Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Life Lessons

As we approach the craziness of the holiday season, I find myself taking more and more deep breaths. Trying NOT to get sucked into all the glitz, hype and credit card debt! It's hard, I know! But this year I have made a promise to myself to keep it calm, family centered and to NOT bust the budget.

I don't know about you, but I LOVE Christmas. I love all the decorating, the songs, the parades, the brunches, the parties...you name it and I want to do it all. I usually try, fail miserably, stress myself and my kids out, and spend waaaaaaaaaayyyyy too much money. And then I get upset when my kids are cranky and refuse to take yet ANOTHER photo! This year I am being more conscious about OUR choices. And I mean OUR choices. Usually I make the choices and the rest of my crew gets dragged along with about as much input as our cat.

As my kids get older, I want them to remember Christmas, and every holiday, with the fondness that I do. So I decided to reflect on WHY I love Christmas (all holidays really) so much. And it boils down to family time. My dad worked 4 jobs when I was a kid, so he wasn't around a lot. We did not go to brunch with Santa or any parades. We did not go see the Nutcracker or any fancy holiday light shows. I love the holidays because we spent extra time together as family, watching specials on TV, decorating our home, sledding down our front hill, caroling with friends and neighbors, and just being a family.

So as everything starts revving up and I am tempted to say yes to it all, I remind myself what is really important........Family Time. And I will ask my kids what they want to do, and I will schedule down time (because I have to - because I'm crazy). Maybe we will spend an entire day in our PJ's watching Christmas shows and drinking hot chocolate. Maybe we'll go sledding or ice skating. Maybe we will go to brunch or the Nutcracker. But only if we ALL want to and if we are not so over-scheduled that it stresses us out.

We are making our Christmas gifts instead of buying them this year. We will ask grandparents and family for experiences as gifts instead of things. I will shop second hand for as much as possible (I usually do this anyway). Because a lot of stress is caused by the amount of money spent (at least for me) and that isn't what gift giving should be about. It should be about showing loved ones that you care and are thinking of them. I don't know about you, but I'd trade a gift for time with a loved one any day!

Yes, when all the party invitations arrive and the friends are going to see this and do that, it will be very hard to say no. Yes, when I end up in the stores, it will be very difficult not to buy everything my kids' hearts desire. But there will be other parties and we can see our friends all year. And things are just that...........things. Now is the time to teach my children to be thankful, and caring, and family oriented during the holiday season - instead of modeling over-scheduling, commercialism, and chaos. Now, more than any other time all year, is the time to teach charity, cooperation and humility. These are the lessons that were passed down to me. These are lessons that will stay with them for life. And these are lessons that I hope they one day pass on.

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Toys, Toys, Toys!

In my job as a Special Educator for Early Intervention, I am often asked what are the best toys for child development. With the holidays fast approaching, I am getting these questions A LOT! So I figured I would break it down here for everyone.

Generically, the best toys are the ones without characters on them, they do not require batteries and require the child to do something with them. Yes I am hearing you say "YEAH RIGHT! Where do I find these?" Looking around the toys stores, all that you see are plastic, light up, noise making toys with show characters on them. I know. But dig deeper. The wooden, no character toys do exist. They may cost a little more, but they will last a lifetime and are worth gold in terms of child development.

And sometimes, what you have around the house is better that what you can find in any store! Sometimes things we traditionally do not see as toys are the best playthings around!

But let's go through them in stages:

Birth to 12 months:

Any toy that encourages discovery - stack rings, stack cups, busy boxes, rattles and rings for little ones. Mirrors are great for all ages. At this age, they are all about 'container play'. This is the dump out a thousand times phase. As annoying as that might be as a parent, it is a crucial part of development. It teaches them to explore, learn about the world around them, investigate, figure out how things work. So lock the cabinets that need to be locked, but keep one open with safe items like tupperware and plastic spoons. Use old wipe boxes as discovery boxes. Put just about anything in them (big enough not to choke on). Don't snap them shut as that might be too hard for them to open. Place them partially under a couch, or partially under a blanket.

1-2 years:

Your toddler is on the move and it is all about MOVING! So ride on toys are great. Tunnels for them to crawl through, giant cardboard blocks to build and knock down. Children at this age should start using toys in an imitative way. This is the beginning of pretend play. So cars, dolls, play food, pots and pans, a telephone, play tools...anything that allows them to imitate the life they see going on around them. This play is crucial for language development. You do not need to go out and buy the latest things. Tupperware, an old phone, or your pots and pans work just as well.

2-3 years:

The pretend play is kicking into high gear. So dress up is great! I like to go out the day after halloween and pick up costumes at a fraction of the cost for my dress up area. If you have a play kitchen that is wonderful. If not, use old cereal boxes, syrup containers, tupperware, utensils, etc. to create a play kitchen for cheap! Put the dress up near your other play areas. Children this age will start to bring it all together. They will bring their dolls into their play kitchen and wear a chef outfit. They should be telling a story through play. Fine motor skills are getting better too, so art supplies are great for that: big crayons, paints, playdough...the messier the better!

3-4 years:

Is winter starting to scare you because you NEED the outside playtime? Bundle them up and send them outside. Even for 15 minutes. So outdoor play gear is great. Don't have a yard? Those small slides and trampolines can fit in almost any room. Make obstacle courses out of couch pillows. Have a basement? Install a tire swing on a beam. Let them bike ride or rollerskate in the basement. Ask grandparents for a membership to a local indoor playspace or children's museum.

4-5 years:

Imaginative play is in full swing. Encourage reading in all play areas. Put cookbooks in your kitchen area, construction books near blocks, art books by the art supplies...Worried about learning letters and numbers? Stay away from computer games and videos. READ to your child! A child in a literature rich environment will learn how to read. I bet they already can read familiar store and street signs. Teach letters through stamping, playdough, painting, sand art, shaving cream in the bath. It should be fun NOT stress! It becomes stress when we force tracing letters or worksheets because their fine motor skills are not strong enough for that yet. You can learn without a paper and pencil. I promise!

6-8 years:

By now, your child probably has a few preferred activities. However, get them out of their same old routine by offering new things. If your daughter will ONLY play with dolls, buy lincoln logs or other non-traditional building supplies and help her build a house for her dolls. This is a great age for science kits! Explore weather, explode a volcano, make a lightbulb turn on with just a battery....no need to spend a lot of money. many experiments can be found online and done with household items. Boredom is actually a beautiful thing. Let them be bored. Ignore the whining & wait a while. Eventually they will give up and get creative. It works. I do it all the time!

8-10 years:

Feel like you can't get your kids head out of that video game device? Yeah me too. Declare a screen free day, week or if you dare, a whole month! Get the family involved. Go explore local parks and hiking trails. Be a tourist in your own town. Go to historical sights, check out what the local college has to offer, take up a sport as a family, join the local YMCA. It is essential that kids this age MOVE and get fresh air. Buy them rollerblades, a bike, cross country or downhill skis, golf clubs. That seems pricey but is so worth all the activity and love of a new sport that it could create! Allow them to get dirty & mess up the yard or the house. Everything can be cleaned up later!

So with the holiday season fast approaching, I hope I've encouraged you to think outside of the box. Encourage family members to do that as well. By offering play experiences that are beyond the 'norm' you will inadvertently create so much learning, creativity and fun!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to write homeschool reports

For those of you who don't know, here in New York we have to document our homeschooling. We submit an IHIP - which is the plan for the year - in August. Then we have to fill out 4 quarterly reports noting what we've covered and how our children are doing in several academic areas. Finally, we have to do an end of the year narrative or testing.

Report writing can seem daunting, even downright scary! You may ask yourself: Will I address everything the district is looking for? Will they accept this as good curriculum? Am I covering the right topics?

So I've decided to help everyone by offering some suggestions for your reports.

Scenario 1:  your child finds a dead chipmunk that your cat killed. She puts it in a butterfly net. She gets the video camera. She proceeds to make the cat chase the chipmunk by swinging the net, while filming it.
IHIP categories: science, visual arts, PE

Scenario 2:  your son drops all his goldfish crackers on the floor at your daughter's gymnastics class. He proceeds to pick them up and count them as he pops them in his mouth. But then goes into the bathroom to wash his hands because he was touching the floor.
IHIP categories:  arithmetic, health

Scenario 3:  you are on a field trip to the Museum of Natural History. The tour guide proceeds to tell the group that the Mastodon was closely related to the Mammoth. Your daughter interrupts and corrects the tour guide stating that "compared to mammoths, mastodons had shorter legs, a longer body and were more heavily muscled, a build similar to that of the current Asian elephant."
IHIP categories:  ELA public speaking, science, math (money needed for apology gift)

Scenario 4:  The family is on a road trip to Florida. The electronics are dead. You decide to play the license plate game to kill the time. After that, you look for road signs that have your name in them. This morphs into reading bumper stickers and your child asks "What does 'if the vans a rockin don't come a knockin' mean?"
IHIP categories: geography, spelling, reading, sex education

Scenario 5:  Your son just returned from a concert. He is convinced he wants to be the next Adam Levine. He gets books out of the library, watches YouTube videos and writes songs for the next 3 weeks. You are so excited that your son has shown so much interest and self-initiative. Then the restraining order comes in the mail. 
IHIP categories:  reading, writing. music, government and laws

Scenario 6:  You go to a re-enactment of the reading of the Declaration of Independence. You are really excited to offer a concrete, hands on learning experience for your kids when your son loudly yells to you over the crowd "Is that a man or a woman?" You shush him and say quietly that it is a man. He then yells, "Why does that man look like grandma?"
IHIP categories:  US history, math (another apology gift)

So as you write your homeschool reports, think back to all of the wonderful experiences you and your children have had. Feel free to document them. And then please share as we could all use a laugh now and again!

Monday, September 8, 2014

An Argument FOR Unschooling

I get the impression that many people see Unschooling as just letting your kids do whatever they want all day. I understand where this impression comes from because there are definitely people who do that. The actuality of Unschooling is that children learn through their natural lives and life experiences. Now to me this means, as adults we are the facilitators of their life experiences and we are responsible for offering our children as many rich experiences as we can give them.

Unschooling also promotes that kids are natural born learners, curious beings, who will seek out learning in their interest areas. I can tell you from personal experience with my own children that this is true. Left to their own accord, children WILL seek out information and learning experiences. Now does that mean they are going to learn about a tadpole growing into a frog at the same time as all other second graders? Probably not. Will they learn about the American revolution at the same time as all other Fourth graders? Doubt it. BUT when they seek it out themselves, the learning is so much more meaningful than being forced to memorize facts from a book.

In order to Unschool, you first have to Deschool - not just your children but yourself. We are programmed to believe that the schools' timelines for learning are the ones we have to follow. The beauty of Unschooling is that there is no schedule. This will include A LOT of downtime at first, screen time and doing very little traditional school work. This does not mean learning is not occurring though. In time, kids burn out on doing nothing, poke their heads out of the sand and say 'Hey that looks cool!' If you try to force it, you will end up engaging in a battle similar to homework battles that parents of school kids have. The idea is to entice them into it.

Recently my oldest daughter was 'stuck' reading books way below her ability. She is at the age that if I recommend something, it automatically gets a big, fat NO! (and an eye roll, and a huff....) So I decided to start a book club with some of her friends. Instead of the traditional book club, where everyone reads the same book, in our book club everyone reads what they want and discusses it. I knew that if some of her friends talked about a book, she would be interested in it. And guess what?! YUP it worked! She started picking up books that I wanted her to read 6 months ago, all because her friends liked it. This is just one example of how to facilitate child-led learning.

As facilitators, we are responsible for offering a wide variety of experiences to our children. Without these experiences, how will they become exposed to all of the wonderful things in the world? Want your children to learn about the American Revolution? Go to Boston on a trip. Want your children to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly? Go to a Butterfly house at a local zoo. Want your children to learn about the solar system? Check out books from the library and leave them laying around your house. Go to local library programs, local park programs, local historical sites. Watch movies on topics of interest, find interactive websites, let your children buy something and figure out what the change should be. Let your children cook dinner, talk to a relative or friend that immigrated to this country, let them help you with a project around the house.

THINK about all of the language, math, science, history, geography, reading, writing, measuring, and LEARNING that is going on with ALL of these activities. Realize how much more meaningful and memorable this type of learning is. Do YOU remember all of what you learned in school? Probably not much. Do you remember any of these types of experiences you had as a child? I'm positive that you do. Now understand THAT is Learning!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Curriculums for 2, 3 & 4 Year Olds

As the start of the homeschool (and school) year approaches, I see lots of people asking 'What curriculums should I buy?" This is pretty normal but what I am surprised to see are LOTS of people asking what curriculums they should buy for their 2, 3, and 4 year olds!

I understand the excitement and the eagerness to get your very curious and smart toddler/preschooler started on the learning journey, but please WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The beauty of the toddler and preschool years is that it should all be about discovery. It should all be hands-on, experiential learning. They should NOT be sitting at a table. Young children learn best through their senses with the people they are most attached to. They do not learn through computer games, flashcards, apps on the iPad, educational videos, or worksheets.

Take them to a farm. Pet a cow. Go apple picking. Go to the grocery store. Let them touch things, see things, taste things. Go to the zoo or the aquarium. Go to the park or on a hike. Go to a lake, river or ocean. Walk through a city. Take a subway ride. Explore your backyard. Learning things through natural exploration and by seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting them first hand is so much more meaningful than any book, app or flashcard you could purchase.

I know how tempting it is, believe me I've been there. That competitive parenting thing is ridiculous. Ignore it. A 2 year old that knows their alphabet is as meaningful as knowing the Itsy Bitsy Spider song. It's cute, sure, but it doesn't mean they'll be early readers. Sorry, but it's the truth.  What is meaningful is knowing what a cow is, where it lives, what it feels and smells like, what it sounds like. Knowing how to care for a pet or grow a plant is much more meaningful and enriched than knowing your numbers at 3. Helping to cook or bake something with a loved one has so much more value than knowing colors and shapes. And I know how scary it is to just let go and trust that they are learning. But after 17 years as an early childhood teacher and as a homeschool mom of 2, I can tell you that THEY ARE LEARNING! And they are learning in the best, most meaningful way possible. When they learn in this way, it has depth, it is multi-dimensional, it has true meaning to the child. They can build upon these experiences with future knowledge. Learning from a flashcard or app is just rote memorization.

So as hard as it is, forget the curriculum. Go out into the world with your child. Show them everything there is out there. Let them experience it first hand. Let them play. But if you must teach them colors, shapes, numbers and letters, PLEASE do so through play and in their natural environment and on their terms. If they show an interest, continue the conversation. Count cars, match colored blocks, talk about the letters on road signs or buildings....but please, PUT DOWN THE FLASHCARDS AND WALK AWAY!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Being Flexible

So one of the joys of homeschooling is the flexibility it allows for. If something is not working for you or your child, it can be changed quite easily. Swap out for another curriculum, try a different teaching style, abandon it and return to it another time. But one of the great frustrations of homeschooling is the flexibility. So many choices of curriculum, so many theories on how to do it, confusion on what would be best for your child.....

We are coming to the end of our second year of homeschooling and all in all it has been a success. My kids are happy, thriving and learning. They enjoy learning again and are excited by it. It's not all bells and whistles though. We have our meltdowns, our stubborn refusals, and I am not always the greatest at staying consistent with things. But through it all, we seem to have found our way in the homeschooling realm.

 I think it all comes down to being flexible. We as humans, like our routines. Change is typically difficult for folks. We would rather push through a difficult patch and persevere instead of looking at it a different way and re-vamping our approach. Seems silly when you say it that way but it's true. I have found myself doing that several times on this journey. However every time I try to forcefully push ahead, it just causes frustration and sadness. It's not until I step back, possibly reach out to others for their perspectives, and think outside the box that things get better. Learning to be flexible with your homeschool routine is essential.

I think a lot of us start out setting up our homes like a school because it's what we know. We sit down everyday and do Language arts, Math, Science......and that works for some people so that is great. But for many others (like us) this approach does not work. What do you do when that happens? Fight through it until it works? Or take a step back, re-examine WHY you homeschool, WHAT your child's best learning style is, and incorporate that into a new approach. It seems like a lot of hard work to re-create your homeschool experience, but if what you are doing now isn't working, it might be time to.

As with anything, taking the first step is the hardest. Once you take the leap, the rest will fall into place. Ask others what they do, read blogs, check out PINTEREST (I'm obsessed). You do not need to re-invent the wheel. There are so many creative people out there doing and posting about these things. Take a little from here and a little from there and see where it leads you.

Isn't that why we homeschool? For the flexibility it allows and schools don't? So as this year winds down to a close and we look forward to summer; I invite you to reflect on your year. Be honest about what works and what doesn't. And as you start to think about next year, be brave enough to take that step into something new. I promise you it will open up a whole new world of learning!

**I want to thank all of my readers for all of your support. I will be taking a hiatus for the summer. I need to replenish, relax and rejuvenate. I hope you all have a seamless end to your year and a wonderful summer. See you in the fall!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Finding Kindred Spirits

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for my homeschooling friends. When I was contemplating starting this journey, I was so afraid of being isolated, alone and not having anyone to relate to. BOY was I wrong!!!!!

For anyone who knows me, you know how social I am. I am the definition of an extrovert. It's ridiculous really. I remember a conversation with my husband back in the day.....he asked me what my hobbies were......I thought about it & replied "Hanging out with friends, meeting new people, going new places!"  So the thought of homeschooling scared the crap out of me.

As you have probably read before, I fully researched groups ad opportunities in the area before diving into this. I am not one to stay home with my kids. I think J was 2 weeks old before I had cabin fever & we were out & about! Well, needless to say, the Hudson Valley is FULL of amazing, creative, fun and active homeschoolers! I count myself so lucky to have found them and consider many of them my friends!

In today's world of the Internet and Social Media, it makes it quite easy to link up with like minded people. So jump on and use it to your full advantage.

TWO WORDS: Google Groups! For those of you already homeschooling or thinking about it, check out your local Google Groups. This is where I found so many like minded individuals! Facebook is also a great resource! I'm a technology klutz, but social media has helped me to connect to so many homeschool groups in the area. I suggest you do the same! Go to your local library. Many homeschoolers have groups that meet at the library. Check out homeschool programs at places like aquariums, zoos and parks.

Just like when you are a new mom (or Dad) and are feeling isolated and alone, finding other parents doing the same things you are, helps keep you sane! Talking to veteran homeschoolers helps you learn the ins and outs of dealing with your state laws, school district requirements, testing, etc. And just having comrades to do the simple things with - like going to the park - really helps you along the way.

If you don't have people locally, use social media to connect with others. Chatting online, reading homeschool blogs, hearing others' perspectives, struggles and successes is such a help.

The moral of the story is DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE ISOLATED. There are many ways to connect with other like minded individuals. It may seem scary or daunting at first, but once you do it, you'll be so glad you did!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The American Revolution - Unschool style

We had a trip to Boston planned, so I thought 'What a great way to introduce the American Revolution!" My kids have heard about The Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere, and Ben Franklin but they didn't know much more than being familiar with those phrases. They did go to a program called 'Colonial Kids' at our local library so they had a small frame of reference. I told them about the trip and a little about what was in Boston and off to the library we went!

My children were eager to find books about The Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere, The Revolutionary War, and Benjamin Franklin. We came home with a TON of books. Then we accessed Brain Pop. If you do not know about this website, get familiar. We watched 2 videos on the subject and my children were chomping at the bit to learn more!

We read one of our books about The Boston Tea Party and then I showed them on a map where the Old South Meeting House, The Old North Church, Paul Revere's House and The Old State House are. I told them we would be going to these places and seeing them. I gave them a little background information on why they were important. They couldn't get enough.

We spent 2 weeks reading books, accessing websites, planning our trip and watching Liberty's Kids - a PBS series now on YouTube. They came up with the places on the Freedom Trail that they wanted to visit. We printed maps of the 13 colonies, discussed what it was like to live in colonial times and did projects like - make your own butter and quill pens. Then we went to Boston! My children are still young and it was cold so we only did a part of the Freedom Trail (from the Old South Meeting House to Paul Revere's House) but it was enough.

When we came home, they wanted to know more. We live in the Hudson Valley in New York, so there are plenty of Revolutionary War sites to visit. We are close to West Point, Mt. Gulian and the Van Wyck Homestead Museum. We have family in Saratoga, so when they heard about the Battle of Saratoga, they started planning a trip to visit the battlegrounds the next time we are up there to visit.

All of this was started by a simple trip to the Boston area to visit friends. I know I keep saying it, but it CAN be this simple. When I learned about the Revolutionary War in school, I was so bored. It was all about memorizing names and dates. I barely remembered ANY of it!  I grew up in Stony Point - walking distance to the Stony Point Battleground, 10 minutes from West Point, 20 minutes from major areas involved in that war. I had no idea. So sad.

Think about HOW MUCH LEARNING is going on by taking this trip to Boston, by spending an HOUR on the Freedom Trail, by taking a trip to a local landmark. What's even better is that it is AUTHENTIC LEARNING. They are invested in it, eager to learn more, excited by it!

Even if you do not homeschool, you can still supplement your child's school education with trips like this. Are they learning about the American Revolution? Go to Boston! Are they learning about the Pilgrims? Go to Plymouth Rock or Colonial Williamsburg! Are they learning about presidents? Go to the FDR house in Hyde Park, NY. Are they learning about slavery and the civil war? Visit an old plantation! By actually experiencing these things first hand, it makes them much more concrete and alive in their minds.

I think I can safely say that my kids will not forget about the American Revolution.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


One of the areas that we used to struggle with in our home was writing. My kids resisted it. My instant response was to implement writing activities on a fairly regular basis. For the younger one: practice writing letters, words, spelling and journal writing. For the older one: book reports, research reports, short stories. I can tell you this did NOT go over well. It was like pulling teeth! We had complaints and tears each time we tried.

So I was talking to a fellow homeschool friend and she asked me a simple question "WHY do you want them to write?" It was like a lightbulb going off! Clearly they NEED to be able to write, to be able to express themselves through writing, etc. But I want them to ENJOY writing. I clearly love to write and I want to instill that same love in them. So what's the fastest way to kill the love of something? FORCE IT! So I stopped. And I let it go for a few months.

Guess What? They didn't stop writing, they just stopped doing writing assignments. So I started paying attention to when and what they wrote. I was amazed at how much writing they do on a daily basis. They are constantly making signs and cards and drawings with words. They love to pen pal with friends and family. We started journals last year. They journal spontaneously ALL THE TIME. Especially after we go somewhere or learn something new. They once read a book that was written and published by third graders. WELL that spawned 3 weeks of writing activities! We have homemade books all over the place!

Sure I try to guide them in that direction on occasion. My oldest just finished reading a series and was sad there were no more books left to read. I suggested she write another book in the series. AND SHE DID! My younger child loves to cook and bake with me. I suggested she come up with some recipes she would like to try. So she looked up recipes and wrote them down.

I think it's VERY easy to get wrapped up in 'traditional, school-style' learning and to think it's the only way to do things. But we all LEFT the traditional school for a reason right? Sometimes it doesn't take racking your brain to come up with creative activities. Sometimes it just takes letting kids be kids.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Blahs

So after the holiday season is over, I always get a case of the winter blahs. There are months of cold and yucky weather ahead, a lot of indoor time (which I hate), and I'm usually itching to go on a trip and am broke! So since I cannot afford to jump on a plane to Bermuda, or hop on a cruise ship to the Caribbean, I am going to list a bunch of local Hudson valley winter activities. Hopefully this will help both you and me beat the winter blahs!

Ice Skating at McCann Ice Arena. In the Mid Hudson Civic Center in the city of Poughkeepsie. They offer ice skating lessons for all levels and have open skate times. Check them out! http://www.midhudsonciviccenter.org/mccann-ice-arena.php#.Ur2vvW10kW4

Mid Hudson Children's Museum. Located near the river and the train station in Poughkeepsie. They have a ton of hands on exhibits and activities. They offer playgroupas for children 5 and under, camps and so much more! http://www.mhcm.org/web/play;jsessionid=6BFA4176EABF92A297A5CF19C37DFA3B

Not too far away is the Albany Children's Museum of Science and Technology. About an hour drive from the Hudson Valley. They offer more hands on exhibits and activities. And they have a planetarium!!!! If you buy an Explorer Membership at the Children's Museum - you can go to BOTH under this ONE membership! http://www.cmost.org/

Rollerskating at Hyde Park Rollermagic. Located on Route 9 in Hyde Park, NY. They offer open skate times, host birthday parties and are the home ofthe Horrors Roller Derby Team! http://www.hydeparkrollermagic.com/

The kids are antsy and need to move? Check out Jumpin Jakes. With locations in both Poughkeepsie and Fishkill, there is plenty to do! http://fishkill.jumpinjakes.net/

Can't get down to the Bronx anytime soon? Well then check out the Trevor Zoo! Located at the Millbrook School in Millbrook, it is open everyday and has great animals to observe all year long! Have a group? They offer group tours as well! http://www.millbrook.org/podium/default.aspx?t=132225

Into museums? There are a TON in our area! Too many to list here, but check out Dutchess County Tourism's page for more info!! http://dutchesstourism.com/listings/childrens-museums/

Is Bowling your thing? Well there are several options in the Hudson Valley. We personally like Holiday Bowl In Wappingers Falls. http://www.hoebowlfamilyfun.com/

Closer to the Kingston area? Check out Wood N Wheel Family Fun Center! They've got skating, arcade, laser tag, a rock wall and more! http://www.woodnwheel.com/

Into sports? Check out The Field! They offer clinics, birthday parties, and lots of other indoor sports activities! http://hvfield.com/

Check out our state parks. There is a ton to do all over the Hudson Valley area: ice skating, snow shoeing, cross country skiing...the list goes on & on!  http://nysparks.com/

There are always movies, the library has great programs, and Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble has a free, drop in story time on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10am. Bowdoin Park just announced they are allowing sledding and are building an outdoor ice skating rink for FREE USE!!!!

So if you are feeling BLAH, head out to one of these many activities and chase your blues away. I'm going to try one right now!!