Tag Archives: Emily Moise

Guest Post: My Favorite Preschool Age Toys for the Pandemic Age

[Note: This post was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, a local mom, writer, and navigator of pandemic life with two young children.]

 

It’s that point in the pandemic winter where I just want all the things that will keep my little ones busy. And I mean busy quickly, independently, and for extended periods of time. The allure of the @busytoddler DIY sensory and creative play has faded as pandemic-fatigue has left me with little set-up and clean-up energy to expend. My son is also in the “sudden burst of throwing everything” phase. He can have his rice sensory bin this summer, outdoors.

Over the past year, my almost 2 and 3.5 year-olds have gone through many play phases and explorations. My daughter’s puzzle obsession has left us with cabinets full of them for another day. Our crafts corner is fully stocked, waiting for the moment it will finally be utilized unprompted. A supply of Legos is ready for its heyday, and stronger hands. Only a short list of items have risen to the top for us, consistently used eagerly and unsolicited.    Here are my tried and true items for preschoolers.

 

Climbing Rope Swing

This rope swing may be my best purchase of 2020. I had seen them around my neighborhood hanging from large trees — which we don’t have. After some assurance from Pinterest that they could be used indoors, we installed one in our basement this past fall. My 3-year-old has sustained enthusiasm for it since then, and even sneaks off downstairs to use it unprompted. It has a long life ahead holding up to 120 lbs. 

 

Magnetic Tiles

Magnetic tiles have been a household favorite for awhile but made a big resurgence when my son was old enough to join in — aside from being the tower destroyer. Now, both kids will play with these together for up to an hour. We recently added a set with gears to our collection, plus some window and door tiles, and are on the lookout for more accessory sets like this

 

Melissa & Doug Activity Pads

This brand is a classic for a reason! Their activity pads are my favorites, giving us lots of extended and/or independent play. My kids can do these Scissor Skills activities (with assistance) for an oddly long time, and do these reusable Puffy Sticker books over and over again. These Seek & Find sticker pads are my go-to when I need some uninterrupted time, and this one has quiet time written all over it. The painting pads with built in watercolors like this are genius. 

 

Board & Card Games

We’ve tried a dozen games during the past year but only a few are in heavy rotation. The trick has been finding ones that don’t exclude my youngest child, and bonus points when it’s mildly entertaining for the grown-ups. Zingo is as good as you’ve heard. We’ve had success teaching our little ones to play Go Fish, even if they are playing with open hands. Disney’s Eye Found It! is a winner, and there is a board version.

 

Playdoh

I had an aha moment with Playdoh at the start of the pandemic but it went out of favor after I realized it had to be cleaned up and capped — quickly — to avoid drying out, and also monitored to make sure someone didn’t smush ten new colors into one brown blob. After trying the alternatives, I brought the ‘doh back into the rotation, and I get it again. It just works so well for all preschool ages, especially if you add the right tools to the mix. 

 

Bath Puzzles

At some point, every parent realizes that bath toys are no good. The mold is annoying at best and dangerous at worst. I recently discovered bath puzzles with foam pieces that stick to the tub and walls without holes to collect or squirt water. Perfect for a much-needed extended bath time! After a quick search, I have a few more on my wish list like this alphabet set and this numbers set. This one is cute too.

 

Honorable Mentions

Building toy alternatives like Flower Gardens and LeapBuilders products (more toddler-friendly than Duplo’s) have given us lots of independent play. My eldest preschooler enjoys workbooks, particularly the mazes which don’t require much assistance, and the dry erase ones where mistakes are welcome. 

 

*What are your go-to items? Share in the comments and help a mom out!

 

 

 

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Filed under Coronavirus, COVID-19, Educational, Guest Post, Indoor Play, Preschoolers, Social Distancing, Toddlers

Little Kid-Friendly Places for Indoor Play with Precaution

A COVID-era visit to the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center

[Note: This round-up was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, local mom to two young children.]

 

“Winter is coming” brings a whole new shiver this year, as parents of little balls of energy are bracing themselves for the COVID Winter. Most will bundle up and tough it out, with fingers crossed for lots of sled-able snow. Many will enter a new phase of pandemic panic shopping for indoor play equipment. For those seeking respite at indoor spaces, some local businesses have taken extra measures to open with COVID precautions. Here are six little-kid-friendly indoor places to consider as the days get colder. (Please keep in mind CDC guidelines to limit activity indoors, and masks for ages 2+.)

 

Kids Play Gallery
When: 9:30am – 2:30pm daily
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
Admission: $15/ages 1+ (more details here)
COVID policies

An imaginative play space with a tiny town of play houses suited for ages 5 and under. The space is very clean and well-maintained, with a separate, closed-off area for eating. Business hours have been reduced and private play reservations are available. Call ahead to confirm drop-in play hours are as listed.

 

Launch Trampoline Park
When: Varies by location
Where: Rockville, MD | Columbia, MD | Herndon, VA
Admission: $22+ or $13+ on Groupon
COVID policies

Kids can run, jump, and literally bounce off the walls here, expending lots of energy. My active 18-month-old has held his own here, but it’s generally recommended for preschool ages and up. With timed-entry reservations, you should have plenty of space to yourself/your family. Professional-grade sanitizing is done between sessions. Reserve time online in advance; call to reserve time if tickets purchased through Groupon.

 

OmniFun
When: 12:30pm – 7:30pm daily; closed Tuesdays
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
Admission: Starts at $11.99/age 6 months+ (more details here)
COVID policies

Recently opened in 2019 and now reopened with COVID precautions, OmniFun features a soft climbing zone, giant building blocks, an arts and crafts space, a toddler play area, and more. Now, two hour sessions are reserved in advance for up to 9 kids at a time, and groups are rotated in 40 minute intervals. Recommended for ages 6 months – 12 years.  Reserve a time sot in advance.

 

BusyBees
When: 9am – 5pm weekdays; 11am – 5pm weekends
Where: Falls Church, VA
Admission: $15/child, free/parents and ages 1 & under
COVID policies

A chain of indoor playgrounds known for cleanliness, BusyBees features soft play climbing structures, slides, and spinning rides. Currently, only the Falls Church location is open, and it is unfortunately the smallest of the three locations. The space is closed for 30 minutes every hour-and-a-half for cleaning, so plan your visit accordingly. Be sure to check the website daily for modified hours.

 

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: 10am – 5:30pm daily
Where:  Chantilly, VA
Admission: Fre
e with timed-entry passes
COVID policies
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex has found itself to be a relatively low-risk space in COVID times with its spacious facility and timed-entry passes. Little kids should be well-attended here but have the flexibility to roam and, on a slow day, maybe even run circles around the massive aviation and space artifacts.

 

Shopping Malls
While their actual play spaces are closed, malls may make it into your weekly activities rotation. They are barren right now offering wide open lanes for kids to roam and browse. Plus, hand-sanitizing stations are set up throughout. Check your local mall for updated hours and safety precautions like these. (PS: A new LEGO Store is expected to open at Westfield Montgomery mall this fall!)

 

Tips for decreased risk:
* Go weekdays at opening times or midday when some places empty out for lunch and naps.
* Call ahead to see how crowded a place is prior to your planned arrival time.
* For a more controlled environment, look for places that allow reservations for private group play times like Kids Play Gallery, My Gym or Kids Ground.

 

For more indoor spaces, see this recent KFDC post for what’s currently open.

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Filed under 2020, 2021, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Maryland, Reopened, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

{Review!} Thumbelina at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise.]

Young theater-goers can experience the art of storytelling like never before at Imagination Stage’s Thumbelina, playing now through April 5. The classic Hans Christian Andersen tale about a girl trying to find her place in the world is reimagined with artistry inspired by Kamishibai, a form of Japanese street theater. Along with traditional acting performances, this unique production utilizes live video projections of small-scale puppetry and dioramas to bring the story of a thumb-sized girl to life.

Thumbelina employs the same ensemble of actors as Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth, a musical currently playing in repertory, in this contrasting brand of theater. [You can read the KFDC review of Zomo here.] If you happen to see both shows, the versatility of these actors is awe-inducing — once rapping and hip-hop dancing in Zomo, now maneuvering mini puppets along mini video-projected sets on right and left stage, then moving center stage for their life-sized roles in Thumbelina.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina, like Zomo, offers lessons abound for young audience members just beginning to learn about the world and their place in it. Most importantly: you have the power to create your own story, and you will eventually find your people and place, just be kind to those that are different along the way.

The multi-media aspect of the production adds a whole other layer to the lessons, as Thumbelina certainly writes its own category of theater. And look at all of the different skill-sets needed to bring it to life!

Zomo is a tough act to follow with its high-energy and audience engagement. But Thumbelina captivates with its creative production methods, flawless lead performance, a climactic act with a villainous mole, and a touching ending that’s a reminder to kids and adults alike that the rest is still unwritten.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Thumbelina is playing now through April 5 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15 – $35. Recommended for ages 4+.


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Filed under 2020, DC, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, Preschoolers, Seasonal, Theatre, Weekend, Winter

{Review!} Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth at Imagination Stage

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

[Note: This review is by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, who saw a performance of Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth with her 3-year-old daughter.]

Come for the Adidas sweat suit-clad, hip-hopping rabbit, stay for the life lessons. I had no idea what to expect at Imagination Stage’s Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth; I had only skimmed the Nigerian folktale (which has an entirely different ending) and the brief show description online (which doesn’t do it justice!). But a special opening night showing, where many kids were likely out past their bedtimes, made me think my daughter and I were about to see something special. And indeed it was.

From the start, that aforementioned rabbit named Zomo captivates the audience with nothing but his Run DMC-inspired energy and ensemble. He engages children and adults alike in his locally-spun, ill-fated quest for power that takes him through Washington, DC — complete with Metro rides and a dash of political humor. You will find yourself compelled to immediately start clapping and foot stomping along with the beat of his rhymes, and that continues until the end as the audience participates eagerly, both solicited and unsolicited. My preschooler lit up when it was her (and every kid’s) turn to stand up and show off her hip-hop moves.

Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage

Zomo’s journey involves a series of suspenseful, young-child-relatable wrongdoings. Namely, taking things that aren’t his. We follow him to the DC Waterfront for a dance-off with a breakdancing fish, to the National Zoo for an encounter with a graffiti artist cow, and to Adams Morgan for a jam session with a DJ leopard. He does some soul searching along the way, contemplating whether or not he’ll have more with the power he’s seeking or the friendships he’s building (that now need repair). Find out what he decides — and what your children decide for him — and how cultural barrier-breaking hip-hop was born according to the legend of Zomo.

Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is running now through March 22 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $15-$35. Recommended for ages 4+.

PS: Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth is playing in repertory with Thumbelina, opening next weekend. Stay tuned for a review!


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Filed under 2020, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Preschoolers, Theatre, Tweens, Weekend, Winter