A visit to the AHA! Children’s Museum

We had the time and opportunity over winter break to explore the AHA! A Hands-On Adventure, A Children’s Museum, in Lancaster, Ohio, and we are so glad we did! The museum is an easy 45-minute drive from Columbus and admission is only $6, which makes it a very manageable and worthwhile day trip. The museum’s mission statement is, “Educating children in a world of discovery, curiosity and imagination through hands-on play.” The museum is designed to educate and accommodate children ages six months to eight years-old.

There is a lot to take in upon arrival. The museum is a 4,000 square foot, open space, with 33 hands-on exhibits (at last count). When we first arrived, we set our daughter down at the entrance to let her take it all in. It took her a few seconds to warm up before she made a beeline to the interactive fire engine. The fire engine had bells and whistles (literally) in and around the truck. Children can dress the part of a firefighter, drive the fire engine, turn on sirens, and pretend to put out a fire.

Her other favorite exhibits included:

Water Table: The water table is made up of four sides. Each side is a different height with a specific activity to appeal to different age groups. This water table held her interest for a long time. Children can manipulate the flow and current of the water by building different sets of tubes and funnels. Inevitably, she was soaked afterwards, but loved every minute of it!

 

Ball Mountain. This was such a fun interactive exhibit for our daughter to learn problem solving and discovery skills. She could fill a bucket with balls and then carry the bucket to the top of the mountain, with assistance. Once at the top of the mountain she could push the balls through the different tubes to see where each one came out.

Fishing Pond. She may have been a bit small for this exhibit, but she loved trying to catch those fish! With our help, she was able to “catch” a magnetized bean bag fish with her fishing pole and then throw it back into the pit.

Honeycomb Climbing Structure. She didn’t make it past the first level (thank goodness!), but she loved climbing in and out and waving to the kids on the different levels. When she’s older, I’m sure she’ll make it to the top!

These were the exhibits that held her interest the longest. But, there was so much for her to see and explore throughout the museum. It was wonderful watching her play with other children and interact with exhibits designed for someone just her age.

Some things to know before you go:

  • Parking is located next to the building and it’s FREE!
  • There are lockers and a coat room just to the left of the entryway into the museum.
  • Admission is $6 per person and children ages six months and younger are free.
  • Bring a change of clothes. If your child is anything like mine, she will be all in when it comes to the water table and will need a change before going home.
  • A visit can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+ hours. We explored for close to an hour and a half and didn’t even get to everything in the museum.

If you are looking for a place to have lunch after visiting AHA!, be sure to stop at The Well. The museum director, Wendy, recommended the restaurant and we are so glad she did! The restaurant is a two-minute walk from the museum and describes itself as “a modern gathering place for the whole family to eat, drink, play and live.” The restaurant is family owned and you can tell how much thought and love they put into the service, food, and space. The restaurant offers delicious, healthy food choices, which hit the spot after a cookie-filled holiday, and our daughter loved the beautiful play space available in the rear of the restaurant.  

We are so glad we made the trip to the AHA! Children’s Museum and can’t wait to go back! Just a heads up, AHA! will be moving to a new location in Lancaster, which is double the size, in the fall of 2017.

Disclaimer: The AHA! A Hands-On Adventure, A Children’s Museum provided me and my family with complimentary admission. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

5 Easy Toddler-Made Ornaments

This holiday we have been making ornaments that focus more on the process than the product. The process of making these ornaments allows a child to explore different art mediums and just create.  Below, I have listed 5 simple ornaments that a toddler can create, with a little support from their favorite adult.

Salt Dough Ornaments: This activity is quickly becoming one of our favorite holiday traditions. The recipe is simple: 1 cup flour, 1 cup salt, and 1/2 cup warm water. Your child can help you mix the ingredients together, roll the dough out, and then press out the shapes. Let the ornaments dry for 2 to 4 days or place in the oven at 250 degrees for 2 to 3 hours. Once dry your child can paint away!

Shaky Marble Ornaments: The process of making this ornament is so simple and fun. Fill clear plastic ornaments (make sure the ornaments are plastic, trust me!) with different paint combinations and glitter. Make sure the top is secure and then show your child how to shake the ornament. You can watch the paint and glitter swirl together. The end result is beautiful.

Stained Glass Ornaments: To start this process, tape a piece of contact paper down on the ground. Provide your child with a variety of colored tissue paper and show her how to place the tissue paper on the contact paper. When she is done placing the tissue paper, sprinkle with glitter and place a top sheet of contact paper to seal everything inside. Cut out shapes, punch holes in the top, and complete with string. The ornament will look beautiful hanging on the tree or in the window.

Gingerbread Clay Recipe: The Imagination Tree posted this twist on the traditional salt dough ornament and we had to try it. Check out the link for a version of salt dough that smells amazing!

Handprint Ornaments: This one is less about the process and more about the product. I love having hand print art to have a memory of my sweet girl as she grows. This one is pretty simple. Paint your child’s hand using non toxic paint. Then press her hand gently on the ornament. Do a search on Pinterest to find a creative way to turn the handprint into an animal or leave it as is.

Do you have a favorite ornament that you make? Leave it in the comments below so we can be sure to try it out!

The Gift of Experience

Providing your child with new experiences naturally exposes her to new vocabulary. These experiences can capture your child’s attention and provide an opportunity for you to model new vocabulary in the appropriate setting. These experiences can happen anywhere, whether it be heading out about town to visit a new place or participate in a class, or having a fun activity delivered straight to your door. In addition to promoting language development, these experiences support your child’s cognition, sensory, fine motor, and creativity. Christmas is a great time to give the gift of experiences, many of which will last well beyond the holiday season.

Below are some suggestions on how to give the gift of experience.

Goldfish Swim School: Give the gift of swimming lessons with Goldfish Swim School. Your child will benefit from weekly opportunities to learn the basics of swimming, water safety, and expand her vocabulary and ability to follow directions. Children as young as 4 months of age can begin swimming lessons. Early exposure can reduce your child’s fear of water while also providing the foundation for a safe relationship with water from an early age.

IMG_5499

The Story Box: Do you remember how exciting it was to receive mail addressed to you when you were a kid? The Story Box is a book-by-mail subscription that gives your child the experience of receiving mail each month and is perfect for children ages 0-6.  Each month, your child will receive two books that are carefully selected by a Speech Language Pathologist to help facilitate your child’s communication development and emergent literacy skills. There are three different package levels to accommodate different reading levels. The levels include: the board book package; the picture book package; and the family book package (contains one board book and one picture book for families with multiple children of different ages). Monthly tips, activities and challenges to promote reading and language development are included in your box.

fullsizerender-79

Paper Moon Art Studio provides developmentally appropriate art classes for children ages 18 months and up. The focus of this art studio is “where the art is all about the process…Come play!” By giving the gift of art classes, your child’s inner creativity will be encouraged through a variety of structured and unstructured activities. Winter sessions begin January 2nd and classes can be gifted by heading to Paper Moon Art Studio’s website to sign up for classes for your child or purchasing a gift certificate for another family.

Franklin Park Conservatory: A membership to the Franklin Park Conservatory provides your family with unlimited access to the beautifully designed indoor and outdoor gardens. Each season brings with it a redesign of the park that includes “multi-faceted, art- and nature-based exhibitions.” In addition, there are weekly activities for families that are free with admission, including performances, cooking, and arts and crafts.

IMG_4178

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: Give the gift of a Columbus Zoo and Aquarium membership. This gift will provide your child with endless opportunities to experience animals of the wild and many ways to promote her language development with each visit. The Columbus Zoo provides seasonal events, such as Wildlights, and structured educational classes for children of all ages throughout the year.

img_4253

Have you given the gift of experience before? Please share in the comment section below your favorite experience to give.

Disclaimer: We were provided free swimming lessons by Goldfish Swim School and a month of books from The Story Box in exchange for collaborating blog posts. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.