What to Expect at NINJAGO World LEGOLAND Florida

What to Expect at NINJAGO, LEGOLAND FLorida

Calling all NINJAGO lovers:  If you have kids who like Kai, Cole, Nya, Jay, Lloyd or Zane, get your keys and hop in the car.  This Orlando area destination will thrill your kids as they train to become a ninja with their favorite NINJAGO friends.  LEGOLAND Florida has always been a must do theme park for LEGO fans.  But with the new addition of NINJAGO World, LEGOLAND Florida just got even better!

My family visited LEGOLAND earlier this month and like last year’s trip, we had a blast!  We loved exploring all the different areas including the latest and greatest, LEGO NINJAGO World.

Here’s What to Expect in NINJAGO World LEGOLAND Florida:

LEGOLAND Florida - rock wall

Variety

I was impressed with the different types of activities found in NINJAGO.  Whether your kid is more into building, spinning (literally) or other types of fun, there is something to draw every child.  Each activity is centered on a ninja character’s particular power.  For example, Cole’s power is earth.  His activity will have kids enjoying a climbing wall.

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Hands-On Play

As you enter NINJAGO World, you’ll be greeted with Zane’s Temple Build.  Here kids can grab LEGO bricks from the bays surrounding the mountain and create anything they like.  When they are finished, they can add their creation to the mountain for others to see.  My son spent over 20 minutes building a model of Jay’s head with LEGO bricks.  Zane’s Temple Build is a great 1st stop as you enter NINJAGO World.  Creative, unstructured fun.

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Interactive Attractions

NINJAGO is filled with interactive activities that draw kids in at every turn.  My daughter especially loved Jay’s Lightning Drill which tested her speed and quick reactions.

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Photo Opps with Ninja Characters Made Of LEGO Bricks

No matter who your kid likes most, all of the LEGO Ninja are in NINJAGO and provide fun photo opportunities.

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An Exciting 3D Ride

The NINJAGO Ride is super cool!  It is a 3D video game come to life.  Put on your glasses, board the 4-person vehicle and you will be off, fighting enemies such as Lord Garmadon and the Great Devourer.  It is an impressive ride!

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One thing to know:  In one of the queue rooms, there are multiple TV’s that show how to play the game while riding (see photo above).  There was no wait the day we went so we breezed through this room and didn’t quite learn how to move our hands.  I’m sure I would have scored much higher had I paid attention to those instructions.  😉

 

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Waiting to Be Fun

Gone are the days of complaining kids feeling completely bored in line.  LEGOLAND’s NINJAGO Ride has awesome and fun things to do while waiting.  Parents can stay in the queue while kids build and create.

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I don’t want to give everything away, but we had a blast in this room which is part of the wait.

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Mornings to Be Less Crowded

We hit this area of the park early and it was great.  We were able to do all the activities without waiting.  Later, we noticed the crowds picking up.  So rise and shine early for a less crowded morning.  (I have also heard that lines can be shorter right before closing.)

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And Finally, Expect Everything to Be Really Awesome

NINJAGO did not disappoint.  It is creative, well planned and fun!  The ride is the gem of the land, but everything else was interactive and entertaining as well.  What great value it added to an already awesome park!

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Here are our other favorite things to do at LEGOLAND Florida:

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FORD Driving School

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Heartlake City with LEGO Friends

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Quest for Chi – perfect for a hot day!

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Trading Mini-Figures

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Meeting Favorite Characters (especially after the LEGO Batman Movie’s release)

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Imagination Zone (with new ways to test your creation)

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Star Wars in LEGO Bricks!

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Miniland – truly amazing!

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The LEGO Movie 4D:  A New Adventure

What a fun and full day we had at LEGOLAND Florida!  My son is already planning a trip back.  For more information and to start planning your trip, visit the LEGOLAND website.

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25 LEGOLAND Florida Tips to Make Your Trip AWESOME! (1)

Disclosure:  I was given park tickets to facilitate this post.  All opinions are my own.  Thank you, LEGOLAND, for a fantastic day!

Celebrating Childhood: How to Protect the Innocence of Your Child

How to Protect the Innocence of Your Child

This is not a post I am eager to write.  However, the fleeting innocence of our children has weighed heavily on my heart for quite some time. And with so much going on nowadays, I felt the Lord’s compelling voice that this is the time.  So grab your cup of coffee and come close.  We need to talk.

Have you noticed that as a nation, our children are growing up too fast?

I don’t mean that time moves quickly; I have other posts about that.  No, I mean that our children are maturing too quickly.  They are learning about too much of the world too fast.  They are exposed at young ages to things beyond their years.  Friends, their innocence is in jeopardy.  What was once playful and fun has become a cultural push to expose our children to mature language, issues and behavior.  All one needs to do is turn on the tv or go to the movies.

I can’t tell you how often I read or hear about parents who are letting their little children watch movies with ratings intended for teenagers.  Parents who don’t mind what is on the TV in the background of their family room because they don’t think their kids are paying attention.  Even the commercials of sporting events parade the inappropriate before the eyes of our children.  What are our kids taking in?

Their innocence is in jeopardy.

Just last week, I had to email my son’s teacher to say that my son was not allowed to watch a particular movie in school and that I would make arrangements to take him out of class.  This movie portrayed drunkenness, immodest attire for a scene and swearing.  Now, it didn’t end up being the movie watched, but it was one of three possibilities for his third grade class.

What I am about to say below is for all parents, but I am speaking specifically to my Christian brothers and sisters . . . to those of you who fall under the name of Christ, who want to follow biblical principles and raise godly children . . . to those who want to keep one eye on who their child is now and the other on what kind of individual they will become.

Friends, our children are being bombarded by content intended for those much older.  Rude humor, immoral choices, and downright sin made to look normal and glamorous.   I was at a marriage conference last weekend that said that married couples in the U.S. are now outnumbered by couples choosing to live together without the commitment of marriage.  I am crushed.  I am sickened for the world that our children will grow up in.  A culture that makes light of the plans and beauty of what God created.  

We are losing our children to the world.  Christian families are losing their children to the world.  It is up to us to provide a firm foundation of faith, morality and family values in a culture that says there are no absolutes, it is all about me and I can do whatever I want.

How to Protect the Innocence of Your Child - James 1.5

So what do we do as Christian parents?

We guard the innocence of our children.  We ask for wisdom (James 1:5).  We make educated choices.  We open our eyes to the deceptive nature of our culture.  We tune our ears to voice of the Holy Spirit.  And then we . . .

Assess

Ask the questions about what your kids are watching on TV and in the movies.  For example:  What is the movie about?  What are the questionable issues in the movie?  Is there content for which my child is too young?  Is the violence age-appropriate?  Are there provocative scenes?  Are women’s bodies treated disrespectfully or men regarded as stupid?

Do your due diligence in investigating a movie.  Read the reviews.  I love Common Sense Media and Plugged In.  Common Sense Media applies ratings to different components of the movie.  It tells you specifically what occurs under each category and even their recommendation for viewing age.  I also like Plugged In which is Focus on the Family’s movie review site.  If you want to quickly know what is going to happen in a movie, check out these sites.

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Pictured Screenshot from Common Sense Media.

When possible, first preview the movie yourself.  While this may be inconvenient at times (and I have definitely watched children’s movies alone for this solitary purpose), you can watch the film with your child’s age and maturity in mind.  If this is not possible and reviews haven’t yet been posted (usually the day after the movie releases), seek out another parent who’s opinion you respect.  When the live-action Cinderella movie came out, we wanted to see it right away.  But I had heard that the death scenes were intense for young children and could stir feelings of insecurity.  I called my cousin who had seen it the night before and asked for details.  Knowing my child and equipped with information, I was able to make a sound decision and we went to see the film.

Explain

If you have decided that the movie is inappropriate for your child, explain the reasons to him or her.  For that school movie last week, I specifically told my son what was disconcerting to me about the movie.  And you know what?  Once I plainly told him, he didn’t want to see the movie after all.

Last December, my son (my poor son) was invited with an older boy to go see Rogue One the week it released.  Knowing how much he wanted to see this Star Wars movie, I so badly wanted to let him go.  But as I poured over personal reviews from pre-screenings, I became convinced that he was too young to see the movie.  Over and over, I was seeing that the recommended age was 10+ years old and that the violence was war-like and unrelentless.  Some even compared it to Saving Private Ryan without the gore.

Well, he was crushed when I told him.  But as I began to explain the reasons, he demonstrated a maturity and understanding.  In fact, as this sort of thing has happened more than once now, my husband and I believe that he has fortified his trust in us, knowing what is best for him.

Of course, if even the subject matter is something of which your child is unaware, you don’t need to go into detail.  In a recent situation, I told my daughter that the movie simply portrays something that does not please God and goes against the teachings of the Bible.  I didn’t get more specific than that.

Teach God's Word -

Now what do you tell your child when everyone else in their class has seen a movie and they haven’t?  First, I acknowledge that it stinks.  It totally does.  It can feel so lonely.  I remember when I was growing up, having to leave a neighbor’s house because they were watching a PG-13 movie and I wasn’t old enough.  It stunk, but I respected my mom for making the call.

One way I have found for getting around this is to see if there is an option of reading the book (assuming the story line is not your issue).  This is precisely what we did when The Force Awakens came out and we didn’t think my son was ready for the intensity and violence.  I found an appropriate junior novel telling the story . . . and this way he knew what had happened and could keep up on the conversations at school.  Then a year later, he got the movie for his birthday.  🙂

Stand

Having made the hard decision then, stand in knowing that you are choosing your child over your culture.  His welfare over your popularity.  Her growing character over a fleeting 120 minutes.  This world is not our home.  It will never be comfortable.

Standing for biblical truth is not popular, especially in today’s cultural climate.  But do it anyway.  Do what you decide is best for your child and rest in that.

And when you know your child is missing the movie or the activity, create a super fun replacement.  When I told my daughter that we would not be seeing a particular movie at the theater (one to which she was greatly looking forward), she was heartbroken.  But you better believe that we planned the best, most special and incredibly fun evening in its place.

Let them be little. - Article on protecting the innocence of your child.

Being vigilant for our children’s childhood and innocence is no easy task.  

In fact, it is inconvenient.  It is isolating.  It means making the hard choices.  At times, it will require you standing alone.  And hardest of all, it will mean that sometimes your child stands alone.

So is it worth it?

Let me tell you, the rewards will be heavenly.  You will raise children who have a moral compass lacking in our lost culture.  You will raise children who have the discernment to know right and wrong.  You will raise children who see your example of a life lived for Christ . . . the trials, sufferings and glory, and be able to say it was worth it.

 

I would love to know your thoughts on this and how you handle these kinds of situations.  As always, be kind.  We may choose to disagree, but we can still be respectful.

Want to Take it a Step Further?

  • Read this post that I wrote on this topic for The Better Mom with other things you can do.
  • Start a prayer group for your children and schools.  Check out Moms In Prayer.
  • Fight to save filtering.  Read more on VidAngel’s battle and how you can  help.
  • Vote with your pocketbook.  Don’t support films with which you take issue.
  • Download the Movie Screening Checklist below.

5 Reasons to Make Family Getaways a Priority

5 Reasons to Make Family Getaways a Priority - need to remember this and do it!

Thank you to Castaway Bay for hosting my family in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own. Don’t miss the giveaway below! 

Do you make family getaways a priority? . . . I am completely bad at this.  However, each time we make the effort to do so, I am reminded of the great value in getting away as a family.

A couple weeks ago, we spent a night at Castaway Bay, Cedar Point’s indoor water park in Sandusky, Ohio.  It was the perfect getaway – a night away from home, lots of family fun and time together.  With its 38,000 square foot water park for all ages and the resort’s variety of other fun, we came back feeling refreshed and replenished.

When was the last time you went away for a night or two as a family?  You may not realize it beforehand, but those little trips are so valuable!

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Here is why:

 

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1. Family Getaways are new opportunities for fun & laughter.

I had more fun watching my kids enjoy themselves in the wave pool.  It brought such joy to my heart to see them thrilled with each crashing wave.  Pure fun.  Pure delight.

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There was so much to explore at Castaway Bay.  I am really impressed with the variety of wet fun available for different ages and abilities.

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My kids had fun in the water park but also out of the water park.  They LOVED meeting Snoopy, Linus and Charlie Brown.  (I think we stopped and saw Snoopy four different times!)

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Yep, four.  And apparently, he remembered my son.  😉

 
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2.  Family Getaways are time away from the usual routine.

While I was probably the one who most enjoyed the break from our usual routine, this can be good for the whole family.  We drove up to Castaway Bay after school on a Thursday, had dinner and then hit the water park.  The kids missed school on Friday (not something we typically do).  But it was so nice to do something out of the ordinary.  It was a treat!

And moms, there was no laundry to be started.  No food to cook.  No tasks distracting my mind from just enjoying the time away.  My most relaxing moments at the resort were my times of sitting in a beach chair, watching the kids in the wave pool and browsing through pretty pictures in a magazine.  And if you happen to visit Castaway Bay’s water park in the evening, the soft lighting is calming and relaxing.  Plus, lifeguards are on duty all over the entire park and life jackets are available at no cost . . . another reason to relax.

 

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3.  Family Getaways are full of teachable moments.

No matter how magical or fun the family getaway is, let’s face it.  There are no perfect kids . . . nor, perfect adults for that matter.  Don’t go in with unrealistic expectations, rather with a mindset ready to address those “teachable moments.”  When we went to Quaker Steak & Lube for dinner (which is attached to the resort!), our food took quite a while to arrive.  Let’s just say it was an opportunity to teach on patience.

 

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4.  Family Getaways create memories and build family bonding.

Last year when we went to Castaway Bay, we went to Mango Mike’s breakfast buffet.  One of the first things my son asked me about this trip was if we were going to that “awesome breakfast buffet.”  He had great memories of the food, including Captain Crunch cereal that he doesn’t get at home.  Now, maybe food wouldn’t stir great memories for your kids but what can I say, he is his father’s son.

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When you’re away, do things that you wouldn’t normally do.  These kinds of things will thrill your kids and create fun memories.  Again this year, we let the kids eat ice cream for lunch!  They thought it was the most amazing thing ever and is one of their best memories simply because it was out of the ordinary.  Now, keep in mind that we all ate a huge breakfast and as you can tell in the photo, the portions at Ebb & Eddy’s are very generous.  What kid wouldn’t love this?!?

 

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5.  Family Getaways are opportunities for growth.

When you’re out of your typical surroundings, encourage your children (and yourself) to try something new.  Is there a new skill to master or an activity to try for the first time?  My son spent a lot of time at the Cargo Crossing.  He fell in once but kept going and successfully crossed many times.

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My daughter tried Rendevous Run, a 35-foot high and 520-foot long water roller coaster and LOVED it!  It was something special to do with her daddy, plus an opportunity to be brave.

Don’t miss your chance to win four day passes to Castaway Bay.  See below!

Meanwhile, here are some other fun pictures from our family getaway:

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The bucket atop the Lookout Family Funhouse drops 100,000 gallons of water every few minutes.

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Fun slides for different ages and abilities.

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Club Castaway offers a nighttime movie, storytime with Snoopy and fun kids’ crafts and activities.  (There is an additional cost if you want to color t-shirts, bags and other products.)

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We stayed in a Starfish Room with two queen beds and a single sleeper sofa.

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What fun and great memories!  Where will you go for your next family getaway?  Enter the giveaway below and make it Castaway Bay.

You May Also Like:  Discover 9 fun ways you can spend your time at Castaway Bay.

The Giveaway:

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5 Unplugged Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids Tonight!

5 Unplugged Ways to have Fun with your Kids TONIGHT

It’s so easy in these technology-driven days to hand your kids a tablet and let them get lost in a game while you catch up on your phone or knock something off your list.  And while tech does have its place, it’s not going to help you build your relationship with your child when you’re both doing your own separate things.  So here are five unplugged ways to have fun with your kids tonight.  The ideas may sound a little elementary, but let’s get back to basics and create some family fun!

>> Head over to Motherhood On a Dime (where I am guest posting) to see the list.

Free Printable Weekly Chore Chart (from an optimistic organizer)

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Last summer, my house was a finely-oiled machine.  We did our chores daily, commissions were paid weekly and my house was decently ready for company at most moments.

Then school started . . . and dance . . . and piano . . . and Bible club . . . and next will be basketball.  With the start of everything-structured and less down-time at home (no, I’m not bitter), it meant the end of chores as we knew it.  The kids still regularly empty the dishwasher and fold their own laundry, but house-cleaning . . . nope.

See ya.  

Good bye.  

Hope no one stops by.

With this realization, I have reconsidered the amount of chores the kids do, factoring in the amount of time they are in school (their job), family commitments and extra-curricular activities.  Instead of an unchanging, handwritten list that hangs on my mud room bulletin board, I created this dry-erase chore chart that allows me to change up the kids’ chores from week to week, working with our schedule and commitments.

It is still a work in progress but I wanted to give you a copy of the chore chart in case you are ever progressing in this area of home management like I am.

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Here is how we are getting organized with chores:

I printed a chore chart for each child.  (Download yours below.)

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I laminated them to make them dry erase.  (Here is an inexpensive laminator with very good ratings on Amazon, as well as pouches. – affiliate)

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Then, with a dry erase marker, I began to fill out the chores for the week.  My daughter was excited that she can erase the chore when it is completed.  Ah, the simple things.  😉

How do you handle family chores at your house?  I would love to hear what works and doesn’t work for your family!

Download the Chore Chard Here:

Weekly Chore Chart Printable – PINK

Weekly Chore Chart Printable – GREEN

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Showing Kindness with a Doorstep Hot Chocolate Basket

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Hop out of the car.  Put it on the front porch.  Ring the doorbell and RUN!

These were the instructions I gave my kids when we delivered this hot chocolate basket to our friends’ front porch.  I had backed my car into their drive for a quick getaway.  However, the execution of our plan wasn’t quite that simple.  It involved a lot of heat of the moment questioning on whether my daughter pushed the doorbell hard enough and then massive yelling with my son telling her to RUN and her yelling that THE BOY was COMING to the DOOR.

It was complete chaos and it was wonderful! 

We love being able to be a blessing (and create a little family fun) for others.  I am always looking for ways to teach my kids kindness, thoughtfulness and service.  And since the cold weather has arrived, we made this hot chocolate basket for friends.

Would you like to make your own snowy Doorstep Hot Chocolate Basket?  See how I made it and grab the free printable tag on Motherhood On A Dime where I am guest posting today.

Fun at LEGO KidsFest: 5 Things Not to Miss

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The biggest pile of LEGO® bricks you’ve ever seen. . .

Numerous building stations and places to test your creations. . .

Life-size LEGO structures of Friends, Star Wars characters, Superheroes and more.

What else could a LEGO-lover want in the course of one evening?

Last night, we spent the evening at LEGO KidsFest in Cleveland.  My kids were ecstatic and truthfully, we never even paused to eat dinner.  The kids kept wanting to try something else and there was so much to experience.

LEGO KidsFest is a traveling LEGO extravaganza featuring millions of LEGO bricks and dozens of hands-on, educational, and fun building activities for all ages.  (Check here to see if the show is coming to your city.)  Sessions are 4.5 hours long and usually sell out in each city.  Cleveland’s five sessions had sold out and I was concerned that it was going to be too crowded to do anything.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Any line we waited in was brief (albeit one) and there were always open tables to design and build.

Here are our favorites and 5 things you won’t want to miss:

(Please know that some activities do change over the course of time.)

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1. The Big Brick Pile – I am not usually too excited when there is a monster pile of bricks on my son’s floor and I can’t walk through his room.  But there was nothing but fun for the Big Brick Pile at LEGO KidsFest.  Twice, we hung out in the pile, building towers and not caring about the mess.  And if you’ve ever stepped on a LEGO and felt the pain, you will love that you can wear your shoes.

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2. The Brick Battle Zone – In this exhibit and show, teams work to build a bridge of LEGO bricks and then test their creation by adding weights.  The first one we saw held over 35 lbs!  I loved the creativity, engineering and teamwork involved in this activity.  Plus, win or lose, each participant received a little bagged LEGO set.

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The boys’ bridge didn’t hold much weight but the experience was fun!

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3.  Master Builder Lab – This MUST DO exhibit starts as a 35 minute show (which was awesome on so many levels) and then leads to building and testing of the kids’ creations for strength.  The show was lead by Master Builder, Chris.  He is one of eight Master Builders . . . in the world!  He talked about the start of LEGO, how they design and build new ideas and giant displays that are sent around the globe.  It was very interesting and made use of videos to show the kids examples of what Chris spoke about.  Design comes to life!  At the end of the show, he opened up for questions and there were many children who wanted to ask the Master Builder their question.

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We talked to Chris after the show and learned so much!

4.  Free Mini LEGO Sets – As I mentioned for the Brick Battle Zone, there are other places where the kids can earn free bagged sets.  At LEGO Friends, you can build a design and then show a staff member and the child will receive a set with a mini-doll figure.  My son also received a set at the Challenge Zone for participating.  The kids were very excited and I liked the added value it brought to the evening.

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5.  Free Unique Photos – Yes, you can take tons of photos with all the characters made of LEGO bricks (and we did), but there were two things that I thought were extra fun.  One was in the LEGO City area, where kids held a rope and stood in front of a green screen.  The staff took their picture and then emailed the superimposed image with the child in the picture.  It was so cool, especially when you like LEGO City and chasing crooks.

The other opportunity for a unique photo was in the LEGO Friends area where you can get in a photo booth and take a couple pictures.  The pictures print on a LEGO Friends background paper and my daughter just loved getting our photo taken.

Here are some other fun pictures we took:

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All of the staff we encountered were nice, but Travis went beyond.  While we were waiting in line for the Master Building Lab show, he asked my son if he had tickets for the show (which of course didn’t exist).  He told my son he would have to play Rock-Paper-Scissors to get in.  I love seeing staff who are excited to be there, have a smile on their face and interact with customers.  Thanks, Travis!  (I have his permission to share the photo.)

So, what would have made LEGO KidsFest better?  LEGO-themed food.  We probably would have stopped to eat dinner for this.  I would have loved to see kids’ meals served in an upside down giant LEGO.  However, I am willing to bet that KidsFest-associated food violates the location’s contract.  But, it sure would have been fun!

What would your kids enjoy most about LEGO KidsFest?  Be sure to check the calendar and find out when the show will be visiting a city near you!

 

Disclosure:  I received admission in exchange for my review.  All opinions are mine.

From Kleenex Box to Ballot Box: Election DIY

from-kleenex-box-to-ballot-box-election-diy

All year, I have been wanting to throw an Election Party.  But truth be told, I just can’t do it given this particular election.  So even though there will be no official party in my house, there is still a great opportunity to teach my children about our election process and the importance of casting one’s vote.

One way I am involving my kids in this election is by making our very own ballot box and inviting the kids to vote for candidates at the various levels of government.  Would your kids like to take part?  Here is how you can take a simple Kleenex box and and transform it into a ballot box.

To see the whole post, visit Motherhood On A Dime where I am guest posting today.