The Mommyhood Life

Education

Keeping Kids Creativity Flowing this Summer! #KeepBuilding

We are in the middle of a heat wave in Boston, and even the kids are water logged from the pool and choosing to lounge around in the air conditioning.  However I refuse to let them spend their summer stuck in front of a screen.
I want them to use their imaginations, be creative, and when needed follow directions.  Luckily their favorite activity, building with LEGO bricks, allows them to do all that!

(more…)

Expand STEM Knowledge While the Kids are Out of School!

This post was sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of America as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.
How did summer vacation come so quick?  It feels like the kids just had their first day in September yesterday!
While I love the lazy mornings and the beach days, I also worry about how much knowledge my children are loosing during the school break, especially being a special needs family.
After watching the regression of my children in the early school years and feeling helpless, I learned that I need to tap into the subjects they are passionate about and develop a good out-of-school schedule that keeps them engaged and learning in-between those beach days.

(more…)

The Discovery Museums in Acton, Ma. ~ Hands on Minds at Play!

On Saturday we were invited to explore the Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts.  My mother has talked about how great this place was when my brother and I were younger, however I never made the trip over to check them out with my kids before Saturday.  After visiting the museums as an adult, I am now regretting not becoming a member when the kids were little!

The Discovery Museums consists of two separate museums that are located next to each other, the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Science Discovery Museum.  For the general cost of admission you receive access to both museums!


The first museum we explored was the Children’s Discovery Museum.  This museum is created for toddlers thru early grade school age.  It is designed within a large Victorian house, and every room has a different theme.  Each time we walked through another doorway we were greeted with an exciting adventure, from a train room, to a bubble and water room, to a full diner set up, and of course Aidan’s favorite the camping themed room. 
There was so much hands on fun in every nook and cranny of this house and the kids had so much fun exploring.

I loved how this museum was also very low-key and relaxed.  It is the perfect place to take the little ones and just get on the floor and have fun.  
I remember countless days feeling trapped in the house with twin infants and wishing there was a place I could take Anthony and the babies on my own.  The Children’s Discovery Museum would have been absolutely perfect.

Once we finished up the Children’s Discovery Museum it was time to head over to the Science Discovery Museum.  

This was what Anthony was excited about, he is obsessed with everything science related right now and this museum was perfect for him.

Everything at the Science Discovery Museum was hands on, from magnet exhibits, a mist tornado exhibit, and an inventors station.  This museum really encourages kids to use their hands and minds while learning and discovering.
I really like how this museum is extremely child friendly,  this is NOT a museum where you walk around and look but don’t touch.  At the Science Discovery Museum the kids got to jump around from exhibit to exhibit, laughing and experiencing all there was to learn.

  This meant Aidan really got to enjoy his experience, and I was able to relax knowing he was less likely to have a meltdown.  This in turn meant I got to really watch my science lover Anthony in his element, which was incredibly heart warming for me.

Anthony’s favorite exhibit at the Science Discovery Museum was the harmonograph drawings.  Lilly’s favorite part of the museum was all the magnet exhibits, while Aidan couldn’t get enough of all the sound studio and musical instruments.

The Discovery Museums also offers an amazing Autism program.  During certain times of the month the museum closes to the public and families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are able to visit the museums for free and enjoy exploring the exhibits with other families that have similar needs.  

Museum staff can usually direct visitors to a quiet space in each building for children that may need to take a break from stimulation.  
Also food, including gluten-free options, is generously provided by Not Your Average Joe’s of Acton!  

The 2016 event calendar is available here along with more information.

Need an unique place to host a birthday party?  The Discovery Museums have you covered with customizable birthday party packages.  Party packages include unlimited time at the museums, invitations, activities, goody bags, and more.

They can host more than just birthday parties too!  
Check out their venues for family functions, meetings, and even wedding receptions.

The Discovery Museums offers annual memberships starting at $90 for 2 family members and $140 for 4 family members.  This is a great option for families with young children who are looking for a safe and educational place to explore through out the year.  This option would allow you to escape the house during the cold winter months for a change of scenery and enjoy picnics and outdoor play once the nicer weather arrives.
The Discovery Museums
Where:
177 Main Street
Acton, Ma 01720
Cost:
Child and Adult: $12.50
Seniors: $11.50
Children under 1 years old are Free
Teachers are Free
Disclosure: We received free passes to help facilitate this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Learning is Fun with Leap Frog! LeapPad Platinum, Imagicards, and Word Whammer Review! #LeapFrogMom

As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador, I recieve products, promotional itemsa nd educational material to use and share as I see fit.  However, any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience.
I am beyond excited to be a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador!  I have been a huge LeapFrog fan sense my children were infants.  The toys are always educational, engaging, and fun.  I always feel confident purchasing the LeapFrog brand because I know no matter what the toy is, my kids will be entertained and and get something good out of it.

In my first LeapFrog Mom package I received the new LeapPad Platinum, 3 sets of Imagicards, and the Word Whammer.
The kids were of course most excited about the LeapPad Platinum.  This is our first LeapPad, the kids have used their cousins older LeapPads in the past but I never took the leap and bought one.  Now that I’ve watched my kids obsessing over the LeapPad Platinum, I’m kicking myself for not jumping on the educational tablet bandwagon sooner.
We have iPads for the kids which have been lifesavers for us in the past.  However with the LeapPad the games are all educational and my children are drawn to them, unlike many of the apps we have on other tablets.  Granted the games for the LeapPad are a bit more expensive, but I believe the cost is worth the knowledge their obtaining.

Some of the best features to me are:
1)  Its wi-fi enabled however it has a kids safe browser so I know that the kids are experiencing a Kid-Safe Web!  The internet is a scary place when you imagine your young children having access to it, so this feature really puts my mind at ease.
2) The cameras and video recorder are great and keep my kids busy constantly.  They have a blogger mom, so they are always taking random pictures and pretend “youtube” videos to mimic mommy.
3) It is kid-tough!  Aidan is a rough kid, everything he owns gets dropped, thrown, and jumped on.  Our LeapPad Platinum has continued working perfectly without even a scratch.  The screen is shatter-safe and the tablet has a wrap around bumper to increase durability.
According to Leap Frog, the LeapPad Platinum has an age recommendation of ages 3 to 9 years old.  This seems accurate to me.  The twins are 6 and both love it, while Anthony is 10 and will play a few games and take videos, he isn’t as excited about it as the younger kids.
The retail price of the LeapPad is $129.99

To go along with our new LeapPad we have been playing with the new LeapFrog Imagicard game.  Imagincards are an awesome new game that has become the kids favorite.  Each set of cards comes with 30+ curricular cards that are interactive with each game. 

Each card set focuses on a different curriculum with trivia questions and games.  The Paws Patrol set is the most loved out of the three we’ve tried.

You take a picture of a card with the LeapPad camera through out the game to answer questions and start new games.

While playing the Ninja Turtle Imagicard game, the turtles come to life onscreen and interact with other captured cards.  Players can also take selfies with the turtles capturing their best ninjutsu pose.
The LeapFrog Imagicard games retail for $24.99 and are recommended for kids ages 3-8 years old.
We also received the new LeapFrog Word Whammer to try.  As always with LeapFrog the Word Whammer didn’t disappoint.  The kids love it and tease each other about who’s better at each game.
The Word Whammer has 3 games with 5 learning levels and the kids get a kick out of all 3 games.  They love how the blue handle twists to move to the right answer, and whenever they get the answer fast they can push the handle to bump the answer into the right position faster.
The Word Whammer is perfect for children learning to spell.  The games help children spell out over 100 words, teach letter sounds, and let children pick between lower and uppercase letters.
The LeapFrog Word Whammer retails for $19.99 and is recommended for children 4 years old and older.

Anthony’s Favorite Books ~ Smithsonian ~ Great Educational Resources

 
Educational Books for kids National geographic Smithsonian
We received several books from Smithsonian and Anthony was thrilled!  As a science lover and a little boy who always wants to travel, these are the books he has been obsessed with:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I am also loving these books because he is learning so many interesting little facts and he enjoys reading them so much!
These are definitely great books for children!
Educational Books for kids National geographic Smithsonian
 
 


One IEP Done ~ Success!

Puma
We had another IEP meeting for Anthony, and I am relieved we came out with a plan I am excited about.

Last spring, I had rejected Anthony’s IEP plan and took him into Children’s Hospital for their full learning disabilities program testing.  After two and a half years with the same type of services (language and reading pull outs 2-3 times a week) on his IEP and no visible improvement, I was tired of the black and white meetings. 
Once I entered the world of autism with Aidan, it really opened my eyes to what it takes to advocate for your special needs children.  Prior to last years IEP meeting I always blindly trusted the school system.  Big Mistake!  Don’t get me wrong, Anthony’s teachers have all been remarkable, especially his SPED teachers.  However they don’t get to make all the decisions on what services your child gets, there’s a bunch of people behind the scenes who may in fact care about what your child needs as a student but its also there responsibility to care about the schools budget.
Last year when I brought his education up to some teacher friends I was told “the squeaky wheel gets the goods” another words, if you don’t push for what you think your child needs, there’s a good chance you’ll get jumped over to the parent who’s making a fuss.  Well it definitely feels like I’ve become the squeakiest wheel in the city with the 3 kids.
The testing revealed that Anthony has a severe language disorder that will not improve with the education plan that the school had continued to lay out.  Anthony needed a smaller, language based program, comparable with an ESL classroom but in a sped setting.
When we reconvened last week, I was pleasantly surprised that the school already had their language class room’s teacher in the meeting and a plan to put Anthony into the program for a majority of the day.  I also instantly fell in love with how well his new language teacher advocated for him.  By the end of the meeting she had gotten him more services than I had even planned for.
All in all I am excited for this year because understanding fully what the issue is and having the right service plan in place gives me great hope that he will be able to catch up to his peers.

Teacher Gift Idea on a Budget

 
Summer School is wrapping up this week and I had to figure out some quick Teacher gifts that wouldn’t break the bank, especially with all the aids that Aidan has.
I decided on these nifty little thank-you gifts.  I got each Teacher a plastic re-usable cup from The Christmas Tree Shop on clearance, then inside put some candy and gum that I have in my couponing stock pile, along with a $5 gift card to Starbucks.  Each gift only cost me $6!  Not bad on my wallet and a gift I think they’ll all use:)

 

Target Dollar Section Score

I was pretty excited as I flipped through these little nifty $1 finds at target Yesterday!  
My children are all publicly educated but with all their learning disabilities I often feel that the average class day isn’t enough.  So I try to follow a moderated home schooling program along side what their learning in the classroom.  Because I have to do this on budgeted supplies I am always poking through dollar and clearance isles around back to school time.
I think these cute little books will be a great addition, the science and dinosaur books will need more of a mommy and me schedule but the phonics and reading ones should work out independently.
These are an awesome bargain, and I highly recommend them!