Archive For The “Pending Review or Trash” Category

Costumes Are Not Just For Halloween

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Aeromax Space Shuttle & Astronaut Costume

 

Disclosure: We were provided sample items from Aeromax for review purposes and inclusion in our holiday gift guide. The opinions expressed herein are always strictly our own. This post may contain affiliate links.  We are providing honest feedback in exchange for the product.

Fun Fact: Costumes can be cool all year round! So Halloween has come and gone and now the New Year is quickly approaching. We love a good celebration, especially those with a theme. Costumes can play a huge part in pulling that theme together. Aeromax specializes in children and adult costumes… perfect for such occasions as in ringing in the new year or a birthday bash.

In our video below you will find Victoria romping around in a one-piece astronaut suit from Aeromax. The space patches, real-working zippers and pockets truly make this feel like real NASA uniforms. It comes with a matching cap or you can purchase the helmet separately. Victoria is rocking the orange suit (to match her hair) but there is a white suite and helmet available as well.

Dress up isn’t just for girls. Take playtime to new depths with costumes and cosplay. It ignites imagination and further piques the curiosity they hold for the world that surrounds them.

And let’s not forget that police officers and astronauts aren’t just for boys. My daughter is having a great time pretending to be a scientist and being part of the NASA exploration team, just like the ladies from Hidden Figures. I saw Victoria’s confidence boost just from being in the orange uniform. And she could imagine herself as an astronaut. Added props like the Space Shuttle summer float only expands that playtime (in the pool or not). The Space Shuttle is easy to inflate and feels sturdy. It offers an excellent prop for Space themed parties or playdates. It is terrific to add to any space-station-fort-building afternoon.

Encourage your kids to take a break from tech with Aeromax.

You can find these Aeromax Space items and much more in our holiday gift guide. Click on the link below to be taken to pages of learning fun perfect for holiday gift giving.

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Back To School Without the Big Budget

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This post is sponsored by Just Between Friends of Mercer County & Western Gloucester County. And while we were provided compensation for the article, the opinions contained herein are honest and strictly our own. We have been long-standing fans of the JBF franchise and below is an account of our personal experience.

 

 

While every school situation is different, classroom lists vary and the newest back-to-school trends parade in… one thing is certain: our children continue to outgrow the old and require the new. Shoes, tops, belts, pants and even sportswear all find themselves picked over as they grow tighter, inch shorter or fall out of style. They come and go, sometimes before ever being worn, because our ever-growing bundles of joy…  just… keep… growing.

Back-to-school shopping can be a labor of love while sifting through circulars for the best deals, listening to the whining of your (or other’s) children, and of course, falling in love with that item that’s not in their size. Of course it’s not all bad and I do enjoy taking my daughter out for that splurge item (or four) but that’s because we take full advantage of the Just Between Friends consignment sale in Gloucester County and Mercer County… and yeah, it is totally worth the drive!!

Couple years ago I was introduced to JBF and I’ve been super impressed ever since. The selection of items, the ease of consigning… and the checks!!!  Seriously, it is hard not to constantly log-in to watch your real-time sold items during the sale hours. Ok, ok… I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve had a few seasons of consigning and here are my tips for shopping the sale and my tips for consigning.

 

Okay shoppers, get your sneaks laced up… seriously, that’s tip #1: wear comfy shoes. You don’t want to miss a bargain because of blisters. This is what else I highly suggest:

  •  Get the pre-pass!! Yup, it’s worth it to pay the admission ticket price or better yet, become a consignor with volunteer hours and get in early. Just be there EARLY.
  •  Know what you are looking for. There is SOOOO much and it is easy to get distracted by an awesome deal that wasn’t on your watchlist, so know what you came for… and get it first.
  •  Budget your time. Expect to spend more time than you would a department store. With shoes, clothing, games, toys, sporting gear, outdoor play, infant supplies, furniture… this is kinda a “pop-up” department store. I would not expect to be able to adequately take advantage of the sale on a lunch break.
  •  Don’t forget the big ticket items.  It is easy to see all the toys and clothing and not think ahead about the potential big ticket or bulky items until you walk in. Have a back-up plan in case you come across a must-have heavy piece.
  • See something unique, priced too good to be true, or just calling your name… grab it… chances are it won’t be there by the time you walk back through. That being said, there are many items that are in multiples with lots of selection… for these I would consider the 1/2 off sale on Sunday. For instance, I look for shoes immediately but return on 1/2 off Sunday for costumes and books.
  • Make sure your trunk is empty – sounds silly but I’ve easily bought 3 trash bags full of stuff and thankfully had the room in my trunk but not because I thought ahead. I just got lucky.
  • Mark your calendar… yup, right now.
    • Mercer County Just Between Friends… Sept 15-17 at Robinsville Field House
    • Western Gloucester County JBF… Sept 29- Oct 1 at Total Turf Experience

Consigning vs Yard Sale 101

Not only do I personally shop the JBF sale but I’m a consignor. You should see my living room 2 weeks before the sale- yikes! But the good news is, that everything that hadn’t sold last sale is already tagged and ready to go this sale. I only really have to focus on the newest “good-bye” pile of clothing and toys. Keep in mind that the fall sale is for fall and winter clothing and the spring sale is for spring/summer clothing and items (with a few exceptions like baby clothing and maternity is fine all year round).

 

JBF makes sense if you have a lot of baby gear, children’s clothing, maternity, toys and games vs other household items. Consigning is my fate, for others it might be Ebay or flee markets or yard sales. For those that know me, know that I completely suck at Ebay. Logging on, taking pictures, creating captions… all while trying to avoid the temptation of buying somebody else’s stuff. The closest I’ve ever gotten to posting an item for sale on Ebay was the night my beloved husband proposed to me… in a former wedding gown intended to be sold online but alas never was posted. He was my destiny, Ebay never was. Flee markets are too random for my taste. There is just something about the flee market vibe that doesn’t make me feel like I would get the best value of my time or my belongings. I shop them, surely, but not interested in reselling my items for the haggled prices that are most definitely part of the experience.

And then there are yard sales…

Sure a yard sale is just out your front door BUT you don’t know what foot traffic your sale is going to get vs knowing that JBF Mercer/Gloucester County is definitely going to attract shoppers for children’s and maternity items. JBF also makes great sense if your items and clothing are in great condition and should sell for more than street change. Yes, the JBF sale is a bargain spot but you can price your gently used belongings at a reasonable price vs pennies on the dollar for a yard sale.  Consignment shoppers expect to pay a bit more than a flee market or yard sale price for the assurance that sale items are in great working order and clear of any recall issues.  And then there’s the weather. And oh… did I forget to mention that you have to man your yard sale but with JBF simply drop-off and pick-up your items… unless you choose to volunteer for an additional % of your sales.

More options, better payout… less work – JBF wins in my book. That’s not to say I’ll never have another yard sale… not true, but I won’t be selling kids’ books for 10 cents or Barbies for a quarter. #JustSaying

 

Taking consigning seriously… here are my top suggestions:

  • Designate a space to hold items you organically come across that no longer fit or are no longer needed/wanted
  • Review the JBF price guide
  • Invest in stain remover for all your children’s laundry – I seriously saved many, many clothing items from horrible stains, which then meant I could resell them.
  • Invest in batteries – toys and baby gear must be in working order which includes working batteries. Shoppers look for toys that they can turn on – it totally makes sense.
  • Consider donating all or any of your unsold items to the charity Mercer County & Western Gloucester County JBF partnered with, The Unforgotten Haven. This is designated on your tags through the tagging system.
  • Consider using the Valet Tagging Team if you don’t have time to tag. This is a great convenience for those consignors on a time budget. Valet consignors make 45% of their sales (after a $20 consignor fee). The items are dropped off to a VIP tagger who does all the tagging work and brings them to the sale.

Whether you are picking up back-to-school items, in need of sports equipment, getting a jump start to your holiday shopping or just looking for a feel-good bargain… Just Between Friends of Mercer County & Western Gloucester County IS totally the place to be. Mark your calendars, set your reminders and invite a friend or two. There truly is something for everyone and personally, I love sharing a great bargain source and encourage you to do the same by inviting your friends and family.

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A Simple Game for Siblings: Moose Caboose

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This is a #sponsored post whereby we were given a sample copy for review. Working with companies like Winning Moves, affords us the opportunity to bring these insights to our readers. As always, the opinions herein are strictly my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

 

Moose Caboose

Moose Caboose is a card game for 2-4 players about building trains. The object of the game is to earn as many train carriages as possible. You link carriages together by matching the colors on the cards in your hand with the cards in play. Trains continue to grow in length until a player plays a moose caboose card. When a player plays a moose caboose card they collect all the carriages on the train. At the end of the game, whoever has the most cards is the winner.

Moose Caboose is a fun and quick game to pick up and play, taking approx 15 mins. We are fans of card games that are easily packed into our grab bag for on-the-go fun and those games that are fast to play. Moose Caboose is a great game to bring with on trips to beach or wherever the family might go. Moose Caboose is designed for a younger audience and while the packaging recommends 6+ we seem to think 4 and older will do fine with supervision. And because of that we feel this is a great preschool game.

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Building Our Business With Blogger Bash

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Giveaways, Gift Guides and great product reviews don’t just fall from the sky. Behind the scenes, Homeroom At Home is working hard to build relationships with brands to provide these opportunities. It is always a pleasure to partner with well-known brands like VTech and USAopoly for the perfect learning toy reviews and equally exciting to find newer or niche business to surprises us with excellent education enhancements. I’m going to highlight many of these finds from Blogger Bash below but, the point is, an investment in Blogger Bash is essential for our progression. This is an investment we take seriously – although having an amazingly playful time.

Soleurs sunglasses

This year’s Blogger Bash festivities found themselves on a yacht – The Majesty Yacht at Pier 81 in Manhattan. A separate space was reserved for some conference activities at eSpace (also near the Pier). All of the accommodation were topnotch, but can i just say that stepping onto the yacht and into the main deck felt absolutely breathtaking!!  I could have spent an additional 2-3-4 days on this boat… it was gorgeous! And I felt like royalty.

Care Bears BrunchIn true Blogger Bash style, we kicked things off with a sweet #ShareYourCare Care Bear Breakfast. As a Care Bear Ambassador, we’ve pledged to not only share our care but encourage others to do the same. The concept might sound silly or juvenile… but a genuine smile costs nothing and offers so much in return. There are so many ways to embrace this movement. Get inspired with their Care Bear & Cousins series on Netflix.Blogging Concentrated

My favorite part of Blogger Bash this year was the Blogging Concentrated 5 hour session where we dug into the many details of improving our marketing, brand, relationships, analytics, content and so much more. This was the secret sauce.  Concentrated sessions such as this, really give professional bloggers the edge in improving services for readers and relationships with business partners. Homeroom At Home is very excited to put these tidbits of new knowledge to use for better experiences, information and collaborations. There is so much to look forward to.

#SweetSuite was the place to be for building brand relationships with the folks that make the most sense for Homeroom At Home. We want to bring you to coolest tech toys, reading resources, learning devices and the hottest education games that captivate the family. Sweet Suite is that hot spot! Look for lots of updates with regards to the brands we met and toys we played with at (and from) Sweet Suite, including this cute, little Grossery Gang video by my Godson:

We ran into some favorite brands like Just Play, Lego and Hexbug, while finding some cool new ones (ok, maybe new to us) like Miraculous, ArcKit, Auldey Toys and Magic MeeMees!!  Many brands provide for creative play, while some have a direct link to education… it all depends on what you are tying to accomplish and how your child engages in activities and play. Here are our top favorite toys from Blogger Bash, including Babypalooza, Sweet Suite, Shop Ireland & NPE Expo.

Learning ToysToys for FunTech ToysWe want to offer continue to offer the best resources (yes, toys are some of THE best tools) to enhance your child’s natural curiosity and academic path. We look forward to bringing you more and more homework solutions, learning toys and family-friendly activities. Be sure to subscribe to our website here for updates as they come in. We will have some pretty awesome giveaways in the near future and through the upcoming holiday season… and who wants to miss freebies?

Greg with Just Add MilkInsect Lore

I couldn’t be more impressed with all that Blogger Bash puts out. Year over year, they continue to out do themselves.

Soleurs sunglasses 2016

A peek into the past…

“So what does any of this have to do directly with you… my parental audience? Working with sponsors and networking among peers is essential in growing our business. And while many of the reviews are not currently sponsored, working with sponsored brands will enable us to get more and/or better information to you. The time spent networking among other bloggers afforded me many ideas AND know-how on things like running better giveaways and issuing holiday guides, newsletters and surveys. I’m equally excited about the these conversations as I was in speaking with the brands.

Equipped with great connections, fabulous friends that double as social media/tech experts, and creative content… we’re ready for the next chapter. I hope you are too.” Me 2015

blogger bash 2015

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Explore Ancient Egypt & Mummies at The Franklin Institute

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Get lost in thought as you discover Lost Egypt at The Franklin Institute.

Artifacts & MummiesWe are die-hard fans of The Franklin Institute. As a young girl, I had visited The Franklin Institute science museum many, many times, through Girl Scouts, class trips and weekend family day trips. We could never get through the entire museum in one day… never. Now I don’t even try. Instead, we purposefully plan our visit, knowing what we want to explore (and of course running through the heart at least four times each visit).

The special exhibits will often call our attention. Exhibits like Titanic, The Art of The Brick and the newest addition: Lost Egypt, where families can explore ancient civilization and customs in a most fascinating way. Get up close to “Annie”, a real human mummy and explore the traditions of making mummies.

Camel

The exhibit opens with an interactive game display focused on ancient travel methods using camels, a life-size camel for selfie snapshots and an over-sized floor map of Egypt.  Beyond the initial interactive displays, families can experience hands-on exhibits by building a pyramid, reconstructing pottery and learning how significant studying animal bones are to uncovering truths of a lost civilization.

Test your strength and the physics of building a pyramid, use clues to solve mysteries of artifacts and tour actual artifact exhibits dating 2000+ years ago. Puzzles, video and manipulatives afford children and families the opportunity to step back in time and truly appreciate and understand customs, language and traditions of long-ago Egypt.

Hands On Learning collage

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Franklin Institute has generously provided 1 Homeroom At Home reader with 2 tickets (1 child/1 adult) for their Camp-In overnight museum experience. This amazing giveaway will close as of 12AM on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 and winner will be contacted via email by 9AM Tuesday morning. The winner must accept and confirm prize by 5PM on Tuesday, February 23rd. Participants must be 18 years of age or older and a US resident. This prize is valued at $97. *Please note* that children must be between the ages of 6 and 13 to participate in Camp-In. For more information please visit The Franklin Institute’s website.

Special discount by calling 215-448-1200 (option 4) and mention promo code MOMCAMP to receive the member’s price – only $45.50 per person.

The Camp-In experience includes extras as follows:

  • NEW! Exclusive access to the BRAND NEW SportsZone exhibit!
  • NEW! SportsZone Live Science Show!
  • Explore the physics of your favorite sports in hands-on workshops.
  • Take a gravity defying ride on the Blue Angels Flight Simulator.
  • See Dark Universe in the Fels Planetarium and uncover two great cosmic mysteries: dark matter and dark energy.
  • See Humpback Whales in the Tuttleman IMAX® Theater and swim alongside these amazing creatures as they leap, twirl, lunge, and splash their way across the giant screen.
  • Rooftop sky-gazing through our professional telescopes in the Joel N. Bloom Observatory (weather permitting).
  • Enjoy a light continental breakfast.
  • PLUS—Explore all of The Franklin Institute’s permanent exhibits including The Giant Heart, Your Brain, Electricity, and more! Traveling exhibits not included
  • Souvenir Patch
  • Free admission for a year—continue the exploration! Restrictions apply, must show souvenir patch, valid for children 13 and under.

Entry to our giveaway is super simple with additional options for following Homeroom At Home and The Franklin on Facebook and sharing via twitter. Be sure to subscribe to Homeroom At Home’s blog so not to miss a thing.

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7 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

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The countdown to Christmas is here. Calendars are full of festive parties, holiday pageants, sales events, cookie exchanges and the list goes on and on.

7 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

No matter where you are in your checklist, we hope you get a moment to slow it down and really take in the season.  Start a new tradition, tag along with someone else’s or take some time to give back.  This year, we organized a small toy drive for the Ronald McDonald House Charity… hoping to add some holiday cheer for families going through a tough time. We’ve been so honored to work with the RMHC, helping families stay connected while their little ones seek medical treatment… and we hope you too will consider them in your prayers and well wishes this season.

Families with a child obtaining medical treatments can not only stay close and stay together with siblings and parents but enjoy the games and toys provided by the generosity of others of this season. It can be difficult enough when one family member bounces between doctor appointments, testing and analysis… let alone how hard it must be on the entire family when routines are completely disrupted when seeking long-term or long-traveled medical attention. Our thoughts are constantly with these families. Playtime, family time, artistic exploration, study habits, etc are all essential to a child’s development… we hope to add some value back into these areas during the time a family stays at the Delaware RMHC facility.

We want to personally thank each of the following brands in their support and contribution for our first toy drive, enabling family learning fun at the Ronald McDonald House in Wilmington, Delaware. Many thanks to Jax LTD for their tremendous generosity, providing a variety board games, dice and card games. With games like “How Tall Am I“, children will be learning measurements without breaking a sweat. Sending some gratitude to Tucker Toys & Goliath Games for providing a cool twist to an ordinary game of catch with the Phlat Ball and E-Z Grip Bounce Ball. A special “shout out” to Roominate for sending several Roominate RV sets, a STEM construction set designed for girls with an operating motor. Along those lines, we’ve donated a GoldieBlox Dunk Tank kit, featuring a story to incorporate the elements of construction. Girls are empowered to design, build and operate machinery with these beautifully engineered kits. Lastly, we want to thank Educational Insights for providing Magic Moves Rainbow Jam, an interactive musical toy teaching colors in a fun and unique way with two modes of play activity.  Again, thank you all for your kindness and support in our educational mission. We’re sure the visiting families of RMHC will enjoy all the games and toys.

20151203_201133

Charity comes in many forms and with so many deserving programs out there… parents, we encourage you and your family to select something that best fits your lifestyle, something that tugs deep on your heartstrings and look at the many ways your family can make a difference. Monetary donations of course are always useful but there are other ways to give back this holiday season. Here are seven examples to give back this holiday season:

    • Have your children make and deliver holiday cards and ornaments for a shut in neighbor or elderly care facility. The same for the children’s hospital wing, although kids may not be allowed to deliver in person.
    • Offer to do the shopping or baking or decorating for an older relative. Just taking some of the burden off will help while also providing new family memories.
    • Remembering those who are hurting and sensitive during festivities by offering a cheerful (although perhaps not “holiday”) visit. Children can be such a wonderful distraction… if yours are, then consider the gift that their stories can bear to someone who’s depressed, widowed, ill or financially shaken this season. Friendship is the greatest gift… may I suggest baking lasagna instead of Christmas cookies or watching a horror movie instead of Saving Santa.
    • The gift of awareness… perhaps create a family video, showcase a bumper sticker or share an article relating to an organization, illness or charity that speaks to you. And in the same vein, the power of encouragement can be felt with such outreach. Below you’ll find my daughter’s video spreading the word about Alex’s Lemonade.

  • Stockings for Soldiers, Tree Angels and Toys for Tots… all wonderful ideas with many more out there. What fun to buy something that you KNOW will light up the recipient’s face!!
  • Don’t forget our furry friends and wildlife. Consider volunteering to support the many programs established to rescue or advocate for the animals we share the planet with.
  • And charity reaches more than just the poor or sick. Support the arts, stand behind the environmental issues, speak out against violence and bullying… basically take action and teach our children the importance of taking such action. Even the smallest step is forward motion, no matter your platform, position, or commitment. Here are a couple additionally resources for improving our world, so I encourage you to check out 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment or visit The EarthWorks Group with plenty of Eco-saving ideas for children. And then there’s How to Make the World a Better Place: 116 Ways You Can Make a Difference for an amazing compilation of ideas that speaks to everything we’ve outlined here and more.

We can talk about education until we’re blue in the face, but without a sense for emotional intelligence, what good is all the science, history and math going to do? This season let’s commit to teaching our children about compassion, thoughtfulness and love.

 

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Holiday Happenings – Christmas Festivities & Fun

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HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS – A compilation by Tom Hewitt

 

Let’s face it— The Holiday Season can be brutal. Sure, Christmas Morning is wonderful. We get to see the world through our children’s eyes, as they rip through presents under the tree. BUT getting to that point can be exhausting. There are so many demands on our schedule that we just don’t have the time to track down fun, educational things to do with our children.
Fear not, oh weary warrior! I have taken the time to compile a comprehensive list of “Holiday Happenings” for you. They range from the simple to the sublime, from free to the dear. I hope this list lightens your load and that you and your family get to partake in some of these festive outings.

Philadelphia Area

Metro Philadelphia offers many exciting events for your family and I highly suggest taking advantage of the “Philly PHLASH” bus system to get around town. It is the most convenient and affordable way to get to the major Holiday attractions. There are 22 stops along the route with a stop scheduled every 15 minutes. All PHLASH vehicles are wheelchair accessible and the price is right—$5 for an all-day pass, Children under four, and Seniors ride for free—They even offer discounted parking at area garages! It is easy to see why PHLASH was awarded a 2015 Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor. Advance tickets, a route map, and more details are available via the app at RidePhillyPHLASH.com

“Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest”
Location: 101 South Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through March 6th, 2016
Admission: General Admission to the Winterfest is Free. Ice Skating is $3. Skate Rentals $10
Time: Monday—Thursday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday 11: a.m. to 11 p.m.
Description: Winterfest is one of Philadelphia’s “must-see” winter attractions, offering family friendly activities, amazing holiday light displays, delicious food offerings, and of course, an Olympic sized skating rink overlooking the Delaware River. The site is adorned with holiday trees, warming huts, fire pits, and cozy seating. Special events are planned for Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For More information call 215-925-RINK or visit www.DelawareRiverWaterfront.com

“Macy’s Christmas Light Show” and “Dickens Village”
Location: Macy’s, 1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through Dec 31, 2015
Admission: Free Time: Shows every day at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Description: A Philadelphia tradition since 1956!! Located inside the historic Wannamaker Building, the Christmas light show at Macy’s Center City will delight children of all ages. Watch with fascination as more than 100,000 LED lights create festive holiday images with story narration by Julie Andrews and a concert from the Wanamaker Grand Organ. After the light show, venture to the third floor of Macy’s and experience the 6,000 square foot “Dickens Village”, which brings the classic “A Christmas Carol” to life with more than 100 fully animated figures reenacting man of the story’s most memorable moments.

“Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer: The Musical”
Location: Merriam Theater 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Date: December 17th – 20th , 2015
Admission: Family Circle – $30-$45; Balcony – $45-$55; Orchestra – $55-$70
Time: varies show times
Description: “The beloved TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer which “soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. Join us in celebrating Rudolph’s 50 years on television and come see all of your favorite characters as they come to life in the all new Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. It’s an adventure that teaches us that what makes you different can be what makes you special. “

“The Comcast Holiday Spectacular”
Location: 1701 JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: Free Time: Continuous shows from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: The “Market and Shops at Comcast Center” offer a variety of dining and shopping options. At the top of every hour you can experience an amazing video wall with one of the world’s highest resolution LED displays as dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet move to the music of the Nutcracker, a magical sleigh floats over the Philadelphia skyline and actors from the historic Walnut Street Theater perform—all to a seasonal soundtrack presented by a 64 piece orchestra.

“Christmas Spectacular by the Philly POPS!”
Location: Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA Date: Select dates, now through Dec 22nd, 2015
Admission: $32 to $121   Time: Matinee Shows at 3 p.m., Evening shows at 8 p.m.
Description: An uplifting performance for the entire family, the Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular features a special mix of joyous choirs, sing-a-longs, and a special visitor from the North Pole. This years’ performance features the POPS Festival Chorus, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and the Philadelphia Boys Choir backed by renowned organist Peter Conte playing a magnificent 6,000 pipe organ. More information and tickets are available at PhillyPops.org

Bucks County

“Christmas in Peddler’s Village”
Location: Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska PA Date: Now through January 2nd, 2016
Admission: Free Time: Shops open at 10 a.m. Closing times vary
Description: Discover this historic and charming village featuring distinctive shopping, dining, and lodging options. For the Christmas season, the Village is beautifully decorated, Victorian –style, with fruit wreaths, holiday greenery and nearly one million sparkling lights. There is live entertainment, and special events are scheduled throughout December including The Christmas Festival Parade featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all of Santa’s helpers. Check out the amazing display of sugary artistry at the “Gingerbread House Competition and Display”. You can visit the Giggleberry Fair, an indoor family fun center, and schedule a “Breakfast with Santa”. Not in the mood for breakfast? Then visit the Cock and Bull Restaurant and enjoy “Santa’s Brunch” or the “Nutcracker Tea”. The events and times are limited and require reservations. You can book online at peddlersvillage.com or call 215-794-4051 for more information.

Sesame Place Christmas“A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place”
Location: 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, PA Date: Select Dates through Dec. 31st, 2015
Admission: $25 (Good for Two Visits) online Time: Show times Vary
Description: Sesame Place has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind Christmas wonderland with millions of lights, festive decorations, and whirling rides. Visit “Cookie’s Monster Land” featuring five rides, a three story net climb, and a soft play area for toddlers. Enjoy live shows including “Elmo the Musical-Christmas”, “1-2-3 Christmas Tree”, and the “Elmo’s Christmas Wish”. Ride the Sesame Place Furry Express train through Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory. Surely, you won’t want to miss the NEW Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade. The parade features ten fantastic floats and Elmo’s special rap to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. The parade finale will leave everyone filled with warm, fuzzy feelings of Sesame Christmas spirit. Visit Sesameplace.com for more information.

shady brook farm“Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm”
Location: 931 Stony Hill Road, Morrisville, PA Date: Now through January 10, 2016
Admission: $25 per carload/Multi pass discounts available OR Enjoy an open air, tractor drawn wagon ride for $12 per personTime: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Description: Experience more than three million sparkling multi-colored lights as you drive through the Shady Brook Farm Holiday Light Show. Or, weather permitting, hop aboard the tractor drawn open air wagon and enjoy the show with your entire group. Stop by the Farm Market for a cup of hot coco then toast up some s’mores at the bonfire. Stop by Santa’s Village to go over those last minute additions to your wish list and get your photo taken with the Big Man. On Monday December 7th and Wednesday December 9th celebrate “Pet Day at the Farm”. From Noon to 4 pm on both days, you can bring in your four legged or two winged kids in for a visit and photo with Santa. Check out Shadybrookfarm.com for more information.

Delaware County

“A Brandywine Christmas at Brandywine Museum”
Location: 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: $15 Adults, $10 Seniors, $6 Students ages 6 to 18, Free for ages 5 and under
Time: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Description: Christmas spirit takes over the Brandywine River Museum with a festive display of towering trees soaring up through the museum’s three story atrium. The trees feature whimsical “critter” ornaments which are handcrafted by Brandywine volunteers, and made from natural materials. You will be amazed by the exquisite Victorian Doll House and a collection of rare dolls dressed in beautiful period clothing. Many of the dolls were donated by the family of artist and composer Ann Wyeth McCoy (1915-2005). The display depicts a sledding party on the hill in front of N.C. Wyeth’s home. Throughout the month, the Museum has special events and programs planned including a Christmas Carol Concert and an interactive dance program based on the Nutcracker. You can reserve tickets online at Brandywine.org or by calling 610-388-2700.

“Christmasland at Linvilla Orchards”
Location: 137 W. Knowlton Road, Media, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: Free to enter. Christmas trees- $59.99 Time: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Description: Linvilla Orchards has transformed into the North Pole—Farm Style. The Farm Market is stocked with tasty holiday treats like mulled cider and freshly baked cakes and cookies. The Garden Center has poinsettias, toys, gifts, lights, candles and other holiday décor for sale. On Saturday evenings, visitors can celebrate the ancient tradition of “Wassailing” and sing Christmas Carols during hayrides, complete with live music. After your hayride sit around a campfire roasting marshmallows and drinking apple cider or visit the Barnyard and see the animals in their winter coats. You can start a new “family tradition” by taking the whole family on a hayride to the Christmas tree fields. You can choose the perfect tree among the 40,000 or so trees planted—most of which are 6 to 10 foot Douglass Fir. Linvilla Orchards also has pre-cut trees available in the Garden Center. Visit Linvilla.com for more information.

Chester County

“A Longwood Christmas”
Location: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA Date: Now through January 10, 2016
Admission: Prices vary. Choose non-peak days/times for lower prices and smaller crowds
Time: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Timed admission tickets may be purchased online.
Description: No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens, where more than 500,000 twinkling lights and spectacular fountain shows compose a brilliant wonderland your family will surely love. As you stroll through the grounds, marvel at lights strung on 40 miles of wire glowing in the trees. Large starry snowflakes and icicles sparkle throughout the Gardens, while the continuously performing theater fountains present the colors of a Christmas rainbow. Enjoy the sounds of the season with special performances from local musicians, special guests, and sing-a-longs with the Longwood Organ. Check out longwoodgardens.org for a holiday performance schedule or to purchase tickets.

“Winter Solstice Celebration”
Location: 964 Merrybell Lane, Kennett Square, PA Date: December 22, 2015
Admission: $5 for Land Conservancy Members, $10 for Non-members
Time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Description: Join The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County at the Stateline Woods Preserve on Tuesday evening December 22nd to celebrate the longest night of the year, as well as the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. We will celebrate with a choir, bonfire, hot chocolate, and of course, lighting the evergreen tree! All proceeds from the Winter Solstice Celebration will go towards the Bucktoe Cemetery.

Delaware Area

“Twilight Tours at Hagley Museum”
Location: 201 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, DE Date: Select Dates through Dec 30th
Admission: Free for Museum members, $10 for Guests
Time: Tours are every half hour from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: This is an excellent opportunity to experience the du Pont family residence by the warm winter glow of candles and twilight. Small groups will be guided through the house and get an intimate glimpse at the holiday season as the du Ponts would have experienced it after a long day of gift making, calling and merry making. Tours begin at the Visitor Center followed by a ride through the powder yards to the residence. Make your reservations early as these special small tours tend to fill up quickly. Visit Hagley.org for more details.

“A Christmas Story: The Musical”
Location: The Clear Space Theater 20 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE Date: Select Dates through Dec 13th, 2015
Admission: General Admission $30 Seniors $25 Students/Children $15
Time: Matinee shows 3 p.m. Evening shows 7 p.m.

Or New Jersey Area Showing:

Location: Paper Mill Playhouse 22 Brookside Drive · Millburn, NJ 07041
Date: November 25, 2015 thru January 3, 2016 (Autism Friendly Show: 12/29/15 at 1:30)
Time: Matinee shows 1:30 p.m. Evening shows 7p.m.
Admission: $32 General Admission -$108 Orchestra
Description: The Clear Space Theatre and Paper Mill Playhouse present a musical adaptation of the timeless classic “A Christmas Story”. Little Ralphie Parker takes us back to the late 50’s. It is Christmas time in a small mid-western town and the only gift that satisfy Ralphie is an Official Red Rider Carbine-Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle (with a compass in the stock). Follow along as Ralphie tries to convince his parents– though Santa Claus—that he is old enough to handle a B-B gun.

Well, there you have it—-several fun, exciting and educational holiday happenings options for you to enjoy with your family this holiday season. You may have noticed that I did not include any information about model train exhibitions. There are many excellent displays out there and it is a subject that is dear to my heart. If it is a subject that interests you, check back in the coming weeks as I will post a HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS devoted to model train displays. I hope you found this post useful. Finally, I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season and a blessed and prosperous new year.

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Homeroom At Home Halloween

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Happy Halloween!

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Year after year, we use Halloween as the perfect backdrop for some educational fun. The fall provides for so many opportunities to disguise learning with fun family activities. At our house, we try to find a variety of things to do each Halloween and October weekends.

IMG_20150813_164406Hayrides and pumpkin patches remain a favorite with lessons around harvest and healthful foods. This year we accidentally grew our very own small pumpkin. What an amazing family story to have and it also led to a wonderful discussion on farming, pumpkins and the importance of caring for our environment.

It is no surprise that we enjoy dress up… all year long, imaginative play with different props and costumes. So naturally Halloween offers the best time for such fancy things. We enjoy pirates, princesses and period wear. So when we see a flood of costumes around Halloween, I’ll take a moment to drop some facts about pirates and mummies, or whatever might cross our path and have a real application. (So far we’ve stayed away from the creepiest things but when age appropriate we’ll discuss things like witches and perhaps ghost walks like Edgar Allen Poe.)

For the past few years, Homeroom At Home has participated in a variety of Trunk or Treats. Our themes have been skeletons loaded with fun facts about the human body, the skeletal system and body decomposition. This year and last, we’ve focused on Nocturnal Animals with again fun facts that perhaps parents didn’t know either. We found that our theme for creatures of the night was perfect for a large range of audience. Kids love stories and facts about owls, spiders and wolves.

We highly recommend that parents take advantage of the Halloween season for such perfect learning moments. There is so much to delve into no matter how involved or how easily spooked your children may be. Things like Edgar Allen Poe, The Salem Witch Trial or Mad Science Lab are terrific for more mature children vs a tame discussion around bats, spiders and cats.

However you celebrate, enjoy the festivities! Happy Halloween.

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