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Posts Tagged ‘Educational Things to Do’

Wave to an Astronaut: Find our how your family can Spot the Space Station

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Watching for the International Space Station is a great thing to do with your kids that also helps them learn about science. Find out how to find the International Space Station, where to get information on the space station’s location, and tips on how to help your kids enjoy a space station sighting in this helpful article by local mom Jackie Vest.

It’s not a bird! It’s not a plane! It’s the International Space Station!

Looking for a fun (and free) way to introduce your kids to the wonder of space? Try this simple activity – all you’ll need is a blanket and a bit of patience.

tips for watching the space station with kids
Photo Credit: NASA

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, Kidding Around earns from qualifying purchases.

What Is the International Space Station (ISS)?

“It looks like a bright dot flying around,” remarked my 6-year-old as he stretched his arm across the sky. Not long ago, we went to a local middle school track field to spy the station in the sky. Across the darkening horizon, the station appeared as a bright light arching from one horizon to another. It moved quickly, bright and steady, as we oohed and ahhed. Knowing that it was traveling at 17,500 mph and carrying astronauts aboard simply held my kids breathless.

The International Space Station (ISS) orbits the earth every 90 minutes, which gives you plenty of opportunities to spot it in the sky. It is visible to the naked eye at dawn or dusk and does not require the use of a telescope! As the third brightest object in the sky, it looks just like an airplane (without flashing lights). NASA has a wonderful website dedicated to helping you and your family spot the station in the sky! You can plug in your location information and it will tell you all upcoming dates and times when you can go outside and find it. You can even receive email or text alerts!

Looking to try this with your kiddos? I’ve got a couple of space station viewing mommy-tips for you!

Tips for International Space Station Viewing with Kids

Prime your children. Rent a book from the library or watch a quick internet video about the ISS. Knowing even a tiny bit about it will help your little ones to get excited about that bright little dot.

Find NASA’s updates about ISS on their website.

Here are a couple of picture books about the International Space Station that you can find at our library: 

A Trip Into Space: Adventure to the International Space Station

Max Goes to the Space Station: A Science Adventure with Max the Dog

The International Space Station

Set realistic expectations. Let them know that while the ISS is full of all things cool, what they’re actually going to see is a bright light moving across the sky. Have them wave to the astronauts!

Get open. Heading to an open field such as a school or park will not only increase your chances of spotting the station, but it will allow for the longest ISS viewing window when you do spot it.

Prepare to miss.
Kids can be distracted (or become a distraction) easily. Sometimes, even with the clearest sky, perfect timing, and open field, you can still miss it! Let your kids know that you may not see it on every try. Pack a snack or something else to keep the blues away.

Check the weather and schedule. The best times to see the space station are when it’s visible for the longest time and the night is clear.

To find out when you can next spot the Station, visit the NASA website. You can even sign up for email alerts to ensure that you always know when it’s a great time to see the station.

Use an app like the ISS Detector to help you locate the space station. It also sends you alerts when the station is visible in your area.

Would your little one love spying the International Space Station?

15+ Book Ideas for Christmas

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Think books make a great gift? So do we! Jamie Bryant from our sponsor, Christ Church Episcopal School, has written this article for us. She’s sharing book recommendations that would be great under your tree this year! The recommendations are organized by age. Happy reading!


Where and How to Celebrate French Culture in the Upstate

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Are you wondering where and how to celebrate French culture in the Upstate? Local mom Deborah provides a complete list of ways to embrace French culture in our area. This list includes everything from French classes to French food and much more! 

I loved French class in high school and college. We ate French food, talked about French culture, and talked to each other in as much French as we could. However, I always knew that the best way to learn French would be to live where French is spoken. Maybe you too would like to immerse yourself in French culture. Maybe you want to feel at home again and keep your culture and language alive in your children. Or, perhaps you just want to know more about the French culture in our area.

Bienvenue à Greenville!

celebrate French culture in the Upstate

French Classes

Upstate International offers French classes for all levels as well as multiple ways to connect with other French people in our community.

French Conversations

If you just want to practice your French, go to Hampton Memorial Library in Easley on the third Tuesday of every month.

Bilingual French School

Started in 1974 by the Michelin Society, the Bilingual French School educates French children from K5 through 12th grade. The school helps children reintegrate into French culture while also helping them learn American culture.

French Holidays

The French Alliance is over 100 years old and has chapters all over the world designed to promote French language and culture. Our local chapter, French Alliance of Piedmont, organizes French classes, books clubs, and conversation groups. They also organize special events to celebrate French holidays.

In November, a French wine, Beaujolais Nouveau is enjoyed along with a French meal to celebrate the end of harvest.

In early January, galette des roise, King’s Cake, is shared to celebrate the day the wise men came to see Jesus.

In February, crêpes are made to celebrate La Chandeleur, the day Mary brought Jesus to the temple.

In March, International Francophonie Day celebrates French people and cultures around the world.

Bastille Day, French Independence Day, is celebrated on July 14. The French love horses, so Black Sheep Farm, an organization in Fountain Inn that used horses to help young children develop socially, sponsors Bastille Day Greenville each July.

French Food

Authentique French Crêperie serves authentic French crêpes, galettes, salads, sandwiches and coffee in Simpsonville.

Le Petit Croissant serves French influenced pastries, chocolates and coffee on the West End.

Crêpe du Jour serves authentic French crêpes, coffee, and wine in the heart of downtown Greenville.

Passerelle Bistro is a French influenced café overlooking Falls Park.

French is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world and twenty-nine countries have French as their official language. Let’s enjoy the French culture that can be found in Greenville!

One Museum You’ll Want to Visit if Your Family Loves to Travel

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Are you planning a trip to Atlanta and looking for fun things to see and do? Do you have a fan of airplanes in your family? Are you planning a flight with your child and would like to show them what they can expect to see on a plane? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, we have all the info you’ll need to plan a trip to the Delta Flight Museum at Atlanta-Hartsfield airport.

What is the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day?

Our family took advantage of the Smithsonian Magazine Museum day, by using our vouchers for the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. This event provides free admission to a Smithsonian affiliated museum for the day. You can read all about it here.

Heading towards an airport is an exciting thing in my opinion! The sense of adventure, excitement and the unknown are why I love travel. My son had four plane trips under his belt by the time he was six months old, although he doesn’t remember those first adventures. A trip to the Delta Flight Museum would be a great introduction to the world of flight for children.

Delta Flight Museum Atlanta, GA

About the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta

The museum is located on the outer edge of the Atlanta-Hartsfield airport. When you pull up, you’ll need to stop at a security gate and there you will receive stickers that identify you as visitors to the museum. When you enter the huge hangar, you’ll need to proceed through a security check complete with a metal detector and x-ray machine. From there you’ll proceed to the “ticketing counter”, where admission to the museum is $15 for adults, $10 for children and free for children four and under.

The museum is stroller friendly with plenty of room between exhibits. The only exception is the two opportunities where you board a plane.

Right past security, don’t forget to grab your preflight checklist and scavenger hunt sheets. The museum showcases Delta’s history, including several full-size planes, uniforms from all different destinations throughout the years, and different memorabilia.

Inside the museum, you’ll have the chance to board a retired 767. On board, you’ll be able to see a collection of different items from Delta’s history, while the front of the plane has been left intact. Take a seat and watch the “in-flight” movie of how this plane came to rest in the museum. I feel like this is an excellent opportunity to familiarize young children with what they can expect on an actual flight. Today’s planes might be a little bit more modern, with more leg room, but the subtle differences will probably go unnoticed by children. The seats have tray tables that open, window shades that move and emergency manuals in the pocket in front of you. Even on a day as busy as when we were there, we sat as long as we wanted, and no one was hurrying us along.

After you see everything in the museum hangar, head across the parking lot to visit the 747 Experience. This exhibit is a full size 747 airplane, that you can board. Inside you’ll learn all about these aircraft and have the opportunity to sit in the upper deck and imagine you are jetting off to an exotic locale. In order to view this exhibit, you need to leave plenty of time. They stop allowing people to board 45 minutes prior to the museum closing.

For an additional $425, up to four members of your family can spend an hour in the flight simulator experience that was once used to train Delta pilots.

Delta Flight Museum Atlanta Hartsfield Airport

Visit the Delta Flight Museum

We enjoyed our time at the museum and have a few tips to make your trip go smoothly.

Make sure you check the website for current museum times and any events that may close it to the public.

Food and drink are not allowed in the museum, with the exception of baby bottles.

Make sure you enter this address into your GPS – 1060 Delta Blvd, Atlanta, GA. In Google Maps or your GPS, type in “33.655043, -84.420127” as your destination and you will be led to the Museum’s Security Gate entrance. The address I first entered for the museum, led us to the short-term parking lot, and wasted a lot of our time.

Because you are entering Delta’s corporate office area, regulations require every member of your party 18 and over present an ID at the security gate of the parking lot.

Ticketing information and current museum hours can be found here.

Delta Flight Museum
1060 Delta Boulevard, Building B, Department 914
Atlanta, GA

We hope your family enjoys the Delta Flight Museum as much as we did. If you go, let us know how your family liked the museum!

Homeschooling in the Wild: Offerings of the Greenville Zoo

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Have a homeschooler and need a little time outside, away from all the books and computers? Pick a day and make an educational adventure out of a trip to the Greenville Zoo. They have lots of special events to help your family learn and enjoy the zoo like story time or with the zoo keepers for questions. They even offer special classes just for homeschoolers. KAG Contributor and local mom Maria Bassett is sharing some of the educational opportunities you’ll find at the Greenville Zoo. 

Be sure to check out our Homeschool Guide for tons of idea, resources and more!

Sure a trip to the zoo is fun any day, and it can be an educational adventure. Sometimes, though, my kids run from exhibit to exhibit and we never really take the time to read the signs, observe and learn. That’s frustrating, and doesn’t feel very educational. Sometimes we bring along some animal classification work (if you’d like some freebie worksheets checkout this homeschool giveaways site for some options.)  But sometimes, it’s really just more fun to listen to the great folks at the zoo, than it is to listen to mom!  That’s why I am so thankful for the many educational gems that the Greenville Zoo offers.  They have so many educational programs, and many of them are completely free with admission.

Greenville Zoo homeschool programs

Homeschool programs at the Greenville Zoo

Homeschool class

The zoo offers a homeschool class once per month for K5- 8th grade students. The classes are broken down into smaller age groups and are on a variety of topics.  My two oldest boys love these classes! They get some hands on time with various animals and critters. (After the class that featured a number of invertebrates, I heard a lot about how they got to touch the hissing cockroach.  Yuck!) And they really learn lots of neat facts. Each class costs $10 for members and $15 for non-members. The dates vary each month and the class requires registration you can complete online. You can find the registration and dates here.

Tell Me About it Tuesdays

Free! (with admission) At 10:30 am and 12:30 pm on Tuesdays you will find zoo staff at specific exhibits talking about and answering your questions about the animals they highlight.  Tell Me About it Tuesdays is a great opportunity for homeschool students to get answers straight from the source.

Learning Safari Thursdays

Free! (with admission)  Want to see some zoo creatures up close?  Check out the Learning Safari Thursdays in front of the Buck Mickel Education Building on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at 3:30 pm. These are fun, hands on exhibits. What a great chance for homeschoolers to learn from zoo staff, without the added cost!

Wild for Reading Wednesdays

Free! (with admission) The younger homeschool kiddos might enjoy reading a book with a zoo staff member and a live animal friend at Wild for Reading Wednesdays every Wednesday at 2:30 pm.  You’ll find this event near the farm yard exhibit.

Note: All three of the above free programs meet September through May.

Family Workshops

Looking for an activity the whole family can enjoy together? The zoo offers Family Workshops on a variety of topics through the year. You need to register in advance for these programs!

Conservation Lectures

Families with older children might enjoy the zoo’s free conservation lecture series. The zoo has partnered with Furman to bring educational lectures about conservation efforts for specific animals. Lectures take place at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate or a Greenville Library and are scheduled in the evening. These lectures are totally free!

Plan your own trip to the Greenville Zoo

150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville

Adults $9.75; kids 3 – 15 $6.50; under 3 free. Members: free

What is your favorite program for your homeschooler? Tell us in the comments!

Dolly Parton Imagination Library: How Your Child Can Recieve Free Books In Upstate, SC

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The Dolly Parton Imagination Library has been providing free books for young children for years. Recently unavailable in the Upstate, the program has now returned to Spartanburg and kicked off in Greenville. Find out what you need to do to receive free books for your child for up to five years.

Other local resources for children to access books include the Spartanburg Little Free Libraries, Spartanburg County Library Resources, Greenville County Library Resources, and Reach out and Read.


Greenville Library’s Little Learners Club is Fun and Developmental for Kids 5 & Under

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If you are a parent of a child 0 to 5 years old, this story is for you. The Greenville Library System recently introduced the Little Learners Club, a program geared specifically towards kindergarten readiness – yes, even for the tiniest of kids. Local mom Kristina tells us all about it and how it will benefit your little ones!

Want more ideas for fun (and FREE) activities to enjoy with your toddler? Check out this list!

Partnering with Palmetto Basics, the Little Learners Club gives parents the tools they need to help their kids succeed and get ready for school. It is geared towards helping every kid, no matter their background or where they live, to have a solid foundation when they start school.

According to Palmetto Basics, “80% of brain development happens during the first three years of life”. It’s such a crucial time in a child’s life and by doing everyday things and intentionally moving towards that goal of kindergarten readiness.

Greenville Library System Little Learners Club

Five Areas of Learning

Little Learners Club encompasses five evidence-based areas of learning: Count, Group, and Compare, Explore through Movement and Play, Maximize Love, Manage Stress, Read and Discuss Stories, and Talk, Sing, and Point.

Each of these sections has 100 check boxes under it and gives parents ideas of things to do (many of which, I guarantee you, you already are doing). Once the child completes a section, they can come to the library and get a free Little Learners tote bag and a pin for that section. Once you complete each section, you can get a pin that goes on the tote bag.

By going through the Little Learners Club, kids will have read 600 books by the time they get to Kindergarten – remember, you have lots of time to do this!

Some of suggested ideas are to cuddle with your child and read a book or point out colors of everyday items and recite them with your child or take a walk with your child or play hide-and-seek. Many of the actions you do can count for multiple sections of the Little Learners Club as well.

Signing Up for Little Learners Club

To sign up, you can either download a Little Learners Club log or pick one up at your library. Then complete 100 activities with your child for each of the Palmetto Basics except Read and Discuss Stories:

Count, Group, and Compare
Explore through Movement and Play
Maximize Love, Manage Stress
Read and Discuss Stories
Talk, Sing, and Point

Once you complete 100 activities in a category, that’s when you can go to the library to get your tote bag and first pin. You earn pins by completing the other categories.

To learn more, visit the Little Learners Club website.

5+ Places to Learn about Science in Greenville

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Like to learn through play? We here at KAG like to have fun but that doesn’t mean we can’t also make things educational. While you can turn most anything into a teaching moment, there are certain activities that lend themselves more naturally to that than others. Local mom Lindy puts together this list of 5 great places to learn about science, many courtesy of some homeschooling friends!

Roper Mountain Science Center

Roper Mountain Science Center– located pretty central in the Greenville area and right near both the 385 and 85, this is something you must check out. There’s a planetarium, hiking trails, butterfly garden, various classes throughout the year, and much more. Read about the benefits of a membership here.

Roper Mountain Science Center

Children’s Museum of the Upstate

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate– with a big climbing structure, tons of hands on exhibits and various special events, there’s something for everyone. The first floor features a lot of physics- how cars, airplanes, and even space ships work (many in a video game format). There’s also an exhibit on the human body including a digestive system slide! The upper level features a farm/agricultural area for young toddlers. There’s an architectural exhibit where you can play engineer. Downstairs there’s a mini water systems and canal play area. There’s a music/sound room and much more! Read this list for an idea of what you could spend a day doing at TCMU.

Visit Greenville Zoo!

The Greenville Zoo is of course also educational. With special events and classes happening depending on the season and general biology all around, you can learn quite a bit. Read all the signs, discuss why this animal happens to do this thing or that. Why are certain animals found in some places but no where else? Then play on both the playground inside the gates as well as Cleveland Park’s playground outside the entrance. Be sure to discuss the physics of movement and bodily anatomy that allows for all that running around.

Greenville Zoo

Clemson University

Clemson University’s SC Botanical Gardens with Geology Museum– we’ve previously discussed all the stuff you can do around campus. So of course for a science article, we had to include the botanical garden and geology museum. The Botanical Gardens look very fun for kids and includes a children’s garden, while the geology museum is aimed at all ages. The two are also right together so double the learning for half the effort!

Paris Mountain State Park

Paris Mountain State Park– this is a favorite hiking spot. Yet all those trails also offer a lot of hands on teaching opportunities. Each fourth Saturday there are also various classes and special events to hone your natural science skills even more. This includes lots of learning about animals, flora and fauna, as well as ecology. You can also camp, check out multiple trails and even swim! Paris Mountain also offers group hikes for reasonable fee with a ranger.

Paris Mountain State Park

A little bonus

Try a science inspired group of activities at Runway Park.

Do you have a favorite place to learn about science in Greenville?

Your Kids Can See Elk at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee

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Did you know there are elk in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains? We didn’t! After hearing in passing about the elk herd, we decided to load up the kids and set off on an adventure to see what we could find. And find them we did at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, along with some other great educational gems.

Elk were originally native to the Smoky Mountains, but over 200 years ago the population died off to extinction in the area. However, back in 2001 a project was begun to reintroduce the elk to the Smoky Mountains. Since then, the herd has multiplied. Cherokee, NC offers excellent viewing of these impressive animals in their wild habitat.

You can find more day trip ideas on our Day trips in Western NC page.

Find a place to stay near Oconaluftee. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center

One great place to view the elk is the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. This spot offers a wealth of opportunities for homeschool students. The field next to the visitor center is known for elk viewing. In addition, the center boasts a small indoor museum about the history of life in the Smoky Mountains and an impressive outdoor museum consisting of original farm buildings built in the early 1900s.

There is no admission fee.

The best time to observe elk

First, observing the elk. We arrived at the center around 10 am, and we were disappointed to hear from the rangers that the best time to view the elk in the field is either first thing in the morning, about 7 am, or in the evening, approximately 6 – 7 pm, as elk prefer the cooler temperatures.

Walk along the Oconaluftee River

However, determined to enjoy our day anyway, we walked on the easy trail along the Oconaluftee River. The river was crystal clear and we enjoyed skipping stones and our leisurely walk. After walking a short while, we turned around to head back to the car to pick up our picnic basket. But our walk was interrupted by a few large park natives, elk. We were treated to a small group of 14 elk. One of them was a large bull with an impressive set of antlers.  They were just a few feet off the trail! It was thrilling.

The bugle sound the bulls make to attract the females is unforgettable. This occurs mostly in September and October.

Be careful to view the elk safely

We climbed down the river bank to avoid getting too close to the bull. However, other walkers did not make the same decision. Another walker decided to approach the bull to take a picture and we watched the him rear up and toss his antlers. Fortunately the bull turned and ran, leading small herd away. (Note that especially in mating season, bull elk can be very aggressive. Approaching them closely is NOT recommended. It is actually illegal to approach them willfully within 50 yards. Stay on the trail and be mindful of getting too close. The Smoky Mountains National Park has some information about viewing the elk safely, you can find that here.)

Mountain Farm Museum

While the elk were extremely exciting to see, we also really enjoyed the small museum in the visitor’s center and the Mountain Farm Museum adjacent to the center. Both of these places allowed us to get a glimpse of what living in the mountains in the early 1900s was like. At the entrance to the Mountain Farm Museum (outdoors) look to the right of the opening in the fence and you will find a covered box with self-guided tour booklets. This will give you a lot of information about the individual buildings themselves, as well as their role on mountain farms at this time. We really appreciated that the buildings in the farm museum were original and not replicas, so we were able to examine the construction and see elements like pegs used as nails, and the dovetail construction of the cabin walls. Here we viewed a cabin, chicken coop, meat house, wood shed, pig pen with pigs, apple house and many other buildings utilized by mountain farmers in the 1900s.

Admission to this site is completely free, and the travel time is a little over 2 hours from Greenville, making this a really fantastic day trip.

Homeschool Field Trip Expansion Ideas for Elk

This section contains affiliate links.

As a homeschool trip, this site offers both science and history opportunities. If you’d like to augment the trip, check out some books or search the internet for information about elk or mountain farm life in the 1900s. You might also enjoy the following:

Read Little Farm in the Ozarks, by Roger Lea MacBride. This story is a continuation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, focusing on her daughter, Rose. It is set in Laura’s mountain farm in the Ozarks, in the same time frame as the buildings viewed at the Mountain Farm Museum.

Read Little House in the Ozarks: The Rediscovered Writings, by Laura Ingles Wilder. This is a collection essays Laura wrote for a newspaper during the late 1800s and early 1900s about her life as a farm wife on an Ozark Mountain farm. This is NOT a Little House series story and was not written for an audience of children, so parents may wish to read through first and make sure it is accessible and acceptable for their children.

This article from American Forests offers a lot of information about the project to reintroduce elk to the area. It contains a lot of information, but is quite long, so parents may want to go through it with children and select a few points to focus on.

For an alternative view, read this article about the struggle farmers in the area have with damage caused by the elk (you can view an example of this damage on the farm museum’s apple trees). Consider holding a mock debate in your home between siblings, or kids vs parents, about the benefits to the elk and the park vs the viewpoint of the farmers and the damage the animals cause.

Here is a brief minute and a half long video showing the elk at Oconaluftee with a little bit of information about the herd from the wildlife biologist for the Smoky Mountains National Park. You can hear the male elk bugle at the beginning of the video.

Oconalufee Visitor Center

Oconaluftee Visitor Center
1194 Newfound Gap Rd, Cherokee, NC

Open every day except Christmas Day

How do you think your kids would feel about a road trip to visit elk?