mod Podge to stick on some scrapbook paper.  The easiest way to do this is to cut the paper slightly bigger than the blocks, apply the Mod Podge to the block, add the scrapbook paper and use an X-Acto knife to trim it to the correct size.


After that dried, I sanded down the edges for a little distressed look and added the photos and vinyl lettering.


They can be displayed vertical or horizontally.


These would be father's day gifts too.  I wanted to make these for my husband for father's day but never got around to it.  He finally got them for his birthday which was in November.  My back up plan was to give them to him for Christmas.  It's nice to know I can beat some deadlines.


I'm also thinking of making some for Valentine's day.  Here are some ideas I found via Pinterest HERE, HERE and HERE.



Anyone else making things with wooden blocks.  I'd love to see what you've done.  Feel free to link up in the comments below.








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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Gamer Birthday Party


The week before Christmas we celebrated my son's 14th birthday by having a video game themed party.  This was another easy birthday party for me to plan and execute which is just what I needed during the busy holiday season.  Click HERE to see the other parties I've planned in the past. 

I got a few ideas off Pinterest HERE, HERE and HERE.  I came up with these invitations and goodie bag toppers.



While away on a business trip, my husband picked up these cute R2D2 cupcake holders.  You can find them on amazon.com HERE.



I thought it would be easy enough to make some R2D2 cupcakes - I should have know better.
I filled up the silicone molds but the cakes overflowed in the oven.


It only went downhill from there as I tried to compensate for the lack of a domed top by adding a bunch of icing.  And then I did a very poor imitation of R2D2 with the blue icing.  Yeah, add this one to my birthday cake fails.  Luckily my kids never seem to mind, although it would be nice to get it right one of these days.


As for the activities, well, I just let the boys play video games and they loved it.


And here's the birthday boy.  The big milestone this year is that he has officially reached 6 ft.



Anyone else host a video game party.  Did you find it as easy to plan as I did.  Planning the activities is always the most stressful part for me and this one was super easy.  We might have to do this again next year.


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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Simplify Christmas through Service


There is always a lot going on around Christmas time.  From school concerts, class parties, family holiday gatherings and my son's birthday, we don't have much spare time in the month of December.  Then there is Christmas with all the shopping and wrapping and decorating.  Don't get me wrong, I love it all, but this year I've taken a simpler approach.  Maybe it's having 4 kids including a very busy, into everything, toddler or maybe I'm just getting old.  Either way, we aren't doing as much.  There are so many fun activities to do and we just can't do them all.  There is always next year, we don't have to do every holiday tradition or activity this year.  

I've already mentioned how I didn't decorate as much, only setting up the tree and decorating the mantel.  Some other things we aren't doing this year are the Elf on the Shelf.  Actually we didn't do that one last year either since the kids weren't too excited about it the year before.  I think she may come back next year so my toddler can have fun finding her each day, but it may be her last appearance.  Good thing we have a cute little niece to pass her along to.  If you're continuing the tradition of Elf on the Shelf and are in need of ideas, you can see what we've done in years past HERE and HERE.  Or if you're looking for ways to end the tradition check out these ideas HERE.

This year we have not done an advent calendar like we have in years past.  Some years we made our own, other years we bought them.  You can check out our advent calendar ideas and alternatives HERE, and HERE.  Just because we aren't doing an advent calendar doesn't mean we aren't doing something special each day to remember Christ this Christmas season.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has put together a way to help share the light of Christ by following His example.  It's called LIGHT the WORLD and it's about service.  There are 25 ways to serve in the 25 days leading to Christmas.  Each day shares a message about how Jesus served.  There is a short video, a scripture and several ideas of ways to serve according to that theme.  You can find out more at mormon.org   We've been watching the videos each night with our kids and talking about ways to serve.  It's really put the focus on our Savior and helping others.  And it's so easy, I don't even have to come up with service projects, there are lots of great ideas, from sharing a message on social media to getting involved in the community.  There is something for everyone of every ability to do.  The idea is to be more like our Savior and do service.  It's not to be overwhelming and feel like to have to do one of these things everyday.  Just be mindful of others and look for ways to serve and act on that when you can.  Below is the calendar with each days type of service and ideas for ways to serve.  Below that is a link to all the videos.  




Lift others burdens
Honor parents
Help others see
Worship the Father
Heal the sick
Read the scriptures
Feed the hungry
Pray for others
Visit the lonely
Help others walk
Minister to children
Teach others
Show humility
Clothe the naked
Worship through song
Show compassion
Care for your mother
Honor the Sabbath
Calm the storm
See potential in others
Forgive others
Show gratitude
Be a peacemaker
Care for loved ones
Follow Him


Serving others has made me reflect on why we celebrate Christmas and to realize that spending time with my family is more important than putting up decorations, buying presents and attending Santa events.  I've enjoyed teaching my children the true meaning of Christmas and giving Christ-like service to others.  This is one tradition that I hope we are able to do each year.  Has anyone else been Lighting the World with acts of service this Christmas season?  Would love to hear about your experiences.






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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

5 Must Read Christmas Books for Kids

Last weekend we put up our tree and decorated the house.  That includes getting out my Christmas books and displaying them in the living room.  I got this Happy Holidays basket a few years ago during an after-Christmas sale.  I use the basket year round by turning it around so the holiday words are facing the wall, or sometimes I remove the liner all together.  I put this basket  in the living room and this is where I placed all our holiday books so they are separate from our other books and the kids can easily see them and read them whenever they want.

  
Also, this year I went light on the decorations because this little guy wanted to get into everything.


Even had to hang the stocking up extra high so he wouldn't pull them down.  Just look at him on the chair scheming a way to get them.


One thing he is learning to do is to sit still for story time.  It's so cute, he'll bring me a book and snuggle up right next to me on the couch.  He's also finally letting me turn the pages and read the entire story (as long as it's not too long).



So here's my list of must read Christmas books for kids.  Affiliate links provided so you can easily buy these for your own Christmas collection.


This is a fun and silly book great for younger kids.  Just goes to show you how a Dad would do anything for his kids.



We have this in board book form so it's great for babies and toddlers.  It's a cute story about how a gift from the heart means more than all the goodies and festivities at Christmastime.



This has become a classic in our home as well as the movie.  I can't wait to watch the movie this year with our train loving two year old.  One year we did our own version called the "Mini Van Express" where the kids got tickets and we drove around looking at all the Christmas lights.  You can find out all about that adventure HERE.


Another fun book for little kids, even non readers can enjoy this and perhaps look at it on their own, giving you some time to bake or wrap presents.



A collection of stories to read to your kids that illustrate kindness and becoming more like our Savior this Christmas season. 



What are some of your favorite Christmas books to read to your kids?  






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