Austin Kids' Directory Blog

Austin Kid’s Directory 4th Annual Fair

Austin Kid’s Directory 4th Annual Fair Austin Kid’s Directory 4th Annual Fair Austin Kid’s Directory 4th Annual Fair

Austin Kid's Directory is hosting our 4th Annual Spring Fair on March 23rd from 10am-2pm at the Austin Sports Center in Cedar Park. Come meet local businesses including: Mad Science, TLC Pediatric Dentistry, Catch Air, Kingdom Planners, Launch Code After School, Platinum Balloon Decor, Zach Theatre, Spare Time Texas, JD Stewart Magic Dude, Austin's Best Babysitters, Chaparral Ice, Bonzo Crunch, Monster Mini Golf, Avery Ranch Dance & Music, Crowns & Capes Elite Events, Austin Sports Center, Trips to the Mouse, Colin's Hope and more who will be offering information about summer camps, birthday parties, schools, childcare, family activities, medical services and all things kid!

Bonzo Crunch, Crowns & Capes, JD Stewart Magic Dude and Avery Ranch Dance & Music will also be performing in our entertainment area!

Admission and parking are FREE and there will be great prizes like a family 4 pack of tickets to Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, 2 family 4 packs of passes to Playland Skate Center, 1 hour of free bowling at Main Event along with giveaways, freebies, hands-on activities, entertainers and more! Attendees can register to win by visiting all booths and turning in a completed entry form.

Great news! Our event is being held in conjunction with the huge Fairytale Threads Children's Consignment Event where you can shop for kids clothing, toys, books, baby equipment and more!

Visit our Facebook event page for updates about the prize drawings and activities being offered at each booth - https://www.facebook.com/events/234730694081605/

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What’s Stopping You From Going on a Walt Disney World Vacation?

What’s Stopping You From Going on a Walt Disney World Vacation? What’s Stopping You From Going on a Walt Disney World Vacation?

Walt Disney World Resort is widely considered one of the top tourist destinations on Earth and a Disney vacation is often described as a right-of-passage for many families.  However, there are also many preconceived notions about Walt Disney World Resort which make people think that now is not the time for their Disney adventure.  So, what is stopping you from booking your Walt Disney World vacation right now?

"A Walt Disney World vacation is too expensive!"

Yes, a Walt Disney World vacation can be expensive but the value is incredible.  There is so much to see and do during a day at the parks - amazing attractions, the ability to meet your favorite Disney characters, Broadway-caliber shows, evening spectaculars and awesome fireworks - there is entertainment everywhere you turn your head! To make the most of your Walt Disney World visit, we recommend staying at least 7 nights at the resort – the perfect week-long vacation! The great thing about this is that the longer you stay, the less your park admission costs per day. Also, there is a hotel to fit every budget at the Walt Disney World Resort.  There are Deluxe, Villa, Moderate and Value resorts right on Disney property – and all of them come with the exact same Disney Resort Guest privileges. These perks include free Magical Express transfers to and from Orlando International Airport, the ability to take advantage of “Extra Magic Hours” at the parks, free package delivery of your purchases from the parks to your resort, free parking at the theme parks, free transportation from your resort to the parks and much more!

"The lines are too long!"

By touring the parks with a smart plan, most long lines can be avoided.  With the addition of the FastPass+ system it is easier and easier to enjoy more attractions and much shorter wait times. There are also better times of the year to visit if crowds are a concern. Avoiding major holidays and school breaks can significantly reduce the number of people you will encounter at the parks. Another incredible way to see the park attractions with little to no wait times is to book a VIP tour.  You don't have to be a celebrity to hire a Walt Disney World expert to guide you through the parks and allow you to ride any attraction you wish with very little waiting. A VIP tour is a luxury, but also a great value when you don't have a lot of extra time at the resort.  Guests can experience so much of the parks in a fraction of the time we would regularly recommend.

"I visited 5 years ago and I don't need to do Walt Disney World again.  Been there, done that."

If you haven't been to the Walt Disney Resort in the past 5 years, you really haven't seen all that the parks have to offer.  While keeping the nostalgia and history of the parks alive, the Walt Disney World Resort has also blasted into the future. First of all, everyone is gearing up for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge which will bring so much excitement to the Walt Disney World Resort late Fall 2019! In this new land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you will journey to Batuu – a thriving port of rogue traders, droids and unique creatures. There you can experience two new attractions: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance! Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be awesome, but if you visit before the new land opens, rest assured that there is still plenty of Star Wars fun to be had at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can ride Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, the kids can participate in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, see movie exhibits and meet some of your favorite characters at Star Wars Launch Bay and enjoy Star Wars shows throughout the day. End your day at the Studios with the fabulous Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular nighttime light and fireworks show.

Over in Epcot, the little ones will be thrilled to ride the fun, new Frozen Ever After attraction and meet Anna and Elsa in person at their Royal Sommerhus. At the new Toy Story Land you can “Play Big” with Woody, Buzz and the Gang. The ever-popular Toy Story Mania! ride is joined by the new Alien Swirling Saucers and Slinky Dog Dash coaster. Also, not-to-be-missed is Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This gorgeous land is where you can ride on the back of your own mountain banshee on Avatar Flight of Passage and journey into a bioluminescent rainforest on Na’vi River Journey. In addition, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will welcome Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy this Spring, the new nighttime spectacular Wonderful World of Animation this Summer, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway later this year. All of this, plus new Disney Resorts, restaurants, transportation and entertainment make Walt Disney World “new-to-you” in 2019.

"My child is too young to remember the trip."

You are never too young for magic! YOU will never forget the look of wonder on the kids' faces as they met Mickey Mouse and Cinderella for the first time.  Young children have the best time at Walt Disney World Resort and a Disney trip is a vacation that the entire family can enjoy together. Did you know that there are over 30 attractions at Magic Kingdom alone that have no height restrictions at all?  That means that everyone can enjoy the rides together. Of course, the adults don't have to miss their ride on Space Mountain.  Just utilize "Rider Swap."  This program allows one adult in your party to stay back and wait with the little ones while the rest of the group rides.  Then, the adult who stayed back can ride later by going through the FastPass+ line and avoiding a second wait in line.

"A Walt Disney World vacation is too confusing and requires too much planning." 

That is where your Kingdom Planners travel planner comes in!  We are experts in planning wonderful Walt Disney World vacations and will explain all the ins and outs of a great trip. Have we answered your questions and concerns about a Walt Disney World vacation?  Let us know if you have any others and we will be happy to answer! Did you know that booking your Disney trip with Kingdom Planners costs nothing more than if you booked through Disney on your own? Like ZERO! We are a Gold Level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and our amazing planning services - which include making resort and dining reservations, monitoring all current and future Disney promotions (and possibly saving you money!) and crafting custom daily itineraries - are FREE to our clients! You *could* do it all on your own, but why would you want to? Leave all the work to us and support a small business at the same time.

Contact Kingdom Planners today at http://kingdomplanners.com/request-a-free-quote

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Home Safety for Kids: A Parent’s Guide

Home Safety for Kids: A Parent’s Guide

Making your home a safe place for your children is a priority, but it can be a big job; if you take a look around, there may be dozens of hazards you never even thought of before, from the cords on your window blinds to that plant in the corner with toxic leaves. Depending on how old your child is, he or she could be facing dangers in every room of your home, so it’s imperative to know what to look for and how to prevent injuries.

The best way to get started is to walk through your home and make a checklist. Look at everything from a child’s point of view; in fact, it might help if you sit on the floor and look around -- especially if you have a baby or toddler -- to see what they see. Otherwise, you might miss the extension cords snaking out from behind the television stand or the bookshelf that would be so easy for a toddler to pull on top of himself once he starts climbing.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to help your child stay safe at home.

Start in the Kitchen

The kitchen is often one of the busiest rooms in a home, and as such, it can potentially hold the most hazards. From sharp knives to hot stovetops, this area requires supervision when your children are in it, along with some prevention tactics. If possible, remove the knobs from your stove when it’s not in use, or buy knob covers that prevent them from being turned. Always turn pot handles inward so they aren’t sticking out when on a hot burner. Keep knives up and well out of reach of little hands, and turn down the temperature on your hot water heater to ensure that no one gets burned if they turn on the wrong knob when washing their hands. For more great tips on how to make your kitchen safer, read on here.

Secure all Furniture

Many toddlers like to explore, and once they get the hang of it, they tend to climb on things: the couch, the bed, bookshelves, and even bureaus. Secure all furniture with anti-tipping devices -- these are typically strong nylon straps that are screwed into the back of the item on one end and secured to the wall on the other -- so that if your child does get the notion to climb, he won’t pull the heavy piece of furniture on top of himself.

Use Foam Bumpers on Sharp Corners

If you have a coffee table with sharp edges, a fireplace with a brick hearth, or kitchen counters with too many corners, look for foam bumpers that can be placed all along the sides for padding. For a pop of color in a play area, you can cut a foam pool noodle in half and use double-sided tape to secure it. This will ensure that your child won’t take a tumble and suffer a head injury.

Secure All Cords

Electrical cords can be a shock hazard, while the cords that control your window blinds can be a choking hazard. Secure all cords and keep them well out of reach of your child. Cover all electrical outlets with safety plugs, and don’t forget about extension cords and surge protectors.

Making your home a safe place for your child can be a big job, but it’s an important one. Go through each room carefully and make a list of all the things that need to be taken care of, from removing plants to setting up a baby gate to prevent your child from going up and down the stairs. With a good plan and careful attention to detail, you can ensure your home is safe and comfortable for your entire family.

* Article provided by Wendy Ross at www.safertomorrows.org.

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Adults Learning to Swim

Adults Learning to Swim

More than a third of adults in the United States can’t swim the length of a pool, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which puts them at risk of being one of the 10 people who drown every day in this country.

In the Austin area, we have lots of creeks, lakes, rivers...and programs like triathlons and swim meets...that are available for adults to participate in year round. It is an important life skill to be able to swim comfortably...and an exercise you can turn into a fitness activity.

It's important to find the right program for you. Make sure you visit the company, talk with the instructors and see others taking lessons to make sure you will be in a safe environment and with a knowledgeable instructor.

Here's some techniques on how Waterloo Swimming teaches Adults how to swim:

Technique #1

Discover their swimming background, goals, fears, & reason they decided to take lessons now. Adults bring with them a lifetime of experiences and knowledge with them to the swim instruction setting. Whatever their swimming background, it’s rooted in experiences that lead up to this point in time. We visit with each adult to understand what their background is and assess their immediate comfort both around and in the water. We might have lessons for adults who are training for a triathlon competition or adults who have never been in a swimming pool, river, lake, etc. It is important to know their background to provide the upmost safety for the student and the instructor.

Technique #2

Design the swim lessons plans according to the goals, skills, & timeline of the adult. Once we understand the adult’s swimming background, we tailor their lesson plans according their goals. The instructor should outline the swim lesson plan to the adult with clear objectives and realistic timelines. It’s essential to “get on the same page” with the adult’s swimming goals to tailor the instruction for maximum success. This creates a roadmap that the instructor and adult can use to provide feedback on progress.

Technique #3

Talk to adults as adults and let them know “why.” Once in the water and instructing, we make sure we talk to the adult – as an adult. Like any other situation, adults want to be treated as such. This sounds straight forward, but I’ve seen instructors fall back to “kid instruction” which can frustrate and insult adults. Keep the conversation moving by asking them “how did that feel” after the student attempts a skill. As well, tell the adult “why” they are about to try a skill so that they understand. Adults will comprehend what’s working and what’s not working …so, explain it to them.

Technique #4

Use various learning methods when instructing adjusting to the adult’s learning style. It’s important to understand how each adult learns best – whether it’s visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. We start out using auditory cues to describe the skill the adult is to attempt, following up with a visual example when necessary. For example, we use the term “Starfish” when asking the students to float on their backs to describe the position we want our student’s body in. Sometimes, it takes showing what the “starfish position” looks like in order for the student to understand what we are looking for in the skill. Finally, use kinesthetic techniques or physical motions to supplement learning. For example, the instructor may need to get behind the student and hold on to his feet/ankles to assist proper freestyle kicking motion.

Technique #5

Don’t tell Students what they are doing wrong, tell them what to do to correct what they are doing wrong. Correct maximum impact issues first. Keep instructions simple and short. Don’t give long lists of instructions or paragraphs of words to think about when they swim. Focus on one, two or three issues at a time such as: “PUSH OFF HARD, STREAMLINE, KICK SMALL”. We watch the student swim, give them feedback, ask them to swim again.

Technique #6

Be patient and flexible when implementing lesson plans. Be flexible with the game plan on teaching. Look and listen, watch the adult’s motions and emotions, pay attention to their disposition. How are they following instructions? Determine how teachable the student is. Some learn quickly, others might take more time. The timeline may need slow down or speed up to make sure they learn the most important lessons. For example, we had one adult trying to learn the correct breaststroke kick position… she tried and tried, becoming frustrated. We took a break from practicing it by doing something completely different. She tried breaststroke again in the next lesson performing it correctly.

Technique #7

Homework…it’s not just for the kids. Some adults have access to alternative pools where they can practice skills learned with you. Map out drills and techniques for them to practice between their swim lessons. Make sure the drill is either practiced in the lesson or easily understood. Remind them never to swim alone or in unsafe water.

Technique #8

Positive experience. Teaching swimming to a person any age is a rewarding experience. Watching a toddler learn to float or a child swim across the pool for the first time is always exciting as they are learning the skills for survival and swimming for fun. While teaching adults is not necessarily in the fore-front of the learn-to-swim industry, it can be an amazingly rewarding experience for both the instructor and the adult. We use positive motivation to encourage our students’ progress and we see their swim skills advance.

As an instructor, these techniques will help ensure a good swim lesson experience is had by both the instructor and the adult. We utilize these techniques and our “tool belt” of drills and skills to continue building on the fundamentals of swimming. For adults looking for quality swim instruction, investigate the swim school/instructor’s philosophy on teaching adults to see what their techniques are in their swim program.

For more information, visit us at https://waterlooswimming.com/adult-swim-programs/

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Planning a Learning-Infused Children’s Party

Planning a Learning-Infused Children’s Party

Searching for creative ideas for your child’s upcoming birthday party or milestone celebration? Why not try something new this year and feature children’s books. Incorporating a dose of literacy learning into party planning can be easy; and, a great way to support an interest in reading and books.

As a language arts teacher turned event planner, I strive to integrate reading into children’s events I host. Whether a birthday party, community gathering, or childcare service, kids will find quality children’s literature at the center of the fun. Why? Reading is one of the most precious gifts we can offer. When we model a love for reading, we inspire a magical, lifelong relationship with stories.

Planning a literacy-centered children’s party can be enjoyable and beneficial for all. As a starting place, select an age-appropriate children’s title that presents an engaging party theme. A child’s most cherished reads work well for the initial brainstorm. Popular, best-selling titles also make great choices, as pint-sized party guests will likely have some insight into the characters, plot, and theme you’re going for, overall.

These lively, fan-favorites lend themselves nicely for a great theme party!

1. Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug by Evan Kuhlman (Bug/Insect Party)

2. Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin (Pizza Party)

3. Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell (Superheroes vs. Villains Party)

4. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (Dance Party)

5. It Came In the Mail by Ben Clanton (Dragon Party)

6. A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young (Unicorn Party)

7. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (Art/Coloring Party)

8. Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems (Monster Party)

9. The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (Undersea Life/Ocean Party)

10. Is That Wise, Pig? By Jan Thomas (Farm Animals/Cooking Party)

Once you’ve decided on a title, consider the following party planning tips:

Use the book as a party ice breaker for a crowd of little ones with a fun, interactive read aloud. Read the story with expression and enthusiasm, add props, encourage movement, and invite the audience to repeat verses or sing along with the characters.

Conduct follow-up activities such as making crafts, playing games, or listening to children’s music related to the story.

Use the book as a centerpiece at each table, and encourage youngsters to chat about their favorite characters and parts of the story.

Have the story double as an autograph book and invite guests to sign or write a celebratory message.

As a party favor, gift your child’s guests with a copy of the book to take home for further enjoyment. Better yet, summon your child to compose a special message, or illustration if a prewriter, on the inside covers.

Instead of purchasing a gift, propose guests donate to a local Austin charity that supports early literacy, such as Literacy First.

In need of additional book suggestions? Consult the Austin Public Library’s “We Recommend” tab at library.austintexas.gov and peruse the children’s lists categorized by age, grade and genre. As well, the Texas 2x2 Reading List, sponsored by the Texas Library Association, names great titles for children age two to second grade. Some titles can be downloaded for free by clicking here. For slightly older children, the Texas Bluebonnet Award list, also compiled by the Texas Library Association, is a stellar resource aimed at grades 3-6. You can find the 2018-2019 list here.

Good luck, and here’s to building a community of enthusiastic, lifelong readers!

For more information on literacy centered children’s parties, events, and childcare, visit the Spunky Kids Website, connect on Facebook and Instagram @spunkykidsco, or call 512.914.8060.

This article was written by Carly Ferguson, owner and operator of Spunky Kids Austin. She is a toddler mom, certified Texas literacy teacher, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Children’s and Adolescent Literature from The Ohio State University.

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