by Micaela Williamson
For Summer 2016, The Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail has launched an awesome new game called "Bucket's Buddy Adventures" that rewards visitors for experiencing fun, family-friendly things to do in the Shenandoah Valley area. The game consists of four adventure cards (Creativity, History, Great Outdoors and Wellness.) Each of the cards has a checklist of places to visit throughout the summer. When you visit each location, there is a clue to find a magic word to enter on your mobile device. Plus, the locations all have free prizes to give away to participants. When a card is complete, you are entered to win even more prizes, including an overnight stay and free tickets to many attractions.
My family got to test out the game firsthand and had a blast. Here are some of our adventures:
Back Home on The Farm
This farm had a ton of different activities including a cow train, rat rollers, a giant tunnel slide through a hill, and a beautiful butterfly garden boasting four species of Virginia butterflies. Plus, there is a greenhouse play area for little ones, farm animals to meet, and an extremely impressive Virginia carousel which is handcrafted to showcase the state's history. Be sure to stop by the country store to pick up a free prize and purchase some delicious homemade jam.
Explore More Discovery Museum
This is a fantastic, hands-on children's museum located right in downtown Harrisonburg. Exhibits focus on science, engineering, the human body, building, art and the imagination. Kids can pretend to be a mechanic, work at a farm, run a kitchen, act on a stage and even tell a newscast in a mock TV news studio. There is so much to see and the location is walkable to many great downtown restaurants and shops.
Mulligan's Golf Center
Mulligan's is a brand-new mini golf center that appeals to all levels. Kids will love the challenges and all the water features.
Mt. Crawford Creamery
Mt. Crawford, VA
This was our first time ever visiting a creamery. Every day at 4 PM, the cows are milked in the dairy barn, and staff is happy to share about the process and answer any questions. You can also pet the baby calves and get a free tasting of chocolate milk and old-fashioned buttermilk at the front desk. It's much more special than visiting the grocery store!
Alamo Cinema and Drafthouse
After seeing a movie at this cinema, you'll never want to visit a traditional movie theater again. The Alamo Cinema and Drafthouse has a gourmet menu complete with sandwiches, snacks, entrees, brunch, craft beers and signature cocktails. Movie goers can relax in the lush seats, and enjoy the latest films.
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
This extensive museum is interesting for kids and parents alike. The galleries include multimedia exhibits about the history of life in the Shenandoah Valley, an impressive miniatures collection, and changing art exhibits. The seven acres of gardens are gorgeous feature a picnic area and scavenger hunt for kids. Plus, visitors will want to check out the historic Glen Burnie House.
Come inside this store to play Bucket's Gadget Game and earn a prize. Kids and adults alike will marvel over the cookie cutter collection and walls of interesting kitchen gadgets. We highly recommend sampling and buying some of their delicious homemade fudge!
This market is known for its craft soda collection, savory sandwiches and fried chicken. Kids can play the "Throx Picnic Challenge" and earn a free, soft serve ice cream cone.
Other places to visit on the Bucket's Buddy Adventure include:
Where to Stay:
Learn more about Bucket's Buddy Adventure game and experience all the Shenandoah Kids Trail has to offer by visiting the Go Blue Ridge Travel website here.
We were guests of Go Blue Ridge Travel and received a complimentary visit to attractions and overnight stay in return for an honest review. All opinions are our own.
By Amy Suski
We also got the 12 oz. Drink in the Box which is plenty big enough for hours of sipping. You can fill it with fruit and water or any of your favorite beverages. The food-safe silicone straw is removable and replaceable. But the best part is that when the lid is closed it is spill-proof and leak proof! (Even with the lid wide-open the spillage isn't much.)
The boxes fit easily side-by-side in a lunch box, are nearly indestructible (ours survived many tumbles in the driveway), and I also like that you can see through the clear containers and be SURE they are clean (no more yucky mold hiding where you can't see it).
Other good features of the boxes:
- Dishwasher safe (top shelf)
- USA-made Tritan(TM) and Polypropylene that is BPA and Phthalate free
- Stain resistent
- Come in green, orange, pink and blue
The Snack in the Box and the 8 oz. and 12 oz. Drink in the Box retail for $9.99, $11,99 and $14.99, respectively. The boxes are sold nationwide at Toys R Us and Bed Bath & Beyond. For more information or to find a retailer near you visit www.drinkinthebox.com.
About the Film (official Press Release)
Run time: 85 mins
U.S. Release Date: June 17, 2016
Voice Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Eugene Levy, Diane Keaton, Hayden Rolence
Director: Andrew Stanton
Co-Director: Angus MacLane
Producer: Lindsey Collins
Disney•Pixar's “Finding Dory” welcomes back to the big screen everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), who’s living happily in the reef with Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks). When Dory suddenly remembers that she has a family out there who may be looking for her, the trio takes off on a life-changing adventure across the ocean to California’s prestigious Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium. In an effort to find her mom (voice of Diane Keaton) and dad (voice of Eugene Levy), Dory enlists the help of three of the MLI’s most intriguing residents: Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill), a cantankerous octopus who frequently gives employees the slip; Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who is convinced his echolocation skills are on the fritz; and Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark. Deftly navigating the complex inner workings of the MLI, Dory and her friends discover the magic within their flaws, friendships and family.
Recommended age: 4 and up
I attended a preview of "Finding Dory" with my 5 year old son. The movie was very upbeat and positive, but parents should be aware that there was one scene with a giant squid that was very loud, action packed and scary. After the scene ended there was a little one crying but he was quickly quieted by his mom and the scene being over. Other than that one part it was great!
My son's favorite part of the movie was a scene featuring a touch exhibit when the octopus leaked his ink and turned the pool black! My personal favorite part was when Marlin said to Nemo "Dory always knows what to do." And Nemo said "Dory doesn't know, she just does." Finding Dory had a great flow and an empowering message of using ones inner wisdom while also allowing outside help from the community. It is an entertaining watch for both kids and parents, and we highly recommend the film.
About the Author: Marcia Sheehan is the founder of Charmed Cardinals, a society for women who crave personal development, spiritual growth & community outreach.
by Melissa Moore
Have you ever walked past Judy Garland’s ruby red slippers at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and sensed an overwhelming feeling of childhood nostalgia only to turn around to see your child, oblivious to the slippers, looking around for more Star Wars memorabilia? Now is your opportunity to experience The Wizard of Oz with your child at the National Theatre in Washington DC. This colorful, flashy touring production of the classic musical is only in town for two weeks until May 15.
My seven year old daughter and I were thrilled to be able to spend an evening out in the city seeing The Wizard of Oz on its second night at the National Theater. Ever since taking her to the Wizard of Oz themed playground at Watkins Regional Park and subsequently watching the classic movie, she has been a bit obsessed with glittery red slippers, rainbows and small dogs named Toto. This touring production of the classic did not disappoint; it had plenty of playfulness, rainbows, and even the most adorable live dog playing Toto. My daughter talked about the tricks that Toto performed the whole way
Wondering if this is the right first theatrical production for your little one? There were lots of little kids in the audience, including some preschool age children, and I didn’t see any tears or scared faces -- only big smiles. Of all the full length musicals that I have seen with my kids, this has to be one of the best for the younger crowd; aside from a few big booms, flashes of light, huge stage-sized face of Oz, and a tiny bit scary Wicked Witch of the West, this rendition of The Wizard of Oz was pretty tame. Kids do need to be able to sit still through the entire 75 minute first act, which is full of singing, joking, acrobatic dancing and fun; the second act is shorter at about 40 minutes.
Yes, the childhood classic will also meet, or exceed, your own nostalgic expectations. While the plot is modernized in a few ways and there is some extra humor added, the characters, especially the Cowardly Lion, echo back to the movie that you saw as a kid. This has always been a story that appeals to all ages, even tweens and teens, and this particular rendition had the entire audience laughing at the Tin Man and sighing at the cuteness of Toto.
The Wizard of Oz
May 3 – May 15, 2016
The National Theatre
by Micaela Williamson
Earth Day is just around the corner, and I was super excited to receive a special package from PBS KIDS to celebrate the outdoors. My family and I have a blast in nature and love hiking, boating, wildlife viewing, visiting parks and also simple things like gardening in our own backyard. This year is our first spring owning a home with a backyard, and we've been working hard to make it beautiful.
My package from PBS KIDS included some kids' garden tools, which my children were thrilled to receive, a butterfly habitat, some books, and screeners of new episodes of their favorite PBS KIDS shows: Nature Cat and Wild Kratts.
This 2016, PBS KIDS is kicking off their annual Explore the Outdoors initiative with brand new episodes of Nature Cat, and Wild Kratts between April 25-29th. In fact, the 100th episode of Wild Kratts will air on April 28, 2016. (And I think my kids and I may then be able to claim that we have seen all 100!)
We watched a screener of the "Earth Day Today/Earth Day Every Day" episode of Nature Cat, which will air on April 25, 2016. In this episode, Nature Cat and his friends are on a quest to get rid of plastic pollution in nature, but encounter a few problems. Watch to find out how they come up with a solution and spread the word about how Earth Day can be every day.
We also watched a screener of the new "Spirit Bear" episode of Wild Kratts premiering Friday, April 29th. The Kratt brothers and Aviva visit Bear Island to observe behaviors of black bears and come across the rare Spirit Bear of the Northern Pacific, a black bear who actually has white fur. However, the adventure takes a turn for the worse when a new villain, Paisley Paver, comes along and wants build a mega storage facility on the island. Watch as the Wild Kratts and nature prevail and learn about the American Black bear in this awesome episode.
For cool learning games with nature featuring your child's favorite PBS KIDS characters, visit: http://pbskids.org/games/nature/
For some great activities and crafts for Earth Day, visit http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/category/holiday/earth-day/. We especially loved the DIY butterfly garden and coffee filter Earth Day art projects.
Have a great Earth Day, explore the outdoors, and be sure to tune into PBS KIDS between April 25-29 for brand new episodes of Nature Cat and Wild Kratts each day.
Disclosure: I am a PBS KIDS insider and sometimes receive perks for sharing information with my readers. No compensation other than the Explore the Outdoors package was received. All opinions are my own.
Click your heels together and join Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and her little dog Toto, as they journey through the magical land of Oz to meet the Wizard and obtain their hearts’ desires. Watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys as you rediscover the real story of Oz in this fantastic musical treat for the whole family.
The musical features beloved songs and moments from the film as well as new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Check out the promotional video below:
The Wizard of Oz
May 3 – May 15, 2016
The National Theatre
Find tickets here: http://thenationaldc.org/events/category/series/wizard-of-oz/
We are giving away a pair of tickets for opening night, Tuesday 5/3/16 at 7:30pm. To enter, just comment below. Winner will be picked on Sunday, April 17, 2016. Good luck!
by Micaela Williamson
One of my favorite experiences with my son was sleeping over the Smithsonian National Archives last summer. It is a memory that neither of us will ever forget, and you can read all about our experience in this article here. I am happy to announce the new 2016 Smithsonian Sleepover dates at the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, and for the first time ever, the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.
Here is more information about the sleepovers via the official press release:
Sleepovers are for children ages 8-12, and it is required that there be at least one adult for every three children. Chaperones must be 21 years or older. All participants must pre-register by calling (202) 633-3030 or by visiting the Smithsonian Associates box office located in the S. Dillon Ripley Center at 1100 Jefferson Dr. S.W., Suite 3077.
Ticket prices are $135 for general admission and $120 for Associate members. The price includes exclusive access and activities in the museum, an evening snack, interactive exploration, arts and crafts activities and a light breakfast. T-shirts are available for purchase while at the sleepover. For more information and a detailed schedule of events, please visit www.smithsoniansleepovers.org.
Kristina Schnack Kotlus is a mom of three and known throughout the Northern Virginia community as the publisher behind PWC Moms, a long-standing, popular blog dedicated to family-friendly events and activities in Prince William County and beyond. The blog boasts an active social media following, and Kristina has received accolades such as the “40 Under 40 Marketing and PR Winner” in Prince William County and “Best Blog” in the Best of NoVA by Northern Virginia Magazine.
In 2013, shortly before her 29th birthday, Kristina was diagnosed with a brain tumor and began many months of treatment that included surgery and radiation. She leaned heavily on her faith and always believed there was a plan. After surviving the illness, Kristina decided to dedicate her life to helping other people and raising money to further brain cancer research.
“I'm very thankful every day that I get to be here and that I get to keep raising my kids and working in the community. I'm even more thankful I got to experience the love of the people around me- it was so humbling to have so many people step in and help with our kids, our dinners, even our laundry,” says Kotlus.
Kristina started hosting the annual Silver Sparkles Family Fun Day event, now in its third year, to give back to the community and provide a fun-filled day for families. This year’s event is on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the giant Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center in Manassas.
Throughout the day, families can experience free classes, such as ballet and Minecraft in the community rooms, and the gym will be filled with family-friendly booths and games sponsored by local organizations. From hands-on activities, art projects, model trains, a photo booth, indoor bounces to putt-putt golf and much more, every vendor table at the festival has something fun for kids to do. Plus, there will be food and raffle tickets for sale. It’s a chance for families to discover local businesses and kid-friendly venues while the children have a great time playing.
Tickets to the event are by family and available for advance purchase online. All profits from the event go to brain cancer research.
Kristina adds, “Ironically, the presentation of my brain tumor is more common in children. That really made me think about how awful it would be to have to watch one of my own kids survive what I had to deal with. It makes me really passionate about research and donating as much as I can because while I was lucky it was me and not one of my children. Other people aren't as lucky and they are fighting this alongside babies or toddlers who can't even understand why they're being subjected to so much pain.”
To see the current list of vendors, find out more about Silver Sparkles Family Fun Day, and to purchase tickets, please visit the official website here.
By: Patricia Mickus
When are we going to Disney?
This is a question most parents are asked at some point in their child’s life. Then panic starts to set in and it’s the parents asking the questions. How stressful will it be? What age is the right age? What’s it really like to be there with young kids?
The thought of taking young children to Disney can be overwhelming. The TV commercials show families enjoying the perfect vacation, but you see overtired, over stimulated, tantrum throwing kids in your head. The good news is that with a little planning and the right perspective, you can have that magical trip you dreamed about.
My kids are so young, should I wait until my kids will remember?
I often hear people say that they want to wait to do Disney World until their kids are old enough to remember the trip. Personally, I did not take my kids until they were 3 years old. Going to the grocery store with infants was daunting to me so the thought of managing them at Disney was way too big of an adventure. Do my kids remember their first trip at three? No, but I have some great pictures and we all had an awesome time. Timing is a personal choice for each family. Try taking a trip to a local amusement park. Now think how that same trip over a 4-5 day stretch.
Disney for some is a once in a lifetime vacation and you want to feel you’re getting your money’s worth. The magic of Disney is never lost on a young child. For a preschooler, that really is Belle just waiting for a hug and Mickey Mouse really has come out just to see them today.
How does Disney help young families while in the Parks?
What are the Challenges with young kids?
One of the most important tips I can give is to manage your expectations. Remember, you can’t see and do everything, and that’s OK. Pay attention to your kids' cues, if they are too cranky to wait for the 3pm parade then let them sleep through it. Or better yet, head back to the resort for a few hours and return to the parks refreshed later in the early evening. It’s more important to enjoy the things you do than to try to force everyone to do everything.
If you are waiting until your preschooler is older to enjoy Disney, think again! From characters, parades, attractions and shows designed with them in mind, their days will be full of Disney magic. For more tips check out Simple Luxuries Travel’s Pinterest Board - Disney With Toddlers and Preschoolers
by Danielle Larkins
I admit I was a bit nervous about seeing another big, live show with my kids. The last time my eldest son was at Eagle Bank Arena, he was two. His fussiness and squirminess watching Elmo had me swearing I wouldn’t be back. Three years later, we returned to the arena to see Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie's Doorway to Magic and it was a completely different experience.
In addition to toting my five year old, I had my other son; a four year old preschooler. After walking in to the building, we were immediately greeted with Disney toys, cotton candy, pretzels, Dippin Dots, and other treats. Kids were smiling from ear to ear with their Mickey Mouse headband ears and princess dresses.
Shortly after we sat down with our corn dogs and burgers, the show began. My sons were immediately captivated. My youngest child was one bite into his corn dog, and didn’t take another one until 20 minutes later. The kids around us were cheering, and equally engaged. The Disney characters danced on the colorful stage, taking you through a magical adventure through various Disney stories. We saw Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Woody, and more. To my surprise there was no Elsa, which was a bit of a relief, to be honest. The choreography was simple. It included dancing, jump roping, and a little tumbling. As an adult, I wanted more, but then I remembered it was for little ones. My kids, of course, didn’t notice.
The show lasted 90 minutes with a short intermission. I found this amount of time perfect for kids. They thoroughly enjoyed every minute, including their cotton candy. An added bonus? My husband and I found it entertaining too.
Kid Trips Northern Virginia Edition
Buy New $12.59
About The Blog
Kid Trips' blogs profile fun events and cool family-friendly venues. We focus on regional and national family travel articles.
Blogs Via Email
Links We Love