Art of Brick: Field Trip

There’s just something about Legos…am I right? I haven’t met a kid who didn’t love them and my girls are no exception. They build according to the models and only rarely branched out to make their own creations…until today! We had the chance to visit the free exhibit The Art of Brick, hosted by the Alamance County Arts Council.

The Arts Council is housed in a house preserved for its history. It may not look like a museum from the outside, but once step into its doors and you are immediately surrounded by art. Volunteers greeted us and made sure we knew not to touch or even accidentally bump into the exhibits. Although they are glued together, they were not glued to their stands and even jumping could dislodge them. We made sure the girls understood this rule, especially since we had just been visiting a much more hands-on museum prior to this!

Some of the sculptures were housed at the Children’s Museum of Alamance County so we saw those first. The opened book with a castle and moat surrounding it was my favorite. A story-poem was written on the book and it was fun to share it with my girls. Grace said it looked like a pop-up book and I think she’s right!

The crayons were another fun sculpture for the girls!

The boy looking at his reflection entranced Beth and Rose.

Many of the sculptures were of people. The genius of this artwork goes beyond the ability to create sculptures out of Legos. The creativity and ideas behind the art seem endless.

This one looked like someone was squeezing the clouds to make it rain on the city!

“Mommy, look! His heart is floating!

Grace’s face while she looks at this one is just fabulous! 
This is just so cool! Grace loved this one and spent a long time looking at it and talking with me about it. Grace is almost 4 and here she is discussing art with me. Wow!
Hopefully this won’t be the only time we see Mt. Rushmore, but even if it is, it’s a pretty cool way! 
Beth and Grace enjoyed talking about this one and why it was titled Lonely Yellow. We chatted about why only one brick was yellow, what it represented, and why only light would be on in the city. 
Here is a self-portrait of the artist made entirely of Legos. How cool would family pictures like this be?
After we toured the exhibit we watched a short video of the artist talking about how he started out and why he made these sculptures. The girls were very entertained by him and I really enjoyed hearing about his past. What struck me most about what he said was how much it meant to him that families came to his exhibits. He said families who typically wouldn’t go to an art exhibit would come to The Art of Brick. Boy was he right! The art museum really wasn’t on my radar for a field trip until the girls were much older. I’m now reconsidering it. Talking with the girls about the sculptures, what they represented, and just discussing them was so much fun!
The girls were also inspired to come home and create on their own. Rose, my by-the-book girl, didn’t once look at her instruction sheets for her Lego sets when she came home. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen her do that! The Art of Brick was a fabulous exhibit and a really fun way to introduce art to your kids if you haven’t yet! Check here to see if there is an exhibit near you!
Family Friendly: 10
Kids Engagement: 10
Likelihood to return: 10

Children’s Museum of Alamance County: Field Trip

I’m always on the lookout for fun field trips for our girls. I found out recently there was a children’s museum we’ve never been to which is close enough for a day trip! The Children’s Museum of Alamance County generously hosted our family for the day and we had an absolutely splendid time! 

The children’s museum is laid out as in one long, open building. Following the model of many current children’s museums it is all about experiential learning. Multiple rooms flow from one room to another. The opportunities to explore are endless! I’m going to highlight as many as I can, but I’m sure there are some things we missed. 
The first area for exploration is filled with all things science. Microscopes, models, skeletons, books…so many things to touch and explore! My girls love science so they were very happy here for quite some time! 
The girls loved the dentist and doctor areas located in the science section. Beth especially loved playing nurse because she has decided this is what she wants to when she grows up. I can see her being a very good nurse as she is caring and gentle, but also has a mind for memorization!
The next area is for arts and crafts. My girls were in heaven! We didn’t get spend as much time here as they would have liked because a couple of large school groups were there and so it was a little crowded. They did get a chance to enjoy the giant clear-walled room for painting. After donning their smocks they eagerly painted all over the walls! When they get too much paint on them museum workers spray them down with an water hose installed in the ceiling and squeegee the walls. The water goes down a drain in the center of the room which in and of itself is fun to watch!
Right beside the painting room is a large climbing structure which goes from floor to ceiling. Rose loved this and made it all the way to the top. Grace and Beth were a bit more timid, but went partway up. We experienced a structure like this earlier this year at another children’s museum, but it was so large it intimidated my younger two to the point they didn’t want anything to do with it. This one wasn’t as frightening to them and even though they didn’t make it all the way to the top, they did make it farther than the last one. 

Next came the cafe. The girls took orders, cooked, worked the cash register, and made change with replicas of the real thing. Beth loves to play like this at home all the time, so to have a full-size version of a restaurant made her day!
The train room awaited the girls in the next section. What a room! While they have played with a train set like this before, never have they played in such a beautifully painted area! A wall mural of a days-of-old train filled the room. Like every other room, themed books were available for kids at all times. I love how literature is a part of every exhibit. My girls weren’t as drawn to this because we read together all the time, but I observed many children from the school groups enjoying the books with their adult chaperones and it made me happy to see this!
The last indoor section was a farm. This was my favorite part! Model raised beds lined with brown felt for dirt had holes in rows so kids could plant and harvest their produce. Also in this area was an adorable little farm house, which was filled with children almost the entire time we were there. Beth collected chicken eggs and Rose enjoyed driving the delivery truck. Grace planted veggies in the garden, but never got to harvest any because other kids kept coming up to do the job. She still had fun though. 
Just outside this building is a courtyard filled with fun! A flowing creek with a small waterfall was Rose and Grace’s favorite part outside. They floated boats and enjoyed the water. Beth loves to dig so she spent most of her time in the sand! There are also lots of outdoor toys for kids to play with, but our girls preferred these two areas.
I commented to my husband as we left that all of the things the girls experienced today are what we think of as typical childhood fun, yet most kids don’t get to experience them on a regular basis. Our girls already do many of these activities, just on a smaller scale. I wondered how many of the children visiting may have been experiencing this type of exploration for the first time  or the first time in a long time. I loved watching my girls play in the man-made creek as I recalled playing in creeks myself as a little girl. We don’t have one on our property, but they do love exploring the woods behind my parents house which has a small swampy area. 
The Children’s Museum of Alamance County was a joy to visit and the price is a bargain at only $5 per person! The girls could have stayed from open to close and I imagine they could visit repeatedly without ever getting board. If you are able to make it to Alamance County, North Carolina make sure you take time to visit this museum. Your kids will thank you!
Family Friendly: 10
Kids Engagement: 10 (geared towards elementary)
Likelihood to return: 10  
We received admission for our family to the Children’s Museum of Alamance County in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received. 

Field Trip: Museum of Life and Science Engineering Day

We had a fabulous time at our local children’s museum. There was a special day all about engineering and the girls had a blast! I love providing them with opportunities I can’t really give them at home. Building, constructing, problem solving…2 hours of pure educational fun!

Gumdrop Towers!
Rose gets a Tallest Tower height
Building boats and testing their weight capacity
Creating circuits
Lego machines!!!!!! Need I say more?

Constructing a remote control car
Driving her construction! And Grace is driving someone else’s!
Beth made it through the maze!

Field Trip: Museum of Life and Science and Giveaway!

When I started homeschooling last year it wasn’t expected, I felt an incredible amount of pressure to get everything in, and all my glorious ideas of field trips flew out the window. I kept a mental list of field trips…the only thing is that nothing ever got checked off the list. Then I decided we’d do field trips on Fridays so we could have something to look forward to each week…which lasted one week. It isn’t that I didn’t like field trips, but things started coming up, or they came down with colds…I’m sure you understand and could probably add to the list!

One of the best ways I found to fit field trips in more frequently is by looking locally. No matter where you live there are opportunities for experiential learning through field trips. We are blessed to have a variety of museums close enough for a day-trip that doesn’t leave us completely wiped out. One of those is the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC, a hands-on science museum which explores mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and so much more!

In all honesty hands-on doesn’t even begin to do it justice. I remember visiting this museum when I was a child and I loved it every time. Some of my favorite exhibits are even still there! Still, no matter how much I loved it as a kid, seeing this through the eyes of my children brings me joy in such a different way. Their wonderment of discovery seems even greater than my memories.

The aerospace and weather exhibits have been here for years. Instead of “hands” off signs, children are encouraged to touch and experience all they see. Even the space ship which Enos (the second chimpanzee in space) rode in is available for everyone to see and touch. The girls love this area and I love all the history from our own space program represented here.

Also located inside are wonderful exhibits of animals native to the area. The girls really enjoy the variety and I like that everything is behind glass!

Rose really enjoyed Flip It, Fold It, Figure It Out upstairs. Intricate examples of origami inspires visitors to try their own creations!

Also inside are examples of animal jaws along with a display of how a variety of animals eat. Grace really liked the shark jaw!

Outside are the barnyard animals, which I sadly have to avoid! My husband is used to this though due to my hay allergy. Still, the kids see goats, sheep, rabbits, donkeys, owls, and many more.

Just past the barnyard animals is the Insectarium and the Magic Wings Butterfly House. While I’m not a huge fan of the insectarium, I could stay in the butterfly house all day! The insecterium houses a variety of amazing insects, but again I’m thrilled they are behind glass…mostly! There is one particular spider which I was told did not stray from its habitat, usually. My husband likes it, but not me!

The butterfly house is amazing…unbelievably amazing! Butterflies are everywhere, filling the warm air with beauty you don’t usually see this up close. If you are fortunate, butterflies will land on you or your clothes. Young butterflies are released twice a day and kids can seen them up close as they flutter away. The variety of flowers and butterflies provide endless opportunities for photographers, experienced or just beginning like me! This is easily my favorite part of the museum.

Beth loves the Dinosaur Trail. Beautifully crafted dinosaur statues line a walkway. Kids can see, touch, and climb on life-size dinos!

Other things we didn’t experience because of time! Younger kids have an indoor play area, the outdoor playground provides endless amounts of fun, train rides occur every 30 minutes, when the warm weather comes Into the Mist is a great way to cool off, and special events run throughout the year! On April 20 the Shark Tooth Hunt begins!

You can bring your own lunch to enjoy in the picnic area, but you can also buy yummy treats at the Sprout Cafe. We all enjoyed the variety of food which was healthy, filling, and oh-so-good!

Sometimes field trips take a lot of planning and preparation. The Museum of Life and Science needs none of this. You can spend as much or as little time in whatever areas that interest you and your children more. We arranged our visit just as we finished up Rose’s astronomy unit. There is so much to see and experience a single day to visit may not cover everything. We ended our visit by purchasing a year-long pass!

Now for a give-away! The Museum of Life and Science has generously donated a 1-day-family pass for a giveaway! There are several ways to enter. Take time to visit their website and tell me your favorite exhibit!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Family Friendly: 10
Kids Engagement: 10
Likelihood to return: 10 (We may just come weekly!) 
We received admission for our family to The Museum of Life and Science in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received. 

Field Trip: The Sandbox – An Interactive Children’s Museum

Whenever we can we join my pastor-husband when he travels to conferences. Not only is it a chance for us to connect with other families in ministry, often within our own denomination, but we also try to take time for new family adventures along the way. I was a little skeptical when I found out we’d be traveling to Hilton Head, SC in January. The beach sounds great, but in January? Anticipating cold weather I began searching for some fun experiences for the girls.

The Sandbox is one experience for elementary children you will not want to miss! This interactive experience for kids kept my girls thoroughly engaged for our entire visit. To be honest, they could have happily stayed much longer. The museum is divided into themed rooms where children can fully interact in a variety of ways. 
The staff were friendly and welcoming as we entered, asking that we stay together as a family and make sure the kids pick up after themselves. I was pleased to see the effort which was put into encouraging this to be a family time, not just a chance for parents to have a break while the kids played. Let me tell you, we all had fun! 
Each picture is linked to more information about that exhibit. I hope you enjoy a peak into our experience at The Sandbox! 
All three girls enjoyed playing in a giant sand bowl in the Loggerhead Sandcastle room. The sand was what is known as moon sand or cloud dough. I have seen how to make this online several places, but I never imagined it could be so much fun! Since this is the first room we entered it took some time to move the girls forward to the next one. 
In the room called Builders of Tomorrow the girls tried out their skills at carpentry and construction. There is a simple pulley system as well as other kid-sized tools and activities which completely fascinated Grace. 

The Adventure was probably my personal favorite. The ocean captivated my imagination as a child and I would spend hours playing mermaids, imagining ocean voyages, and romanticizing a life at sea. I would have loved to get a better picture of this area, but my girls were all over this amazing ship! I couldn’t keep them in any one place long enough to capture their fun! One really cool feature here is the webcam. They called both sets of grandparents and waved hello from miles away! 

Onward we moved to Track The T-Rex. The girls didn’t spend as much time here, but they are more into pretend play rather than active play at this point. This was a neat experience for them to try rock climbing in a safe environment. Beth seemed to like this the best. She even posed multiple times on the wall for me as I tried to find the right setting on my camera! The kids can climb across from one wall to the next and try to reach the T-Rex at the end. 
By far the winning location for my girls was the cafe. Grace sold food to Beth, who in turn supplied the food to Rose, the chef, who cooked a fabulous meal for Mommy and Daddy on a date! We spent the most time here and this was the most difficult area to pull them away from. We had fun being on a date and Rose took our picture. 
There was a really great economics lesson in here that I didn’t even have to teach! Grace told Beth how much something was, but since Beth said she didn’t have very much money she had to ask Rose what they needed most at the restaurant. Grace also kept her shelves well stocked and Rose kept her kitchen neat and orderly. Watching them do all these things on their own really made me realize just how grown up they are becoming! 
Just beside the cafe is an area set up to be a bank called the SCTB Bank. Rose demonstrated her fabulous math and money skills by giving money in return for a check. She loved the challenge!
Other exhibits downstairs include An International Bazaar (kids can pretend to fly an airplane), Charlie’s Perfect Playplace (perfect for toddlers), and Rhythm and Hues (an artists dream room!). You are encouraged to let your child explore the areas he/she wishes and since these didn’t capture their interest we moved on upstairs.

What an upstairs it is! I believe you could visit the Learner’s Loft multiple times and experience something new each time. Some of the cool stuff in this area are a model train, a puppet theater (which is being projected onto a large tv in real-time so the kids can see what they are performing), a veterinarian clinic, another art center, a gigantic light-bright, a light table, a reading nook, an interactive train table, more books, puzzles, and games than you can imagine! The girls enjoyed this area immensely. They each made an art project to take home with them. 

The best part about this experience for me was that it has inspired me to create some new learning adventures for the girls. Here is a list of what I hope to do over the next few weeks based on what I saw my girls interacting with.
1. Laminate several over-sized checks to help learn about adding money
2. Create some moon sand/cloud dough
3. Make their art supplies more accessible
4. Build a rock climbing wall…okay…so this one won’t be happening, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could?
As I was getting excited about our visit and began searching, I came across some reviews for this museum. Most of the reviews were extremely positive, but a few negative ones caught my eye. I wanted to address them because our experience was very different.
The first complaint was that there were too many rules. I felt the two guidelines we were given were more than reasonable. I really like the Collective Wisdom listed at the bottom of this page. I wish more parents would follow this all the time! The second complaint I read was that it was not clean. Again, this was not our experience at all. Yes, the building is older. Yes, the toys and activities are well loved. However, it was extremely clean, neat, and well-ordered. I even observed some of the staff cleaning the areas which weren’t being used. 
The last two complaints were about the name, a museum and charging adults admission. I feel both are rather petty complaints to be honest. It is not a typical museum with exhibits kids cannot touch…I’m glad! My children experienced, played, and learned for 2 hours. It is truly interactive and very kid-friendly. As far as admission, I felt the price was very reasonable ($7.00 per person) for an afternoon of fun play for the whole family. 
Here are my ratings on a 10 point scale…
Family Friendly: 10
Kids Engagement: 10
Likelihood to return: 10 (Although we don’t live very close!) 
We received admission for our family to The Sandbox in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received.