• SCCT April 2024
  • CCES Feb 2024
  • YMCA Apr 2024
  • Five Oaks April 2024
  • Prisma Health Jan 2024
  • Int'l Ballet April 2024

Posts Tagged ‘Educational Things to Do’

Don’t Miss Fort Moultrie on Your Next Trip to Charleston

Posted on | No Comments

Local mom Jackie Vest shares her experience touring Fort Moultrie on her trip to Charleston. See our Charleston page for even more suggestions of things to do and places to eat in Charleston, SC. We even have a 2-3 day itinerary for Charleston, SC!

A visit to Sullivan’s Island is not complete without a tour of Fort Moultrie, and with just a few dollars needed to get through the gate, you’ve got to put it on your Charleston Bucket List. This one location tells the tales of defending our soil from our nation’s earliest history through World War II. The visitor center holds many artifacts, educational bits, souvenirs, books, and useful information before you head across the street to the fort.

To an adult, this fort serves as a gateway back in time, beginning with the most recent historical use of the fort and progressing further and further back in history as you progress through the walls and tunnels. To a child, this is an ocean-view maze peppered with massive cannons, enticing them to run the whole place over in a matter of about an hour. Both parties will leave feeling like the afternoon was well-spent.

A bit of history…

The fort’s earliest battles were in defending young America from British warships in 1776. The original fort was built of palmetto logs and inspired the nickname and flag of our Palmetto State. It remained in use from that year until 1947! The fortifying walls speak of seacoast defense for the entire life of our nation. It has seen everything from pirates, to the British, from Civil War battles, to support in the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, and everything in between. It was decommissioned in 1947 when new technologies outdated seacoast defense.

Plan your own trip to Fort Moultrie

Visit the website here.

1214 Middle Street
Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
(843) 883-3123

Open Daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Have you ever visited Fort Moutrie?

Meet Jackie
Jackie Vest is a writer and at-home-mom of two energetic little boys. She enjoys adventuring around the beautiful Upstate, the hilarity of kiddo-raising, outdoor fitness with friends, and her Favorite 5 C’s: cooking, crafting, camping, coffee, and chocolate. You can connect with her via her blog at: JackieVest.com.

Lost Valley Ranch is the True Ranch Experience

Posted on | No Comments

Local mom Lacey Keigley shares her family’s trip to Lost Valley Ranch in Colorado. Find out why she says it’s worth the trip from Greenville! Find even more travel ideas on our Travel from Greenville page.

It’s during those long winter months and darker days when people like me start to think about spring and summer and vacations and trips and sunshine.

It’s true, I like the planning nearly as much as I like the traveling.  Well.  I don’t know if that is entirely true.  The point is, I love planning trips.  I like looking at maps and measuring distances and thinking of ways to make the road trip fun.  I like looking up funky road side attractions and making lists of where we could stop for the best BBQ in Nashville or the most delicious dessert in Kansas City.

Our trip to Lost Valley Ranch

And thinking about summer makes me think about the ranch that my family fell in love with last summer.  (This picture looks all postcard and unreal – but – you guys, it is SO for real.  Just my little iPhone’s camera and it was THIS beautiful.)

I’m not actually sure I ever did its beauty and charm full justice through my blog posts, but I wanted to try again to share our ranch experience.  And to tell you, if you’re thinking about visiting this summer, you should be making your reservation already.

From the minute we arrived at Lost Valley Ranch, we felt welcomed and celebrated, like royalty or something.  (And that is how they treat everyone who crosses the cattle guard.)

It’s all the little things at Lost Valley Ranch

Your name and a personal message on your door’s chalkboard.

The Keurig stoked with hot cocoa, tea and coffee in our cabin.

The logs stacked carefully to build a cozy fire with a fire starter and matches and a log with the LVL emblem burned into it.

Nightlights scattered around the cabin.

Turn down service every single night.  Seriously!  While we enjoyed a delicious dinner, fairy elves were in our cabin, setting the extra pillows to the side, turning down the covers and leaving a little chocolate treat on the pillows.

Beds made every single morning.  Yes!   While we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast with many options, those same fairy elves were in our cabin, making our beds, tidying our space and doing all the hard work for us.

Flashlights in the cabin – just in case.

Quality soaps and a sewing kit and lotion you actually want to use.

Homemade fresh cookies available every minute of every day in the lobby area with the giant leather seats and the comfy couches.

Their hospitality is a gigantic part of the beautiful service of the week at the ranch.

The first night the ranch owner is welcoming us all and the kids and I are grinning non-stop, happy to have arrived at the end of this dusty road and happy to be free from distractions and chores and responsibilities. Tony says in his welcome, like I wrote before, “Beyond these cattle guards, we know you’ve got issues and problems and struggles – but this week, let us handle them all. Let us feed you and let your cell phones not work and let us take care of you.” Words like that can make a mama like me cry genuine tears of relief and hope.

Lost Valley Ranch is sort of like a family summer camp. Kind of. It’s all inclusive, which aids the relaxation and no pressure attitude of the ranch. Once you’ve paid your price you are good to go. (I mean, obviously if you want to buy souvenirs at the Trading Post, you’ll need to spend more money, but you know what I mean. You’re not paying extra for horse rides or meals or whatnot.) Each evening a cute newspaper is waiting in your cabin with the next day’s activities and weather forecast and anything else you might need to know.

After breakfast with your family, where you can sit with other ranch guests, you can plan your day.  Kids are divided by age and head out to the corral to go on a ride.  You – the grown up – can go on a ride in the morning.  Or, you cannot.  You can learn to fly fish or skeet shot or you can hike a mountain, soak in one of the several hot tubs or hang out in your cabin all quiet and cozy like.  Also, if your kids don’t want to ride horses that day, no problem.  They don’t have to.  At lunch you meet back up with the kids and have lunch with all the other guests.

There was a touch of the element of a get-to-know-you mixer at first, but since everyone is pretty much on their A Game – kids happy, no cooking required, no distractions – it was fun to meet and chat with the other guests.  Lots and lots of them were long time fans of the ranch and many had been visiting with their families for years and years, summer after summer.  (I did struggle the first few days remembering who was who – especially when people look so very different when they switch from baseball caps to cowboy hats.)

At every meal, when the waitrii (that’s the name they call themselves) ask you about the next meal’s options (it’s always food, food, food there – SO many delicious meals), you should always choose half and half. That is – half of each option. “Would you like to try the salmon or the fiesta salad or half of each?” It never mattered what they offered, I always answered, “Half of each, please.”

In the afternoon the schedule looked much the same.  Kids can ride with their wranglers and kids their age.  Adults can do the same.  Or not. As for our gang, we all rode every day.  Otto awoke each morning, “Mom, I get to ride today – right?”

The flexibility was phenomenal.  All the good choices all day long.  Ride or not ride.  Hike or hot tub.  Southwestern salad or pulled pork.  Fly fishing or target shooting.

The evenings have a lovely rhythm and routine too. One night there’s a square dance. One night a melodrama that was equal parts quirky and goofy and the kids found it hilarious and it was loads of fun. One night there’s a cookout down at the “jail” and we all ride hay covered wagons and watch the most amusing night of sing alongs and talent show style entertainment. One evening the teens get their own campfire and late night experience. There’s a guest rodeo the last day and a wrangler rodeo the first day. Sand volleyball is available and swimming and lounging poolside and chatting with your horse – the one you get assigned the first day and make buddies with through the week.

All good things must come to an end

It’s such a great week that the crash when you leave Sunday morning is actually physically painful.  I mean, if you are my family, anyway.

It sounds like a cliche, but we actually made friends at the ranch that we’ve stayed in contact with throughout the year, friends that we’ve actually visited with since that summer trip.  Like a magical summer camp for grown ups and kids too, it’s a ranch paradise in all the best ways.

Oh you guys, just writing about Lost Valley Ranch makes me itch to break out my cowboy boots and hop in the car and start that long journey all over again.

About Lost Valley Ranch

Lost Valley Ranch
29555 Goose Creek Rd
Sedalia, Colorado, CO 80135



Website: www.lostvalleyranch.com

Would your family love a dude ranch vacation?

Find even more travel ideas on our Travel from Greenville page.

Meet Lacey
Lacey KeigleyLacey Keigley is the mother of six children – five of whom she homeschools. She thinks old wooden crates make the best bookshelves. She hangs worn out barn tin on her walls and calls it art. She believes raising her six children is the scariest and the wildest journey she has ever taken. She likes the magic of sunlight through the old bottles on her kitchen shelf. She blogs about education and parenting and grace and unexpected adventures on her blog SoEveryDay. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest.

Mom Review: The Old Exchange in Charleston

Posted on | 1 Comment

Local mom Jackie Vest shares her experience taking her children to The Old Exchange in Charleston, SC. 

The Old Exchange is touted as a “must-see” when visiting downtown Charleston. Located right on the water, it is a historical gem of both the Colonial and Revolutionary eras – being at times a Revolutionary-era prison, a place where George Washington visited, a post where slaves were sold, a building for 18th Century assemblies, a platform for trade and business, a dungeon for pirates, and the place from which South Carolina’s delegates ratified the Constitution.

There is more history here than can be absorbed. Visitors are welcome to wander around before and after tours, take a guided tour, and even sign the Constitution!

Our Time at The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon (aka The Custom House)

Below the building is a huge brick dungeon complete with full-size pirate figures, gun powder kegs, and more. The only thing my boys loved more than that awesome dungeon was standing in the great hall where our delegates once stood and signing their names on the Declaration of Independence! The tours are very informative, yet can be a bit lengthy for toddlers – bring diversions. The whole building itself is a mystery as so many things took place upon that foundation, it is incredibly fascinating! Of course, we couldn’t leave without visiting the gift shop, my boys are now the proud owners of gunpowder holders made from cow horns and leather.

Plan Your Trip to The Old Exchange

Open every day of the week 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

122 East Bay Street
Charleston, SC 29401

(843) 727-2165
(888) 763-0448

Visit the website here.
Plan to spend 1-3 hours here depending on your kids.

Would your kids love a visit to The Old Exchange?

Meet Jackie
Jackie Vest is a writer and at-home-mom of two energetic little boys. She enjoys adventuring around the beautiful Upstate, the hilarity of kiddo-raising, outdoor fitness with friends, and her Favorite 5 C’s: cooking, crafting, camping, coffee, and chocolate. You can connect with her via her blog at: JackieVest.com.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park

Liene reviews Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park in Greenville, SC. For more reviews of local parks see our Park Guide to Greenville, SC.

When he was 13 years old, Joe Jackson earned a position on the Brandon Mill Baseball team. Historically, the mills played a large role in the evolution of baseball at the time; on Saturday afternoons when the whistles blew, the mill workers would swarm from the workplace to the local baseball fields, where they would practice for their games against mill leagues across Greenville County. Many communities such as Brandon Mill were brought together through their love of the sport, and more than one legendary player emerged from these mill teams, including Joe Jackson, Champ Osteen and Red Barbary.

Photo credit to Charles M. Conlon

Shoeless Joe

Joseph Jefferson Jackson earned the nickname “Shoeless Joe” during a mill game when the blisters from a new pair of cleats resulted in the player taking off his shoes off before his turn at bat. Legend goes that as he was rounding third base in his socks a fan yelled out “You shoeless son of a gun, you!” and the resulting nickname stuck through the rest of his career. In 1919 he was indicted in the Black Sox Scandal in which members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox participated in a conspiracy to fix the World Series. Although he was acquitted in 1921, he was still banned from playing baseball for the remainder of his career. Nevertheless, Shoeless Joe has one of the highest career batting averages in major league history (he hit .408 in 1911), and Babe Ruth is said to have modeled his batting technique after Jackson’s square stance.

The park

The historic Brandon Mill Community on Greenville’s Westside is now home to the 8-acre Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park, the baseball field where Jackson first played baseball. The park is split in two by Brushy Creek, which continues on through Greenville until it empties into the Reedy River in Lake Conestee Nature Park; due to the historic pollution caused by the mills and ongoing hazards from urban runoff, it is not advised to play in the water.

On one side of the creek is the lighted baseball field with a small parking lot that is open when a game is on. On the other side of the creek are the playground, picnic shelter and parking. The two sides are connected by a small bridge on the very backside of the park, and informational placards on the park and Shoeless Joe can be found next to the concessions building on the backside of the baseball diamond – this is where you’ll find the answer to the 2017 Park Hop clues!

Nearby attractions

When you’re park hopping through the Greenville County Parks this summer, make sure to stop by nearby Freetown Community Center for more Park Hop fun. The Community Center and playground is just 5 blocks away, making it an easy two-base hit!

Greenville is also home to the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Library, Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza at the gates of Fluor Field (where a life-size bronze statue of Joe stands on a base made of bricks from the old Comiskey Ball Park in Chicago), and the site of Joe Jackson’s grave where visitors leave baseballs, photos, notes and other mementos.

Have you explored the Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park?

Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park is one of the parks in the 2017 Park Hop passport. To learn more about how you can earn prizes this summer by visiting local parks read our Ultimate Guide to Park Hop

Meet Liene
Mother of three young boys, Liene is constantly on the move since returning to Greenville in 2012. Whether she’s exploring the state parks and natural areas of the Carolinas or teaming up with other moms to organize activities for the kids, she’s always searching for the next adventure in the Upstate. For everything from hiking, travel, cooking and crafts to multicultural & global education posts, visit her blog, Femme au Foyer.

The Spartanburg Science Center Offers a Fun and Educational Experience for Kids

Posted on | No Comments

Are you looking for an educational and fun experience for the kids? The Spartanburg Science Center, located within the Chapman Cultural Center, is the perfect spot to get your reptile, amphibian, and psychics fix!

What to Expect

Located on the second floor of the Montgomery Building of the Chapman Cultural Center, the Spartanburg Science Center provides educational programs for local schools and homeschooling co-ops based on grade level, a travelling planetarium, and a hands-on interactive Science Museum for kids (and adults) of all ages!

In the Science Museum, you can marvel at snakes and observe the habitats of tarantulas, turtles, lizards, and more in the amphibian/reptile exhibit. Learning stations include an electricity demonstration with a real-life Jacob’s Ladder, a Lego building space with thousands of Legos, and hands-on experiences with physics concepts like levers and pulleys and other engineering models. The classroom features skeletons, fossils, taxidermy, and natural specimens. Don’t miss coming face-to-face with a dinosaur skeleton on your way upstairs, either!

When to Visit

The Science Center’s general visiting hours are Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but you can schedule private events or programs by contacting the center.  Admission is free for kids under 5.  Kids 5 and up and adults are just $5.  Science Club members are free, as well.

Extra Special!

If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience for your little one’s big day, the Science Center also hosts awesome birthday parties! Pick your hands-on program from a range of subjects like reptiles & amphibians, astronomy, dinosaurs, and more. The classroom can accommodate up to 20 children and has all the amenities necessary for serving cake and party goodies.

At the Science Center, it’s all science, all year round.  Check out the summer, holiday, and teacher workday camps available, too! The Kids Museum is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon learning through play.

Have you taken your kids to the Spartanburg Science Center yet?

Meet Juliet Wright
Juliet Autenzio Wright has lived in the Upstate for over 20 years. She is a proud alumna of Converse College and a former high school teacher. Now a stay-at-home mom to three little girls, ages five, two, and six months, Juliet loves exploring Spartanburg through the eyes of her children. Her favorite family-friendly activities include local parks and nature walks, library story times, and the many local festivals Spartanburg has to offer. In her spare time, she privately tutors, ghost writes, and reads as many books as possible. Juliet’s family and friends make her world go round!

A New Summer Program Helps Teens Discover Their Future Careers

Posted on | No Comments

Thank you to Aid Joy for sponsoring this content.

Getting your teen ready to leave the nest is a road with many twists and turns. No sooner do you get past orthodontia, learner permits, and Snapchat selfies, then college destinations, SAT scores, and “what am I going to do with my life?” come flying around the corner.

Whether your teenager is ready to spread their wings and fly, or still finding their sense of direction, one thing is true: connecting the dots between what they like to do now and what they can do as a career is a challenge.

The Benjamin Franklin Experience

Benjamin Franklin Experience (BFE) is a summer program that gives teenagers, ages 14-18, an introduction to 10 different career fields in science, technology, arts, engineering, journalism, medicine, music, law, and more. Each day the class is led by a different expert.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The Benjamin Franklin Experience allows teens to experience 10 different career fields.” quote=”The Benjamin Franklin Experience allows teens to experience 10 different career fields.” theme=”style3″]

For example, in one class, students work with an environmental biologist in two local streams—one pristine, and the other near a construction site. Teens will be taught how to analyze and compare the health of each stream by examining macro invertebrates under a microscope. In the next class, teens work with a composer who writes music for the NFL. They’ll spend the day creating a two-minute musical piece, composing it, playing the instruments, recording it, and mastering it.

Discovering Interests, and Creating an Impressive College Application

These meaningful career experiences are intended to help teens envision a path to a fulfilling life, and help them explore and define their interests.

Most colleges recommend experiential learning opportunities for teenage students before they enter college. And, most college applications ask for a list all schools and programs attended since ninth grade. They require a long a description of what was learned during those programs.

BFE instructors guide teens through a focused reflection exercise at the end of each day. These written entries are edited by professional writers, and compiled into a portfolio for students to keep.

These portfolios—in addition to becoming wonderful mementos—become an invaluable resource for college applications.

Reinforcing Positive Messages

BFE also provides a way to combat the pressures and messages teens get from peers, TV, and social media. Too often, kids get a sense of what they should be, or they are drawn by the glamour of what they see on social media.

In addition to meeting expert instructors in each BFE class, students are introduced to visiting-mentors. Visiting-Mentors attend select classes alongside students. They are high-performing professionals from a variety of fields, interested in sharing their career stories with students and participating in class experiences. Students may be paired with visiting-mentors based on interests expressed in their program application, which could include former Olympians, CEO’s, venture capitalists, restaurant owners, architects, and more.

When an impressive person has come to spend the day with you, to introduce you to a new world, and tell you that you too can pursue a career, it can have a very powerful affect.

The classes also provide students a look at the day-to-day realties of a profession. While being a professional musician can appear glamourous, the amount of work and dedication required to make a living is tremendous. While moms and dads can try to explain those realities to teens, the class makes it easy for students to connect the dots, and gain real understanding from the experience.

Summer Schedule and How to Apply

The camp is scheduled for four courses over the summer, and each course is two-weeks in length.

Course 1: Monday, June 5   — Friday, June 16
Course 2: Monday, June 19 — Friday, June 30
Course 3: Monday, July 10  — Friday, July 21
Course 4: Monday, July 24  — Friday, August 4

The cost of tuition is $2,370 per course, which covers all instruction, equipment, transportation to-and-from class headquarters and field trips, lunch, a certificate of learning, and all other necessary costs. Scholarships are available.

There are approximately 100 slots, and the application process is competitive, requiring both a nomination from a teacher, pastor, coach, counselor, or close adult—and an application from students.

The deadline for applications is March 31, 2017.

BFE is looking for kids with grit and enthusiasm—those who are ready to take a bite out of life. Benjamin Franklin had many careers over the course of his life. Teens today are more likely to move in and out of a variety of careers before they retire. BFE is a place to help them get started, find the profession that will bring happiness into their lives, and set them up for future success.

Learn more or apply online at www.FranklinExperience.org.

Have you ever heard of a program like this before?

Mom Review: Mirror Maze in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Posted on | No Comments

Gatlinburg in the winter is a different sort of town than Gatlinburg in the summer.

When we took our recent adventure to the mountain town, we found it sleepy and quiet and that’s exactly the way we liked it.  Traffic was minimal (except for the weekend) and the streets were not overcrowded and the restaurants had no wait time.  Again – that’s exactly what we love – especially when we are always a party of six (at least) and generally tables for six are not as readily available at peak times.

The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was hands down our favorite activity of the week, but we had some great laughs and funny moments at several other stopping points along the Gatlinburg streets.

In exchange for writing honest reviews, the kind folks who run all of the Ripley’s attractions offered us tickets to a few of their other museums and amusements.  I’ll be sharing all three reviews in a three part series over the next week or so. ~Lacey Keigley

Find a place to stay in Gatlinburg, TN. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

The first choice for us, after visiting the aquarium, was to walk down the street to Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze.  The Mirror Maze is right on Gatlinburg’s main street and it’s very easy to walk from anywhere you park in town.  (Lucky for us, we just left our car in the aquarium parking lot, which was convenient.)

The lobby of the mirror maze features two gigantic walls of candy so – you know – parents beware.  Your kids will definitely ask for candy.  You can say no, naturally.  I didn’t want to purchase pounds of sugar and food dye and banana flavored everything, but I also remember what it was like as a kid to be looking at a WALL of dreamy candy so I offered a quick compromise to my band of kids.  “Everyone can pick two pieces of candy,” I told them.  Oddly enough, they were thrilled and quite satisfied.  So they each chose literally two single pieces of candy – and we were all content.  A little sugar versus begging and copious amounts of sugar.  Or, again – you can just say no.  Isn’t it funny, parents?  You really do get the choice.

We were kind of extra excited about the concept of a mirror maze because most of us have been reading the book series of The Mysterious Benedict Society and the kids in the novel series are always facing challenges and puzzles and this mirror maze felt like our own challenge and puzzle.

The employees told us to put on plastic gloves that they provided – gigantic, ill-fitting plastic gloves – so that we would be more hygienic as we touched the mirrors that every other guest has most assuredly been touching as well.  I tried to avert my thoughts from the finger touched mirrors and just tried to think of the fun of conquering a maze with my children.

We decided to all hold hands to add to our experience and because we genuinely thought we might face the possibility of getting lost from one another inside the maze.

That probably wouldn’t have happened.

The mirrors were everywhere – as they should be in a maze – and they certainly played tricks on your mind as to which direction to turn and which door to take and where to go next.

There was an “infinity” room that made me laugh a lot – mostly because of the song blaring – was it Journey? – and the lights flashing and the disco ball. All those quirky details, you know.

Our technique of making it through the maze was rather effective as we found the ending in record time.  But, because we liked the mirrors and we wanted more of a challenge, we decided to pretend we didn’t find the exit and kept trucking through the corners and the twists and the turns all over again just for fun.

Also, we discovered a fundamental truth concerning mirror mazes.  Fundamental, I tell you.  It is this: You should choose your outfit wisely and fix your hair carefully before entering said mirror maze.  Because you are going to be seeing yourself from every angle.  Every. Angle.  And you’re going to want to leave this mirror maze with some self-respect intact.  Every. Angle.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Also, we discovered a fundamental truth concerning mirror mazes. Fundamental, I tell you. ‘” quote=”‘Also, we discovered a fundamental truth concerning mirror mazes. Fundamental, I tell you. ‘” theme=”style3″]

There you go.  I’ve covered the walls of candy and the dress yourself correctly bits.  They were important.

As far as the maze itself goes, it really was lots of fun.  It was speedy, though.  And that’s a little hard to swallow to spend money to be in and out of an attraction in ten minutes or less.  When you buy the Mirror Maze as part of the an add-on ticket, it hurts a little less.

In Review

I’d say the key to all Gatlinburg attractions is the same, keep your expectations in line.  Recognize that this is not Disney.  This is Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  These are mirror mazes and world record museums and 5D moving theaters on a street in a mountain town.  A town that sells footlong corn dogs at place called Fannie Farkle’s for the same price that you can buy two kids’ meals at Chick-fil-A.

Be reasonable, guys.

If you are visiting Gatlinburg for the second (or thirtieth) time, you already know this.

And you’re okay with it.

You’re making these return trips to Pigeon Forge and to Gatlinburg, to the cabins and to the go cart rides, to the outlets and to the pancake houses, because it’s nostalgic, because you first came to Gatlinburg as a kid with your Memaw and your Pepaw, because you brought your toddlers here and you remember how big their eyes grew when they first ordered their silver dollar pancakes at the Pancake Pantry and rode their first roller coaster at Dollywood and you like the idea of returning to the same quirky streets that seem like they never change, old time photo shops on every corner and a gem store and wooden guns and beanie babies.  That’s why you come to Gatlinburg.

So you stroll through the mirror maze and you let the kids buy a couple of pieces of candy and you stop in for the free fudge samples (always take the free fudge, people) and you admire the hand crafted wooden knives and you buy the funnel cake and you stack up those memories and that nostalgia for all its worth.

Expectations, friends.  Most adventures fare better when you can manage your expectations.

Book your tickets here (purchasing via this link allows a small amount of the proceeds to go to Kidding Around Greenville).

Are you traveling to Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge? See our other travel reviews:

Meet Lacey
Lacey KeigleyLacey Keigley is the mother of six children – five of whom she homeschools. She thinks old wooden crates make the best bookshelves. She hangs worn out barn tin on her walls and calls it art. She believes raising her six children is the scariest and the wildest journey she has ever taken. She likes the magic of sunlight through the old bottles on her kitchen shelf. She blogs about education and parenting and grace and unexpected adventures on her blog SoEveryDay. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest.

What You as a Parent Need to Know About STEAM

Posted on | 2 Comments

Thank you to our sponsor Primrose School of Simpsonville at Five Forks for providing this article.

Lately, everyone seems to be talking about STEAM. This acronym—which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics—has become a hot topic in the world of education and in the business community. The practice of teaching by incorporating these concepts into multidisciplinary lessons is revolutionizing education approaches across the country, even for children in preschool. While young children may not be able to understand multiplication or how computers work, they can develop a strong foundation for future learning by exploring STEAM skills and concepts through play and discussion, and then applying those skills through more play.

What is STEAM?

Science encourages investigation and answering questions, often involving experimentation.

Technology refers to using simple tools like crayons and rulers, as well as more complex ones like microscopes and computers.

Engineering refers to recognizing problems and testing solutions to them.

Arts encourages creativity and allows children to illustrate concepts they are learning.

Mathematics deals with numbers, but also patterns, shapes, organizational skills and much more.

STEAM for young children

There are many reasons why STEAM subjects should be addressed in early learning settings. A key component of STEAM is process skills, such as making observations, hypothesizing and critical thinking. These skills help young children grasp math and science concepts early in life while building a base for more complex concepts for years to come.

Research has shown that even very young children are capable of mathematical reasoning and can understand more advanced math skills than previously thought. Young children are also able to ask questions and make predictions about the world around them. In short, children are fully capable of learning foundational STEAM concepts, and parents and teachers should help children develop these skills at an early age.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Even young children can understand more advanced math skills than previously thought. ” quote=”Even young children can understand more advanced math skills than previously thought. ” theme=”style3″]

STEAM learning can also take place outside of the classroom. For example, parents can encourage children to channel their inner engineer through a boat race activity. Have children use a variety of recyclables—cork, foil, tape, craft sticks, straw, an old swim noodle and paper for a sail—to build a boat that can sail across the bathtub, a pan of water or a puddle. After creating the boat, have children blow “wind” toward the boat to see how fast their creation travels. Parents and children can host races between multiple boats and discuss which boat is faster and why.

Young children grasp concepts through exploration and trial and error, so they should learn STEAM concepts at their own pace and in ways that are natural to them. To ensure that children are learning at their own pace, Primrose offers a balance of play with guidance from teachers and repeats STEAM lessons so children can master skills as they are ready.

To learn about Primrose School of Simpsonville at Five Forks, visit their website or call 864-757-1191. For more helpful parenting tips and information, visit our blog and sign up for the Pointers for Parents newsletter.

Would your children benefit from STEAM in their preschool education?

Meet Meggie Bradbury
Meggie is the proud Franchise Owner of Primrose School of Simpsonville at Five Forks. She has deep roots in early education, as her parents founded Primrose Schools more than 30 years ago to give her the quality early education experience they felt she deserved. Today, she and her husband are thrilled to continue to bring the Primrose Schools’ Balanced Learning® approach to our community, providing families the peace of mind that comes from our research-based blend of teacher-guided and child-initiated activities with an emphasis on character development. It is such a comfort to know their 3 year old daughter and soon-to-be son now have the opportunity to receive the same high-quality early education and care as she did. As Primrose parents themselves, they’re committed to creating a family atmosphere through a true partnership with parents and staff. Their goal is to foster an environment where children from 6 weeks to 6 years old can grow their Active Minds, Healthy Bodies and Happy Hearts®. Meggie is a Certified Holistic Health Coach (CHHC) and a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach (CTC), which makes them a family committed to wellness. They incorporate balanced meals and snacks into our school and instilling healthy habits that will hopefully stay with our students for life. Meggie and her husband are delighted to bring Primrose Schools to Simpsonville at Five Forks and they look forward to welcoming even more of its youngest citizens to our special Primrose family!

10 Things You Need to Know About Music Lessons

Posted on | 2 Comments

Thank you to Theresa Case from our sponsor Piano Central Studios for contributing this article.

Thankfully we live in a community that is very aware and supportive of the arts and all of the benefits that come with early and sustained exposure to the arts.  Parents will enroll their very young children in Kindermusik®, for example, because they want their children to develop a love for and interest in music in the hopes that they will continue on with music lessons.  But in case the thought of becoming a music lesson parent feels a little daunting to you, or even if you’re perfectly confident about having your child taking music lessons, here are some things you didn’t know you needed to know about music lessons.

Things You Need to Know About Music Lessons

Even “non-musical” parents can have significant influence in helping their children succeed at music lessons.

Whether you have a musical background or not, what your child needs most from you is your support, your interest, and your encouragement.  Making sure your child practices, gets to lessons regularly and on time, and knows that you love hearing him play or sing makes all the difference in how far – and how long – your child will keep up with playing the piano or learning to sing.

Music lessons require work and dedication, but there’s big payoff.

Though the effort is a bit different, music lessons are as much a labor of love and dedication for the parents as they are for the student.  But the payoff comes when you see the joy in their eyes, the self-confidence that is blossoming, the creativity that begins to inspire every area of their thinking – all because of a developing skill that they can literally enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Your child’s music lesson teacher will eagerly welcome your involvement.

In fact, your child is guaranteed to succeed more quickly, more easily, and more enjoyably if you as the parent take an active role in maintaining an open line of communication with your child’s music teacher and insisting on practice at home throughout the week.  You know your child best, and your child’s music lesson teacher loves nothing more than being able to work closely with you.

Just because your child tells you they want to quit doesn’t mean it’s true.

Many times “I want to quit” is because the student is on the edge of breaking through to a new level of musical skill and development, something that always spurs a student on to even greater enjoyment and progress.

If you feel like your child isn’t making much progress, look first at his or her practice habits and routine….

After you look at practice habits and routine, then take some time to talk to his/her teacher.  There’s one main thing that results in progress – consistent quality practice.  “Quality” being defined as practicing what the teacher asks and how the teacher asks.  Chances are that you and the teacher will be able to identify the stumbling block and find a way through it so that your child gets right back on the path to progress.

Your music teacher loves for you to read the notes – and not just the ones on the music you’re learning.

Though the method may vary, every good teacher will have some kind of written assignments plus helpful tips for the week of practice that’s ahead.  It’s extremely beneficial to keep the Assignment Notebook open to the page for the week so that you and your child can easily refer to it every practice session.

Taking music lessons in the summer will save you at least two months’ worth of tuition in the Fall.

The intentions are always good, but it’s hard to keep up with practicing and maintaining the skill that’s been gained without the consistency and accountability of summer lessons.  It can take 2 – 3 months to regain the momentum, skill, and understanding that will be lost over the summer.

If your child thinks that he doesn’t have the option to quit, he might surprise you with just how long he’ll stick with taking lessons.

You might be thinking that you’re not sure how this “lesson thing” is going to work out, but don’t let on to your child that there’s an option to quit anytime soon – if ever at all.  It does something positive to a child’s psyche if he understands that music lessons are an expected part of the routine and something that you are committed to as well.  So buy the quality instrument, and then invest the time, money, and care into your child’s musical success right from the very beginning.

It takes three people plus a great program to equal music lesson success – the teacher, the parent, and the student.

You’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child, but when it comes to music lessons, it takes a triangle.  It’s the solidity of the teacher-parent-student triangle that can unfold and ignite the musical potential that is in every child.

It’s not just about an activity for now; it’s about an advantage for life.

It’s been said that a love of music is one of the first things to develop and one of the last things to go.  Making music not only is a skill that you can enjoy as much at age 80 as you did at age 8; it is also a skill that will increase cognition, improve memory, and continue to give so much joy even as you get older.

Motivation will take your child much farther than talent can.

That’s why it’s so important to find a program and a teacher who works hard to keep your student self-motivated.  There is no limit to what a child can accomplish if her or she loves their music lessons.

So maybe this isn’t exactly “everything” you didn’t know you needed to know about music lessons, but hopefully it’s a good start – enough at least to give insight into finding the right program in which to enroll your child for music lessons and to give encouragement that giving your child music lessons is unwrapping a gift they will enjoy for now… and for life.

Learn more about music lessons through Piano Central Studios.

Would your child love to take music lessons?

Meet Theresa Case, Director of Piano Central Studios
IMG_0435_200pxA love for music and true enjoyment in teaching and watching others enjoy music is what motivates Theresa Case, Director of Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC. Theresa started playing the piano at age 4 1/2 and went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Music Education. She has spent most of her life building on the “heart connection” she’s always had with music.
As the director of Piano Central Studios since 1995, Theresa has grown the program from a small school with a handful of students to the largest community music school in the Upstate. Currently, Theresa is responsible for overseeing the entire program at PCS, managing a staff of over 30 teachers and coordinating Kindermusik classes, music lessons, and art classes at multiple studio and school locations. Along with her wonderful team of teachers, Theresa loves helping to make a difference in the lives of so many families and students who are such a special part of PCS.
By far, Theresa’s best life work includes serving in her church and being a wife and a mother. She enjoys cooking, reading, shopping, and spending time with her husband and three boys.



Pokemon Go-ing Around Greenville SC

Posted on | 1 Comment

Want to teach your kids basic navigation and map reading skills? What about a love of daily strolls around the neighborhood or even just get them excited about any errand? Maybe you just need one more way to get them to go play in the yard? Well then you’ll probably want to download the new, highly popular (and FREE) game app Pokemon GO, if you haven’t already. Based on the old card and video games many of us had growing up, you can “catch” Pikachu, Squirtle, Bulbasaur and all your old after school cartoon favorites. You can meet up with other players to battle at a “gym” as well. You can even join a local Facebook group for pointers.

Pittman Park Feature

How does Pokemon Go work?

The premise is fairly basic. You walk around with the app on and Pokemon (pocket monster for those not in the know) randomly pop up on screen. You can then throw pokeballs at them to capture them by dragging the ball towards them on your touch screen. This is where the crazy pictures you’ve seen online are coming from (but my phone’s AR mode never seems to work sadly). You can power up or evolve the various Pokemon into stronger forms; “transferring” excess pokemon will give you more “candies” to develop the ones you keep.

Once you’ve reached level five, you can battle at gyms after joining either Team Mystic, Instinct or Valor. My five year old chose without even telling us, so yay Team Valor! Luckily the game isn’t cut-throat competitive so you can still progress and enjoy it even if say, your two year old, uses all the stardust you’ve been saving. You can buy extra supplies with coins earned from gyms or purchased with real money and get lures, incense, et cetera to attract more Pokemon or otherwise improve your game. You can also hatch eggs with incubators but this can require walking up to 10K! If you’ve ever wanted to explore the Swamp Rabbit Trail, this would be good motivation!

Even if you can’t yet or don’t want to go to Poke-gyms, you can find various “poke-stops” all around town, most of which are Google points of interest. They both appear as blue pillars on the screens. When you are near one (even if just in your car) you can spin them to give you supplies like extra pokeballs and eggs. Pokestops can be various landmarks like say Haywood Mall or even just someone’s random “dog with basket” statue in their driveway. Many Chick-Fil-A’s have one so we find ourselves often turning into their parking lot. However never play while driving and always be alert. You can pull over or back track if needed to a Pokestop. They’re not going to disappear. My kids can play while I drive but under strict instructions not to distract me in traffic.

Safety first

If you’re walking when playing be sure to stay alert, stop in a safe spot to check your phone and look both ways before crossing streets. Seek out sidewalks or walking trails as to be more pedestrian friendly. There are some great spots to play like Pittman Park (two pokestops) or Mauldin Cultural Center (many pokestops and two gyms). Pokeman makes life into a big scavenger hunt so have fun and be safe!

Is your family playing Pokemon Go yet?

Meet Lindy
Lindy WilsonLindy Wilson is a transplant to Greenville. She loves discovering her new home with her family and tends to be a bit crunchy. She enjoys cooking but not nearly as much as eating. She also likes shopping for a good deal.