The Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. What a Great Family Day!

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@VisitCrayola #VisitCrayola #magicofcolor

Who doesn’t love arts & crafts? In my family – from the age of eight months to thirty eight years, we all love creating. Upon booking our first family ski trip to the Poconos, we knew immediately the best place to stop enroute would be the Crayola Experience, in Easton, PA!

Back in 2012, on our first visit (and prior to the expansive renovations), we ventured to the Crayola Experience as an easy day trip from Manhattan.

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Since moving to the suburbs, and subsequently having two more children, we have been looking for an opportunity to return. The timing could not have been better. My seven year old and three year old went to town, while I enjoyed the baby friendly facility (including a nursing room on the 2nd floor!). There was literally something there for everyone.

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Bursting with four floors of color, we began our creative journey at the top.  While I waited on the short line for Melt and Mold, my kids were at Meltdown. Think painting directly from the belly of a giant Crayola crayon – the kids dipped brushes into melted wax and “painted” their creations.

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Next, it was Melt and Mold time. Here the kids put a crayon into one of three machines and watched it melt, drip down, and mold into a dinosaur, ring or Crayola swirl. My kids thought this was fascinating! We spent a good amount of time here and made souvenirs for pretty much everyone we know.

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Our last stop was Drip ArtCrayola’s take on spin art. As a child, spin art was my jam, so I eagerly awaited my turn right behind my kids. Yanking the throttle to control the speed of the spinner, my son pretended he was on a rocket ship as the crayon wax dripped into a beautiful circular design. It’s safe to say this exhibit was a winner.

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Feeling like we successfully conquered the fourth floor, we headed down to the third floor where my kids had tunnel vision to the jungle explorer in the Activity Studio. A HUGE two story jungle gym with twist, turns, slides, and climbing galore meant they were in heaven (and I could sit down for twenty minutes – yay)! I watched them have the best time and even ran back up to the fourth floor to snap a quick picture of them in one of the clear lookout bubbles.

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After some begging, I got them to move on to the Doodle in the Dark area. This great (dark) space provided large neon doodle boards on the walls, an animated dance floor, and an interactive dancing experience where a Crayola crayon copied your moves. Let’s just say Mr. Purple pulled out some impressive choreography!

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Heading down to the second floor, we found ourselves mesmerized by the Art Alive area – where your iPad creation magically transports  into a live animation on the wall.

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But once they saw the Molding Madness area they started running. Loving the vending machine and the crafting equally, they put in the provided tokens and picked their Crayola Model Magic colors.

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If your kids are like mine and seek out shows and character meet and greets, this is the floor for you. We not only met Mr. Green, we saw crayons being made at the Crayola Factory show and were transported into the two dimensional world of a coloring page in the Be A Star studio.

Favorites of ours on both visits, these are all not to be missed.

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As our grand finale exhibit, we created custom crayons by picking a color, logo, and name at Wrap It Up! Once the label printed out we used the machines to attach it to the provided crayon making it an official Crayola color. Woot!

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As our time at the Crayola Experience came to an end, and we exited through the colorful gift shop – loot bags in hand – we once again agreed the “Experience” was a success.

Perfect as a day trip or enroute to one of the many fun things to do in the Poconos, the Crayola Experience is a great place to spend the day. If you live in the area, check out their special events. Wish I could do a Mom’s Night Out here!

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****Giveaway****

Know what’s even more fun than coloring? Winning an annual pass to color as much as you want! The nice people at the Crayola Experience have offered to giveaway 2 annual passes to The Mint Chip Mama readers!

To win comment below:

What is your favorite arts and crafts/creative thing to do with your kids?

Winner chosen Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 5pm EST!

(Drum roll) the winner is Jen H! 

But even better – everyone is a winner! Follow this link to save $3 off  your admission tickets! The code to access the tickets is: Chip. With the school break next week it’s a great time to go!

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She Said, Shut Up and Play with Me

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As an only child I always longed for someone who wanted to play with me. It didn’t help that the games of the time were I’m Telling and Double Dare – both sibling games. As they sat on my shelf collecting dust, I realized two player games were just not in my cards (cards – however I could play… sniff sniff solitaire).

I thought when I got married I could force my husband to play with me but he’s no fun. The best I get is a one-sided cutthroat game of Spit on my birthday, and only because he has to say yes.

Enter the offspring!

I was super excited when my daughter was born. I FINALLY had someone (obligated and) willing to play with me! SHE happened to enjoy playing with me – so there!

I’ve wanted to write about playing with one’s kids for months but ironically I’ve been too busy – playing with my kids – to do it. So in honor of today being the Worldwide Day of Play, here we go.

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So what have I been doing? School ended, summer began. Between our family memberships and free library passes every day was filled with a morning activity (PSA – I love the zoo. Best membership in New York, ask someone to get it for you for the holidays). Then, since my little one takes a killer nap, the “big girl” toys would come out while he slept – puzzles, beads, shmancy arts and craft projects, Magna-Tiles, anything she wanted.

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One of my favorite discoveries of the summer was GoldieBlox (a really cool engineering set for girls). I loved sitting with my daughter and teaching her how to follow a diagram, lay out all the needed pieces, and then create the project. It was amazing to see her reaction as she completed each page making the diagram came to life. Even more remarkable – while on-line at an amusement park she pointed out a banister made out of the real life version of five of her GoldieBlox pieces.

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But the best, best, best part was just playing with her one on one. I could go on and on about how much fun it is to have a little girl who wants to play with the toys I played with as a kid – like Lite Brite or lanyard. It’s just is one of those things us mothers smile about… while doing Chinese Staircase.

Enter boy kid.

Boy kid is almost two. My husband and I laugh that amongst a sea of dolls and a land of pink, he only has eyes for trucks, ducks, trains, planes and fish. Give the boy a truck and he’s set. If you come to our house you’ll have to play trains with him. He won’t take “no” for an answer. Just accept it.

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I love playing with my daughter’s big girly things, I love playing with my son’s little man things, but the best is watching them play together.

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These two creatures who came from my belly create such vivid tales I just sit in awe watching them – my son who barely speaks (yet we know exactly what he is saying) and my daughter who doesn’t stop talking. I just sit there crying happy tears (shocker). It’s the best thing on Earth. Their current obsession is Shopkins – which I didn’t get at first but now see encourage such imaginative play – I’m a huge fan.

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I would be remiss to not include my love of outdoor play. Most nice afternoons I open the door and kick my kids out of the house. I love that they get fresh air and exercise without even trying. Oh outside, how I love thee. Chalk in the spring, gardening and growing vegetables in the summer, leaf collection in the fall, spraying food coloring in the snow to create art in the winter, the possibilities are endless! With each season brings a new adventure. Piles of leaves to jump in, piles of snow at the bottom of the slide – all a recipe for instant fun! When I moved to the suburbs buying a swing set was my number one priority and I haven’t looked back since.

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A gifted and talented teacher once told me the best thing a parent could do is simply foster a child’s love of whatever they’re interested in at the moment. I think of this often.

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We are all so, so busy but I try every day – at least for a bit – to put down my phone, put horse blinders on and just play with my kids. The sad part is we run around so much with them we often forget the simplicity of just stopping and imagining all the possibilities of a cardboard box.

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I’ve adapted the mantra that they will never be this little again and that tomorrow they will be a bit bigger. I also think about how I felt like a million bucks when my parents sat down and played with me. But most important, I think of how RIGHT NOW it is my kid’s childhood and RIGHT NOW they are making the memories they will hopefully refer to as “the happy times” when asked by their future therapist.

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So in conclusion, put down your phone. GO play with your kids. Go put the sprinkler on and run through it with them. Go sit on your swing set glider and see how high you can all go. Go down the slide and fall on your tush. They’ll think it’s hilarious. Build a fort. Color with them (we recently found Crayola Color Alive books. AMAZING!). Most important, kiss them a zillion times. One day they won’t call you back because they no longer think of you as the moon and stars –which they do RIGHT NOW.

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Like this? Take the Genius of Play’s pledge saying you too will play with your kids and give them all the developmental benefits of play. Want more? Here are some expert articles and stats and facts about play, enjoy!

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Like what you see? Join me in helping Genius of Play reach their goal of 1,000,000 pledged hours of play. Once reached they’ll donate $10,000 worth of toys to support play for children in need. Pretty cool, right?

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What’s your favorite way to play with your kids? Most creative one wins a mystery prize!