Four Little Monsters Blog
The adventures of a Mom and her monsters.
Four Little Monsters is your source for family friendly event, product  and travel reviews in Mid-Atlantic USA. We find fun wherever we go, even right here at home.
Philly, Baltimore, Wilmington, DC, In Between and beyond. 
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Half Moon Portable Soccer Goals by Rukket Sports, Delaware Sports Equipment Company, Review

by EJ on 07/19/16


It's Soccer Summer Camp week here at the Four Little Monsters household. We've been back and forth to soccer camp each night and this particular kiddo is having a blast on the field. We're super fortunate to have such an incredible local soccer league for our community's youngest kiddos to learn the sport. Since it's Soccer Summer Camp week, it's the perfect time to brag about a fabulous sports equipment company we just discovered, located right here in Delaware.  

Rukket Sports, Delaware Sports Equipment Company Provides Soccer, Golf, Softball/Baseball and Lacrosse Products

Rukket Sports, based in
Wilmington, Delaware, sent us their six foot Half Moon Soccer Goal Set, a portable pair of soccer goals that makes soccer set-up instant for the yard, park or beach. These come in three sizes: 2.5, 4 and 6 feet. We went with the 6 foot goals since our kids' league uses big goals. Plus, the adults want to play, too! This large size is absolutely fantastic for a family that wants to play soccer together. The colors are Rukket's trademark black and red netting with a hi-visibility reflective perimeter border.

Check out the Half Moon Soccer Goal Set on Amazon:

The included yellow stakes keep the Half Moon Soccer Goals very secure on the ground. In fact, our new goals survived an unexpected storm earlier this week and remained exactly where we left them in the yard thanks to those stakes. There are no sharp corners, the entire length of the goal is smooth and kid-friendly. I especially like the sleek, rounded shape of the soccer goals; it's a great look.

Given the size of the portable soccer goals, we were impressed with the easy, folding storage capability. You just twist the soccer goal in the center and fold both sides against each other so that the goal lays flat at about half its size, then store the set in the included carrying-case. We did have to get a handle on twisting it on top of itself correctly a few times but once we figured that out, it was quick to collapse and put away. The tear-drop shaped carrying case includes straps so you can easily transport it to any destination. Everything is lightweight as well, so that definitely helps the portable factor.

The monsters are really looking forward to taking their new Half Moon Soccer Goal Set to the park and the beach. I'm sure Rukket Sports' Half Moon Soccer Goals will be a huge hit at the beach throughout the summer. There's always a ton of kids at our surf meet-ups and some soccer in the sand will definitely keep them entertained when they're not in the water. 

Visit Rukket Sports at http://www.Rukket.com
Follow Rukket Sports on Facebook @Rukket
Follow Rukket Sports on Twitter @RukketSports

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog received products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

Philadelphia Freedoms Kids Night Dog Days of Summer, Free Junior Tennis Rackets for First 250 Kids, Ticket Giveaway

by EJ on 07/10/16


Calling all tennis fans and sports fan families! The Philadelphia Freedoms Professional Tennis is hosting their Dog Days of Summer and Kid's Night on August 12th at the Villanova University Pavilion where The Freedoms will be matched up with the Orange County Breakers. If you're looking for a great way to introduce your family to the game of tennis, this is the event for you. Plus, there are free gifts for your little ones!

First 250 Kids 14 & Under Receive Free Junior Tennis Racket

The first 250 kids 14 and under will receive FREE Wilson Junior Tennis rackets. How cool is that!?

All kids tickets for this event are only $10. Other kid-friendly activities during Kid's Night include a pre-match dog show at 5:30 by Canine Partners for Life and The Fabulous Freedoms Ball Dogs will perform at half-time.

The Villanova University Pavilion is an air-conditioned, comfortable, close to the action facility with easy, convenient parking and reserved seating. This venue has an awesome tennis history

Check out The Philadelphia Freedoms full schedule and enter to win a Family Ticket 4 Pack to The Philadelphia Freedoms Dog Days of Summer Kid's Night on August 12th. Enter using the Rafflecopter Widget below!

Buy Tickets to The Philadelphia Freedoms Kid's Night

Kid's Tickets are $10 on August 12th. Tickets for adults range from $15 to $25. Purchase tickets at: http://freedomstix.ticketfly.com/ Doors open at 5:30 and match starts at 6:45 pm on August 12th 2016.
WIN Tickets to The Philadelphia Freedoms Kid's Night

Enter below for many chances to win 4 tickets to attend The Philadelphia Freedoms Professional Tennis Kid's Night on August 12th at Villanova University Pavilion. 

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received admission tickets to The Philadelphia Freedoms in exchange for this promotion.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Dinosaurs Unearthed at Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Review

by EJ on 07/07/16

Keeping in tune with our Summer of Science adventures here at Four Little Monsters, we headed out to The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University last week to check out the visiting exhibit, Dinosaurs Unearthed. Back by popular demand, Dinosaurs Unearthed features over a dozen roaring, moving, life-like animatronic dinosaurs as well as skeletons, fossil casts, claws, horns, and teeth specimens.

Our monsters immediately took to the interactive parts of the Dinosaurs Unearthed and got to playing around with the buttons and controls that made the dinosaurs move their heads, arms and tails. We
had to pry our youngest guy off of the controls, he was having so much fun. Other interactive features of Dinosaurs Unearthed included touch-screen quizzes, a human-to-dinosaur scale, a Parasauralophus call generator and more. The dinosaurs' appearance was in keeping with the latest scientific information, right down to the feathers on the T-Rex. They even had a huge sign that explained fact and fiction regarding the Velociraptor made famous by the Jurassic Park movies.

Believe it or not, all of the animatronic dinosaurs inside the museum are "juveniles". The adult dinosaurs couldn't fit in the building so if you come in or leave through the front entrance, you'll be greeted by these seriously large adult counterparts outside.

Once we finished exploring the exhibit, our beloved Dinosaur Hall and the museum's excellent collection of dioramas that date from the 30s, 40 and 50s, we headed to the uppermost floor to let the kids play in Outside In, a super kid-friendly learning and play environment with live animals, an eagle's nest, a play forest, a play seashore and pond. A cozy seating area awaited us parents but we couldn't stop exploring either. We met the museum's very own Hedgehog, African Leopard Tortoise, various turtles and sliders, an entire working Honey Bee hive and various bugs and beetles.

Dinosaurs Unearthed is on display now through January 16th, 2017 at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. The exhibit requires a separate admission fee from regular admission:
  • $7 for Non-members
  • $4 for Individual, Family and Family Plus Members
  • FREE for Partners' Club Members and Above
Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog received admission to Dinosaurs Unearthed in exchange for review and promotion. All opinions belong to the blogger.



The Secret Life Of Pets Special Advanced Screening Event in Philly

by EJ on 07/07/16


Three of my monsters partied it up in Philly last night to celebrate the upcoming release of "The Secret Life of Pets" with a special advanced screening and block party at The Ritz Five. Hosted by XFinity and NBC Comcast Universal, the monsters enjoyed a huge assortment of high-end food trucks. The kids tried the pizza, fried cheese curds, cheesy tater tots cheeseburgers and Italian ices. Dad had a bit too much fun sampling all the fancy food trucks for foodies. 

After their bellies were full, the monsters goofed around in a movie themed photo booth. Inside The Ritz Five Theater, they cooled off and checked out their XFinity Pets Goodie Bags which included games, pins, a Frisbee, key chains and of course, candy. The theater treated them to popcorn and drinks.

"The Secret Life of Pets" comes from animation studio Illumination Entertainment, directed by Chris Renaud of Despicable Me and Yarrow Cheney. The movie explores how your pet might react when a new pet joins the household. Having just doggy-sat a big Black and Tan hound for six weeks, with our not-so-thrilled Pug forced to put up with a very big new friend, the kids were all too familiar with that plot line. Our Pug is still recovering. The kids were giggling and laughing throughout this film. We give "The Secret Life of Pets" a four out of five monster rating! "The Secret Life of Pets" opens in theater nationwide on Friday, July 8th, 2016.


Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog was invited to a Special Advanced Screening of The Secret Life of Pets. All opinions belong to the blogger.

Benefits of Family Memberships to Favorite Museums and Attractions

by EJ on 06/27/16

When you've got a big family, the expense of going places can really add up. For our family of seven, a single trip to the zoo or aquarium can easily cost over one hundred bucks or more. At that rate,  trying to entertain seven people over summer months sounds impossible. That's why we plan ahead and arm ourselves with memberships to our favorite museums and attractions. We've found that buying the family membership often costs just as much, maybe a bit more as a single visit for our tribe and sometimes, even a little less. That's not always the case but if you want to visit three or four or more times a year, it's definitely worth it to go the membership route. Of course, dishing out around a hundred dollars or more for a membership to here and there isn't cheap either, but we've found it takes a village to raise our little village and when birthdays and holidays come around and the relatives start asking, "What does so and so want?" we can suggest a family membership to a favorite attraction that we'll be able to enjoy all year long. It teaches the kiddos to value experiences over things, too, which is a plus. Think ahead come tax return time and grab up some memberships then as well.

The Perks of A Family Membership to Museums & Attractions
  • For a big family, an annual Family Membership may cost just as much as paying per person for one single visit.
  • You can visit your favorite attraction all year long, and never pay admission until your membership runs out.
  • Some memberships offer free gifts and free passes for additional guests.
  • Memberships often offer discounts for special events, free admission to special events, discounts at the gift shop, discounts to other similar attractions.
  • Many Family Memberships participate in programs that get you into other similar attractions for free or discounted for the duration of your membership.
  • Once you become a member of a certain attraction, you'll often receive discounts on membership renewals when the time comes. 
  • Members receive invites to members-only or member appreciation days.
  • Members may receive discounts on birthday party packages.
Mix Up Your Memberships So You're Always Doing Something New
  • A membership to an outdoor garden attraction like Longwood Gardens is great for a beautiful day while a museum membership is great for a rainy day. There are lots of indoor and outdoor options when it comes to family-friendly attractions.
  • Use your membership when new exhibits open and visit for family fun days. 
  • Find out if your membership to one museum gets you into other museums. For instance, a membership to the Delaware Natural History Museum participates in ASTC Passport Program, which gives members free or reduced admission to over 350+ Science-Technology centers across the country and the world. This comes in handy when we travel and are looking for new museums to visit. 
What is your favorite family-friendly attraction to visit? How much does it cost to visit one time? Have you looked into an annual family membership? Let us know in the comments!

It costs a ton to go anywhere with five kids! Consider the benefits of Family Memberships to Favorite Museums &... https://t.co/HwnotSguX6

— Four Little Monsters (@4LilMonsterBlog) June 27, 2016

It costs a ton to go anywhere with five kids! Consider the benefits of Family Memberships to Favorite Museums &...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Monday, June 27, 2016

Grow Crystals Science Project, Summer of Science

by EJ on 06/09/16

It's our first week of summer with all the kids at home and we've set a goal to do one cool science project a week as a family. We'd love for our readers to join us on this journey and experiment along with us! Science is cool, after all, and just because school is out, doesn't mean the learning stops at our house.

We wasted no time getting started on our Summer of Science and have spent this first week learning all about crystals. For our first science experiment, we tested out some crystal growing techniques. For variety, we tried out two different crystal growing recipes, one with a Magic Rocks kit (because I'm nostalgic for my childhood) and then also a home-made recipe using vinegar and salt.  

Grow Crystals with Magic Rocks Kit 

I'm probably not the only one who had a blast with Magic Rocks as a kid. They're not technically crystals, but grow similarly and fairly quickly. Our youngest son kept calling it "his plant" and he was pretty on point as Magic Rocks are more like a chemical garden than crystals. The rocks that come with the kit are multi-colored in pink, green, yellow and blue. Kids get to gently break them into smaller pieces and divide them into three groups. The first group goes in a clear jar first, creating a stabilizing bottom layer. The kit comes with a growing solution that gets mixed with 12 oz. of warm water, then carefully poured into the jar. The second set of rocks goes in next, then after a few minutes, the third. It takes about four hours for the full effect of the growth to take place. My kiddos kept returning to the jar to check on crystal growth progress and they were amazed at the difference each time they looked. The chemical solution is definitely not edible, so close parental supervision is recommended on this one. 
  • Magic Rocks are made of metal salts that are dispersed in aluminum hydroxide.
  • The Magic Growing Solution is sodium silicate. 
  • Metal salts react with the Sodium Silicate to form chemical towers about 4 inches tall. 
Grow Crystals Using Salt and Vinegar

We started from scratch with our next crystal growing experiment with the following items:
  • 1 cup Hot Water, Boiling is Best
  • 1/4 cup Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Vinegar
  • Food Coloring
  • Medium Piece of Sponge
  • Shallow Dish
First, we stirred together the water, the salt and the vinegar. Then we laid the sponge on the shallow dish. Carefully, a kiddo poured the mixture over the sponge so that it soaked up most of the liquid with some in the dish, saving any extra liquid. Next, we dripped several droplets of food color on the sponge and sat the dish near a sunny window. About a day or so later we had some impressive crystal growth and the kids were fascinated.

Crystals All Around Us

Crystals are everywhere and most of the time we don't even know it. The kids had fun guessing where we could find all kinds of crystals. We decided that sugar was made of crystals, which made for some tasty follow-up crystal experiment ideas, and then we set out to find how crystals form in the first place. We found this great, kid-friendly resource on how crystals work:

Further Reading On Crystals for Kids:

http://www.ducksters.com/science/crystals.php

Plan A Summer Strategy for Big Families, Special Needs Families

by EJ on 05/31/16

Wow, the school year is winding down rather quickly - *quick, hide!* - and before I know it, I'll have five kiddos running all over the house, stealing paper and staplers out of my home-office, demanding snacks left and right, whining that they're bored and have nothing to do and all that. If their day off from Memorial Day was any sort of preview, than we're certainly in for it as parents.

I think as the school year comes to an end, the kids start to get just as anxious as us parents, they start to push more buttons and test more limits, so it's time to start preparing all of us for spending a lot more time together. Plus, when you've got a High Functioning Autism-kiddo and an ADHD-er as we do, it's super important to figure out what we want our summer routine to look like, plan out what we can plan, so the transition goes more smoothly. Here's my summer strategy, which I'll discuss with the family as a group, so we're all on the same page. It's a list of seven great ways to keep Mom, Dad and kids on the right path for a successful summer break.

1. Hike and Get Outdoors. Plan on going hiking at least once a week with all the kids, explore new trails and re-enjoy familiar trails. Here in Delaware, we have a great selection of State Parks as well as several National Wildlife Refuges. Since we've got an Aspie-kiddo, who thrives on routine and predictability, we'll likely pick one or two days a week where we go hiking and stick to those days for hiking. Sundays work really well for us.

2. Make use of those family memberships to museums and attractions. It's time to start using our memberships to local museums and gardens. Since I work from home, I can't let my work schedule fly out the window. We'll need to pick a day where we go adventuring every week. For instance, every Thursday we'll go have an adventure at one of our favorite science museums, Longwood Gardens or the Zoo.

3. Stick to usual chore, bath and bed routines. Just because summer is here, does not mean the kids get to stay up late every night, be dirty and live in filth. Mom and Dad need down time more than ever now. We have a movie night once a week when the kids stay up late, but other than that, we'll try to keep bed time reasonable. Chores will go on as usual and possibly more so, since our house will have all the kiddos in it more often. 

4. Stock up on crafts, paper and science kits. Okay, I'm big on science kits. I'll be taking my coupons to Michaels and AC Moore to stock up on science experiment kits, craft sets and a ton of paper. We go through paper like crazy. My kids love crafting, building, painting, writing, drawing and all things creative so the more stocked we are on that, the better. Sometimes we're involved as parents and sometimes I need them to go craft independently so I can get some work done.

5. Sign up for summer camps. We have so many choices for summer activities where we live. Our kids have participated in space camp, art camp, theater camp and more. This summer, we'll again have each kid in at least one summer camp to keep those brains and all that creative energy engaged. It's also a great way to get them out of the house, away from each other and with new friends and environments.

6. Boredom is not always a bad thing. It's okay if my children say they're bored. They may not agree but I would like them to know that I am not always responsible for keeping them occupied. Yes, I like to keep them busy and active, but sometimes it's okay to send them to their room for no reason at all, or to have quiet time or read, or send them outside to explore.

7. Stick to Your Schedule. Whatever your schedule is, stick to it and adjust as needed. I work from home, and still need to meet all my work responsibilities even with the kids home and they'll likely  need to be reminded of that at first.

What are your summer strategies? Feel free to leave your ideas and plans for a smooth transition in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Take Your Kids to Vote On Election Day!

by EJ on 04/26/16

It's Primary Election Day here in our beloved state of Delaware, as well as in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut. Our family has a tradition of taking the kids to the polls, so they can see what it's all about and how voting works and how special and important it really is. Fortunately for our family of seven, we live in a small town and we've never had to wait in line at the polls so voting normally goes quickly, which is always helpful. Our polling place is also extremely kid-friendly and they're encourage dot be party of the process. Here are some tips for taking your own monsters to the polls:

1. Find out what your local polling places' rules are for kids. Different places have different rules regarding what kids can and can't do in the polling place. Our polling place allows kids of all ages to attend, and they can even stand inside the curtains with a parent, on the left side.

2. Communicate to your children the importance of voting in our society. There are all kinds of Election Day printables online and you can even hold a mock election amongst stuffed animals. You can do these activities to build up to the big day.

3. Plan ahead and figure out when your polling place is least crowded. In our case, we have a child with Asperger's Syndrome/High-Functioning Autism and he doesn't appreciate changes in routine, so keeping the trip to the polls quick is key to avoid a meltdown. We also have an ADHD-er, who doesn't stand still for anything. Keep the visit to the polls brief and that will hopefully avoid any kiddo mood swings so that they'll actually benefit from the experience.

4. Allow your child(ren) to help sign-in at the polling place. Let your child hand over your Driver's License to the precinct worker. If the rules allow, he/she can even press the VOTE button.

5. Talk to your children about the voting experience afterwards. What did they think of voting? Who was there? What did they see and do at the polls? Did you run into neighbors or friends?

6. Make the voting experience memorable. We always write down one or two things that the kids said that Election Day, something that made the moment memorable. Last Election Day, for instance, our then four year old daughter cried and pouted as we were leaving, because she thought she would be meeting Mitt Romney, whom she'd seen on television so many times. When she cried out in very dramatic fashion as we exited the polls, "I didn't get to meet Mitt Romney!" everyone was in giggle fits.

7. Express your pride that you voted and encourage your kids to be proud, too. Post a picture to Facebook that you voted with the kids. Some polling places have stickers and the kids will proudly wear them. Our daughter was telling everyone we saw during our errands afterward, that "we voted!"

Go VOTE and absolutely TAKE THE KIDS! We've got some tips for making Election Day go smoothly for the kiddos. #VOTE...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron, Promo Code & Review

by EJ on 04/20/16

Between running my business and running five kids to-and-fro every day, I rarely find time to pamper myself. Let's face it, I can't style my hair every single day. However, when I've got quality hair care products at home, I don't have to go far for a little me time when needed. Thanks to Vanity Planet, many of my favorite beauty products are always at my fingertips. Right now I'm obsessing over my new Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron and I'm excited to share this product with Four Little Monsters readers. 

I'll start by saying that my hair is normally a crazy mess. While I'm super thankful for a head of thick, fast-growing, long tresses, my hair routine gets old fast. I'm talking so thick it's hard-to-brush hair, waves here but not there hair, explosion of knots every morning hair. I get this fabulous-ness from my mother's side of the family. If I don't visit the salon every two or three months, it's that much more unmanageable. Knowing this, I still don't get to the salon often enough. With such craziness going on on top of my head and so much craziness going on in my life, I need hair care products at home that I can rely on. 

Vanity Planet sent me their Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron, which uses specifically designed technology to straighten my hair with a perfectly styled look. The built-in Ion Generator keeps my hair frizz-free. Floating Titanium Tourmaline plates create extra shine and softening, while venting through the top of the iron (awesome for damp hair) to keep my hair healthy. The Tame Flat Iron works on damp or dry hair and straightens and curls, whichever you choose, with adjustable temperatures of 150 F to 450 F. The Tame Flat Iron includes an Auto Shut-Off which kicks in after sixty minutes and has a comfortable, rubberized, smooth coating for an easy grip. 

My favorite feature is the adjustable temperature and the wide range of heat. Sometimes my hair does not want to cooperate but the ability to raise the heat on these unruly waves solves that problem fast. There's also a super cool 360 degree swivel cord which makes moving while I style a complete breeze. The Tame Flat Iron gets hot fast, so there's no awful waiting when I'm short on time. When it's time to put the Vanity Planet Damp Dry Flat Iron away, it's got a convenient Handle Lock Mechanism, which keeps the product compact when stored and protects those titanium plates when not in use. This is such a solid product and very sturdy. It doesn't feel loose or fragile in the slightest. When so many products aren't made to last, I'm confident so far that I'll be holding on to this Flat Iron for a while.

Exclusive Promo Code TAMEFLM Saves 75% OFF Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron

Four Little Monsters has an exclusive Promo Code: TAMEFLM, to save 75% off the retail price of the Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron. That's a discount of $150! Regularly priced at $200, use this promo code to get it for only $50. Don't forget to show off your hair and use hashtag #VPBeauty if you buy! Purchase the Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron HERE and enter our Promo Code at checkout.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters is a Brand Ambassador for Vanity Planet and receives compensation and products in exchange for promotion. All opinions are honest and belong to the blogger.

Get our exclusive Promo Code for Vanity Planet's Tame Dry Flat Iron and check out the review! #BusyMom #BestHair...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Stinky Cheese Man On Stage, Arden Children's Theatre, Philadelphia, Review & Giveaway

by EJ on 04/18/16

The Stinky Cheese  Man at Arden Theatre Company

If you're looking for an evening out in Philly for the whole family, I have found the event for you! Trust me. We just saw a truly hilarious, kid and parent friendly stage production of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales at The Arden Theatre Company in Old City Philadelphia. 

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales On Stage

Arden Children's Theatre has been doing shows for kids for sixteen years, with the same quality resources going into their kid-friendly shows as they put into their Mainstage shows. The effort and talent in this particular show is no exception. From the gorgeous, colorful set

The Stinky Cheese Man at Arden Theatre Company

designs, to the superb talent of the actors, The Stinky Cheese Man was an absolute delight from beginning to end. The show, mirroring the Caldecott award-winning book it's based on, takes well-known fairy tales and other classic children's stories and mixes them up in all kinds of silly, hilarious ways. Characters include Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Chicken Licken, The Really Ugly Duckling, The Stinky Cheese Man and more. For days on end since the show, my kids have been jumping up from behind me, shouting "COW PATTY!"


If you grew up giggling over the book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by John Scieszka (like I certainly did), then you absolutely need to see this show with your kids. I have been sharing the same exact book I grew up with, with my kiddos since they were tiny. I bought my copy at my own middle school book fair. If you don't own a copy now, you can pick one up after the show in the theater lobby. I never dreamed I'd see these stories on stage but I'm so glad someone thought to do this. I was in tears with laughter at least four times throughout the show and it was very cool to see my kids glued and engaging with the entire production.


A great bonus to the children's shows at Arden Theatre Company is the post-show Meet and Greet with the cast. Kids get to ask questions and take photos directly after the show. I absolutely love when our kids can interact with professional stage actors as we've had our kids involved in live theater for several years now and live theater has always been a passion of mine that I'm hoping to pass on to my kiddos. Our oldest son, 8, has Aspberger's Syndrome, now referred to as High-Functioning Autism. He's always been very artistic and detail-oriented, so theater has been an amazing and therapeutic resource for him, giving him a place to practice working with a team, to build his social skills, to express himself and be creative. He was very proud to tell the actors at Arden Theatre Company all about his upcoming show.

WHERE: Arden Theatre Company 40 N. 2nd Street Old City Philly

WHEN: Through June 12th 2016

Tickets: Call the Box Office at 215.922.1122 or visit www.ArdenTheatre.org. Cost is $18 to $36 depending on age and performance chosen.

WIN 4 Tickets to See The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales at Arden Theater Company 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

We're giving away 4 tickets to see The Stinky Cheese Man at The Arden Theatre Company in Old City Philly!...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Monday, April 18, 2016

Nizar Ibrahim and National Geographic Live! Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous Presentation, Review

by EJ on 04/08/16

We traveled to Maryland yesterday to meet our oldest kiddo's hero, paleontologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim. Ibrahim, last night's speaker for National Geographic Live! at Harford Community College, described his adventures in Germany, Italy and Morroco, to re-discover the dinosaur fossils of Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur yet discovered, the only known fossils of which previous to his work, were lost to history in the bombings of Munich, Germany during World War II. If you're a regular reader here at Four Little Monsters, you may remember we ventured to DC last year to see the culmination of Ibrahim's scientific detective work, determination and love for #SpinoDino, an exhibit that features a full skeletal model of the dinosaur, Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous. At this exhibit, our daughter declared that she would join Ibrahim in Morocco for a fossil expedition one day.

Nizar Ibrahim Describes His Adventures To Re-Discover Spinosaurus in National Geographic Live! Presentation

The National Geographic Live! presentation was truly an amazing experience for her, bringing her face to face with the scientist she so admires, reminding her all over again why she loves Spinosaurus. Her favorite part was when Ibrahim described Spinosaurus as a "truly bizarre" dinosaur and she recalled afterward how she's always thought the same thing, hence her interest in it. Spinosaurus was actually one of several huge predators inhabiting the same area during the Cretaceous period. Ibrahim explained how multiple predators may have been able to co-exist and thrive in the same ecosystem due to each creature's highly specialized traits and diets. Spinosaurus likely fed on aquatic creatures exclusively, which can be determined by the location of it's nostrils much farther up his snout than on other land predators, allowing him to breathe while the rest of his snout was underwater, and it's conical teeth. Other clues to this creature's semi-aquatic lifestyle are it's short hind limbs, similar to early whales, it's wide, flat claws and feet and it's dense and compact bones, similar to cross-sections of penguin bones.

Ibrahim is a fantastic speaker, his skill at story-telling really draws in the listener, and one can feel his profound love of discovery and adventure when he speaks, which is a great skill to have when it comes to inspiring kids. When he describes the Cretaceous North African landscape, you can almost see, feel and hear the environment of Spinosaurus all around you. He describes it as what would have been, "The most dangerous place on Earth." The short clips of Spinosaurus in action helped, too, but his skill at speaking to an audience is what truly powered the experience. 

Nurturing a Love of Dinosaurs

It's true that tons of kids love dinosaurs. Our kid lives and breathes dinosaurs, so we make sure to nurture that with all kinds of experiences. Our eleven-year old has been dreaming of a North African fossil dig since she was 4, when she caught a glimpse of the world's first documented semi-aquatic dinosaur Spinosaurus on the screen of our television in Jurassic Park III. Now, she can point out all the reasons why the Spielberg version of Spinosaurus is all wrong, but she's been set on dinosaurs, Spinosaurus and prehistoric creatures of all sorts, ever since. At age six, she wrote her own book called "Prehistoric Mammals" and presented it to a stunned Kindergarten teacher. These days, we're often traveling to fossil shows, buying up all the literature, models and fossils she can get her hands on and then she spends hours and hours a week working on her own Paleo-art. She met with another hero of hers several weeks ago, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University's resident Paleo-artist Jason Poole. Her first real-life dinosaur fossil dig is coming up this June in New Jersey. We're going to put together a paleontology portfolio for her soon, to keep all her adventures and work in one place. Our visit with Ibrahim will be a major moment in her portfolio.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters is not affiliated with National Geographic Live! and was not compensated for this post. All opinions belong to the blogger.

Here's our recap of last night's presentation and visit with Paleontologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Friday, April 8, 2016

USA Science and Engineering Festival in DC, April 16th and 17th Free Science Expo

by EJ on 04/06/16

Who else is counting down the days until this year's USA Science and Engineering Festival? I seriously cannot wait. I'm always looking for ways to keep my kids excited about STEM. What better way to accomplish that then to take them to a huge party for science!? This amazing event features a FREE Expo that runs April 16th and 17th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. More than 350,000 attendees will celebrate science this year while mingling with some of the greatest scientific minds and science celebrities in STEM.


Science Takes Center Stage at this Year's USA Science and Engineering Festival

At this year's 4th Annual USA Science and Engineering Festival, families can interact with over 3000 hands-on activities in fields from nanotechnology to space exploration. Most activities take about fifteen minutes. Browse the list of exhibitors HERE. Stage presentations and performers will include science experiments and science celebrities. Performances will include a laser lights spectacular, combustion experiments, Nobel Prize winning Physicist Dr. William Phillips, Schmitty The Weather Dog, popular Shark Trackers OCEARCH, Bionics, Medicine and Mathematics and my very personal favorite, They Might Be Giants. See the full list of performers and stage shows HERE. Stage shows are also free and open to the public but seating is limited so check the schedule and arrive early.

The expo will be grouped into pavilions with the following themes: Natural Sciences, Earth Sciences, Astronomy and Space Exploration, Engineering, Health and Medicine, Energy, Social Sciences, Math and Computer Sciences, High Technology and the Kids Pavilion for children 7 and under). If you've got a kiddo who just loves all things planets and space as I do, then be sure to head to that particular pavilion first, as it will easily take more than two days to see the whole Expo.
• Natural Sciences
• Earth Sciences
• Astronomy/Space Exploration
• Engineering
• Health and Medicine
• Energy
• Social Sciences
• Math/Computer Sciences
• High Technology
• Kids Pavilion (for children under 7 years of age)
- See more at: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/attendees/attendee-faq.html#sthash.UalLkLXi.dpuf
• Natural Sciences
• Earth Sciences
• Astronomy/Space Exploration
• Engineering
• Health and Medicine
• Energy
• Social Sciences
• Math/Computer Sciences
• High Technology
• Kids Pavilion (for children under 7 years of age)
- See more at: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/attendees/attendee-faq.html#sthash.UalLkLXi.dpuf
• Natural Sciences
• Earth Sciences
• Astronomy/Space Exploration
• Engineering
• Health and Medicine
• Energy
• Social Sciences
• Math/Computer Sciences
• High Technology
• Kids Pavilion (for children under 7 years of age)
- See more at: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/attendees/attendee-faq.html#sthash.UalLkLXi.dpuf

If you pre-register for the USA Science and Engineering Festival, they'll put you in the running for a super cool prize.

Don't forget to stock up on your USA Science and Engineering gear HERE

Keep in mind, there is no event parking at the convention center. You'll need to make use of nearby public parking lots. To locate parking and plan your visit, visit the Frequent Questions page. Maps of the Expo will be available when you arrive. Strollers are permitted. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and Four Little Monsters is not directly affiliated with the USA Science and Engineering Festival. We just love science and learning. A lot.

My five monsters listen to They Might Be Giants #ScienceIsReal EVERY DAY. We're so excited for the USA Science &...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nature Crafts: Fairy Garden How-To, The Fairy Paintbox Fairy Garden Decor

by EJ on 04/04/16


It's time to get outdoors and do stuff, folks. What better way to get kids excited about the outdoors than to do a little gardening? By little, I mean little. With a little help from The Fairy Paintbox, we worked on our very own miniature garden this week, complete with furniture and decor for the fairies, of course! Fairy gardens can go just about anywhere in the garden, but we like to put ours in a planter for the porch so we can move it around if needed. Here's what you'll need to make your very own Fairy Garden:

  • Small to medium planter
  • An assortment of small to tall plants, to give your garden some depth. 
  • Sea glass or gravel, for a mini walkway
  • A miniature chair, bench or stool
  • A miniature door and/or mini arbor
  • A Fairy Welcome sign or other fairy-friendly garden stake
For our fairy garden, the kids chose some colorful flowers, both small and tall, as well as some low-lying greenery. Boy, was it wonderful to be back in our local nursery again. The flowers were simply amazing. The varying heights of the plants we chose gave our fairy garden depth and provided some good hiding spots for fairies, too. We stuck the taller plant near the back and our smallest plants nearer to the front. The kids had a blast designing their incredible fairy hide-away and are excited to take care of it over the season.

The Fairy Paintbox has a really great selection of handmade fairy garden decor, including exquisite miniature Hand Painted Fairy Doors, Toadstool Fairy Seats, Miniature pots and super cute Fairy (and Gnome!) Welcome Signs. They're happy to accept custom orders as well.

Be sure to visit The Fairy Paintbox at www.TheFairyPaintbox.com for great kids' room decor and wood wall alphabet lettering products for home and office. To browse their fairy garden supplies, visit their Etsy shop.

The Fairy Paintbox on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFairyPaintbox

Paleopalooza 2016 at The Academy of Natural Sciences, Review

by EJ on 03/24/16

There's all kinds of good stuff happening at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philly these days. We urge all our Monster families to attend Animal Super Hero Weekend on April 2- 3rd, a celebration of all the amazing abilities of real-life animals that inspire many of our favorite super hero characters! First, we've got all sorts of memories to share from this year's Paleopalooza festivities, The Academy's dinosaur-lovers dream event! We attend this one every year, as our preteen has been a bit obsessed with dinosaurs since birth and therefore we attend every dinosaur-related event our schedule will fit.

Paleopalooza did not disappoint and topped our previous visits. We were already in fossil heaven when we arrived, having spent the earlier morning buying up prehistoric goodies at the Newark Gem and Fossil Show and salivating over the bones we couldn't afford (I snagged two almost-complete Megalodon teeth, so I, myself, was in quite a good mood). After a quick snack in the cafe, we met the Academy's resident Paleo-artist Jason Poole, one of our daughter's heroes! We grabbed a copy of his new and amazingly detailed dinosaur coloring book A Dynasty of Dinosaurs, stuffed with facts about dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures. Poole was working on a new creation as we perused some of his work.

Now, our daughter can be a little shy, but I could tell she was in her element when she demanded to speak with the tour guide in Dinosaur Hall, so that she could clarify some details regarding something he'd said during a tour. Apparently he'd asked the group what dinosaur would win in a battle of Spinosaurus versus T-Rex. "A Spinosaurus and  T-Rex would never battle each other!" she said passionately, "They lived in different times AND T-Red lived in the place that is now the United States and Spino lived in North Africa!" We had to reign her in. (She's very fact oriented, as in, she gets really upset when the little ones watch Dinosaur Train because it's not scientifically correct). She later decided that if the two dinos that lived in different times did, in some crazy universe, get together for a battle, the T-Rex would definitely win because of it's teeth. 

Fossil tables were set up throughout the museum, with knowledgeable staff, Drexel students and regional fossil club members ready to show off all the jaws, claws and teeth. Ann Arbor artist David Zinn worked on a huge, life-sized color chalk drawing of Hadrosaurus Folkii as we watched from beneath his ladder. We attended an auditorium presentation, Rad Reptile Relatives, all about how modern-day birds are evolved from dinosaurs. I'm a birder, so I loved getting up-close with a living Red-Tailed Hawk in this presentation. It's really exciting to think about the fact that birds are living dinosaurs. The whole day was magnificent. Every staff member and Drexel student was just as thrilled about dinosaurs and fossils as we were. The enthusiasm for a love of learning really shows at the Academy and that's extremely important for kids to witness and be a part of. Our daughter is already counting down to next year!

We received a great surprise when we were pulled aside to a secret room where we learned all about a prehistoric exhibit that's still in the planning stages. I won't spill the beans just yet, but this exhibit is going to knock all the socks off! All of them.

The Academy of Natural Sciences Fun Facts AKA Why this Museum Totally Rocks List:
  • It was the first natural history museum established in the country! Founded in 1812.
  • The Academy's collection includes over 18 million specimens.
  • New, super massive dinosaur Dreadnoughtus was discovered by Drexel University paleontologist Ken Lacovara, one of two dinosaurs named by the Academy!
  • The Academy's Kids Club is a free program for kids 12 and under. 
  • The Academy holds themed weekend events and kid-friendly activities throughout the year to encourage a love of the natural world, such as Paleopalooza and Bug Fest!

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received admission to Paleopalooza in exchange for this review. We really are obsessed with dinosaurs and all opinions belong to the author.


 

Nature Crafts: Design and Grow a Terrarium!

by EJ on 03/13/16

Our family's Cub Scout and Girl Scout requirements converged this weekend with a trip to the Delaware Natural History Museum's All Scout Event. The museum's "Future Gardeners" table, where scouts and museum staff discussed types of trees, plants and growing zones, got me thinking about some activities we could do at home to further support what we'd learned. We decided to plant a carnivorous plant terrarium and share our adventure and discoveries here on the blog.

What is a terrarium?

A terrarium is a container designed to house small plants and/or animals in a controlled environment. Basically, it's an enclosed replica of a real environment in nature so soil, rocks and other natural elements should be present. Terrariums mimic habitats from deserts to rain forest environments. They're used by scientists and hobbyists to study and display all kinds of plants and animals. 

The enclosed nature of a terrarium allows for the air inside to be warm and more humid. If a terrarium has an open top, the air will be cooler. Screens can be used to house animals in a terrarium so that they may breathe without risk of escape. 

Designing and building a terrarium is a fantastic way to teach kids about different natural environments in the world, including the amazing plants and animals that inhabit them.

What do you need to build a terrarium?

You can buy a kit, like the Fly Trap Friends Terrarium by DuneCraft that we used, or gather your own materials. You'll need:
  • A large glass fish bowl, glass jar or a glass/clear plastic container with lid.
  • Peat moss
  • Several types of plant seeds. 
  • Gravel or small rocks.
  • Moss, if desired.
  • Small plastic insect or animal (if growing meat-eating plants, a small plastic lizard can act as a lure for insects). 
  • Scissors
  • Sheet of paper
1. First, decide what kind of environment you want to build. What will that environment require? How big do you want it to be?

A bog environment is perfect for the meat-eating insect plants that we wanted to grow. This kind of environment requires gravel rocks for the creation of streams and requires specific moisture levels and humidity. We researched wetlands, bogs and marshes to get some background on this environment.

2. Research your soil type and if required, add the correct amount of water for your peat moss. Talk about the way the soil feels. Make sure your soil medium moisture is correct for the environment you want to mimic. The kids can learn all sorts of things about soil properties with a little research online.

Carnivorous plants prefer high rainfall environments so we knew our soil needed to be very moist. Our peat moss called for 2 cups of distilled water. Allow the kids to get their hands dirty by spreading out the moistened soil. We learned that the perfect bog soil moisture is achieved when you press your thumb against the surface and the soil bounces right back. If the depression fills with water, there's too much moisture. 

3. If you're starting with seeds, read the specific instructions on your seed packets for planting. Use a folded piece of paper to transport your seeds to the container. Depending on the plant, some seeds may need to pushed a certain depth into the soil while others need to be placed on top of the soil.

4. Design your terrarium. Choose rocks, gravel or other natural accents. Think about what natural objects or creatures you would find in this environment in nature.

Our terrarium kit came with blue gravel stones and a plastic lizard. The kids took turns scattering the blue gravel around the soil, leaving space for water to build up into little streams. If you're doing a Carnivorous Plant Terrarium, add a Bog Buddy! The addition of a plastic lizard or other little creature can act as a lure to insects.

4. Discuss how to maintain the correct temperature, lighting and/or humidity for your terrarium. For instance, will you need artificial light during winter months? 

In our bog terrarium, the lid must be placed over the environment and the container then placed in a warm-bright area so that condensation can build up inside while we wait for the seeds to germinate. We'll know that our bog is at the correct humidity if condensation builds up on the inside of the dome. We can add to the humidity by spritzing the inside of the dome. 

Venus Fly Traps will grow well in bright, indirect sunlight but will wilt in direct sunlight. We chose a window that doesn't receive a ton of direct sunlight.

5. Discuss how to take care of the terrarium over time. 

Venus Fly Trap plants can grow for years which means they'll need lots of care. In fact, growing Venus Fly Traps from seeds takes a very long time. They are very slow growing and take an average of three years to mature. We're going to try fertilizing them with a mixture of plant food/fertilizer every two weeks to hopefully speed up the process. 

As our carnivorous plants get older, they won't need to be covered and will eventually be able to live outside for periods of time so they can catch live prey.
Don't forget to explore your terrarium's environment in the real world! Find a local wetland and go on an adventure that will really get your kiddos excited about their terrarium. Talk about conservation. Never remove a carnivorous plant from the wild! Due to their increased popularity over the years, they've decreased drastically in number in their natural environments.

Great Resources for Carnivorous Plant Terrariums:

http://www.ehow.com/about_5144973_do-venus-flytraps-grow-naturally.html

http://www.instructables.com/id/Carnivorous-Plant-Terrarium/

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/987497/make-an-indoor-terrarium-craft-for-kids

 

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