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    children's books, coloring books, STEM

    Mom-Approved Activity Books: Check Out these Activity Books to Keep Kids Occupied at Restaurants, Airports or During Long Car Rides

    Many kids love to color, draw and scribble.  I know mine do!  That’s why I decided to put together this list of some of the most creative and entertaining activity books that will get children’s creative juices flowing.  These activity books are full of fun activities and stimulating exercises to encourage learning and development.

    From playing with colors to learning science, some of these activity books have extra components that build brain-based executive functioning skills and require a little bit of extra mental energy too.  Other books are filled with facts, coloring areas, and fill-in-the-blank slots that keep children learning about how the world works.

    Let’s face it, if you’re a parent or caregiver you’ve been there at some point — at the airport, on the road, or at a restaurant with a bored or restless child. (There’s nothing wrong with being bored by the way – it’s actually a good thing!  But that’s a whole different topic.)  Sure, you can turn on an electronic device like an iPad, tablet, phone or video game to keep the kids entertained, but they don’t do much for their brain. If you’re looking for something a little more engaging, pull out an activity book, where the kids can dive into word searches, coloring, or other crafts.

    Sew With Me: 60 Fun & Easy Projects to Make Your Own Fabulous Décor and Accessories by Brandy Nelson (Ages 7 – 12)

    Easy-to-follow instructions make this book a great place to start for beginners. With the projects divided into three skill levels, it’s a cinch to find one that’s just right for you. Beginner projects use only hand stitching, intermediate ones combine hand stitching with easy machine sewing and advanced ones use only a machine. Filled with pictures, friendly advice and cutout templates, this will become your favorite activity book for playtime.

    The Dinosaur Craft Book by Laura Minter and Tia Williams (Ages 8 – 12)

    Got a dinosaur enthusiast or future paleontologist on your hands?  (This one is recommended for use at home.)  Containing fantastic dinosaur-themed projects to make, The Dinosaur Craft Book will get children crafting and creating in no time.

    Secret Hidden Pictures Puzzles by Highlights (Ages 6 – 9)

    This book is seriously so fun!  It comes with a magic wand to reveal over 1,000 hidden objects throughout the book.  Can you say hours of fun for kids (and adults!)?

    This Hidden Pictures® puzzle-novelty book features an easy-to-store magic lens made of sturdy paper and plastic to locate over 500 hidden objects and discover amazing scenes. Every red-on-blue puzzle is a mystery until the lens reveals the curiosities underneath, such as jet-skiing starfish, a robot workshop, and astronauts in a faraway galaxy. Children ages 6-9 can become Hidden Pictures® detectives by using the clues to help locate the hidden objects and uncovering new surprises every time.

    Awesome Edible Kids Crafts by Arena Blake (Ages 6 – 11)

    Bring out your inner sculptor with Marshmallow Playdough, and engage your artistic side with Coloring Book Cookies or Painted Rainbow Toast. Are you planning a party? Why not make Edible Taffy Balloons to decorate with, or party hats that are fun to wear and tasty to snack on? You can even transform your favorite snacks and treats into zebras, lions, giraffes and more.

    Each project has a difficulty rating and lets you know if you will need a grownup to help you, making it easy for you to find the perfect project to spark your creativity using safe, nontoxic (and delicious) ingredients.

    101 Kids Activities That are the Ooey, Gooey-est Ever! by Jamie Harrington, Brittanie Pyper and Holly Homer (Ages 6 – 12)

    Create amazing concoctions like Fake Snow, Color-Changing Slime and Glow-in-the-Dark Dough. Dig your fngers into Glowing Magic Mud, Shaving Cream Dough and Kool-Aid Foam. Or, if you’re brave enough, squeeze the Spider Egg Sack Slime or the Frog’s Vomit Slime―eek! There are even some special slime that you can eat like Gummy Worm Slime, Pudding Slime and Cookie Dough Dough. With 101 super cool activities (that are also super easy to clean up), you can try them all!

    101 Kids Activities That are the Bestest, Funnest Ever! by Rachel Miller and Holly Homer (Ages 6 – 12)

    Never again will you hear the all-too-common call of, “I’m bored!” with this kid-pleaser for many ages.

    Whether your kid is 3, 5 or 12 years old, there are hundreds of fun, educational and engaging things to do in this book. When they ask to watch television, you’ll have the perfect solution. 101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever! has time-tested, exciting activities to keep your children laughing and learning for the whole day, every day.

    Low-Mess Crafts for Kids: 72 Projects to Create Your Own Magical Worlds by Debbie Chapman (Ages 8 – 12)

    With tricks like twisting pipe cleaners into fun shapes to avoid glue and using brightly colored cups and patterned paper to avoid paint, Debbie shows that keeping it simple doesn’t mean play time has to be less fun.

    Low-Mess Crafts for Kids brings parents and caretakers solutions to the craft time conundrum. As well as being low-mess, all 72 of these awesome projects feature everyday items like pipe cleaners, pom poms and clothespins, which make playtime a cinch. And with step-by-step pictures, kids of any age can create something they can be proud of.

    Awesome Science Experiments for Kids by Crystal Chatterton (Ages 5 – 10)

    Getting kids excited about science can be difficult. Science Experiments for Kids provides young scientists ages 5-10 with hands-on experiments that teach them how to apply the scientific method.

    Animal Activity Book by Alain Gree (Ages 4 – 8)

    This delightful animal-themed activity book will entertain children who are crazy about all things to do with animals. The pages are crammed with over 100 great activities, including dot to dot, spot the difference, coloring in, simple makes and other engaging puzzles, as well as 4 pages of stickers to be used in the book. Fun and educational, the Animal Activity Book features beautiful, bright illustrations that will draw children in and keep them busy. All of the pages are incredibly absorbing with Alain’s unmistakably rich and appealing style of illustration. And while they are enjoying the mazes, matching and counting, the games are helping them to develop a wide range of skills, including observational, conversational and motor.

    Transportation Activity Book by Alain Greer (Ages 4 – 8)

    This gorgeous transport-themed activity book will be very popular with any child who loves all things that go! With over 100 different activities, including dot to dot, spot the difference, coloring in, simple makes and other engaging puzzles. The Transport Activity Book is educational as well as fun and features beautiful, bright illustrations that will draw children in and keep them busy. All of the pages are incredibly absorbing with Alain’s unmistakably rich and appealing style of illustration. And while they are enjoying the mazes, matching and counting, the games are helping them to develop a wide range of skills, including observational, conversational and motor.

    Photo PuzzleMania! by Highlights (Ages

    The puzzling experts at Highlights(TM) have created a brand-new puzzle direction with this exciting and innovative book–every puzzle is created from intricate, full-color photographs. Kids will love searching photos to find the hidden objects in our unique photo Hidden Pictures puzzles.

    Dinosaur Puzzles by Highlights (Ages 6 – 9)

    This irresistible book is packed with more than 100 favorite dinosaur puzzles straight from our beloved magazine. Drawn in the classic Highlights™ black-and-white style, each puzzle is carefully designed to engage and entertain children while honing their concentration skills and attention to detail. With more than 1,200 objects to find, this book provides kids of all ages with hours of puzzling fun.

    Your turn: What are some of your favorite ways to keep kids entertained on the go or at home?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books, diverse books, STEM

    Celebrate National STEM/STEAM Day: Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons (A Book Review)

    Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons by Dr. Arlyne Simon illustrated by Diana Necsulescu

    Publisher: Bella Agnes Books
    Format: Hardcover/Paperback
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 5 – 8
    Grade Level: Kindergarten- 3

    In honor of National STEM/STEAM Day, I’m sharing an awesome children’s book with you entitled Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons.  Have you read it yet?

    Synopsis
    Tired of coloring with broken crayons, Abby invents the world’s first UNBREAKABLE CRAYONS. She even gets a patent to prove it! Through Abby’s failures and eventual success, she playfully introduces young readers to the scientific method. This book also contains a fun activity page, encouraging young readers to create their own unbreakable crayons.

    Reflection

    Little Abby is tired of coloring with broken crayons and I don’t blame her.  It’s no fun to be in the middle of coloring only to have your crayon break and interrupt your creative flow.  She has an idea to invent the first unbreakable crayons after seeing a local inventor who looked just like her visit her classroom.

    Abby gets to work and starts her research by heading to the library after school.  She learns what crayons are made of, the process used to make them and why they break.

    Crayons break because they are not strong enough.  They are thin and long so if pressed too hard, they will break.

    After having many failed attempts to test her unbreakable crayons, Abby starts to get discouraged and feels like quitting.   With help and encouragement from her teacher, Abby keeps going and eventually finds a solution to truly make her crayons unbreakable.

    There are several things kids can learn from reading this book:

    • The importance of representation/windows and mirrors – Abby became inspired to be an inventor when an inventor who looked like her came to speak at her school.
    • STEM – This is a great book to introduce children to STEM (Science, Math, Technology and Engineering)
    • Diversity – There are several diverse characters featured throughout the book
    • The invention process – Children will learn the basics of the invention process: what it means to invent, asking questions, testing and receiving a an official patent from the government

    I loved how determined Abby was to see her idea come to fruition and how she pushed through despite having failed attempts in the beginning.  She used affirming phrases to help keep her motivated, energized and focused on her goal:

    I am a problem solver.  I am an inventor.  I solve problems, big and small because I have great ideas.

    We should all be like Abby and give ourselves mini pep talks like this whenever we’re facing challenges.  Am I right?

    This book is also a great way to help spark curiosity, wonder and imagination for little readers while introducing science and engineering.  The back matter features an author’s note, a small glossary of terms and a couple of questions for kids to ponder and express their own ideas.

    Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons checks all the boxes of a great STEM/STEAM book.

    It empowers children to:

    • Ask questions
    • Be curious
    • Problem solve
    • Think outside the box
    • Be innovative

    About the Author

    Honored as a trailblazing female innovator by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Dr. Arlyne Simon is a biochemical engineer, inventor, author and entrepreneur. She is originally from the Commonwealth of Dominica. Like Abby, many of her early experiments failed but she didn’t give up and neither should you! Visit her online at arlynesimon.com.

    Your turn: How are you celebrating National STEM/STEAM day?  What STEM/STEAM related books will you be reading?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    parenting, product reviews, revolution math, STEM, technology

    Help Your Kids Fall In Love with Math (And Reading Too!) With Revolution Math

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in partnership with Revolution Math, an interactive online math and story-based program for kids in grades 2-5. Get your first month of Revolution Math plus a math learning kit for $1 with the code WEEREAD1!

    Education has always been extremely important to me.  When I was a child I used to always say I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  Well, when I finally “grew up” I changed my mind and decided on the computer field instead.  Perhaps some day I’ll be a college professor and finally have the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of teaching.  For now, I’ll settle as being my children’s first teacher.

    I knew even before I had children that I didn’t want their learning to be left entirely up to the school system.  I make it a point to supplement whatever they are learning in school at home with my own teachings by making it fun.  One way I supplement education at home is by using an awesome interactive online math and story-based curriculum called Revolution Math.  Have you heard of it before?  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have heard me talk about it in my stories.  Try It Out for 30 Days for JUST $1 (No strings attached – I promise!)

    Math was always my favorite subject in school.  I want my kids to like math or at least do well in it even if they don’t love it as much as I do.  Did you know research suggests that early math skills are a better predictor of academic success than early reading skills?

    What Is Revolution Math?
    Revolution Math is an innovative program designed to help 2nd-5th graders develop their math skills and an overall love of learning. The live, online interface integrates an interactive learning experience with a story-based curriculum and Common Core aligned math games. Students enjoy a small class size of only 4 students, allowing them to build confidence under the instruction of a dedicated teacher.  Check out their brief introductory online videos for more information.

    Our Experience
    My daughter has been using Revolution Math (we pay for this program with our own money) for the past two months.  I can honestly say she is truly enjoying it and most importantly she’s learning advanced math skills for her grade.  While the program is recommended for kids in grades 2-5, they also accept first grade students like my daughter.

    Initially, some of the concepts were a bit difficult for her to grasp (as with learning anything new), but I’ve seen lots of improvement over the past two months.  She is now able to do one, two, three and four digit addition and subtraction problems a lot easier using the concepts learned through the program without any worry or anxiety like she initially had.

    Here are a few of the things my daughter has learned so far:

    • Place value charting to decompose addends for 2-digit + 2-digit addition and 3-digit + 2-digit addition
    • Different ways to represent three-digit numbers
    • Finding patterns
    • “Bundling”, “exchanging” or “carrying” from a lower place value to a higher one

    I’ve loved witnessing the progress and confidence I’ve seen in my daughter over the past two months.  It’s also been great to see her build a relationship with her online teacher (the teacher remains the same each week) and on occasion participate in class with other students.

    Other added benefits are parents receive a weekly update on the math tutoring session which includes cool apps and strategies you can use at home to reinforce learning.  Also, registered subscribers can access additional drills for practice playing the Revolution math game.  Finally, kids earn gems each lesson that can be traded in for kid-friendly prizes from the Revolution Math Rewards store.  Who doesn’t love an incentive?  I know I sure do!  My daughter is currently saving up her gems for a fidget spinner.

    Are you excited yet?  Do you want to help your children fall in LOVE with math (and reading too!)?

    Try It Out for 30 Days for JUST $1 (No strings attached – I promise!)
    You seriously can’t go wrong with this deal – it’s like getting 4 high-quality math classes for just $0.25 cents each if you break it down.  To me, this is a no-brainer to sign up for a 30-day trial especially if you have kids in grades 1-5.  Plus, you get a math learning kit which is yours to keep and doesn’t have to be returned.  Win-win!  I only share brands and products that my family truly uses, values and trusts and Revolution Math has gained our trust over the past two months.

    The learning kit includes several math manipulatives: graph paper, dice, place value number tiles, a protractor and masks to use for the story time portion of the course.  Be sure to use my code ‘WEEREAD1’ to take advantage of this fantastic deal for just $1 and tell them I sent you!

    Your turn: Are you ready to raise a math whiz?  Have you heard of Revolution Math before?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    adult books, book reviews, STEM, technology

    Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Coding Homework

    Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

    Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework by Frazer Wilson

    Publisher: Sterling Publishing
    Pages: 208
    Format: Paperback

    Synopsis
    Facing the daunting prospect of helping your children with their coding homework?  Coding for Parents teaches you what you need to know . . . so you can teach your kids!

    Unlock the mysteries of coding with this easy-to-follow and well-illustrated guide—and help your kids ace their coding homework! Organized by age and grade, It takes you by the hand and leads you through the basics, building your knowledge of key concepts, terminology, and techniques, and giving you the language you’ll need to explain it all to your child. Instructional diagrams and compelling illustrations appear throughout to enhance your understanding, and the book covers the most popular software, including Scratch, Python, and Java.

    Reflection
    The introduction of the computer has changed the world forever, for better or for worse.  The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science.  President Barack Obama said it best when he said, “In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill.”

    In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill.” – Barack Obama

    And yet, computer science is not part of the required curriculum in many US public schools.  That means it’s up to adults to help their children get more familiar with computers, technology and coding when it’s not offered to them in their school.  With the help of great books like Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework adults can cultivate a child’s interest in computing, even if they’ve never written a line of code on their own a day in their life.

    I like that this book is organized by age and grade level for different software like: Java, Scratch and Python.  It’s a compact and comprehensive introduction to all things coding broken down into digestible bites that are easy to comprehend.  There are also helpful diagrams with some added humor to help take a bit of the edge off if you’re new to the world of coding.  The book also contains a helpful glossary and index making it easy to find and reference information throughout.

    Coding is all about learning by doing.  And the more kids feel like they can “do” computers, the more likely they are to pursue technical careers.  An added bonus is having a parent or adult who understands coding and can help a child easily understand it too.  That’s where  Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework comes into play.  Check it out if you want to be able to confidently help the special kiddo in your life with their coding homework.  Makes a great back to school gift idea for parents!

    Your turn: Is Computer Science a part of the curriculum at your child’s school?  What other books would you recommend for adults to help children with coding homework?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books, STEM

    STEM Board Books for Baby and Toddler Future Scientists: Baby Loves Science Series

    Disclaimer: I was provided copies of these books from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

    Is it ever too early to start teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts to children?  I don’t think so, but others may disagree with me. My reason is simple: we use STEM related concepts each and every day whether we realize it or not.  From the moment children are born they begin investigating the natural world around them.  They learn about how things work by testing them with their tiny fingers, watching them change, listening to sounds, and feeling textures. Essentially, that’s what science is all about, right?

    That’s why I love the Baby Loves Science board book series for children ages birth to three.  They claim to be “accurate enough to satisfy an expert, yet simple enough for toddlers”.  Featuring friendly, simple text, cheerful illustrations and facts, these books are the perfect fun introduction to chemistry, physics and engineering for babies and toddlers.  I also think they are engaging, entertaining, and filled with simple learning opportunities.

    I know I learned about quantum physics at some point during my school days, but I seemed to forget what it means over the years. Thanks to reading Baby Loves Quantum Physics, it helped to spark my memory.  The same is also true for thermodynamics.  So yes, parents and caregivers may in fact learn (or re-learn) a thing or two as well by reading these books.  I know I did!

    I like how both of these books have short and simple sentences on each page making them great for bedtime story time if you are short on time.  They also spell things out for little readers making the concepts easy to grasp.

    Sunlight + Air + Water = Food for the tree – Baby Loves Thermodynamics!

    In quantum physics, until Baby looks in the box, Cat is both asleep and awake. – Baby Loves Quantum Physics!

    I like to use these books in the following ways:

    I focus on helping my children understand concepts by asking simple questions about different things mentioned in the books. “What do you think happened to the cat?”

    I encourage my children to use analysis and reasoning skills by asking simple analytical and reasoning questions. “What do trees need in order to grow?”

    I help my children to think about their own process of thinking by asking questions like “How did you know that?” or “How did you figure that out?”

    I help my children apply concepts to their everyday world by doing simple and age-appropriate beyond the book craft projects that are related to the book in some way.

    Let’s support every child to be a Scientist, Engineer, Techie and Mathematician!  You can do this by reading STEM themed books or doing STEM related hands-on activities.  This can also be done through the intentional use of simple questions that promote higher-level thinking.

    Check out all of the current books in this series!

    Baby Loves Quantum Physics! by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan

    Baby Loves Thermodynamics! by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan

    Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering! by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan

    Baby Loves Quarks! by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan

    Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing
    Pages: 20
    Age Range: 0-3 and up
    Available for Sale: September 5, 2017

    Your turn: What are your thoughts about incorporating STEM into the lives of toddlers and preschoolers?  Please feel free to share your ideas and STEM experiences so that we might all learn and grow together.

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    family fun, STEM, technology

    STEM Saturdays: Osmo Creative Kit Review

    Disclaimer: I received an Osmo Creative Kit directly from Osmo in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    As a Computer Programmer and lover of all things STEM (science, math, engineering and technology), it’s important for me to expose my children to technology in order to help them build foundations for future academic and career success.  I want them to be as computer-savvy as possible from a young age.  Online skills are becoming as important as reading and writing for the younger generations, so why not give them a head start in life?  Since my kids are both still currently under the age of 5, my main goals are making sure they know their way around computers, smartphones and tablets without over exposing them too much.

    What is Osmo?

    I’ve been a huge fan of Osmo since discovering them a couple of years ago.  Simply put, Osmo is a unique gaming accessory for the iPad that comes with games that will change the way your child plays.  To date Osmo has been named one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions, is a Parent’s Choice award winner, a winner of the prestigious Oppenheim award, and a 2016 finalist for Toy of The Year.

    What’s Included?

    We received the Osmo Creative Kit which uses interactive art tools in 3 creative apps: Monster, Masterpiece and Newton. With the creative kit you receive: a white board, dry erase markers, a pouch, and a cloth to erase.

    Each of the three apps you download transforms your drawings and instantly brings them to life on the screen right before your eyes! The drawings then become animation to take part in a story, solve a puzzle or they become a one-of-a-kind artwork piece you can frame!

    How Do You Play Osmo?

    All that you need to play Osmo is an iPad with a camera.  Osmo is currently compatible with: iPad 2, iPad (3rd Generation), iPad (4th Generation), iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2 and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Osmo does not currently work with Android-based tablets, however they hope to develop for Android in the future. Right now they are just focusing on iOS.

    Setting up your Osmo gaming system is easy.  You simply download the apps from the app store, place your iPad in the white Osmo base, and then clip on the red Reflector.  And once you set up your Osmo account(s), you’re ready to play!  Note:  If you have multiple children or people who will be using your Osmo you can set up different accounts.  I think this great to be able to track the progress each person has made.

    Why We Love Osmo

    Although we haven’t quite figured out how to play the Newton game yet, we truly love our Osmo gaming system! The kids enjoy playing Monster the best – they love Mo (and so do I)!  It’s so cool to see all of the things the kids draw being pulled onto the screen.  I’m still amazed at the technology and how it all works.  I want to see the code behind, but that’s just the techie in me I guess!

    I personally love the Masterpiece game since I am not the best at drawing.  My drawings always turn out looking amazing!  Now if only I could actually draw that well on my own – ha!  The Masterpiece app has several pictures in the library that you can choose from to sketch. I also like the fact that you can take photos of different objects in your home and draw them as well.  Initially getting used to looking at the iPad screen instead of looking at the paper takes some time and practice.  We love watching our drawings in fast play once we’re done creating them.

    My favorite thing about our Creative Kit is all of the games encourage creativity and lots of imagination.  In addition, they encourage children to work on their fine motor skills in a simple way that’s really easy to understand.  You’re learning while having fun and strengthening muscles in your body including your brain.  How cool is that?

    Osmo games teach children a wide variety of things like:

    • logic and problem solving skills

    • spatial relational skills

    • spelling and critical thinking skills

    • drawing and creative confidence

    • counting, addition and multiplication

    • math, money, fractions and nonverbal communication

    Osmo is recommended for children ages 5 – 12, but my children are able to use it just fine with very little adult supervision required.

    To learn more about the affordable Osmo gaming system kits and games visit their website.

    Your turn: Do your children have an Osmo gaming system?  How do you teach your children about STEM and/or technology?  Feel free to share in the comments.

     

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    family fun, literary road trip series, STEM

    Literary Road Trip Series: Legoland Discovery Center Westchester, NY

    Disclaimer: My family was provided complimentary tickets to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

    Over the years, LEGO bricks have changed very little.  According to LEGO, you can mix bricks made more than 30 years ago with ones in your child’s current collection and-CLICK!-they’d snap together as though not a day had passed.  How neat is that?

    Interesting facts: In Latin, the word “lego” means “I build” or “I assemble”.  The interesting thing is LEGO inventor, Ole Kirk Christiansen didn’t know that when he came up with the name.  When Ole Kirk was deciding the new name for the now famous LEGO brand back in 1934, he took the Danish words for “play” and “well” – leg and godt – and combined them into the new name we know today, LEGO.

    Our Road Trip Begins!
    Last summer our family embarked upon an annual tradition of visiting a family-friendly destination followed by checking out either a local independent book store or library afterwards.  It was such a hit we decided to do it again and hopefully keep it as an annual tradition.  The first stop in our road trip series this year was LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Westchester, NY.

    Unlike the LEGOLAND outdoor amusement park in Florida, LEGOLAND Westchester Discovery Center has a wide range of indoor educational and interactive experiences for children (and grown-ups).  There are hands-on play areas, a 4D cinema, master classes led by Master Model Builders, two LEGO amusement rides and MINILAND — the venue’s signature re-creation of famous landmark locations and buildings throughout Westchester County and New York City, made entirely out of more than 1 million LEGO bricks.

    The MINILAND creations are amazing and so detailed.  We were told by an employee it took a team of 20 expert Lego model builders six months to complete – wow!  LEGO lovers will see replicas of: Grand Central Terminal, The Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building, The Statue of Liberty, Met Life Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Central Park and more.  Children will also be mesmerized by the exciting interactive features that include lights, sounds and moving parts.

    Upon entering we received a brief factory overview and learned how LEGOS are made from plastic.  First, the plastic is mixed, then heated and finally molded into different colorful bricks.  After that we headed over to the first of two indoor rides, The Kingdom Quest, an interactive laser ride complete with blasters to blast the “bad guys” in order to help save the princess.  We also took a spin on the other ride called Merlin’s Apprentice.

    Next, we headed over to the Build & Test Zone where we built our own race cars with different LEGO pieces and wheels.  Once our cars were assembled we enjoyed racing them down the speed test tracks.  Finally, we checked out some of the other exhibits and play pit areas before heading over to the cinema to watch a 10-15 minute 4D animated LEGO movie.

    Although they do have a cafe on-site, there weren’t too many options to choose from so we just opted for a light snack which consisted of chips and bottled water.  Since LEGOLAND is located inside of a shopping center you might be better off having lunch at one of the nearby restaurants.  That’s what we ended up doing.  It’s also worth mentioning that outside food isn’t permitted to bring in.

    Of course we had to visit the gift shop before we left to purchase some souvenirs.  The shop is stacked with popular LEGO sets, Duplo bricks, and some apparel (hats, t-shirts and watches).  The kids got their own LEGO sets which they have thoroughly been enjoying playing with since they received them.  Oh, and don’t forget to bring your parking ticket to the gift shop in order to get it validated.  Parking isn’t free, but with the validation it comes up to $1.75 for LEGOLAND attendees.

    If you’re in the Connecticut, New York or other surrounding areas I’d definitely recommend visiting LEGOLAND Discovery Center.  Especially if you or your kids love playing with LEGOs like mine do.  It’s a nice and clean family-friendly destination to hang out at with your family for a few hours.  There’s a variety of STEM related activities to keep the kids busy and lots of different seating options for grown-ups to sit down while the kids play and explore. Also, bonus points for it being indoors!  That means you can enjoy LEGOLAND all year round without having to worry about the weather.  It’s heated in the winter and cool during the summer months – win, win!

    Connect with LEGOLAND Discovery Center!
    Website | Instagram | Facebook

    Surrounding Local Bookstore or Library

    There is a independent bookstore located about 5 minutes away from LEGOLAND Discovery Center called Womrath Bookshop.  They have a great selection of children’s and adult books as well as some novelty items.

    Yonkers, NY has three different public library branches to choose from.  We ended up going to the Grinton I. Will Branch located about 10 minutes away from LEGOLAND.  I didn’t know there were three branches to choose from so maybe one of the other two branches are located a bit closer to LEGOLAND.  In any event, the branch we visited was clean and organized with a cute play area in the children’s section.  They also have beautiful murals decorating their walls throughout the library.

    There’s a book for that!

    Looking to pair this outing with a children’s book?  Check out The Inventors of LEGO Toys by Erin Hagar.  It’s part of the Awesome Minds early chapter book series for kids!

    Your turn: Have you visited LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Westchester, NY or any other LEGOLAND?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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