10 Tips to Plan a Zoo Trip {free printables}

1. Try to get the best price
Philadelphia Zoo Web Page
 Our trip was to the Philadelphia Zoo.  Before our trip I searched online for the best deal.   I found that the zoo was offering free admission to teachers over the summer.  I also found a coupon code that took $14 off of my total purchase if I bought my tickets online in advance of our visit.

2. Pack your own lunches and beverages
There was a peacock walking around the picnic area.  Ella was entertained and Sydney (on the left) was cautious. 

The food at the zoo can be very expensive and that can add up quickly.  We packed sandwiches, snacks and water bottles and had lunch in the picnic area at the zoo.  I used some of my Thirty- One insulated totes and they kept everything cool for the entire day.

3. Try a zoo scavenger hunt

 One way to keep the kids focused on the animals is through a zoo scavenger hunt.  My almost four year old, Lucas, took his scavenger hunt seriously. Bring a clipboard with you so it is easier to write on the sheet.  Lucas brought his clipboard all over the zoo.

4. Follow zoo rules and be polite

Even though the zoo may be "stroller friendly,"  some exhibits in the zoo may have a "no stroller" policy.    We saw this policy at the Tiger exhibit.  It is a very popular exhibit and the pathways were rather narrow.  In order to accommodate all of the visitors they prohibited strollers.    Follow the rules while you are there.  Try not to annoy other people!

 Try and be polite to the other families at the zoo.  Some of the exhibits will be very crowded especially if the animals are awake and moving about.   In this picture of the polar bear exhibit, this rude family stood in front of the exhibit for a VERY long time.  The stroller in front of the lady is empty.  She would not slide over in the least to let my little almost 4 year old through to see the polar bear.   Try to be polite while you are at the zoo so that all of the kids at the zoo can see the animals.

5. Accept that you may never get the "perfect" photo

 Between a kid being grumpy and a wandering 2 year old, we were not going to get the perfect group shot.   We tried many, many times and we were not successful in getting all 5 kids to pose for the "perfect shot."  My poor 9 year old, Sydney, stayed ready and smiling in each shot but the other four were not having it. 

6. Don't forget to include yourself in some of the shots.
Sydney took this awesome picture of me with the tigers.
 If you don't, it won't even look like you were there.  If you at the photos of some your family vacations, you are probably missing someone- the photographer.  The person who is usually responsible for taking the pictures, usually doesn't end up in too many of the pictures.  Make a point of getting into some of the shots.

7. Let the kids take pictures too
Sydney had so much fun taking pictures of the tigers.  We had the perfect view of them and she took advantage.   She really enjoyed being the photographer and to be honest... she took better pictures than I did. 

8. You don't have to go on all of the "rides" to have fun.  
 There were many "rides" at the zoo that have a charge in addition to the ticket price. They had camel rides, swan boats, pony rides and a carousel.  We told the kids in advance that we would be going on the carousel (an extra $3 each kid.)  We warned them that we would not be going on the other rides (an extra $6 each kid for each ride.)  We explained to them that the lines would be long for those and that it would be very expensive.  Since the kids knew in advance that they would not be doing that, it was much easier to say "no" at the  zoo.

9.  Do some research in advance
These were the only elephants to be seen at the Philadelphia Zoo

Do some research in advance to see if all the animals that you think will be at the zoo will actually be there.  You don't want to talk up the elephants for the week before your trip and get there and realize that there are no elephants.   It would be disappointing for both you and the kids.

10. Don't just let the fun end when you leave the zoo
Over 70+ FREE Printables

Have older kids write and reflect when they get back from the zoo.

Don't lose the momentum when you get back from the zoo!  Keep the enthusiasm going by continuing the fun with some of the free printables above. 

Need more ideas? 
 Check out my Zoo Pinterest Board!

Graduation Season

It's Graduation Season again here in New Jersey.    This was my first year teaching middle school (I spent the first 14 years in elementary)  so it was the first time I attended a graduation of students that I taught that same year.    There were some very proud moments as I watched my "kids" graduate and move up to our high school.

Two of my students (twins) that graduated 8th grade.

I teach at the small Christian school that I graduated from "a few" years ago so it was very nostalgic to sit in that very same gym and watch my students graduate.  It was a different perspective to watch the ceremony from the audience as a teacher rather than on the stage as a student.

I was a senior and my brother was an 8th grader back in 1993.  Our graduations were held on the same night in the same gym.  

The graduation got me thinking about my own three children and the fact that my oldest daughter, Sydney, is just 4 years away from her 8th grade graduation.  How is that possible?   
  Now that graduation season is over- summer has arrived!!!!


Happy 40th Birthday!

 Today was my husband's 40th birthday!  We kept things low key for a couple of reasons:  

 2. Money has been tight since we both lost our jobs last month.   

I still wanted to make sure that the kids were able to wish daddy a happy birthday so instead of just making a traditional sized card, I pulled out my teacher pad of chart paper and let the little ones got to town! 

I  wrote some of the words but my three year old was able to write a lot of it by tracing dots that I drew as a guide.   The lovely drawings are courtesy of two year old, Ella.  Since our front door is magnetic, we hung the "card" on the door. 

It was Sydney's idea to get an ice cream cake so that we could sing Happy Birthday.  She even spent much of our travel time in the van today teaching Ella to sing the words to "Happy Birthday."  It really was very cute to hear.  I am not saying that they sounded melodious but it was adorable.

 I am sure that the kids had more fun than daddy did but I know that it was enough for him to have his family around him on his birthday.

Happy 40th Birthday Aaron!  We love you!

(Just remember I am still 39!)

Time to Straighten the Playroom!

Today was one of those rare times that I had the house to myself!  I was supposed to go the oncologist for a checkup at 3:30 so Aaron brought the two youngest kids to his mom's house for her to watch them while he worked.  My oldest daughter was at school.  Right before I left my house to head to the hospital for the appointment, the nurse called to reschedule for another day.    Since Aaron was already gone with the kids, I had the house to myself! 

I decided to make the most of my time.  I looked around the house and saw that the playroom was a disaster!  (Yes, those "before" pictures are real.  The kids have really been slobs lately!)    Since the kids weren't there to distract me, it was a great time to straighten up in there and throw out broken toys and donate unused toys to the church nursery.  It is so much easier to do that when the kids aren't there making the decisions about whether they can separate from every single toy.   I was so excited to finally throw out all of those old McDonald's Happy Meal toys! 

You can read my original post about how we turned our dining room into a playroom here.

Some of you may be looking at the "after" pictures and thinking, "that is still a lot of clutter."  Well, it is.  I have to cut it down in shifts.  If I take away too many toys at once, they will notice.  The changes I made today are subtle enough that they will enjoy the neatness of it without noticing that things are missing. 

I didn't touch the large closets against the wall because Sydney and I just recently organized those together.   You can read my post about organizing those beasts here.

Some tips for you if you decide to take on your playroom:

 1.  Make sure the kids are not home.  They will try and distract you from your mission.
2. Devote at least an hour to the project.  Turn on the TV or radio to make the best of the time. 
3. Bring a garbage bag or three.
4. Have a vacuum with extensions handy, you will need them. There will be food in every possible crevice.
5.  Use Sterlite boxes or totes to keep things contained.  I especially love Thirty-One products. 


The Best Collection of Handprint Crafts

 If you follow my blog then you know that I love roundups.  This roundup was fun to gather- handprint crafts!  

Friendship Handprint art from Fun Handprint Art- If you check out one link, it must be this one!  This blogger compiles tons of handprint art!

Animal Handprint Art for every letter of the alphabet from Craftulate

Paper Strip Handprint Art by Mama Papa Bubba

 Rocket Handprint Art by That's Adorable

Roundup of Hand & Foot Print Art by C.R.A.F.T.

Handprint craft to accompany the Kissing Hand Book from Fun Handprint Art

Handprint crafts for Toddlers Roundup by Glued to my Crafts

 Still need more ideas?  Check out my Handprint Crafts Pinterest page!

If your idea was featured in this post, please grab an "I've Been Featured" button and display it proudly on your blog!  You can get the html code for the button on my Buttons page



On the Father's Day 2014, I am grateful for my father, Lenny Smith and my husband, Aaron Delmanto. 

Dad and me in 1975

 My dad is a truly kind person.  I know that a lot of people toss that phrase around lightly but anyone who knows my dad knows that this true.  My dad would  cut off his right arm if he thought you needed it.  He taught me how to care for others and how to be a giving person.   (I am still learning this one.)  

My dad also taught me math.  I know some of you are thinking, "your dad wasn't a math teacher!"  Nope, my dad is a plumber (still working full-time at 70 years old) but is one of the smartest people I know.  He helped me with my math through all my years of school and I ended up becoming a math minor in college.  

My dad sacrificed for me in countless ways and he still does!    He worked many hours of overtime to ensure that his kids were able to attend Christian school.  Most recently, he heard that our hot water heater had died.  He knew that we were a little strapped for cash so he went out and bought us this tankless one that was 10x better than what we could afford.  He then installed it with my husband. 

Thank you dad for all you have done! 

Without my husband, Aaron, I am convinced that my children would not have any fun at all!  You are probably laughing and thinking I am kidding, but it is true.  When it comes to the kids, I take on the serious role.  I make sure they are wearing clean clothes, do their homework, be polite, obey, etc. I spend much of my time cleaning.  When my son was asked what was his mom's favorite thing to do,  he replied "clean!" All of that doesn't always leave much room for fun.  

My husband does a good job of making sure that the kids have time to act like kids.  He is the one that takes them sledding, builds forts from the couch pillows, goes to the park (even when it is muddy), makes sandcastles shaped like sharks, serves them breakfast for dinner, naps with them, digs in the dirt, goes on hayrides, turns himself into a human trampoline, you get the idea!

Thank you Aaron for being a great dad to all three kids and making sure that the kids have some fun!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...