activities

shiny and new: minnesota children’s museum grand reopening.

my sneak peek fun for the grand re-opening of the Minnesota Children’s Museum was brought to you in exchange for a complimentary museum membership. all opinions are my own.

if any of you who read here follow me on instagram (you really should if you aren’t already, i’m much more prolific there when i have small babies than i am here), you will have seen some posts about the excitement that is the re-opening of the minnesota children’s museum. i’ve been lucky enough to get some sneak peek action of the shiny and new museum that is now open after months of being closed for major renovations. i mean, my kids have been lucky too, but i have been especially jacked about all the fun stuff they’ve done.

living in st. paul, we’ve been lucky to have the children’s museum just a 10-minute drive away, which makes it perfect for a spontaneous rainy day activity. we’ve been members thanks to my mother-in-law for over a year now, and i can’t say enough good things about this place. so when i heard they were going to completely revamp and update, i was very excited. and when i was contacted to become a play advocate for the museum as they went through the process, i was over the moon.

one of the fun things we got to do was act as testers for a couple exhibits before the museum was open to sneak peek crowds and the general public. i grabbed a girlfriend and her three girls (she’s a supermom) and the seven of us headed over to the museum on a thursday morning to play!

we were so excited that we’d be getting to check out the sprouts exhibit, which is the area for kids three and under (although big siblings are welcome too), since all of our kids are within that age range. the improvements were amazing. they have water tables, a big jungle gym with activity centers, a baby area with cushy mats for crawling, and the best part: a rest area with a microwave, high chairs, and little tables for when kiddos need to stop for a snack or a feeding.

everything was challenging enough for the older girls, but there were things for the littlest ones to do as well. Amelia especially loved the water tables and the little touch/feel/organize activities in the jungle gym. we would have been able to spend the entire time in sprouts if us moms hadn’t wanted to see a few other areas.

one area we didn’t get to see (and couldn’t make it to any of the sneak peek sessions to see yet) is the backyard, the green space at the museum. they have activity areas that are made to look like abstract animal habitats, with lots of green areas, and even a workspace where kids can dig around and get their hands dirty outside. now, we live in minnesota, so we only get to enjoy this exhibit for part of the year, but i’m so excited that the outdoor area is so interactive. there are some days that just feel like museum days, even when it’s nice out, so to have the ability to get some fresh air and still do some play-learning is amazing.

part of the reason that these updates are so exciting for me is that the museum really took to heart the idea that play is the work of childhood. they have looked at the research and thought of ways to make their play less prescribed and more open-ended. kids these days get eight less hours of play per week than they did 5-7 years ago, so we need all the opportunity to let them play and be kids that we can. and if they can learn and grow while they’re doing it? even better.

if you’re interested in learning more, you can visit the museum’s website to read about “powerful play” and get a play activation kit that includes temporary tattoos, window clings, play tips and more. local friends, use the hashtag #playmoreMN to share your fun play with the rest of the community!

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how to have fun in the tundra.

i don’t know if you’ve read this page that i have sitting up there at the top of this site, but if you do, you’ll see that i live in minnesota. minnesota is in the northern part of this country, right smack dab underneath canada. this means we have four seasons. one of them is winter. this season normally arrives around thanksgiving and sticks around until april or so. a couple years ago, there was a giant snowpile in a parking lot here that didn’t melt until june. JUNE.

snow

snow2

these photos are from last year. it’s pretty where i live, even when being outside could kill you.

there is no snow here yet (although i could really go for some), but it will happen, so i thought i should preemptively prepare myself. and when you live in the tundra, you need to get a little creative if you want your fun to exist past movies and game nights. that’s a good way to go nuts. some awesome people i know at work did a little presentation on this very topic (yes, it’s that important!), and it made me want to share my favorite winter activities i’m planning on attending in st. paul this year. bundle up, they’re all outside.

winter carnival

ice2

the st. paul winter carnival, started in 1886, was the result of a new york journalist laying some smack talk down and calling st. paul “the next siberia”. oh no you did not.  so the city created a 10-day outdoor event that takes place every january, with ice sculpting competitions, a marathon, skating, you name it. they also made up a legend about how the carnival came to be, complete with characters to go with it. you can read the legend here. did you read it? you should, it’s pretty awesome. i’ve met the vulcans in real life, and let me tell you, they are the scariest things ever. they give you what they call the vulcan “kiss”, which is basically writing a big v on your face with grease paint. that’ll scar you if you’re, say, 8 years old and they run through your school tagging people.

beer dabbler

me

this is my favorite winter event of them all, for obvious reasons. i’ve been going for the last two years and it is a doozy. the beer dabbler is an outdoor beer tasting event. held in january. in minnesota. so it is imperative that you bundle up in as many layers as possible, with all your warmest winter gear. this is not the time to wear your cute riding boots, you are definitely going to need your sorels. and your long underwear (everyone has them here, it’s totally normal. i wear mine to work sometimes). the beer you’ll be drinking all evening will eventually help keep you warm as well. you are also going to need a pretzel necklace, for soaking up the alcohol until you feel like buying some food from one of the food trucks that will be there. there is nothing worse than drinking too much at the beer dabbler because you’re cold, then unexpectedly running into your future in-laws at a downtown bar. not that i know from experience…

red bull crashed ice

ice

you guys may have heard about this one over the past year or so. i can’t even begin to describe the madness that is red bull crashed ice. part skating, part downhill racing, part contact sport, it’s one of the craziest things i’ve ever witnessed. you should probably youtube it. last year’s event was held in st. paul, right in front of Mister Man’s apartment, so we had prime spots to watch all the chaos go down. well, red bull decided that they liked our little city so much that they are coming back this year. i will definitely be mixing up a thermos of bailey’s and coffee, putting on my beer dabbler outfit, and trucking over to watch people sacrifice their bodies in the name of extreme sport. my friend’s boyfriend participated last year, so we’ll see if we have someone to cheer on again this year….what do you think anna?

so this is the way we do it up in the tundra. we obviously take some pride in our ability to enjoy ourselves in the midst of weather that would make most people weep. part of it is because we are a hardy people, but part of it is just survival instinct and the desire to not go crazy being cooped up in your house. now bring on the snow! please and thank you.

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