Category - Toddlers & Preschoolers

Family Friendly Holidays in Charlotte

Having lived in Charlotte for 10 years, our family has been able to create memorable holiday traditions. We also love that new activities and creative events that are popping up each year. Here are some of our favorites that we wanted to share with you!

 

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Holidays at the Garden

This destination is one of our favorite must-visit locations during the holidays {and other times of the year too}. If you are looking for a family tradition, Holidays at the Garden is an event where you’ll be able to make memories for years to come.

Children will look forward to filling out their passport when they complete fun holiday-themed games located around the garden and parents will love the beauty of the lights and spending time around a fire with their family.

With light features changing each year everyone in your family is bound to find a favorite, or two. While the stunning lights may be what brings you to Daniel Stowe this time of year, the live music, fairy village, and ambiance of roasting s’mores over the fire will keep you coming back year after year.

There are several food and snack options there are including food trucks, beverage bars, and of course it wouldn’t be the holidays without some amazingly sweet goodies. This year Sproutycakes Bakery greeted us again with a huge array of Christmas yumminess.

{Check them out: Sproutycakes Facebook and tell them we sent you, you can thank us later.}

While you will definitely want to bundle up, DSBG has done a great job of creating warm spaces for your family whether it’s the roaring fire pits, or the warmth and beauty of the Orchid Conservatory.

Additional activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, visit with Mrs. Claus, and Capture the Magic with Santa. *Some pre-registrations and payments required, please check the website for details.

To check out more details or purchase tickets online at a discounted rate for Holidays at the Garden at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens head HERE.

 

Carowinds

WinterFest

WinterFest is an all-new immersive holiday entertainment tradition, opening select evenings through December 30th.

WinterFest transforms the park into a winter wonderland adorned with more that five million holiday lights, a beautiful 70-foot Christmas tree and festive décor displayed throughout the park.

These words and picture alone do not do the park justice, they really went all out and several park goers outside of our party were in awe.

We loved how the park was divided into different themed areas from Charlie Brown’s™ Christmas Town to Jingle Bell Boardwalk, the ever-so-sweet Candy Cane Lane, and who can forget Celebration Plaza where it all kicks off.

WinterFest activities include a nightly tree lighting, live holiday shows and strolling performers, up to 16 family rides, a special holiday menu, a live nativity and 38-animal petting zoo, falling snow, and so much more!

Additional activities include taking a picture with Santa at St. Nick’s Pics*, decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus*, creating take-home keepsakes at Sally Brown’s Christmas Crafts, , skating on Snowflake Lake* and horse-drawn carriage rides*. *The activities listed may require advance ticket purchase or ticket purchase on-site.

The PEANUTS™ gang, and wonderful winter characters are all decked out in Holiday Spirit {except for Scrooge} and the joy is pretty contagious. With the help of some cheerful elves, Miss C and other excited children, wrote a letter to Santa at the North Pole Post Office.

 

Our family loved the singing and dancing featured in Charlie Brown’s™ Christmas Spectacular, and it was a great way to warm up the entire group, not to mention a fun way to get into the holiday spirit. All through the park is festive, live entertainment both indoors and outdoors.

If you’re anything like our coaster-loving family, you’ll want to take advantage of some extra ride time this season. With up to 16 rides, including Afterburn there’s sure to be a ride for family members of every age and thrill level.

Carowinds’ hasn’t forgotten the holiday treats. There are 20 new menu items just for WinterFest, including Turducken burgers, gourmet mac and cheese, gingerbread-eggnog and chocolate-peppermint funnel cakes, and homemade hot chocolate. {Buy your souvenir mug and get free refills on your day of purchase and $1 refills for return visits.}

Who would have thought, shoppers can browse for gifts at WinterFest too. My favorite section are the booths by local vendors at Artisan Alley. If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, or ugly sweaters, the park has those too!

**Don’t forget, guests can visit WinterFest once for free when they purchase a 2018 gold or platinum season pass.

Otherwise, grab your advance-purchase tickets, and check out all the details at carowinds.com.

Billy Graham Library

Christmas at the Library

If you’re looking for a faith-based Christmas tradition Billy Graham Library is rich with history. Parking and admission are FREE. The library is known for it’s year-round Journey of Faith that creatively tells the journey of Billy Graham {this may be a feature you want to save if you have pre-school aged children}. During the holidays the library comes alive –literally– with a delightful live nativity.

Enjoy the sleigh bells jingling while you take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the library grounds {for an additional fee}, or make your reservations for Christmas Dinner and enjoy time with your loved ones.

We loved hearing the different carolers and musical groups that were featured while drinking a hot cup of cocoa. We haven’t been this year, but in previous years the only thing that was a little let down was the food selection and taste. You may want to consider dining out before or after your visit.

Find out more details about your upcoming visit to Christmas at the Library.

Founders Hall – Uptown Charlotte

Leonard Bearstein Orchestra


The Leonard Bearstein Orchestra is located in uptown Charlotte at Founders Hall in the Bank of America Building. This is a fun event to attend, especially if you have little ones. This full animatronic orchestra perform from on the hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. With the exception of Christmas Day.

Founders Hall also has some restaurants, places to grab a quick bite or coffee, and shops if you are planning on making the visit a longer trip.

**Occasionally, a regularly scheduled performance may not take place due to a special event in the hall. As a parent it’s always good to have a back up plan just in case. I always recommend 7th Street Market, ImaginOn, and the Light Rail.

Head here to view the schedule: Bearstein Orchestra

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Speedway Christmas

Speedway Christmas is definitely one of the must-visits if you haven’t been or if you are new to the area. Surprising to me, I’ve found that people either love the experience or don’t. My family personally really enjoys this Charlotte Holiday event, but if you have anyone who doesn’t like being in the car for an extended period of time they may not enjoy this selection as much. {We haven’t used it but have heard that the fast pass to skip the line is worth the additional fee.} There are several days and times that the speedway is less busy and lines are shorter.

We like to go on a day we feel will be less busy, but also one that still has the Christmas Village experience. In the past the village has had an opportunity to visit Santa, purchase Holiday gifts from local vendors, and enjoy yummy food and treats.

In a previous year we’ve enjoyed the nativity/Bethlehem experience and our girls always love the petting zoo filled with a variety of adorable animals. Often times there will be additional activities for an extra charge like carnival and horse rides.

Get your tickets and more information here: Speedway Christmas

 

While this is a pretty long list of some of our family favorites, we have others and know that you do too. Please comment and let us know your favorite local areas to spend the holidays with your family. Also tell us if you agree or disagree, we want to hear from you!!

Thank you to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens and Carowinds for hosting us this holiday season!!

Awesome Non-Fiction Books for Kids

For those of you with kids who love non-fiction you know sometimes it’s a challenge to find books that fit the criteria of being age appropriate, visually appealing and factually fun.

Here are a list of books that check all of those boxes and more!

 

Weird But True! Christmas: 300 Festive Facts to Light Up the Holidays is great for ages 8-12 and perfect for the holidays.

Ready for some totally festive facts? Even Christmas can be weird — it’s true! Did you know that Santa’s reindeer are probably all female? Or that artificial snow can be made from seaweed? Or that “Jingle Bells” was the first Christmas carol sung in space? Every kid will ho ho ho when they unwrap this book that is chocked full of the most random and fascinating facts about their most favorite holiday.

Get your copy here:

 

Ultimate Dinopedia will capture the attention of even the biggest dinosaur fan.

Although these amazing creatures roamed the Earth ages ago, new dinosaur discoveries are still being made today. The new edition includes favorites, like the fierce T-rex and the gentle Brontosaurus, plus audacious new finds, like the Anzu, Kosmoceratops, and Yi. Every dino profile is colorfully illustrated and features descriptions of when they roamed the Earth, how they lived, what they ate, and more. There are more than 600 dinos featured in all, including 10 profiles of recently discovered dinosaurs and new entries in the Dino Dictionary. Reports from paleontologists present the latest news and insights from the field.

Get your copy here:

 

Bet You Didn’t Know: Fascinating, Far-Out, Fun-tastic Facts
This BIG book is packed with gorgeous photos and illustrations and guaranteed to keep kids occupied for hours and hours. It makes a great classroom addition for teachers and homeschooling parents too.

Did you know that the first stop signs were black and white? Or that a litter of kittens is called a kindle? Or that butterflies can see more colors than humans can? Based on a favorite department in Nat Geo Kids magazine, this book is overflowing with fascinating facts, silly stats, and catchy little knowledge nuggets in all kinds of cool categories, from astronomy and sea creatures to revolutions and breakfast. Special features include Extreme Weirdness, Strange Places, Wacky World, and more.

Get your copy here:

 

Great for children ages 7-10, Just Joking Jumbo is the perfect book for your budding comedian. With 1,000 giant jokes and 1,000 funny photos it’s bound to be a hit with any kids who have a funny bone.

Knock-knocks, puns, riddles, tongue-twisters, photos of silly situations and even the craziest info about the history of funny business – it’s all here!

Get your copy here:

 

Hey, Baby! A Collection of Pictures, Poems and Stories from Nature’s Nursery is a book you will want to scoop up and cuddle in your arms if you have a nature loving kiddo.

From National Geography Kids, this collection of stunning photography of wee ones of the wild world will inspire, awe and awww. With dynamic profiles, clever poems, time-tested folktales, amazing rescue stories, and unlikely animal friendships, this book will be a favorite with sleepy little ones, new parents and moms-to-be. Featuring everything from wobbly baby bison to teeny turtles, mini-monkeys to fluffy foxes, this is the perfect keepsake book for the baby animal lover in us all.

Get your copy here:

 

Leave a comment – What are your kids favorite non-fiction books???

Dora’s Christmas CD

Dora The Explorer is ringing in the Holidays with her fun CD, Dora’s Christmas. This holly, jolly CD features Christmas Classics like “Deck the Halls”, “Jingle Bells”, and “Feliz Navidad”. Also included on this snowy sensation are Bonus Tracks from Dora’s Holiday Movie Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure. You’ll want to make sure Swiper doesn’t swipe this CD!
Along with fun tunes on this Sony Label album, kids will enjoy the great bonus content also on this disk. Bring fun wall papers, lyrics, and a Dora’s Christmas Carol mini video to life using a computer CD drive.
This CD’s insert features the usual song information, but also includes a festive Feliz Navidad/Christmas game board and pieces. For those of you not wanting to cut your insert please note there is a great printable version in the Bonus Content.
For those of you looking for the more traditional versions of well-known Christmas songs, you’ll have to look elsewhere. When I first listened to the CD with my daughter, I was expecting the songs to be the original version but of course sung by Dora.
Dora incorporates fun friends from her show into her songs relating to the kids who follow her show. Dora’s version of “Deck the Halls” mentions some of her best friends, “See Boots the Monkey jump before us. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la Big Red Chicken joins the chorus. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.”
As expected Dora also includes great learning opportunities by including Spanish into many of the songs on this album including “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
“Here comes Santa Claus, Aquí viene Santa Claus, To visit me and my friends, Everyone’s waitin’, anticipatin’, As his sleigh comes round the bend. Bells are ringin’, Boots is singin’, All is merry and bright. So hang your stockings on Nochebuena, ‘Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.” I’d expect nothing less from this Hispanic sweetheart.
If your child is a Nickelodeon fan they will adore this exciting CD not only because it features voices from Dora the Explorer, but also friends from The Backyardigans, and Go, Diego, Go!
Kids will recognize the “Dora The Explorer Christmas Theme” which is a jingle bell filled version of the original Dora Theme song. Parents will love that it features the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.
After I got over my initial shock of the “Dora-fied” words, my daughter and I were dancing around the living room enjoying the upbeat song, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. So if you’re like me you may want to listen to the album once through, sample it online, and once you buy it just have fun with your kids. Dora’s Christmas is a really fun CD for kids who love Dora the Explorer to be able to enjoy Christmas with singing, and silliness.

Just in time for the holidays, get your copy here:

Subway’s Share the Color Food Workshop – Giveaway

This post is in partnership with Subway. Any opinions expressed are my own.

 

I’m excited to share with you about the upcoming “Share the Color” Food Workshops hosted by Subway Restaurants in the Charlotte area!

 

Share the Color food workshops will be hosted from October 14th-21st at various Subway locations all across the Carolinas for families to attend.

Check out these links to find an event near you:

Charlotte Area

Carolinas Area

{Feel free to register for your free tickets through the link as well.}

Local food and nutrition experts will be on-hand, teaching a short lesson on nutritious food choices and making sure you have a lot of color variety on your plate. Children will participate in a hands-on sub making activity and enjoy a free nutritious lunch and a fun food explorer coloring book.

In honor of the event, I’m giving away a $25 Subway gift card to one lucky reader. To enter you must comment below letting me know your favorite thing to eat at Subway. For extra entries, share this post, and tag your friends on social media.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pouring Into Our Children

If you’ve read any of my Love Languages blog posts you know that we all give and receive love in unique ways. Our children are no different. While you may feel loved and love by giving hugs (physical touch), your child may feel cared about more with kind words.

It’s important to pour into our children on a daily basis. While some days are easier than others the end result of them knowing you are on their side even when it feels like no one else is, is totally worth it.

Lately I’ve been reading “Love and Logic“, by Foster Cline, while it’s not a new book by any means it has some pretty relevant parenting tips. The more I read and hear people speak on the topic of parenting, the more I realize we only have these children in our care for 18 years. Then, most of them are out on their own, becoming their own people, and hopefully including us in their “grown-up” lives.

There are so many ways to let our children know we love them and support them, while also allowing them to learn life lessons and grow.

Here are a few ways (with love language guidance) you can show your children how much you care:

Words of Affirmation

Handwritten notes may come to mind as a way to express how we feel with words. To make notes a little more fun try to place them in areas that will surprise your children, tuck a sweet note in their shoe, or leave a thoughtful card in their backpack.

Physical Touch

Warm hugs can make any child melt if done at the right time and place. Be mindful of when you think your child may need a little extra TLC. Physical touch can be holding a hand, rubbing their back, or even playing with their hair.

Acts of Service

While it’s true a lot of parents are always showing their love through “acts of service”, folding laundry, picking up toys, but these things may go unnoticed, so try to think out of the box. What tasks do your children do for themselves that they might enjoy not doing once and a while? If your child packs their lunch, but doesn’t love it, why not make them an extra special one?! Bring the trash cans back to the house without them noticing, an act of service can be a delightful surprise. {This is not to say we should take over chores for our kids, but occasionally it can be seen by them as an act of love.}

Quality Time

Spending time doing homework or running errands with your child is time, but doesn’t quite quite qualify as “quality time”. Sorry parents!! If your child enjoys surprises, by all means, choose an activity that you can do together and surprise them after school or on a weekend. On the other hand, if your child is more of a planner, sit down with them and plan something fun to do together, this will double the quality time in both planning and doing.

 

Gifts

If you’ve read my blog post on gifts you’ll know the present doesn’t have to be extravagant, just thoughtful. It’s a really great idea to write down things that you’ve heard your child mention they really like, for example, if they say they really like pink roses, take note for a future day. If they are frustrated because their favorite markers are running low on ink, grab them a new pack and surprise them.

 

The only way we can truly pour into our children, no matter what Love Language they may have, is to invest in them. Your child doesn’t need to be your whole world, in fact they really shouldn’t be, {that’s another blog post}, however, just as with any relationship, you have to put time, effort, and care into it for it to flourish.

 

For those of you who read my blog, but aren’t parents or around children on a daily basis, can I encourage you to reach out to youth? You may not realize it, but you have so much to offer the next generations. Volunteer, find a neighbor, there are so many children who would benefit from your time, trust me.

What are you going to do to pour into your child(ren)??

Wonderbly Book Review

Whether you have children with unique names or common names it’s always fun for them to read a book with their name in it. At Wonderbly they combine storytelling and personalizing to bring the child into the story. They allow you to customize so much more than a lot of other personalized book publishing companies.

Miss C recently received an opportunity to create her own story from Wonderbly. She thought it was so cool that she could personalize her very own book. It was so simple for us to customize online at www.wonderbly.com

She chose the Kingdom of You book, perfect for ages 3-10 (and maybe even a little beyond). We typed in her name, selected her gender and were able to choose from three “adventurers”.

They currently have two light skinned characters, (one with blonde hair and one with light brown hair) and one darker skinned character (with dark brown hair). {I’m sure it’s hard to have several different characters since the book is pretty personalized but would love to see Lost My Name expand in this area.}

After those initial steps you have even more selections to personalize the book and really make it yours. I personally like that it’s not only the name or character that they are changing in the book. C chose from several options and ended up with a fun, and unique story. We love that it’s personalized and something that she was able to create.

The story and illustrations in the Kingdom of You are super cute, and very well done. Wonderbly books are as much entertaining for the child as they are for the parent.

 

Books from Wonderbly are on average around $24.99, but with the customization and the incredible quality of the book I would say it’s a fair price.

I would highly recommend these books as a gift, not only will they be fun and exciting for the child to read, but it will be something that no one else will gift them. So if you’re looking for something unique check out several different Wonderbly products.

 

This is not a sponsored post, we received complimentary product to try out and are giving our honest opinion and thoughts.

Concord Mills Announces New Play Area

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Concord Mills Mall. I only work with brands that I myself would use or think worthy of promoting to others.

 

After several renovations both inside and out to Simon Mall’s North Carolina location, Concord Mills, upgrades are here and beautiful.

While there are new stores and restaurants in and surrounding the mall, some of the biggest changes come from within.

Among the changes, Concord Mills boasts updated bathrooms and new flooring that now make the mall much more attractive and pleasant to shop in, and for families one of the biggest attractions is the brand new mall play area.

Sponsored by Sea Life Aquariums located inside the mall, this new play area caters to a wider range of ages. The previous play area was mainly focused on crawlers through young children, but the new area has three distinct places for toddlers through young teens to play and learn.

 

  • Toddler Pod: Features sprout designs where little ones can climb and spin.

 

  • Elementary Pod: Features elements including climbing blocks and an electronic piano with touch sensitive pads featuring eight different musical notes.

 

  • Tween/Teen Pod: Features the light tower challenge and the interactive electronic game, which uses light and sound. Parents can get in on the fun here, too!

 

This new addition allows shoppers with different age children to play in the same general area at the same time.

As a busy blogging mom, one of my favorite features is the new soft seating area complete with charging stations that allows parents the opportunity to recharge as their children play. I also love the bold color choices for the play area and how open and inviting it is.

 

 

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the play area your kiddos will thank me. Whether you’re shopping for back-to-school supplies, or updating your closet for Fall, this fun area will keep your kids busy and give mom and dad a little break.

Check out Concord Mills website simon.com/mall/concord-mills for your favorite stores and don’t forget to stop by the new play area.

 

Comment: What would be your family’s favorite feature of the new play area??

 

 

Carowinds KidsFest Celebration

A couple of weekends ago we had the privilege of attending Carowinds’ KidsFest with our family. Although it was only for that weekend, I can assure you the many times we have been to Carowinds and hosted events this is certainly a theme park that has a lot of activities and rides for children of all ages.

While we were at Carowinds, we were able to watch and participate in singing and dancing at Harmony Hall midway with our favorite PEANUTS™ characters. We took a break from the head to color under some shade that was provided by The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC). We also got hands on with with Atomz Lab, learning about earth worms and physics. The nice people at Cabela’s taught us some safe ways to shoot arrows and C even got to try her hand at shooting foam-tipped arrows at floating targets.

One of my favorite parts of our day was the opportunity to meet local heroes. We were able to meet and thank the Flint Hill Fire Department, and people really enjoyed checking out the police car and appreciating Officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).

Unfortunately due to rain, we missed Disney Junior’s musical act Choo Choo Soul, but they did still perform at PEANUTS™ Showplace, and everyone who attended had an amazing time.

The only thing I felt could have been more kid-friendly was the DJ music as it seemed to cater more to the adults, but overall the entire event was a blast. We saw kids hula hooping, enjoying Planet Snoopy rides, and also loved the pop-up vendors and games.

We hope that Carowinds continues to host more kid-friendly events and look forward to those already scheduled.

 

What are your thoughts on Carowinds when it comes to younger children? Would love to hear your feedback.

This is not a sponsored post. We received media passes in order to experience and give our honest thoughts. All opinions are that of MommyBKnowsBest.com, each individual experience may vary.

Miffy Product Line – Walmart Exclusive

As a brand ambassador for Miffy I am excited to bring you news and exciting updates on all things related to the brand. I am not paid for my opinions.

 

Friends, today is a great day, not only because it’s another day to celebrate life, but also because Miffy’s exclusive product line with Walmart has launched.

 

If you’ve been watching Miffy on Nick Jr. or have checked out her books you’ll know just how adorable and delightful she and her friends and family are.

If you’re not familiar with Miffy, she was “born” on June 21, 1955. Why are you just now hearing about her? Well she grew up in the Netherlands and recently came to the United States via Nick Jr. “Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small,” debuted on Nick Jr. in 2016 and you can watch the show Monday through Friday {check your local listings}.

Miffy stories are now translated into more than 50 languages and the TV show currently airs in several countries across the world, so not only is she sweet and wholesome for our kiddos, but she’s universally age-appropriate.

My girls, though a little bit older, thought the Miffy toys were super cute.

 

 

Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small plush Miffy includes a super soft miffy. Press her hand for several phrases and a special Miffy song. Ages 18 months and up.

 

Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small figurines include Daddy, Snuffy, Miffy, and Mummy, and is appropriate for ages 2 years and up.

These and more items can be found both in stores and online. Head here: walmart.com to find out more information and make your purchase.

 

For even more Miffy fun check out Miffy at miffy.com and on social channels:

Facebook – @MiffyandFriendsUS 

Instagram – @Miffy_Official_USA 

Twitter – @MiffyOfficialUS

Summer Schedule for Kids – Free Printable

Summer is all about fun and relaxation, I get it. However, a loose schedule is definitely something that our family needs to avoid meltdowns and still feel like we’ve accomplished a few things during the day.

After school let out we had about a week and a half where we just had down time and that was great, but I could clearly see a need for a little bit of structure to combat the, “I’m bored” or “what can I do now?” moments.

Browsing through Pinterest I saw a great Summer Rules Printable that I liked and wanted to create something similar that fit our family needs a little better.

I created a large poster and thought a watermelon theme would be cute for the summer. {Your artistic skills may be better than mine.}

 

 

Then we realized an individual list for each child would be helpful so they could check off items daily. Here is the printable that I created. Please feel free to use for your own family as well. I know task will vary by child and household so I’ve also included a blank printable that you can use and fill in yourself below.

 

Click the link to print: Summer Rules List MommyBKnowsBest

 

CLICK HERE FOR BLANK SUMMER RULES PRINTABLE

 

We placed the printouts in a plastic dry erase pocket so the girls could write and erase easily, each child has a different color pocket and I’ve really seen them take personal responsibility in completing these tasks without being asked.

 

 

Are your summers more scheduled? Are they less scheduled?

Do you create any summer lists??

Leave a comment below!!