MCM closed next week, Hours/Days of operation to change

Madison Children’s Museum will be closed Monday, September 5 (Labor Day), through Friday, September 9, for its biannual Maintenance Week.

The closed period will allow museum staff to deep-clean the facility, and make improvements and repairs to exhibits.

When the museum reopens at 9:30 am on Saturday, September 10, it will begin a new schedule through Memorial Day: open 9:30 am – 5 pm Tuesdays – Sundays (closed on Mondays), and no longer open on Thursday nights. The exception will be during Madison Metropolitan School District’s winter and spring breaks, when the museum will be open on Mondays for special programming.

The museum’s monthly free admission night will change to the first Wednesday of the month beginning October 5. On these Twilight Wednesdays, admission will be free from 5 – 8 pm.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2012, the museum will return to a seven-days-a-week schedule, open from 9:30 am – 5 pm to serve local families and tourists while school is out of session.

For details on the new hours of operation and a list of all the dates during the 2011–12 academic year when the museum will be closed, please go here.


Madison Public Library Fall Kidspages

The Fall 2011 issue of Library Kidspages is now available. Grab a paper copy at any Madison Public Library location or print it off from the web site. The Fall 2011 Library Kidspages lists all of the events from September 1 through December 31 for children ages 0-12 at the Madison Public Library. Copies in Spanish are also available here.

Want to receive notices of upcoming programs by age? Sign up for the email newsletters – Library Kids, Books for Five Year Olds, Booked for Teens, and others.


Do you know about Pinterest? It’s basically an online bulletin board with unlimited space and unlimited “pins” – a fantastic way to bookmark your favorite sites – and I LOVE it!! (and am ever so slightly addicted to it.) I think it’s something every parent should check out!

I only joined a few weeks ago, but have already found so many great activities and craft ideas for Milena. Cornstarch driveway paint has become a weekly “must” at our house:

I can’t wait for fall to arrive so I can make this labyrinth out of leaves:

I’m excited to have Milena make this hand print Christmas tree to hang in our home:

And these “kissing hands” are such a great way to remember your kiddos’ first day of school each year!

I’ve also found quite a few great ideas for myself and our home as well.

You need an invite to join Pinterest. I have a few, and will gladly e-mail them to the first few people who comment (please include your e-mail address). And I’m sure other RM mamas and readers will help out the rest of you!

And once you join, you can follow my boards here.

Wonder Bugs – Aldo Leopold Nature Center

This summer we signed Milena up for the Wonder Bugs preschool program at Aldo Leopold Nature Center. This week was her second-to-last class (we learned all about ants!). We have had so much fun learning and exploring!

“Introduce your toddler or pre-school aged child to a safe and wonderful natural world. This program is specifically designed for children ages 2-5 (before entering kindergarten). Each week, we’ll explore a different seasonal topic through hikes, outdoor exploration, music, puppetry, songs, stories and more.”

Going into this summer camp, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Very few places have classes for 2 and 3 year olds, so I was really excited about the opportunity, but nervous about what the classes would be like. I was pleasantly surprised at just how wonderful they are!

Every week focuses on a different topic (parents are able to sign their children up for one class or multiple classes). Each begins with a discussion about the topic: for example, in our “Antsy Pantsy” class about ants today, we first looked at large toy ants to see the different parts, legs, etc. We talked about what ants eat and where they live. Our teacher, Miss Nicky, always does a great job keeping the kids’ attention and encouraging them to participate and shout out answers (right or wrong). Milena LOVES Miss Nicky!

All sessions involve some time outside where the kids can attempt to see the insect/plant/etc outside in its natural habitat. Each session also involves a snack and sometimes a craft, which often tie into that week’s topic.

Wonder Bugs Objectives:
1. to provide an opportunity for parents to interact with their child in a natural setting
2. to foster a sense of wonder for the natural world
3. to foster admiration and respect for the land

We LOVE Wonder Bugs, and we’re excited about the fall program sessions coming up. Aldo Leopold Nature Center also offers Wonder Bugs Family Days September 24, October 22 & November 19 from 9:30 -10:45 am, which take place on Saturdays (perfect for working parents!) – though they often repeat the topic covered during the week, so be sure to check before signing your child up for both!

Go here for information about the fall Wonder Bugs program sessions.

For more information about the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and its other events and programs, go here.

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center is located at 300 Femrite Drive in Monona. (608) 221-0404

Elvehjem Boundless Playground

Those of you who have met Dahlia know that she’s pretty much a boundless fount of energy, in nonstop motion, and keeping an eye on her at many outdoor playgrounds can be quite an exhausting feat, especially given how pregnant I currently am.  So when my friend described the playground at Elvehjem Elementary to me, I immediately thought it would be right up Dahlia’s alley — and much more relaxing for me.

You see, the Elvehjem playground is a Boundless Playground.  Boundless Playgrounds are playgrounds designed to be inclusive of children and adults with mobility and developmental impairments.  This isn’t to say that the playground is perfectly 100 percent safe and boring — far from it!  I would have to say this is far and away the coolest playground in town.  It’s designed largely as a series of ramps, to provide access to kids and parents in wheelchairs.  But to kids who aren’t in wheelchairs, it basically amounts to a fun maze.  There were plenty of climbing surfaces and walls, but they all seemed perfectly set at angles where I didn’t worry that one misplaced sneaker would send Dahlia careening backwards through the air.  The ground surface is soft and pliable, not the gravel or shredded tires you find at most parks.  Dahlia was both well-contained and very stimulated.

The parents in Madison are luckier than most to have such a wide variety of great parks, but the Boundless Playground at Elvehjem Elementary is really a step above.  Building this playground was really a labor of love for neighborhood families, and it has paid off.  Dahlia didn’t want to leave, and I can’t wait to go back.

Elvehjem Elementary is located at 5106 Academy Drive in Madison.

Fall Half-Pint Resale – Sept. 9-10

The 8th Semi-Annual Half-Pint Resale is less than a month away! Half-Pint Resale takes place Friday Sept. 9 – Saturday Sept. 10 at the Goodman Community Center (149 Waubesa Street). Public sale runs Friday from 2 – 9 pm (volunteers and consigners get to shop in the morning) and again Saturday 9 am – 12 pm, followed by the Half-Price sale from 1 -5 pm.

What is Half-Pint Resale?
Half-Pint Resale is a local, mother-run two-day children’s consignment sale held semi-annually in early spring and fall. Area families consign their gently used items, giving area families a unique, affordable way to purchase quality clothes sizes 0-7, toys and baby gear. Each sale ends with a half-price sale, which gives amazing deals on everything a family needs. The sale started in the spring of 2008 and has grown each year. In it’s third venue due to amazing growth, the sale features over 200 consignors each season. Area families love shopping at Half-Pint because they find amazing deals on high-quality fun items and consignors love it because they get big checks for items they no longer need! As one shopper said, “Christmas came early for this label crazy momma!”

You can find more information about the sale here. If you’re interested in volunteering or consigning, look here and here.

If you haven’t shopped Half-Pint before, make sure to look here to learn how to make the most of your time shopping at Half-Pint.

Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Aquatic Center

Last summer, I reviewed the Goodman Pool on Olin Street.  Well, not everyone knows it, but there’s ANOTHER Goodman Pool in the greater Madison area.  It’s the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Aquatic Center, at the Jewish Community Campus in Verona.  Since my family just moved to Fitchburg, we thought we’d take a trip to our neighboring town to see what the Goodman Aquatic Center had to offer.

The pool at the Goodman Aquatic Center is a 5,500 square foot outdoor pool with a lap-swimming area and a zero-depth entry with fountains for younger kids.  The pool is solar heated and uses a salt-water generator to produce natural chlorination rather than liquid chlorine.  There are spacious locker rooms and a snack bar that offers drinks, frozen treats, and a small selection of bagged and hot snacks.

My daughter Dahlia seemed a little underwhelmed by the splash offerings compared to the variety of sprinklers at the Goodman Pool on Olin, but she did play in the fountains for a bit.  Mainly, though, she seemed to enjoy the slightly less crowded atmosphere and scampered around throughout the shallow end with delight.  It’s amazing how few bells and whistles you really need to keep a two year old entertained in a pool.

Her other favorite part of the Community Campus was the Noah’s Ark play area.  There are statues of animals cueing up two-by-two to file onto a large wooden boat.  The boat has lots of climbing areas and some slides.  It’s a great distraction for when the whistle blows and the lifeguards enforce a 15-minute adults-only swim.  (Being nine months pregnant, I took full advantage of said adults-only floating time while my husband chased Dahlia around Noah’s Ark.)  I found the Aquatic Center to be much less hectic than the Goodman Pool on Olin, and given that the hours on weekdays are much more suited to those of us whose kids still take an afternoon nap, I think we’ll be returning for another jaunt before the summer ends.

The Goodman Aquatic Center is located at 7762 County Highway PD in Verona.  It is open until September 5th from 11 am to 8 pm, with the exception of September 1st and 2nd, when it will be closed.  Admission for adults 16 and over is $5, children are $4, and infants under 1 are free.