4 Ways to Staycation

It’s that time of year again. It’s warming up outside, kids are out of school and parents are scrambling to find activities to keep them occupied. Planning a staycation is a convenient and inexpensive way to entertain the entire family, who, after months of school and cold weather, may be itching to get away for a bit. Savvy Kids has four ideas for staycations, all of which combine fun, learning and exposure to new things. Some of the destinations are right here in central Arkansas, while others are a short drive away. Continue reading

Fun Under Five: In Praise of Finger Paints

Our new series “Fun Under Five” will explore fun family activities for five dollars or less. We’d love to hear your ideas, so if you have any suggestions please let us know!

Finger paints are a quintessential preschool activity. And with good reason. They’re easy to use and are great for encouraging dexterity and creativity. The best part? A box of paints at Target will only cost you around 5.00.


But you’re totally wrong if you think they’re just fun for little kids. Besides being cheap, finger paints are tons of fun for parents, too. Clear off the kitchen table and use a few old plates for the paints. Use whatever kind of paper you have on hand—notebook, recycled printer pages, construction paper, torn up paper grocery bags, whatever—and have fun making an artistic mess. They’re washable, so you don’t have to worry about the paints ruining the clothes or furniture.


When you get finished you can showcase the artwork around the house with clothespins and string!

What are some of your favorite activities for 5.00 or less? We’d love to hear about them!


Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss Opens this Saturday at the Museum of Discovery

Is your child is curious about the ocean and its vast, unexplored depths? Do they enjoy learning about how technology leads to new discoveries? Beginning this Saturday at Museum of Discovery, the whole family can get an up close look at the mysteries of the ocean depths.

Developed by Evergreen Exhibitions in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the world’s largest non-profit ocean science research institution, this3,000 square foot interactive exhibit takes visitors through hands-on exploration and discovery into the deep undersea world. Visitors will explore the newly discovered life forms and shipwrecks, including the Titanic. Visitors will also get an up-close look at the ways in which technology is altering how we see the undiscovered depths and be able to explore this technology first hand. For example, you can view the interior replica of the submersible Alvin’s personnel sphere and dive to depths of up to three miles. You can also fly a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) over a model of the Titanic’s deck and so much more.

And if you’re curious about how the ocean is always changing and transforming, you’ll get a chance to see how currents created by superheated water erupting from the vents carry vital nutrients, which support life forms that few have ever dreamed existed. Among the more than 500 newly discovered species are five-feet long tubeworms with bright red heads rich in hemoglobin, “squat lobsters” and giant white clams the size of dinner plates.

Extreme Deep, designed for ages six and older, introduces biology, chemistry, geology, history, exploration and the critical role that technology plays in understanding our world and its future. The exhibit will run through July 29th.

For more information visit the Discovery Museum online by clicking here.

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Weekend To-Dos, March 23-25, 2012

What’s going on this weekend? Lots of reasons to get outdoors!

Saturday is Kidsfest at Belk at Pleasant Ridge! From 12 – 3 p.m., there will be face painting, magic by Tommy Terrific, a fashion show in which ANY child can model, and tons more fun! It’s free, so stop by today! All children who sign up to model will receive a coupon for 15% all clothing purchased Saturday! Belk is located at 11525 Cantrell Road in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center. Call 907-6200 ext. 210 for more information.

Also on Saturday, the Museum of Discovery welcomes a new exhibit made possible by the Arkansas Discovery Network. “Astronomy, It’s a Blast!” features seven interactive exhibits which explore black holes, celestial navigation, air rockets, the space shuttle and more. The Network is an innovative collaboration of seven museums and educational centers in Arkansas. The network focuses on making hands-on, interactive museum experiences more accessible to approximately 500,000 schoolchildren and their families. The Museum of Discovery is located at 500 President Clinton Avenue in the River Market district. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. See href=”http://museumofdiscovery.org/events/astronomy-it%E2%80%99s-blast “> for more information.

You still have time to catch “If You Take a Mouse to School” at the Children’s Theater at Arkansas Arts Center. There are showings Friday night at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., and the final show will be Sunday at 2. Tickets are $14 for adults and $11 for children. See or call 501-372-4000 for more information.

Sunday from 1 – 3 p.m., come out to Pinnacle Mountain State park – and bring your kite – for a kite flying competition! This is a free activity, so bring the whole family! www.arkansasstateparks.com or 868-5806 for more information.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and water when you head outside. Happy weekend, Savvy Families!

Weekend To-Dos for March 9-11, 2012

This weekend looks to be a good one for all kinds of family fun! If you have the scoop on more activities – be sure to let us know! Email paige@nullarktimes.com to submit an event.

The Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival officially begins on the 10th! Bring your whole family and a camera for the most amazing backdrop you’re likely to find for spring and Easter portraits. Wye Mountain is located at 22300 Hwy 113, Wye, AR and the fields will be open from 9 am – 5 pm. It’s free to go out and see the daffodils, but donations are welcomed! The festival will continue through the weekend as well as next.

Mullet Madness, a benefit for KidSource Therapy, will be held at Next Level Events in Little Rock’s Historic Union Station, 1400 West Markham Street, St 104, Little Rock. Tickets are just $35 and will raise funds for KidSource’s new hippotherapy program, which utilizes horses and riding to assist children of different abilities. Call 315-4414 or visit mulletmadness.net for more information or to purchase tickets!

Saturday is half-price day, and the final day of Rhea Lana’s Benton/Bryant sale! You won’t want to miss the fantastic bargain consignments at an even more discounted price. Clothing for kids and moms, toys, baby equipment,and SO much more! The Benton/Bryan sale is being held at the former Mid-State/Creative Foods building at 24351 Interstate 30, at the Raymar Road overpass. Hours are Friday from 10-3 and the half-price Saturday sale will be from 9 am – 6 pm. Call 449-0049 or email rhealana@nullrhealana.com for more information.

If you’ve got a young reader at home who needs some practice, the Tail Waggin’ Tutors Therapy Dog reading program could be just the trick! Kids gain self-esteem and confidence in their reading by sitting down and reading to pups. This event occurs monthly, and is held from 10:30 – 11:30 am at the Argenta Branch of the Laman Library. For more info, call 687-1061 or visit lamanlibrary.org.

The Arkansas Dietetic Association’s 5K run/1 mile walk will begin at River Trail Rentals, across from Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. The theme this year is “Going Bananas for Nutrition and Fitness” and registration begins at 8:30 am, with awards ceremony at 10:45. Call 425-2155 or visit www.arkansaseatright.org for more information.

Enjoy a cool spring evening with the family on a Twilight Hayride at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Blankets and snuggling recommended! Advance payment required.
Admission: $12 adults, $6 children ages 6-12, to make a reservation please call 868-5806 or email pinnaclemountain@nullarkansas.com.

Connecting with Your Teen

As parents, we tend to look towards the teenage years with a sense of dread. We are aware that this is the age at which our children begin the painful process of separating themselves from our families and strike out on their own. They develop friendships with people whose families we don’t know, and they begin to drive themselves to all of the places that they previously depended on us to take them.

Adolescence is not an easy time for kids or their parents, but it’s a necessary part of development. The best thing that you can do for your teen is to give them room to grow and figure out their own place in the world, while remaining a consistent source of support and encouragement. Although most teens would be reluctant to admit it, they need to know that you will love them in spite of their sometimes questionable choices, and that they can come to you for advice regarding any issues that come up. So how do you manage to hold on to a relationship with a child who no longer wishes to be treated like one? Keep reading; we’ve gotten some great suggestions from parents, teens and even mental health providers on how you can foster a new type of relationship with your adolescent.

It usually begins in junior high. Suddenly your kid has become more involved outside of the home than in previous years. She has friends whose names you’ve never heard, and she may be reluctant to invite them to your house. What’s a parent to do? It’s tempting to play the enforcer, to demand answers about where your child is spending her time and who she’s with. However, research has shown that taking that tactic could backfire. Some suggest that parents use their adolescent’s friends as a buffer to reconnect with her. In other words, don’t go straight to your teen with complaints of not spending quality time together, just schedule some, invite other kids, and let the fun blossom. Host a sleepover, stock up on pizza and popcorn, and try to get a feel for this group of kids. Chances are the other teens will be respectful of you and grateful for a safe, welcoming place to spend their time. They may even encourage your child to appreciate the blessing of a supportive relationship with their parents. Imagine that you bring out a movie that you know he is dying to see. In front of his buddies, he scorns your choice and says he doesn’t want to see that stupid movie. One of his friends, who maybe doesn’t have a great relationship with his mom and dad, tells him that he should be thankful to have a parent who cares enough to invite his friends over and provide them with food to eat and movies to watch. Your son will probably look at you in a new light, knowing that not everyone is as lucky as he is.

Dr. Amanda Boeke of Pinnacle Pointe said “I think that it is important for parents to do their best to become self-aware. I see a lot of parents struggling with fear and misunderstanding, when it comes to relating to their teenagers. It’s important for you to help them figure out a way to solve their own problems.” She went on to explain that one of the best ways to get involved with your teenaged children is to find out what they are interested in and get involved with them.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Jennifer Sellers, a local mother who practices martial arts with her entire family. I asked her to speak with me about why her family, which includes two teenage girls and a preteen son, has chosen to study martial arts together. “Our entire family signed up for taekwondo after our son started. We decided it would be great exercise for us all. The biggest benefit for me as a mom was gaining a common link with my daughters, who are now 13 and almost 16. Most of the time I am the typical mom of a teenager – I know absolutely nothing! On the taekwondo floor, we are all on a level playing field. We’ve found a common ground.” Mr. and Mrs. Sellers get the benefit of regular exercise as well as knowing exactly what their kids are up to and who they’re spending time with. In addition, the girls are seeing their mother gain valuable skills in self-defense, which is providing them with a strong, influential role model to look upon as they ease into adulthood themselves.
Many teens and pre-teens would be embarrassed by mom or dad wanting to spend time with their friends. For those kids, you might think about planning a special night in which the two of you can do an activity that you both enjoy, and possibly squeeze in a conversation as well. Ideas for this type of night are unlimited – try to choose an activity that you know your son or daughter is already interested in trying or enjoys. It should be something that you can do together – popular ideas in my home for nights like these are boardgame and movie nights, a trip to a museum and a nice lunch out, and taking a friend or two to the bowling alley for a few frames and a pizza. The important thing to remember is to not focus on the activity, you’re trying to build a relationship and that cannot be done in a couple of hours. Your teen’s life is rapidly changing and she needs to know that you are available for her to come to when she has a problem. This isn’t an assurance you can give with words, you need to back it up with actions.

According to Dr. Boeke, adolescence is sometimes referred to as “the time of turbulence.” She said, “It’s normal for teens to be really moody and to challenge authority. I think that’s hard for a lot of adults to accept and contend with, but kids have to go through that process to form their own identity.” If we, as parents, can gain a better understanding of what our teens are going through and can be there for them as
a confidant and a support system, it will help to guide them through this difficult period while preserving the close relationship you’ve spent years building.