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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Recycle Broken Crayons!

Ever wondered what to do with the old broken crayons laying around your house, in the bottom of drawers or boxes, rejected by kids because they are broken but since - you know - they're CRAYONS they still have lots of use left in them?

Peeled, broken crayons
We had an abundance of broken crayons from one of my over-eager coloring toddlers, so today I collected all the broken pieces and asked the kids to peel the paper off. The unintended bonus to this was that the kids were on task and focused on peeling all the crayons for a good 30 or 40 minutes this morning - working on those fine motor skills!

Peeled, broken crayons in a heart-shaped tin
We arranged the peeled, broken crayon pieces in muffin tins. We just randomly tossed them in with no rhyme or reason to it, but you could certainly sort by color family or make specific color combinations. Ours are a mix of giant, jumbo, and regular crayons.

Bake the crayons in the tins at 275ºF for 12 minutes or until they are melted. I let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes after I pulled them out of the oven, then I put the trays in the freezer for a few minutes.

The freezer cooled the crayons enough so that they just popped right out of the tins. I turned the tins upside down over a dish towel (to avoid them falling onto my counter top and potentially breaking).

Finished recycled crayons! 
Next time I will purchase some fun mini-muffin or chocolate molds in different shapes to make the crayons - I bet silicone tins would work well also, and since crayons are non-toxic it's fine to use them in the same tins you use to cook or bake :) You could even package them in little baggies to use as gifts, party favors, or send to school for treasure box prizes.

This was a great, fun, EASY activity and the kids LOVE the new crayons.
Do you have any other suggestions for using broken crayons? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Recycled Broken Crayon Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 275º F
  • Peel crayons
  • Arrange peeled crayons in muffin tins (be creative! use different shapes and sizes!)
  • Bake in 275º oven for approximately 12 minutes, until crayons are melted
  • Cool on the counter
  • Stick the pan in the freezer for a few minutes and the new crayons will pop right out!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Waste - Free Lunches

I am a big supporter of recycling, using reusable products, and reducing waste as much as possible. School lunches are a huge source of trash and waste! I've put together some of my favorite products to help reduce waste or even eliminate it for your children's school lunches. View my Pinterest Page on Waste-Free Lunches too!

I don't like using plastic when I can avoid it, so most of our lunch containers are made of stainless steel. My absolute favorite is PlanetBox. I bought my first PlanetBox lunchbox when my older daughter started Pre-K in 2009. That lunchbox is still in exceptional condition in 2015! Since then, I have purchased a few more and upgraded to new carry bags as my children have grown older, but the stainless steel containers hold up very very well. Pros to the PlanetBox include that the container is one piece, and has just a clasp so it is easy for little hands to open and close. The separate compartments keep food isolated from each other, and the Dippers contain more liquid-y foods like applesauce and yogurt. PlanetBox now comes in three sizes (Shuttle, Rover, and Launch) and as of this school year, we have all three. My 5th grader is most excited about the satellite dish for the Launch, while my Kindergartener is just excited to have her own Rover lunchbox as she starts school. The Shuttle will be good for snacks, but probably not for school lunches for my children. The carry bags hold our cloth napkins, silverware (stainless steel - not plastic!), and water bottles (also stainless steel). The compartments make it versatile and easy to pack an appealing and appetizing variety of foods. You can view the PlanetBox Facebook page or the PlanetBox Inspirations website for a selection of photos demonstrating different lunches, and maybe even steal some ideas!

PlanetBox photo by GSOFamilies member Bonnie Tucker Plante
Sometimes, however, it isn't quite practical to use the PlanetBox for school lunch - especially when we are sending in hot foods for lunch (my kids love leftovers!). We have extra lunch bags for these days, since the PlanetBox carry bags are pretty specifically designed for a PlanetBox. You can find insulated lunch boxes or bags just about anywhere you'd find school supplies, in different shapes, sizes, and patterns.

If I heat up pasta, beans, soup, or other leftovers in the morning before school, I will transfer the hot food into a Thermos FunTainer food jar - they come in a variety of colors and even have popular kids character decorations that my kids enjoy. We have had no problem with leaking or with the Thermos containers keeping food hot. Plus, they're easy for little hands to open with a simple twist.

On days without the PlanetBox, we will use a mix of other stainless containers - I like the LunchBots Bento Containers (we have a variety of sizes to have a selection of different compartments in each container), and Kids Konserve round containers that seal so they are leak-proof.

LunchBots containers

Additionally, we have the Norwex Out To Lunch Sandwich Wrap and Norwex Out To Lunch Snack Bag (available individually or together as a set). The Sandwich Wrap is "Great for sandwiches, small subs and other munchies, the wrap features a Velcro strip to make sure food always stays snug with less air inside. At lunchtime, it unfolds to make a friendly place mat, and clean-up is easy. Simply shake any crumbs into the trash, wipe with a damp cloth and air dry. At 17" x 17", it is certified not to leach and is free of harmful chemicals, they’re a great alternative to plastic wrap and baggies. FREE of BPA, PHTHALATES, PVC and LEAD!" The Snack Bag is "ideal for toting pretzels, fruit, veggies, cheese, crackers and other finger food, as well as stashing away makeup and organizing goodies. Easy Velcro closure."

Norwex Out to Lunch Sandwich Wrap (closed)

Norwex Out to Lunch Sandwich Wrap (open)

Our favorite water bottles are the Thermos Funtainers which are double walled vacuum insulated stainless steel that won't sweat. They have a push button top that flips open to reveal a straw, and comes in solid colors and cartoon character prints. My older daughter prefers the larger 16oz size for her water at school, while my younger daughter has the 12oz size.  We also have a selection of Klean Kanteens in different sizes, some are insulated and some are not (so they sweat - the kids have to keep socks on the outside so the bottles don't sweat while they are at school).

Thermos FunTainers - Water Bottle and Food Jar
As for other waste-free lunch items, we have a variety of cloth napkins that I've picked up on clearance at stores like Target and Kohls, and purchased through individual sellers on Etsy in cute fabric prints for my kids.

We also have special silverware for the kids to use in their lunches - it is separate from our everyday silverware, but is all stainless steel and about the size of the small salad forks and smaller spoons in our regular silverware set.

Kids Konserve containers
When I first started buying stainless lunch containers, there wasn't a huge selection available. I'm very happy to see that many more companies are carrying a variety of options to help with waste-free lunches! I'm also happy to state that as we are entering our 7th year of school lunches, everything that I've bought has held up well and has not needed to be replaced. We have certainly added to our collection as time goes on and new products are released, but the products are definitely worth the investment!

Even with all the containers, there are additional steps we take to reduce waste in our lunches! We buy foods in bulk, rather than individual serving sizes, and portion them out into the lunch boxes. That means fruits, cheese, yogurt, nuts, raisins, and snacks like chips, veggie straws, popcorn, crackers, etc. are all purchased in the large bags or containers. We make our sandwiches at home, using bread or tortillas or wraps, instead of buying the "Uncrustables" or other similar individually-wrapped sandwiches. The kids drink water at school, not milk or juice, so they always have their stainless steel water bottles and not throw-away juice or milk boxes. Napkins are cloth, and brought home to be washed rather than thrown out like paper towels or disposable napkins, and the same with using real silverware instead of plastic throw-away utensils. Stay tuned for ideas from real GSOFamilies parents with suggestions on how to pack fun and enticing lunches for kids!

Easy-to-Pack School Lunches

We polled our GSOFamilies members on Facebook and asked them about their favorite foods to pack for school lunches. Here are some of the responses:

"My kids love those bento-type boxes. (Or the version at target. I think they are Lunch Blox or something.) We try to pack a variety of cheeses, crackers, fresh veggies and fruits. A favorite is ham and cheese roll ups in tortillas." - Cheryl R.

"I bought my daughter a Thirty-one insulated lunch tote three years ago and it's still in perfect condition. She loves fresh fruit cut up, meat/cheese rolls plain, gogurt that has been frozen and took out(yes it will be thawed by lunch) and she really likes the individual bottles of Gatorade" - Dawn L.

Photo by Leslie W.
"This is my new favorite way to make lunches. I have two bins in the pantry and one in the fridge. This way I can fix enough lunch items for the week on Sunday night and just toss it in the bag that morning. I even do apple slices ahead; just sprinkle with lemon juice and put in a ziplock bag to keep them from turning brown. I also put pb&j sandwiches and yogurt tubes in the freezer. So much better than trying to do it every night or morning. My kids are big snackers so I don't worry too much about having a designated main dish so to speak. I usually do a mix like cucumbers and dip, cheese stick, yogurt, crackers, applesauce or fruit cup, and cookies. I might do a sandwich or wrap too. The apple slices and cucumber slices are a big hit so I send a good size bag of those. I also make ahead little dips. Oh and the sandwiches don't get soggy. If your little one has early lunch, you can set out the sandwich the night before just to make sure it's thawed. Just don't ever put it in the fridge because it will be very stale." - Leslie W.

"I gave my son a choice every morning if he wanted to buy lunch or take lunch. I read off the school options during breakfast and he chooses. I will do the same this year for both boys. They enjoy ham or turkey roll-ups/sandwiches, pb&j, or pepperoni and cheese. They pick a fruit, a veggie (carrots, celery, etc) a crunchy (pretzels, cheese-its, etc) and a sweet (cc cookie, go-gurt or fruit snack). They drink milk at school everyday. In the car on the way home from school, they usually eat whatever is leftover..." - Colleen S.

Photo by Bonnie P.

"We love PlanetBox A little on the high end price wise, but totally worth it when you consider we are beginning our 6th year with the same lunch box. Wraps cut into spirals are a big hit in our house!" - Bonnie P.

"Grapes, berries, apple sauce, cracker, cheese, fruit snacks, lunch meat (not in a sandwich) pretzels, nuts, raisins or other dried fruit are all popular choices in our house. I bought some bynto boxes for this year so we'll see how those work. Previously we used the glad 3/section containers that they have now discontinued. I want a planet box badly but can't afford two of them right now." - Leah S.

"LOVE yumbox. We used them everyday last year (except for the dreaded disposable lunch days for field trips). My kiddo is a creature of habit so it was usually PBJ, yogurt, crackers, apple slices, and whatever leftover veggie I could find inside a thermos. Plus water." - Heather M.

"we do all sorts of lunch main courses- bagel with cream cheese or pb, wraps, meat/cheese slices, leftovers from dinner, salads, breakfast (sausage, mini pancakes), hummus and pita, etc. always include fruit and veggies. my high schooler says she'd rather have my lunches any day, and asked that i still pack it for her." - Heather C.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer Movies in Greensboro!

Here are all the summer movies for kids in Greensboro! If we missed any, please let us know.  Please consider calling the theater to confirm showtimes and movies as they are subject to change. GSOFamilies is not responsible for any changes to the schedules below. Visit our Facebook group or Meetup Group to find other families to meet at these events! 

GSOFamilies Summer Movies List

Carmike 18
4822 Koger Blvd, Greensboro, NC 27407
(336) 306-5396

Summer Kids Series! Thursdays at 10 am. All seats $4 which includes Admission, a Popcorn, and a Coca-Cola product. All features presented in 2D. Schedule is subject to change.

June 18 – Rise of the Guardians (PG)

June 25 – How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)

July 2 – Monsters vs. Aliens (PG)

July 9 – The Croods (PG)

July 16 – Megamind (PG)

July 23 – Shrek Forever After (PG)

July 30 – Marmaduke (PG)

Aug. 6 – Toothfairy (PG)

Aug. 13 – The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (PG)

Aug. 20 – Paddington (PG)

Carolina Theatre
310 South Greene Street, Greensboro, NC 27401

Carolina Kids Club tickets are $5 and include a kids’ snack pack! (Five-packs are also available for just $20.) Your 2015 CKC ticket gets you fun & games before the show, live entertainment on the stage & the movie on the huge screen! Doors open at 9:00am, entertainment starts at 9:30am, movies at 10:15am. All children need a ticket and must be accompanied by an adult. (Price includes tax.)

July 8 – Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G)

July 15 – Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (G)

July 22 – Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 (G)

July 29 – Rio 2 (G)

Aug. 5 – Babe: Pig in the City (G)

Cinemark Brassfield 10
2101 New Garden Road, Greensboro, NC 27410

Summer Movie Clubhouse 2015
All shows at 10 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays
10 Fun Films for Kids, all rated G or PG
$5 for ten movies if purchased in advance, or $1 per show
For more info, see a theater manager, or visit www.cinemark.com
Visit this link for a coupon for $1 off a Movie Snack Pack http://www.cinemark.com/images/smc2015/2015%20SMC%20-%20160color.pdf

June 16 and 18 – Dolphin Tale 2 (PG)

June 23 and 25 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)

June 30 and July 2 – Penguins of Madagascar (PG)

July 7 and 9 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (PG)

July 14 and 16 – How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)

July 21 and 23 – Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G)

July 28 and 30 – Diary of a Whimpy Kid: Dog Days (PG)

Aug. 4 and 6 – The Nut Job (PG)

Aug. 11 and 13 – Rio 2 (G)

Aug. 18 and 20 – Turbo (PG)

The Grand Theatre at Four Seasons Station
Four Seasons Station
2700 Vanstory St., Greensboro,NC 27407

Summer Kids Flicks
Movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am
Only $3.50 - includes free box of popcorn and kid's soda
Box office opens at 9:30, movies start at 10 am. All rated G or PG.

June 16 and 17 – Happy Feet (PG)

June 23 and 24 – Happy Feet Two (PG)

June 30 and July 1 – How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)

July 7 and 8 – Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who (G)

July 14 and 15 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)

July 21 and 22 – Rio 2 (G)

July 28 and 29 – Shrek (PG)

Aug. 4 and 5 – The Lego Movie (PG)

Aug. 11 and 12 – Yogi Bear (PG)

Aug. 18 and 19 – Space Jam (PG)

Red Cinemas
1305 Battleground Ave, Greensboro, NC 27408
(336) 230-1732

Red Cinemas presents the Just for Kids Summer Cinema Series: Any Time is Learning Time!
Featuring UNC-TV's Just for Kids - Dinosaur Train and The Zula Patrol
Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9 am - 11 am
FREE admission
Kids Small Concession Special $4 and Kids Large Concession Special $7.50

Regal Cinemas Greensboro Grande 16
3205 Northline Ave, Greensboro, NC 27408
(336) 297-9440

Admission to the Summer Movie Express is only $1. Tickets available for purchase at the box office and all movies start at 10:00 am. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute. All movies are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and are rated G or PG.

June 16 – The Nut Job (PG)
June 17 – Annie (PG)

June 23 – Earth to Echo (PG)
June 24 – The Boxtrolls (PG)

June 30 – Paddington (PG)
July 1 – Turbo (PG)

July 7 – Rio 2 (G)
July 8 – How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)

July 14 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)
July 15 – The Book of Life (PG)

July 21 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (PG)
July 22 – Penguins of Madagascar (PG)

July 28 – Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG)
July 29 – Dolphin Tale 2 (PG)

Aug. 4 – Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
Aug. 5 – Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (PG)

Aug. 11 – The Lego Movie (PG)
Aug. 12 – The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (PG)

Regal Cinemas Palladium Stadium 14 and IMAX
5830 Samet Dr, High Point, NC 27265
(336) 882-5554

Admission to the Summer Movie Express is only $1. Tickets available for purchase at the box office and all movies start at 10:00 am. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute. All movies are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and are rated G or PG.

June 16 – The Nut Job (PG)
June 17 – Annie (PG)

June 23 – Earth to Echo (PG)
June 24 – The Boxtrolls (PG)

June 30 – Paddington (PG)
July 1 – Turbo (PG)

July 7 – Rio 2 (G)
July 8 – How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)

July 14 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)
July 15 – The Book of Life (PG)

July 21 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (PG)
July 22 – Penguins of Madagascar (PG)

July 28 – Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG)
July 29 – Dolphin Tale 2 (PG)

Aug. 4 – Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
Aug. 5 – Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (PG)

Aug. 11 – The Lego Movie (PG)
Aug. 12 – The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (PG)

These options are not the traditional movie theater specials with kids movies for the summer, but are worthwhile to check out anyway!

Center City Cinema
Center City Park
200 N Elm St, Greensboro, NC 27401
(336) 272-1222

All movies are FREE! Starts at 8:30pm or whenever it gets dark!
May 22 - The Hunger Games
June 12 - Dirty Dancing
June 26 - Muppets from Space
July 10 - Empire Records
July 24 - Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
August 14 - Talladega Nights
August 28 - The Notebook
September 25 - Iron Man 3

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema
2134 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC.
(336) 355-7180

Kid's Movie Matinee
Head over to a Kid's Movie Matinee at Geeksboro Coffee House! This is a very informal event, every weekday while school is out, at 10:00am. Admission is Free with Drink Purchase. Movie picks will be random, but always age appropriate, and often a cartoon of some type! The staff just picks a kid friendly movie at random each morning, and you'll have to discover the title upon arrival. The movie listings are not posted anywhere. The movie will always be all ages appropriate.


Lawnchair Drive-In
Summer is here, which means Geeksboro’s beloved Lawnchair Drive-In is back – giving folks a great opportunity to enjoy great movies UNDER THE STARS! Doors for each screening opens at approximately 8:30 p.m., with the movie scheduled to start at around 9 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $2 each and enjoy delicious popcorn and beers under the stars! Bring your own lawnchair or rent one from us for $1!

Saturday, June 6 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Saturday, June 13 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Saturday, June 20 – Legally Blonde
Saturday, June 27 - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Saturday, July 4 - The Sandlot
Saturday, July 11 - Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Saturday, July 18 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
Saturday, July 25 – The Princess Bride
Saturday, August 1 - Batman
Saturday, August 8 - Empire Records (20th Anniversary Screening)

Sedgefield Crossing Cinemas
4631 High Point Rd, Greensboro, NC 27407
(336) 292-7469

Don't forget about this place! While they aren't running specials for kids movies this summer, tickets are $2 all the time, except on Tuesdays when they are only $1. They do have kids movies playing, so check their website for showtimes.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Guest Post: Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad

We frequently take our boys to Tweetsie Railroad.  They love the train and all the rides.  It’s a great place for kids of any age.

Tweetsie is just this side of Blowing Rock.  It takes us about two hours to get there so we usually leave fairly early.  You can enter the park after 3 and come back the next day with the same ticket if you’re not an early family.  I can’t remember the exact cost but it’s not that cheap.  The nice thing is that you only have to buy the one ticket.  The train and all the rides are included in the initial ticket cost.

Tweetsie Railroad (photo courtesy visitnc.com)

We usually start with the fair style rides at the middle rides section, Country Fair.  It has the go cart track, a ferris wheel, and lots of other rides.  By the time we ride all those rides, it’s about time for lunch.

We usually bring our lunch just to save a little money.  They’ve never stopped us or said anything about bringing in outside food and drink.  I usually just slip a cooler into my backpack so it’s easier to carry.  There are plenty of picnic tables and food places.  We have bought lunch in the park so we wouldn’t have so much to carry.  The food is good but, as you might image, a little expensive for burger and fries.  There is a great little ice cream shop near the train station too.

The train ride is a lot of fun.  If you’ve never been, the train is an antique steam engine.  It makes various stop along the tracks in the woods and actors perform little skits and shows.  Be aware that the characters do board the train but they just walk down the aisle.  It’s all cowboys and indians theme, of course.  There is a fair bit of adult humor in the shows but it’s over the kids’ heads.  They do shoot at each other but most of the shows end with the characters learning a lesson. Anyone who was “shot” stands up and waves as the train leaves so the kids know they weren’t really hurt. If you’re not crazy about the Wild West gun thing, go on the Day Out With Thomas; there are no guns that day.

We usually end with the Miner’s Mountain at the very top of the mountain.  You take a chair lift to get up there, although I think there is a path for wheel chairs and such.  I’ve seen a van before so they must have some sort of option for handicap visitors.  There is a playground, a deer park/petting zoo, and, my boy’s favorite, the mouse mine mini train ride.

There are also plenty of shows and indoor entertainment if you need a break.  We haven’t been to those in a while so I’m not really sure what they are like these days.  There’s also lots of shops and stores.  Everything is kid friendly.  They have fake horses and carriages in front of some of the stores that kids can climb on.  There’s also a giant teepee and some Native American pieces.

There is definitely enough to entertain the whole family all day.  If you decide to go, I do have a few recommendations.  If you go in the morning or in the fall, take a light jacket.  You will also want to bring sunglasses for the train ride.  Sometimes the coal dust drifts through the open train cars.  It won’t hurt you but it’s uncomfortable to get it in your eyes.  I highly recommend a baby carrier instead of a stroller for little ones.  Tweetsie is literally on the side of a mountain so it’s not the easiest place to maneuver a stroller.  They do have stroller rentals there if you change your mind after arriving.  They also have stroller parking areas by the train and the chair lift.  If you do use a baby carrier, you can front carry a child on the chair lift much easier than trying to hold onto a little one.  I’ve never been concerned about safety with my oldest (he was 3 at his first visit) on the chair lift.  It’s slow and the operator is there to help you get on and off.  I was glad to have the baby carrier on the chair lift when my youngest was still under a year old.

It’s great for entertaining kids of different ages.  There seems to be a little something for everyone.  My oldest is too big to ride the kiddie rides now but there are plenty of other rides he enjoys.  They have a lot of special events and things too.  Just be aware that those days are particularly crowded.  Day Out with Thomas was so slammed you had to pre-book your train ride time and I was very glad we brought our own lunch that day.  All in all, Tweetsie is a great family day trip.

Review submitted by Leslie Wannamaker, a local mom of two. Leslie is a highly qualified, certified instructor offering tutorial to students 8th grade-college in Language Arts, SAT/ACT prep, study skills, and more. Visit her pages at https://plus.google.com/+MrsWannamakersTutorialGreensboro and https://www.facebook.com/wannamakerstutorial

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Guest Post: SkyWild Ropes Course at the Greensboro Science Center

 Ropes Course at the Greensboro Science Center 

We were privileged to be included in the friends and family day at SkyWild before the grand opening on May 2. I’ve never been on a ropes course or zip lining so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It was amazing!

My husband said it was the closest he could come to being a kid on playground and I have to agree. It was challenging but not necessarily in the way I was expecting. Many of the elements and obstacles were more about problem solving and balance than they were about strength and physical fitness. Sometimes the hardest part was figuring out whether to grab or step first.

SkyWild Ropes Course at Greensboro Science Center

It is on the pricey side at $46, but they offer a lot of discount options. Your ticket covers two hours so just think of it as $20 an hour. I know there are other courses in the area but I love, love, love that this one is the shade! The day we went it began to rain but it wasn’t that bad because of the trees. (They don’t close for rain, just lightning.) You’re climbing right beside all the animal enclosures and you’re under a thick tree canopy almost the entire time. It was really fun to be pulling yourself across on a surfboard while looking down into the tiger enclosure (no, it’s not close enough for you to fall in). 

If you’re wondering if you are in good enough shape to complete the course, don’t worry; there’s always a way to “cheat.” For instance, there is one stretch with monkey bars. I do not have the upper body strength for that distance but there is a second option to walk a tight rope instead. I also saw a few people who felt stuck on some of the most difficult elements and they simply sat down in their harness and pulled themselves across zip line style.

The harness goes around your waist and legs just like a zip line harness but it also comes up over your shoulders. You are clipped into a tether at the front near your waist. The tether is attached to a cable running just above you through the ropes course. If you were to fall, your bottom would stop where your knee or calf had been when you were standing. There are some zip line sections and you simply sit down and slide across (or, my personal favorite, you slide down a short slide off the side of a tall platform at the start of the zip line). At first, the harness is a pain but by the end I was comfortable with it. They say to wear harness appropriate clothing. I highly recommend against wearing jeans! A few guys in our group wore jeans and were not very comfortable. Athletic or yoga pants worked much better. Ladies, you will want to take out your earrings too (or put in a simple stud). The helmet strap comes down right under the ear so anything dangling will be uncomfortable. 

Remember you can’t have anything in your pockets so I strongly recommend leaving everything in your car or at home. They have “lockers” but it’s just a plastic bucket with a lid and lock hanging on a fence. It’s fine for holding your wallet or keys but it’s not going to hold a lot. If it’s raining or a hot day, you probably won’t want to leave your phone in it either.

All in all it was a great day. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The courses were challenging but still fun. With three different difficulty levels and multiple paths per level, it’s easy to pick and choose which elements you want to try and which you want to avoid. We can’t wait to go back!

Visit http://greensboroscience.org for more information on the Greensboro Science Center
Visit http://www.skywild.org for more information on SkyWild

Review submitted by Leslie Wannamaker, a local mom of two. Leslie is a highly qualified, certified instructor offering tutorial to students 8th grade-college in Language Arts, SAT/ACT prep, study skills, and more. Visit her pages at https://plus.google.com/+MrsWannamakersTutorialGreensboro and https://www.facebook.com/wannamakerstutorial

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reading and Your Child

This is Dr. Stuart Marcovitch from UNCG’s DUCK lab and MDLab. Thanks to all children and parents who have been helping us out over the years – feel free to check out our websites at http://www.uncg.edu/~s_marcov/ and http://www.uncg.edu/~mdlab/

We all know that reading to your young children is important, and should be a daily event. But how old should your children be when they start reading by themselves? For years, many researchers believed that earlier is better, and there is a lot of truth to that statement. Early reading opens up a whole new world of cognitive exploration where children can think about and manipulate ideas on their own. It also makes the transition into school easier, providing a slight advantage to those children who are learning to read for the first time in the classroom.

But is there such a thing as reading too early? The answer, it appears, is yes. Nature has provided your children with a built-in mechanism to focus on information that will help them develop appropriately while ignoring the irrelevant information that will slow them down. For example, when learning a new word - say, the word “doggie” – children have the natural tendency to think that doggie refers to the animal and not a part of the animal (say, the tail), the actions of the animal (say, barking), nor the context the animal is in (say, the doghouse). When it comes to reading, forcing a child to do it before she is cognitively able to do so may redirect valuable resources away from the natural learning that is supposed to be taking place in other domains.

What are parents to do? Exposing children to written language in the first two years of life is useful, as it teaches children about the superficial used of words and meanings. But trying to get your 18-month-old to read these words (as some companies are peddling) is not helpful – there is no evidence that it will lead to better reading skills. Rather, once your child has amassed an impressive vocabulary (usually older than three years of age), slowly introducing letter sounds (starting with the child’s name is a great first step) and blends can be a fun activity. After that, follow your child’s lead. If she is ready to learn more, she will enthusiastically approach future lessons. If she gets disinterested or frustrated, then she is not yet ready (which is perfectly normal, as different skills develop at different times for different children) and you can try again in a month. Your child will still enjoy the time interacting with you, and of course will still love her bedtime stories!

Located in the Eberhart Building, the DUCK Lab and Memory Development Lab (MDLaB: Memory Development Learning and Brain) are a non-profit research center dedicated to the study of children’s cognitive and social development.  We welcome parents and children to participate in our studies, all of which are presented as fun games for children. We provide free parking, treats, prizes, and coffee for parents, and we are available at your convenience. Please contact us at childdev@uncg.edu or 336-256-0048 for more information and also see previous GSOFamilies posts http://www.gsofamilies.com/2014/07/uncg-memory-development-lab-and-duck.html and  http://www.gsofamilies.com/2014/12/navigating-holidays-with-young-children.html

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Help Wanted!

As GSOFamilies has grown, I am looking for a few volunteers to help me with the groups. Time commitment varies, I have tried to include as much information as possible in this post, but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me GSOFamilies@gmail.com and we can chat! I firmly believe that this group has grown and thrived because of all of the people involved in making it a supportive, informative, helpful community. If you have a few minutes, or a few hours, to commit to helping the group continue to grow, let's work together!  Ideally I would like to find several volunteers for each position, and I will work with you on training and being part of the team.

POSITION: Best of Greensboro Assistant
  • Purpose: The purpose of the Best of Greensboro Assistant is to help me update and organize the Best of Greensboro directory on www.GSOFamilies.com
  • Duties: The Best of Greensboro Assistant will help compile recommendations from our Facebook group to update the Best of Greensboro directory.
  • Time Commitment: Varies - The more time available, the faster the task will be completed!
  • Description: You do not need to have website technical knowledge for this position! I'd love some help just compiling information into the proper format so I can just paste it into the website. There are existing posts you can pull information and recommendations from, or you can create new posts to gather new suggestions for Best of Greensboro. I'm flexible! Email me with interest! GSOFamilies@gmail.com
POSITION: Event Coordinator
*Multiple Positions Open!
  • Purpose: The purpose of the Event Coordinator is to provide options and activities and events for local families to have the opportunity to meet each other.
  • Duties: The event coordinator will plan and schedule at least one event per calendar month.
  • Time Commitment: One event or activity per month, on an ongoing basis. If you choose to plan additional events, that's fine too!
  • Description: Keep it simple! It can be a family event, an adult event, a moms-only or dads-only event, or really anything you're willing to plan and invite others to attend with you. Our community is unique because we encompass both online interaction and in-person activities. If there's something you like to do on your own with friends, with your significant other, or with your family, and you don't mind inviting others to accompany you, this is the volunteer position for you! What about a day trip to the zoo? A morning at the Science Center? A playdate at the park? Coffee with the girls? Date night with other couples? Girls night out? A trip to the movies? Skating? There's so many possibilities in this area! If you are interested in inviting others to join you at an event you'd be doing anyway, at least once per month, let me know! GSOFamilies@gmail.com (Note: Events will be shared across GSOFamilies and TriadFamilies sites)
POSITION: Pinterest Pinner
  • Purpose: The purpose of the Pinterest Pinner is to pin relevant and applicable pins and information for the Greensboro and Triad area to the GSOFamilies pinterest board.
  • Duties: The Pinterest Pinner is responsible for pinning new posts to the GSOFamilies Pinterest board at least once a week. 
  • Time Commitment: A few minutes each week
  • Description: If you're a fan of using Pinterest, this volunteer position is for you! You'll be added to the GSOFamilies group board, and can pin information relevant to families in the Greensboro and Triad area. Email me with interest! GSOFamilies@gmail.com
POSITION: Instagrammer
  • Purpose: The purpose of the Instagrammer is to actively participate in the Instagram community, like relevant and applicable posts, and share information for the Greensboro and Triad area to the GSOFamilies Instagram account.
  • Duties: The Instagrammer is responsible for participating in the Instagram social community as frequently as possible, at least twice a week. 
  • Time Commitment: A few minutes each week
  • Description: If you're a fan of using Instagram, this volunteer position is for you! You'll be given access to the GSOFamilies Instagram account, and can like, comment, hashtag, and share information relevant to families in the Greensboro and Triad area. Email me with interest! GSOFamilies@gmail.com
POSITION: Twitter Tweeter
  • Purpose: The purpose of the Twitter Tweeter is to actively participate in the Twitter social community, favorite relevant and applicable posts, and retweet information for the Greensboro and Triad area to the GSOFamilies Twitter account.
  • Duties: The Twitter Tweeter is responsible for participating in the Twitter social community as frequently as possible, at least twice a week. 
  • Time Commitment: A few minutes each week
  • Description: If you're a fan of using Twitter, this volunteer position is for you! You'll be given access to the GSOFamilies Twitter account, and can favorite, engage in conversation, hashtag, retweet, and share information relevant to families in the Greensboro and Triad area. Email me with interest! GSOFamilies@gmail.com
POSITION: Guest Blogger
  • Purpose: The purpose of the Guest Blogger is to submit short reviews and personal experiences with attractions and events in the Triad area and elsewhere for inclusion on our website under the Travel or Local Outings headings. 
  • Duties: Guest Bloggers can submit as many or as few posts as they wish, at any time interval. 
  • Time Commitment: The amount of time to write one post (you can see examples on www.GSOFamilies.com just click on Travel or Local Outings)
  • Description: If you enjoy sharing your experiences and opinions with others, this is the position for you. The time commitment is minimal - just visit a local park, attraction, event, etc. and write a short post about your family's experience. Or, if you take a day trip or a vacation, write about your adventures - including where you stayed and what you did. Families are ALWAYS looking for personal recommendations! Email me with interest - GSOFamilies@gmail.com

I will also be looking for assistance with events, marketing, and charitable drives at various times throughout the year. If you have ideas or a desire to work on a larger-scale project for the community, please contact me so we can chat and brainstorm!

Many many thanks!


Friday, February 6, 2015

GIVEAWAY from Mrs. Wannamaker's Tutorial

Enter to win a FREE initial evaluation or $30 of tutorial services from Mrs. Wannamaker’s Tutorial!

ONE (1) winner will receive a gift certificate for a free initial evaluation or $30 of tutorial services from Mrs. Wannamaker's Tutorial.  Included will be a brochure about the business: services offered, age range, Mrs. Wannamaker's background, etc.  as well as a business card with all contact information.

Visit Mrs. Wannamaker's Tutorial on:
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/wannamakerstutorial
Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/leslie-wannamaker-greensboro-2
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+MrsWannamakersTutorialGreensboro

Other information from Mrs. Wannamaker: I am a certified English teacher, former high school classroom instructor, and a North Carolina Teaching fellow.  I offer tutorial in English/Language Arts, SAT prep, ACT prep, study skills, reading comprehension, writing skills, and more. My age range is usually listed as 8th grade-college but I do take younger students on a case by case basis. Any special offers will be posted on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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