Reporter's Notebook: Volunteering at the Museum of Science

When you take your children to the Museum of Science, chances are you'll encounter at least one museum volunteer while you're there - the men, women, and teens in red coats and aprons that are at almost all Museum of Science exhibits, activities and special programs. And chances are at least one of them will help your children with a special activity, show you where the bathrooms are, or recommend a particular exhibit to see.

I've been a museum visitor plenty of times, but I've often wondered what it was like for someone wearing the red coat. So when the opportunity to spend the day as a Museum of Science volunteer came up, I jumped on it. The most important thing I learned? There is no doubt that the museum values and appreciates its volunteers, and there is no doubt that its volunteers are integral to a positive museum experience.

I arrived for my shift not quite knowing what to expect.

9/11 - Things to Do with Kids in Boston on September 11

We had returned to the US after living overseas for seven years just three days before the terror of 9/11. While it was hardly the welcome home we had expected, with my husband working in NYC at the time (across the street from the WTC) and me trying to unpack boxes and settle two young children into new schools on my own, the day was for our family, as for so many others, a life-defining moment.

Lots of really good things have happened in the subsequent years, but each year, the anniversary of the attacks always gives us pause. There are many ways families can mark the day, remembering the victims and honoring the heroes. Whether you explore an exhibit, visit a memorial or volunteer to help others, there are enriching and educational things to do on September 11 with your kids, some of which we’ve listed below.


Southwick's Zoo: A Zoo Like No Other

Southwick’s Zoo is unlike any other zoo my family has ever visited, and let me tell you, we have been to a lot of zoos. My kids say Southwick's is like a zoo-themed theme park, and I think that’s an excellent way to characterize it. Here are 10 reasons to make the trek out to Southwick’s, plus 10 tips for getting the most from your visit. 

Castle Island in Boston: 10 Tips & 10 Things To Do With Kids

It's nearing the end of summer and half the city tends to empty out as beach goers head down to the Cape and Islands for last minute getaways.  If you are like me and choose staying local over fighting bridge traffic, you can still create your own little beach getaway right here at home.  Castle Island is a 22-acre recreation site located at the tip of the Harbor in South Boston, just 10 minutes away from the Central Artery.   Below are ten things to do there (and ten tips!) to help plan your trip to one of Boston's most popular destinations for tourists and residents alike.

Visiting Outdoor, Public Art in and Around Boston with Children

My kids have visited enough museums in their short lives that they now actually look forward to exploring new exhibits, taking part in scavenger hunts, workshops, guided tours and the like. So when I brought up the idea of learning about art but also staying outside and playing, they were more than game. The good news? Accessible, diverse, entertaining (and mostly free!) exhibits can be found throughout the Boston area, all appropriate for visiting with children.

The beauty of looking at outdoor, public art with kids is that, depending on your child’s mood, you can stop and investigate or just take it in at a glance as you pass by. For insights on making any public art encounter with children a good experience, Mommy Poppins Boston spoke with art expert Wyona Lynch-McWhite, Executive Director of Fruitlands Museum in Harvard. Read on for Lynch-McWhite’s thoughts as well as places in and around Boston where parents can take children for a great public art experience.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with a Toddler: Five Things to Do and Five Things to Know

In my college intro to art history class, I learned how to examine and really 'read' a painting, its symbols, icons, and contexts.  I loved how all the details contributed to a greater understanding of the composition as a whole. Since kids have an uncanny ability to observe (and remember) the most obscure details, why not help them practice on a painting? When summer days are hot (or winter days, miserable), we trek out to the Museum of Fine Arts with our daughter. Read on for tips we've learned from our visits. For more tips on ways to engage your children before and after your visit to the MFA, check out Tara's post from last summer

The New England Aquarium: Transformed?

This past week was what we call in New England a “scorch-ah.” At 7 months pregnant carrying around a 30-pound toddler, I make it my mission to seek out indoor, air-conditioned play time. We live close to the Aquarium and make good use of our membership there. Even during the renovations when everything was covered in drapes, we would still go to check out the make-shift tanks, hopeful for the day when it would be back to full throttle.  

Walking into the Aquarium during the re-opening was a little bit like walking through the parade of The Emperor’s New Clothes. I kept looking for the dramatic changes but couldn’t detect anything that special. The newly painted and decorated walls are nice but our beloved Curious George toddler station was taken away and replaced with, well, nothing (just like that naked Emperor.) Although I left with a general feeling of disappointment, I know a lot of work was done to improve the aquarium. I don’t want to be a negative Nelly, so here are three highlights of the renovations (plus an old favorite) that your toddler might enjoy: 

Things to Do at Boston Area Zoos - What's Happening at Zoo NE, Southwick's, and Roger Williams Park Zoo

In the words of Paul Simon, “…it's all happening at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe its true…” And there’s no better time to see what’s happening at the zoo than during the summer, when the animals (like our children!) can fully enjoy their outdoor habitats.

While zoos are often host to special events like really cool sleepovers and outdoor birthday parties, they also make great local getaways during the hot, lazy days for summer. Kids can visit with animals from different continents, like the giraffes at the Franklin Park Zoo or the the wildlife from Down Under at the Stone Zoo. They can celebrate the birthdays of the zoo animals at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, and Southwick’s Zoo has daily animal encounter shows that offer an up-close look at the resident birds, reptiles and other animals.

Read on for some ideas for summertime fun at four Boston area zoos.

10 Reasons To Love Super Soccer Stars

As you may have pieced together from some of my previous posts, I’m consistently on the hunt for fun, engaging programs to take my toddler to in the city (like Baby Wiggle Little Groove). Which is why I was so very excited to come across the Super Soccer Stars program.

Super Soccer Stars teaches soccer skills in a fun, non-competitive educational environment for ages 2 and up. Kick & Play is run by Super Soccer Stars and offers a pre-soccer and movement program for toddlers 12-24 months old and their parents; taking you through a world of exciting activities to help develop pre-soccer skills. I started the Kick & Play program with my 12 month old and have since “graduated” to Super Soccer Stars. Below are just some of the reasons I can highly recommend both of these programs...

Father's Day Weekend in Boston with Kids - Fun and Free Things to Do

Happy Father’s Day!

We’ve got plenty of things to do for plenty of types of dads. For the sports fan dad, there’s the vintage baseball tournament in Ipswich; for the nature lover dad, the Butterfly Landing reopens at the Franklin Park Zoo. The history buff dad can attend the Bunker Hill Parade; the foodie dad can indulge at Arlington’s Feast of the East. And for the easy-going dad who will do whatever his kids want to do, there are plenty of festivals and performances and other special events.

Also for Father’s Day, we’ve rounded up some places to take Dad for breakfast; some chef-recommended recipes to make for Dad at home; and some places to go to make gifts for Dad.

Still figuring out what to do this summer? In the latest addition to our Cape Cod and the Islands Guide, guest blogger Eastham Vacation Guide shares its top things to do in Eastham with kids.

Read on for more of our weekend picks, and be sure to check our Events Calendar for more ideas.


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