Scholastic Summer Reading Program #SummerReading

This year’s Summer Reading theme is Reading Under the Stars, and is powered by EVEREADY®, the maker of batteries and flashlights, to encourage families to discover new and fun ways to explore reading outside this summer.

The day arrived, we were ready to host our Reading Under the Stars event in support and promotion of Scholastic Summer Reading Program and Summer Reading Challenge to get kids reading and ready for school! The parent packet was ready, the children packet was ready and we waited for our guests to arrive.

Scholastic Summer Reading Under the Stars #SummerReading

My children have been trying to keep up their reading this Summer and there is an app that you can use to track how many minutes your child is reading, just like I have been using. It’s called the Reading Timer App and can be downloaded on the Scholastic Summer reading website. Each of the children who attended our Reading Under the Stars Event also went home with a flashlight, provided by EVEREADY®.

http://scholastic.com/summer

Whether you are for or against the common core standards, they are indeed there and they are encouraging schools nationwide to kick up their reading and learning requirements -

  • It has been shown that Summer Slide accounts for 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their middle to upper income peers.
  • Summer reading lag can accumulate up to be an approximate two-year lag in reading by the time the child reaches middle school.
  • Children in third grade who cannot read at grade level are less likely to graduate high school by age 18 when compared to proficient readers.

Scholastic Summer Reading Under the Stars #SummerReading

It is vitally important to get children to read ahead, encouraging a love in reading is how I raised my trio here. I have read to all three children since the day they were born and now, at ages 11, 7 and 5 they are lovers of books {for the most part}. My son’s have to have a book that really intrigues them while my daughter could read any encyclopedia sized novel in just a couple of days if it were about astrology or Greek Mythology! The best way to ensure that your child doesn’t fall into that Summer Slide in the reading and learning department is to partake in reading programs all Summer long, that is why Scholastic came up with this Summer Reading Challenge – so more families could have a chance to get their kids reading while having a goal set in place in a fun, fabulous way!

Scholastic Summer Reading Under the Stars #SummerReading

My family decided to do our part this Summer and get some kids together for a Reading Under the Stars event, and sadly we planned it a wee bit too early to catch the stars in the sky, but everyone was at my home until about 10pm at night enjoy a wide range of fun. We started off by letting the boys get in a bit of electronic time, because my middle child has autism and is in that “routine” of when a friend comes over they do get to play on the PS3 for a bit, so we allowed that while the adults and older kids gabbed for bit.

Scholastic Summer Reading Under the Stars #SummerReading

After that, we got all the kiddos outside and these photos were captured of the group while they waited for the fire to start; we had a camp fire to roast hotdogs over and make smores over! When we party, we party! This time it was Scholastic Book style partying though! After everyone had their smores. We played a bit more …

Scholastic Summer Reading Under the Stars #SummerReading

Then the kids sat down around the older two girls and the girls read a story to them. Sure, the boys were not having this “story reading time” idea, they are like “no way are we sitting to read a book!” I get it, friends are over, you want to run, you want to play. So us Moms made the deal – you sit and read this book, or at least listen to Ki and Chey read it, then you can go play tag, eat blueberries from the blueberry bushes and whatever, but we are having story time even if we don’t have stars to read under right now. The boys sat.

Scholastic Summer Reading Under the Stars #SummerReading

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free, online/mobile reading program that helps prepare kids for back-to-school by encouraging them to read every day all summer long. So head over to check out the Scholastic Summer Reading Website in full details, there are things for kids, things for parents and even an area for teachers!

The parents of the children who attended my event went home with packets full of information about the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge and I can only hope that they take part in this fabulous program!

Like Scholastic Parents on Facebook Follow Scholastic on Twitter and Instagram Follow the Summer Reading Challenge Pinterest Board Like the Summer Reading Challenge YouTube Playlist

So, tell me, how do YOU get your kids to continue reading during the Summer months?

I wrote more details about this program prior, so CLICK HERE to read my previous post regarding Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

Family Day Trip to Water Country in Portsmouth, NH #summerbreak #WCFamilyFun #NH

Disclosure: I was provided complimentary tickets and parking to visit Water Country in Portsmouth, NH with my family.

Day out with Kids at Water Country #WCFamilyFun with Promo Code

Last Monday I packed up the Town & Country to head off for a two hour drive to Portsmouth, NH where the family would enjoy a day out at Water Country. I had a total of four children and two adults in the vehicle and we were ready to head off. The biggest thing that saved our long trip? The Nabi Tablet and Squiggle Pads. The two tweens had their cell phones to entertain them as well.

Upon arrival, we checked in and grabbed our complimentary tickets for admission as well as our cabana. We were all really shocked and excited when we saw that our cabana was a luxury one, versus the lower end cabana options. While all of the cabana’s looked great and gave some privacy, the one we had looked over the wave pool and lent us just enough privacy that we didn’t end up using a locker for our stuff.

Water Country Cabana Rates:

  • Diamond Hill Builders Party Deck — Fits up to 20 adults and is furnished with 3 large tables with 4 chairs each under a shade canopy and 6 lounge chairs. Price ranges $249-$299.
  • Pool Side King Cabanas & Captain’s King Cabana — 8 people with a table, 4 chairs and 4 lounge chairs. Price ranges $150/140.
  • Poolside Jolly Roger — 6 people with a small table, 4 chairs and 2 lounge chairs. Price ranges $129/$119.
  • There are many other cabana options available that will lend you a shady place to rest and group back up with those who come with. Visit WaterCountry.com and click on Cabana’s, under Plan a Visit option.

Tips on choosing the best cabana for your visit; be sure that the location of your cabana suits your visit needs. For example, had I been strictly visiting with just my two younger boys, I would have been best suited to have a cabana located near the Pirates Lagoon as that was my sons’ favorite spot at Water Country.

 Day out with Kids at Water Country #WCFamilyFun with Promo Code

Once we were all settled into our cabana, we wanted to take a walk around the whole Water Country site; this was our way to figure out what there were for rides and where various places were located so that when we split up to be boys with boys and girls with girls, we all knew where each other were located. There were so many rides to choose from, I was very impressed with my daughter for trying this Double Dive Boggan water slide. Basically it’s really high up, you have to carry your mat up to the top, lay down face first and lunge down this water slide. My sons absolutely loved it, even if I had a bit of a heart attack watching my sons be that high up! My daughter, who has a really big fear of heights loved this ride, but only for one time. It was simply a little too much for her preference, the sons’ and their Dad went down it a bunch!

Once we started going on various rides, we got to know how nice most of the lifeguards are here. You see, when you visit a place like Water Country, there tends to be a lot of young adults being the lifeguards and these days you never know what personality they will have. Thankfully we were blessed to have some pretty kind and compassionate lifeguards to tend to us, if we had any needs. My middle child is high functioning autistic, so that brought on some challenges, but the life guard at the shack to the Wave Pool showed his true colors in customer service. I was overall very pleased with all but one lifeguard who was a bit overwhelmed it seemed, in how the coverage was for those watching people on rides and how kind each of them were.

Day out with Kids at Water Country #WCFamilyFun with Promo Code

I must admit, once we all found Thunder Falls, that is where the family spent all of their time. We must have spent an hour at this one ride. I loved that I could stand at the bottom and take pictures. The four children went on by themselves; ages 12, 11, 7 and 5. I allowed them to go up the stairs alone and onto the raft; which is a huge deal because I rarely let my sons out of my sight. I felt very safe here at Water Country, at all times!

One piece of advice for planning your visit to Water Country is to think about what works best for your family, when I was choosing a date to go, I chose a Monday because I was hoping the place wouldn’t be as packed. My  middle child doesn’t do well waiting in long lines but honestly, even towards end of day about 5pm when the place started to get packed, the lines were moving really quickly. The staff on hand at all rides were really good at keeping the lines down so that everyone could enjoy riding over and over again!

Day out with Kids at Water Country #WCFamilyFun with Promo Code

We ended our day with a few pictures to capture those who were here this day; on the left is my ex husband and our two son’s, on the right is my daughter and youngest with my daughter’s best friend and in the middle is my son, Aj eating up some fried dough for the first time! On our way out, I treated the children to two fried doughs. They split the dough in half so boys shared with boys and girls shared with girls. The fried dough was about $6 and it was HUGE, certainly enough to share among at least 2 people!

Our overall experience was fantastic! The kids are asking when can we go again this Summer, and I certainly think I will be adding Water Country to our day visits next Summer because it really was a great experience from start to finish, even for my autistic son, which makes me smile big!

If you are planning a trip to Water Country in Portsmouth, NH anytime soon, I have a promo code for you:

Use code Blog30 to save $3.00 off the $38.99 admission price this Summer 2014 season at Water Country.  Click here to visit Water Country’s website to purchase your tickets today!

 

 Have you been to Water Country before, or a water park in your area? What was your favorite part of the water park?

 

 

Day Out with Thomas at Conway Scenic Railroad in New Hampshire @thomasparent

Disclosure: My family received complimentary tickets to attend this event.

Day out with Thomas North Conway NH

The family and I headed out to North Conway, NH on Sunday to enjoy a Day out with Thomas. We went to this event at the Conway Scenic Railroad about four or five years ago when my youngest was just a little baby. While the kids were not super excited about slightly over two hours of riding to the event, we did have a blast once we arrived!

The arrival was a little rough, because I was not good at planning the right time for the trip. I tend to drive slower on the Interstate than most do, so it took me longer than the estimated time to get there than Mapquest had told me. When we arrived, it was about twenty minutes before Thomas the Train was to depart the station, so we had to basically grab our complimentary tickets at Will Call and then grab a drink and hop on the train. Aj was looking forward to the bouncy houses, and remember he has autism so once his mind is focused on something, there is no talking him out of it OR if he thinks something is going to happen in a certain order, and it doesn’t, there is bound to be a meltdown. I averted the meltdown of him expecting to go on the bounce houses before our train ride by buying him a fountain drink! Phew .. that was a close one!

There is So much to do at Day Out with Thomas: The Thrill of the Ride Tour

When you arrive at the Day out with Thomas event, you enter into a place of wonderful fun. The options are endless for you to enjoy this day trip with the family;

  • Ride a 25 minute train ride on Thomas the Train: Music will play in the background as you ride the rails for 25 minutes on a train that has been dressed up as Thomas. Thomas the Train’s eyes move, mouth moves and he speaks to his guests! It’s a wonderful experience.
  • Imagination Station: Enjoy a tent full of fun for the kids from face painting to train toys and hand print art as well as a surprise guest, a tortoise! There is so much to do inside of this tent, my youngest enjoyed getting a mustache painted on his face.
  • MotorCar Rides, Bouncy Houses and Engine Tour: Unlimited motorcar rides and it’s the original 1800′s motorcars that they used to use to ensure the train tracks were set for the trains to go on. Two bouncy houses are available for two age groups (one for under age 4 and one for above age 4). Engine tours are unlimited with a train sitting there for you to go up and take a peek at a real train engine.
  • Meet Sir Topham Hat and More: There is a gift shop, there is story telling, videos and you can even meet Sir Topham Hat himself!

Day out with Thomas Thrill of the Ride Tour

The kids and I did almost all of the options at the Day Out with Thomas Thrill of the Ride Tour that is going on now at Conway Scenic Railroad. I believe we did almost everything, except meet Sir Topham Hat. The boys favorite spots were the face painting, bouncy houses, petting the tortoise and getting cotton candy at the stand before we left.

My daughter and I took a ride on a motorcar, something we didn’t experience the last time we visited this event and it was so much fun! I learned that the Engine house is still in working order and is from the 1800′s, also the motorcars are from the 1800′s and so much from that era is still in working order at the Conway Scenic Railroad. I also learned that during foliage season, the company who owns the motorcars do foliage tours at the Conway Scenic Railroad on the trails! I surely will go back for that in the foliage season here in NH!

If you missed the first weekend of Thomas the Train Thrill of the Ride Tour, It’s not Too late!

Conway Scenic Railroad will have Thomas the Train Thrill of the Ride Tour there one more weekend, July 18, 19, and 20, 2014. The event takes place from 9am until 3pm. You can order your own tickets here at TicketWeb or directly from the Conway Scenic Railroad website.

Click here to look at my Instagram feed for images and videos taken during our trip. 

I also want to note, as I am a parent of a boy recently diagnosed with autism, that there will be a new ride this year on July 20, 2014 Autism Friendly Train. So be sure to click here to check out all details of Day out with Thomas Thrill of the Ride Tour happening at Conway Scenic Railroad.

If you are not in NH and want to see when Day out with Thomas Thrill of the Ride Tour 2014 will be in your area, check out the Day out with Thomas website for more information and tour listings. Like Thomas and Friends on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news and events!

7 Ways to Save on Fireworks

Fireworks are fun, festive, and a great way to ring in the 4th of July. But have you ever felt like you are just watching your money go up in smoke? If so, take a look below at 5 ways to save money on fireworks. You can still enjoy a colorful selection of fireworks while keeping a little cash in your pocket. Take a look!

5 Ways to Save on Fireworks

7 Ways to Save on Fireworks

1. Be patient.
You may be tempted to purchase fireworks as soon as you see the tent go up in your town. But try to be patient as prices are sure to go down the closer the holiday gets. Many fireworks retailers offer discounts if you wait to buy until the 4th. Don’t hesitate to ask the retailer if they will be offering any specials or sales either. Chances are they will be and will be happy to tell you.

2. Check out your dollar store.
Stores like Dollar Tree sell fireworks such as sparklers, snakes, poppers, smoke bombs, and mini fountains. If your children enjoy these items, buy them here instead of the big box retailers or fireworks tents. For a few dollars you can get a fun selection that the kids are sure to enjoy. If you don’t have dollar stores that sell fireworks, try to buy in bulk to get more bang for your buck.

3. Check out free shows.
Enjoy the small items such as poppers and sparklers at home, then head out to the free fireworks shows available in your town. You can watch these shows at local parks and stadiums, typically at no cost. Ask around to find out when these free displays will be in your area, and take advantage of them.

4. Find coupons.
Many fireworks retailers do offer coupons online for their products. Typically you could not find coupons for fireworks, but more and more are jumping on the coupon bandwagon. Coupons may not be valid in all states, so read the fine print. To find coupons that you can use, Google the names of fireworks retailers in your area and add “printable coupons” to the search.

5. Inspect what you buy carefully.
Nothing is worse than spending money on a firework and finding out it is a dud. Inspect everything you buy carefully. Make sure it is not opened and has a decent sized wick. It should not be damaged or show water damage in any way. Ask the retailer if there is a guarantee on fireworks that don’t work. Smart buying can certainly help you get more gang for your buck.

6. Organize a neighborhood fireworks event.
Have each neighbor chip in $20 and purchase some fireworks in bulk. Gather in a designated (and safe) area at the agreed upon time and celebrate! If you get 5 households to participate, you can easily see $100 worth of fireworks for just $20!

7. Visit your local dollar store.
You may not think of your dollar store as being a place to get fireworks, but it is. Dollar Tree stores sell sparklers, small fountains, poppers, colorful snakes, smoke bombs, and other small firework products. For just a buck you can really stretch your budget and get the items that children really enjoy.

When you give these tips a try, you are sure to save some cash on this year’s fireworks display. Happy 4th of July!

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge & Reading Under the Stars #SummerReading

I am celebrating the summer by kicking off the Summer Reading Program through Scholastic’s website! I will be hosting a kid event right here, at my home for kids ages pre-k up to age 12 to come and take part in a Reading Under the Stars Event. We will be lighting up the fire pit for smores, marshmallows and hotdog roasting. We will have a blanket out on the back deck, maybe even get the telescopes out to experience a night time reading event with lots of learning, laughter and fun!

Let's Get Reading #SummerReading

I quickly signed my kids up at the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge website to log their hours of reading this Summer. In 2013 this program hit the world record with 176,438,476 minutes read! I invite you to get your kids signed up so that we can beat that record and keep the love of reading going while school is out of session.

It’s really easy to create an account; first you will have your own parent account then create accounts for each child. There’s even an app for the Summer Reading Challenge to keep track of minutes read. The minutes can be logged to count towards this challenge from May 5, 2014 to September 5, 2014.

Kids Can:

  • Read & log minutes all summer
  • Take weekly challenges & earn rewards
  • Help set a new reading world record!

Parents Can:

  • Help your child read more this summer
  • Find free book lists, activities, & tips
  • Stay connected with the Reading Timer App

SummerReading-1

Now in its 8th year,the Summer Reading Challenge program is dedicated to stopping the “Summer Slide” and getting kids to read throughout the summer months when school is out.

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge theme is “Reading Under the Stars” (powered by EVEREADY®). Throughout the summer, kids will read around the galaxy and unlock star constellations as they log reading minutes.

Like Scholastic Parents on Facebook

Follow Scholastic on Twitter and Instagram

Follow the Summer Reading Challenge Pinterest Board

Like the Summer Reading Challenge YouTube Playlist

I invite you to take part in this Summer reading challenge by reading under the stars with your kids; you can learn about constellations, you can make it a fun family night out, you can set a campfire and just read fun stories under stars; however you celebrate is up to you but please join my family in our push to get the minutes read in 2013 beat!

Keep an eye out on Twitter for #MondayMinutes by @Scholastic who will share the updated minutes total with everyone. Fridays you can check the Scholastic Facebook Calendar for freebies. Every Friday you can also check the Pinterest Board for new Summer book collages. Tune in to Facebook on June 21 for the Summer Solstice Facebook Chat for Parents.

The quickest and easiest way for you to keep track of minutes your children read are by using the Reading Timer app, which is available for both Apple and Android smartphones.  Click here to sign your family up for the Summer Reading Challenge today.

Keep your eyes out, I will be sharing you a post later in July about how event and how spectacular it was to read under the stars!

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