Monday, April 9, 2012

Museum Review: Dinosaur State Park, CT

Dinosaur State Park in Connecticut needs to be on your list of places to go with kids. Go, right now, and put in on your list.

I'll wait.

This is just over an hour from our house and we left very early in the day to be there for their 9am opening. We arrived before the gift shop opened. As you enter the big silver dome, be prepared, you go through the gift shop that has lots of cool goodies low to the ground.

The exhibits are very well thought out and combine interactive button pushing and lever lifting with a compelling story of how the foot prints were discovered and protected. There are plenty of things to touch and some great explanations of different rock patterns. This is followed by some great short films about how the tracks were made and preserved. I especially enjoyed the interactive exhibit on the patterns of the tracks.

Then you finally get to see the actual tracks. It was quite impressive.

A small room at the end contains some of the best stuff. This room is devoted to kids with magnetic dinos on posters, puppets, stencils, fossils with guides, books, CTs of dino eggs, coloring, stamping, and live animals. They do have live animal talks from time to time but we didn't stay to see them.

They had a film about dinosaurs in claymation. I found it deeply irritating because they gave human emotion and motivations to the dinosaurs. Really?!  Don't bother with that film. There were other films later in the day. Hopefully they are better.

Be sure to ask for a Bingo sheet and walk around the grounds. There are plenty of picnic tables and gorgeous trails. There is a place to make your own casts too but it wasn't open - perhaps the crack of dawn was too early! or it was too chilly.  A small open air theater, butterfly garden and herb garden will be good spots to visit later in the season.

This is a 5/5 star location. The trails were either dry or had board walks so it is easy walking. Strollers would be tricky. Everything is well labeled and the Bingo was a huge hit. Be sure to return it for prizes.

If you aren't sure about what to purchase in the gift shop I recommend the grab bag. It is $2 and has magnetic stones, misc gems, stickers, a pencil and a pencil topper along with a book mark. The gift shop can be overwhelming for its sheer coolness for nerds like me and my kids - so be prepared with a budget.

Bring lunch it is worth staying a while.

And if you geocache, there is a great cache on site.  Is there a letter box??

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

OT: Slightly

I tried something rather silly and thought that you all might enjoy it. I mailed some spring time goodies to my niece, nephews and my husband's grandmother today. 

Yes, those are plastic eggs. If you grab the large ones - the bigger the better - and fill them with goodies, you can mail them. I filled them with stickers, silly bands, candy and toys. You can fit a whole lot of stuff in those eggs.

I mailed them as small parcels and it took $1.95 in stamps. The meter sticker doesn't fit so I used three pretty butterfly stamps on each one. (No, these weren't the strangest thing my PO has ever mailed - I am so going to have to up my game!)

There are loads of other Messy Fingers-like uses for plastic eggs. Here are a few favorites from our house:

  • Noise makers - add beads, buttons, beans etc. and tape really well
  • Color sorting - can you match the color of the egg to legos, beads, balls, blocks, etc.
  • Play-dough holders - this is a fun container for home made playdough
  • Bath toys - they are great for holding various amounts of water
  • Bath toys II - put a bath tub dye tab in one with a hole (lots have a hole) and toss in the tub
How do you like to re-use your plastic eggs?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Animal of the Week: Frogs and Toads

Frog and Toad adventures are a common part of most school's reading curriculum and often get lumped together. Yet there are come pretty cool differences.

Here in New England we have three groups of amphibians:
Tree Frogs and

Frogs live in or near ponds as adults, have smooth skin and no suction cups on their toes.

Tree frogs may live in a wetland or just near one, have smooth skin and use the suction cups on their feet to hold on to trees.

Toads only need to be in water as tadpoles, have bumpy skin and no suction cups on their toes.

So the next time you find an adult amphibian in your back yard, check out its toes! Be careful that your hands are wet if you pick one up, amphibians breath through their skin and will absorb what is on your skin.