Welcome Back to Our Fabulous Sponsor Flamingo Gardens

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We would like to thank our sponsor Flamingo Gardens
for their continued support as park of the Keeping Up With Kids Family
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Flamingo Gardens

We love Flamingo Gardens!  This tropical paradise in Davie offers visitors the chance to wander through 60 acres of of amazing botanical gardens, orchards and an animal sanctuary.

Flamingo Gardens is home to over 90 species of mostly rescued Florida native bird and animals.  It is a wonderful place to learn about the diverse populations, both plant and animal, that are found here in Florida and no where else in the world.

Wood Stork at Flamingo Gardens
Spoonbill at Flamingo Gardens

My daughter loves the half-acre free flight aviary that has over 250 wading birds in it.  We went so often when she was still in a stroller that she can name many of them!  Nothing is funnier than a two year old trying to say spoonbill!

Scarecrow Contest at Flamingo Gardens
Scarecrow Contest at Flamingo Gardens

 

 

I have two favorite events at Flamingo Gardens that I have written about a lot over the years.  The first is the Christmas Lights event they do every year!  The second is the Halloween Scarecrow Contest.  

Flamingo Gardens offers many great events throughout the year, but some of my absolute favorites are coming up soon!

 

 

 

The Week Ahead: Summer Passes, Free Bowling & Lion Country

Lion Country Safari
Lion Country Safari
Mini Golf at Lion Country Safari

There are more and more summer fun deals popping up all around.  I updated a couple of my favorites in our Summer Picks section.  Things like the Regal Cinemas $1 Movie Express and KidsBowlFree.com are great options for rainy  or hundred degree days when being outside is just not an option.  Better yet, these are Nationwide programs so even if you don’t live in South Florida you can participate!

 

The Summer Saving Pass for 2015 has been Lion Country Safaripublished, and this is my favorite one.  It gets you admission all summer long to Lion Country, Miami Seaquarium, Miami Metro Zoo and The Museum of Science and Discovery for $56 for Adults and $46 for kids.   This is an incredible deal if you plan to go to make a trip to any 2 of these facilities.  In addition the Museum of Discovery and Science is another thing to do when the summer rains or heat prevent anything else.  Click Here for a post about one of our trips to Lion Country Safari using the Summer Saving Pass.

Lion Country SafariHow you can help keep this site running.
If you have found this site helpful and want to keep me writing please use the Donate Button on the right side of this page.  This helps us pay for our domain, ip address and hosting, maybe even a cup of coffee as I sit at Panera searching for more free events.  Some sites require membership fees in order to pay for their site.  We really want this information to be free and available to all. Thanks for your support!

Click Here for the full list of upcoming events!

Thanks to our sponsors for making this site possible!
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Electronic Snap Circuits by Elenco Educational Toy Review

Electronic Snap Circuit Kit by Elenco

Electronic Snap Circuit Kit by ElencoI love toys that teach!  As the momma of a girl, I am specially concerned with educational toys that teach science, engineering and math.  My daughter played with an  Elenco Electronic Snap Circuits SC-300 Physics Kit product at school one day and loved it.  Santa got it for her this year, and I have to say I am pretty happy with it.  I think she has played with it more than any other toy she got (except for Zoomer, which is next on my To Review List).

Description:  Electronic Snap Circuit Project #1 by ElencoSanta brought one of the bigger sets, it has 305 projects, and more than 60 pieces. Each part (internal component) has a different function.  There are short descriptions of each of the projects along with a diagram.  The goal is to follow the diagram and complete a circuit to allow the project make sounds or move.

Assembly Time: It is all assembly time 😉

Value for Money:  We got one of the smaller kits Elenco Electronic Snap Circuits, Jr. Kit as a birthday present for a friend very reasonably!  You can spend  much more on the bigger sets.  The great thing is you can always add on.  (The friends mother reported that it was a big hit with her son as well, which I was relived to hear!)

Age Appropriateness:  The Elenco Electronic Snap Circuits SC-300 Physics Kit is recommended for children 8 and up.  I think this is a pretty appropriate recommendation. That being said, I got it for two 7 year olds who had little to no problem with it.  The kids will need a little supervision with the kit, most kids will need to have a parent do a couple of the projects with them before they can left to do it on their own.  My kiddo seemed to pick it up quickly and she can do most of the projects fairly well with only a little interference. In order to understand each project, the child will need to be able to read well or have someone available to read the short description of the project to them.

Electronic Snap Circuit Kit diagram by ElencoEducational Value:  As I see it there are two really wonderful things that this kit teaches.  The simplest one is diagram reading.  Learning to set the pieces on the board using the labeled grid pattern (numbers across the top and letters down the side) is going to help create skills that will help students at all levels.  This activity alone has validity in learning to chart or even graph.

The second is becoming comfortable with the concepts involved in electronics and electricity. This was the part I was hoping would be most helpful.  This kit allows children to see how circuits are completed and allows them (sometimes through trial and error) to see it done in action.  Some of the project have the connection made using the wire cables in water.  My daughter was amazed to learn that water can conduct electricity!  The younger kids will not always understand how each part works (neither do I frankly) but the more they build and read the instructions the more these concepts seem to solidify for them. I have been playing with it right alongside her and have been able to help her understand a little of what she is doing.  I know very little about electronics so it has been a learning experience for me too!

Electronic Snap Circuit Kit by Elenco
Do you see the numbers and letters? No, me neither.

If you or your child want to learn more about  each of the individual components you can download this PDF from Elenco with descriptions of the Integrated Components in the Snap Circuits Kit.  

My only complaint about the kit is that labels on the plastic board are impossible for me to see.  Even with my very unattractive goggle glasses on!  So, maybe in future Elenco could try to remember that the adults playing ehhem, I mean helping the kids play with the Electronic Snap Circuits may be a little older and well, a little blinder too.

Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida

Butterfly World

Butterfly WorldWe had the chance to go spend the day at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek the other day!  I had not been in a few years and honestly, I had been putting it off because of the cost of the entrance.

I can tell you though that I thoroughly enjoyed my time there!  The butterfly garden is a paradise, the Lorikeet feeding experience is amazing and the whole place is clean, serene and inspiring!  I left wishing that I had a screened in patio to turn into a butterfly garden!  My daughter loved it and I have never seen her stand so still Butterfly Worldwith one finger in the air hoping that a butterfly might land on her finger.  It was hilarious.

ATTEN: Auntie Carol – There are bug pictures below in the slide show.  It includes a certain one you are not fond of so maybe you should stop reading now.

Butterfly WorldFor everyone else, there is a  building called the Bug Zoo that had walls of mounted with bugs including some amazing beautiful beetles.  There was another room full of live bug exhibits including tarantulas, and some really neat stick bugs from all over the world.  I was so fascinated I didn’t want to leave!  We even got to see a bird eating tarantula that had just stepped out of his molt.

All in all, we give Butterfly World a 9 out of 10!  It has a lovely gift shop and a little cafe for Butterfly Worldsnacks.  The bathrooms are immaculate  (important for those with little kids) The only downside is the cost of entrance, although you can find coupons occasionally around town. I think however, at least for us it was worth it.  If you are a photographer, plan to spend all day for sure!

There is a quick video clip at the bottom of the page so you can see how quick these little critters are!

The Bug Zoo

Be sure to check out our list of upcoming local events!

As always, thanks to our great sponsors!  Flamingo Gardens has many more events coming up, and Stella and Dot have you are looking for!
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Check out a quick video clip of the butterfly’s!

 

 

Big Toy Box Review Video: Fisher Price Kid Tough Camera

Big Toy Box Review: Fisher Price Kids Tough Camera

We are proud to present the first of many video reviews!  Enjoy!

*****
3 year old using Kid Tough Camera for Bird Watching.
Description:  I thought this camera was going to be really, really bad!  I once had a tiny thumb drive camera that took grainy fuzzy terrible pictures and I thought this was going to be the same.  It is much, much better than that!   Now, to be fair, it is not super high quality by any means, so don’t get your hopes up too high.  However, I was pleasantly surprised at how clear the photos taken with the Kids Tough Camerawere.  Outside is the best use for this camera, as it does not have a flash, so indoor photo’s tend to be grainy, more blurry and darker.  I have posted here some of the photo’s I and my 3 year old have taken with it to give you an idea.  The camera comes in pink and blue.
Assembly Time:  None.  You do have to add 4 AAA batteries and buy a cord separately to download the photos.


Value for Money:  This item runs between $30 and $40 bucks.  My daughter loves it!
Photo Taken by a 3 year with Kid Tough Camera.

Age Appropriateness:  The box says age 3-7 years.  We got it for my DD for her 3rdbirthday and she took to it like a fish to water and although the age/safety recommendation does not advise it, I probably would have felt okay with her having it earlier.  It has dual eye pieces so that you can look through it using both eyes (much easier for kids) or use the view screen.

Durability:  It is a plastic construction and seems pretty durable.  My DD has already dropped it several times.  The lens is set deep into the camera so it is harder to accidentally get finger prints on it.

Educational ValueThis is a great way to develop creativity and hand/eye coordination.  My DD loves to take pictures the way that we do!  She has also carried it along on our hikes to take pictures of wildlife. It is a great way to introduce a birding activity to a child.  She feels really important using it, I actually caught her giving it to a friend and then very patiently giving a “mini photo lesson”.  It is amazing how quickly kids pick up these things.  So far we love it.
Taken by a 3 year old using the Kid Tough Camera.
Taken by a 3 year old using the Kid Tough Camera.
Taken by a 3 year old using the Kid Tough Camera.
Taken by a 3 year old using the Kid Tough Camera.
Taken by a 3 year old using the Kid Tough Camera.
Taken by a 3 year old using the Kid Tough Camera.

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures in Fort Lauderdale

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures on the New River in Fort Lauderdale

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures in Fort LauderdaleImagine cruising down the New River on your multi-million dollar luxury yacht, under blue skies and white puffy clouds.  You take a deep breath as you sip your wine, and inhale the salty smell on the cool ocean breeze.  Suddenly, out of the blue a shadow passes your eyes, is that a Jolly Rodger flag?  What is that noise?  Do you hear a pirate singing a sea chanty? Are those kids wearing eye patches, waving swords and yelling “arrrrrrrr” at you?

Well throw in a few water cannons and this is exactly what you can expect on the Bluefoot Pirate Adventure!

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures in Fort Lauderdale

This is one of the reasons we are so lucky to live in South Florida!  Bluefoot is an outstanding and unique kids adventure program like no other!  It really is brilliant!  When you arrive at the dock, the crew and the captain are waiting there to greet you and get you started on your adventure.  The kids get decked out with vests, eye patches, face painted tattoos or beards.  The crew are extremely friendly and helpful and it is clear they are proud of their business and what is more important, they enjoy it.

Once you are out on the river, the deckhand entertains the kids with stories and teaches everyone how to use the water cannons while the Captain offers the parental units fun facts about the amazing homes and boats along the river.

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures on the New River in Fort Lauderdale

Once the kids are fully ready to defend the boat, the Bluefoot is set upon by a “Smelly Pirate”  while the kids squirt him mercilessly with the water cannons.  Don’t worry, he gives as good as he gets and fights back a little with a super soaker!

In the end the kids save the key to the Pirate Treasure from the bottom of the Sea and go home with gold in their pockets, singing about Davie Jones and gratefully for us parents, might even fall asleep early!

This is a must see!  The Bluefoot is also available for birthday parties.  You need to make your reservations in advance.  Don’t forget to bring hats, sunscreen and sunglasses.  I was also very appreciative that the ship offers cold bottles of water very reasonably on board.  They do discounts on certain days of the week and there are often Groupons available.

 

Fisher Price Cheer for Me Potty Review

*****
Description:  (There is a newer less expensive version of this I have the link below)
I love this product!  The Cheer For Me Potty sings when the little ones go in it, it also clicks when they “flush” the handle.  Those of you who have potty trained know the importance of getting to one quickly when the little one shows signs!  I tucked this potty away in a quiet corner of our family room and it works great!  We sang the songs together when she used it and she loved it.  Fisher-Price has many different potty’s available, so pick one that you think will interest your child.  The newest version of this potty lights up as well as sings.
I kept it available for her to use for a long time so that she wouldn’t have to get me to take her to the bathroom.  It helped to give her independence to be able to go more or less all on her own.
It is really easy to clean too.  Just lift out the pan and pour into the toilet.
Assembly Time:  None, it does take batteries although we have been using it regularly for over a year and have never had to change them.
Value for Money:  I paid around $30 for ours and I wouldn’t pay more, however we used it regularly for well over a year and it still works great.   Great Value!
Age Appropriateness:  If you are ready to start potty training then this is appropriate!
Durability:  It is a plastic construction and seems pretty durable.  I don’t have any concerns about it lasting.
Educational Value:  Potty training is an important step.  It can’t be rushed or forced.  Here is a great link to get ideas on how to start with your child.
I also liked this article on Positive Reinforcement Potty Training.  The Author is a former animal trainer and took the same approach to potty training as I did.  It is great advice!

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoo Review

Zoo Review
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
999 Anastasia Blvd.
St. Augustine, Florida 32080
Accreditation:   American Zoo and Aquariums Association
Geographic Focus: World Wide
Large Animals:  Saltwater Crocodile, 15’3” and 1,250 lbs
Endangered and Vulnerable Species: American Crocodile, Cape Griffon Vulture, Galapagos Tortoise, Golden Conure, Hyacinth Macaw, Indian Gharial, Malaysian Gharial, Mugger Crocodile, Orinoco Crocodile, Palawan Peacock Pheasant, Pesquet’s Parrot, Philippine Crocodile, Red Fronted Macaw, Siamese Crocodile, South American Yellow-Footed Tortoise, Southern Cassowary, Umbrella Cockatoo, West African Dwarf Crocodile
Total Species: UNANSWERED
Kid Friendly Features:  Kids Zone Playground
Smoking:  Non Smoking Facility
Cleanliness:  TBA
Education Programs: Day Camps, Summer Camps, Holiday Camps, Over Night Camps, Birthday Parties
Research and Conservation Projects:  AZA Species Survival Plan participants include Chinese Alligator, Cotton-Top Tamarin, Cuban Crocodile, Geoffroy’s Marmoset, Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin,Goeldi’s Monkey, Komodo Dragon, Palm Cockatoo, Spider Monkey, Toco Toucan
Size: 8 Acres
Green Status and Recognition:  Recycling
Price:  Adults 12 & up $21.95, Kids 3-11 $10.95, 2 & Under Free
Review:  To Follow  Check back often!  I can’t wait to visit and review this park!  You know  I am a reptile girl at hear!

Healthy Toy Food and Fruit: Melissa and Doug Play-Time Fruit Review

*****
Description:
I really do love Melissa and Doug products!  When I got my little on her kitchen, I was appalled at some of the items that were in the play food toys.  I really didn’t want her to have “junk food” items to play with.  I wanted her toys to reflect her healthy diet.  Melissa and Doug have solved that problem!
Melissa and Doug Play-Time Fruit comes in a fun wooden case.  It has 9 pieces of solid molded plastic fruit.  It really does look beautiful!  We also have the M&D Food Groups and love it.
Assembly Time:  No assembly required.
Value for Money:  This item runs between $13 and $20 bucks.  You can get the cheap plastic sets for cheaper, but I am happy to pay a little extra for well made items.   I wanted to keep the “Junk Food” like chips and soda out of her daily exposure.
Age Appropriateness:  The box says age 3 to 6 years, however I can see kids playing with these much longer than that.
Durability:  As I mentioned above, they are made molded plastic and very solid and durable.
Educational Value:  A great way for kids to learn to identify different kinds of fruit.  The fruit can be used to learn to identify colors and sort them.  The healthy options also prevent kids from thinking that things like chips and soda are a normal part of a healthy diet.  Keeping “junk food” toy items out of the play room helps enforce the idea that they occasional treats and not things that should always be found in a kitchen.

Healthy Toy Food and Fruit: Melissa and Doug Food Groups Review

*****
Description:
I love these products!  When I got my little one her kitchen, I was appalled at some of the items that were in the play food toys.  I really didn’t want her to have “junk food” items to play with.  I wanted her toys to reflect her healthy diet.  Melissa and Doug have solved that problem!
Melissa and Doug Food groups come in four wooden crates and have with 21 pieces of food from all four food groups.  The items are well made and the fruit especially is beautifully painted.  We also have the Playtime Produce Fruit.
Assembly Time:  No assembly required.
Value for Money:  M&D Food Groups runs between $18 and $20 bucks.  You can get the cheap plastic sets for cheaper, but I am happy to pay a little extra for well made items.   I wanted to keep the “Junk Food” like chips and soda out of her daily exposure.
Age Appropriateness:  The box says age 3 to 6 years, however I can see kids playing with these much longer than that.
Durability:  The toy food is wooden and has held up well so far.  There has been no hint of paint chipping or damage.
Educational Value:  The four crates provide a great way to work on sorting.  I placed index cards in the bottom of the crates and she place the food into the correct groups.  The healthy options also prevent kids from thinking that things like chips and soda are a normal part of diet.  Keeping them out of the play room helps enforce the idea that they occasional treats and not things that should always be found in a kitchen.