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50 Things To Do in Orlando with Kids Other Than Theme Parks

Most of us know Orlando as the Theme Park Mecca, offering tons of memories at Disney World and Universal; but Florida's mega tourist destination offers a variety of fun things to do with kids of all ages other than the obvious options. Whether you live in Florida or are just visiting, Orlando is a great destination for families on both short and extended stays.

As a former Disney World cast member and Universal pass holder, I could tell you a million and one ways to have fun at a huge theme park with kids, but we'll save that for another post. If you're looking for simple fun, unique experiences, and virtually no lines, Orlando still ranks as one of the world's most kid-friendly destinations.

The list below includes a little bit of everything. From canoeing to museums to themed dinners, these 50 fun spots offer a variety of family entertainment and "must do" activities for kids in Orlando, with or without a visit to the Mouse. Get ready to forego the theme park ticket and experience the real Orlando. 

Questions to Consider Before Picking a Pediatrician

Choosing your kid's pediatrician may seem like just one more "before baby" chore to soon-to-be parents running down a checklist that includes everything from assembling the crib to finding childcare. But actually, this single decision is going to impact your family more than you might think.

Of course, you need to ensure a doctor is licensed, and ideally, certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, accepts your insurance, and works with a top-rated hospital in case of emergencies, but beyond those practicalities, there are a few things that make for standout pediatricians. The best pediatricians (IMHO) treat the whole family, especially new parents. They ask mom if she's getting enough sleep and offer breastfeeding and other postpartum support. The can offer discipline suggestions and address behavior issues as kids grow up. 

But don't just take my word for it. We asked our amazing group of second-time parents at Mommy Poppins with kids ranging from newborns to teens on what to ask when interviewing a new doctor for your children and what to look for when choosing that very first pediatrician for your brand-new baby. Read on for our 13 top questions to consider before choosing your next doctor.

Find more top tips in our Baby and Pregnancy Guide for New Parents.

99 Sensory Activities for Any Child

All kids can be affected by sensory processing issues. Certain situations just make them freak. So it makes sense that exposing kids to a variety of sensory activities in a calm, playful manner can alleviate some of these problems.

In that spirit, we've put together this list of 99 sensory activities for any child. Though these activities involve sensory stimulation, they are great all-around activities for any child, from toddlers on up. Some are even good for babies. These sensory activities also can help you. My kids' school's occupational therapist once gave a seminar to parents on sensory balance and activities for maintaining a sensory-savvy schedule. I now realize my engine tends to run too low and I need to work harder at energizing myself throughout the day. I have incorporated some of these activities to keep my own energy up.

For more tips on dealing with sensory issues, see our posts on sensory savvy-snacks and OT-recommended toys.

Scary Easy Ideas for a Spooktacular Halloween Party

It's never too late to organize a super simple Halloween Party. This year I hosted our fifth annual neighborhood party and tested out some frighteningly easy Halloween snack recipes. They must have been a hit, because my little ghosts and goblins didn’t let out a single boo in protest. Now that I have my fifth party under my (witch's) hat, here are a few tricks for how to host your own Halloween Party.

11 Best US Aquariums for Your Next Family Vacation

A visit to a top-notch aquarium is a great way for kids to explore the secrets of the sea. New York tristate families are blessed with an array of regional aquariums. The New York Aquarium in Coney Island that's undergoing a renovation, the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead and the Adventure Aquarium with its new Shark Bridge in Camden are fine day trips.

If you’re looking for really fabulous odes to underwater environments and sea life that are simultaneously entertaining and educational, we’ve found them, from a 28-foot-tall kelp forest to a jellyfish invasion. The following 11 aquariums up the aquatic ante and are so worth the trip.

10 Questions To Ask During a Preschool Tour

A preschool tour is the best opportunity for parents to get a feel for a school before tackling the admissions process. Hopefully, you see the school in action, or at least check out what the classrooms look like. Keep your eyes open for important details. What type of student work is on display? Do the kids seem happy and engaged? How do the teachers interact with them?

When you're on the tour, don't be shy about asking questions. This is your chance! "Parents should ask as many questions as they want to help understand and grasp our program's philosophy," says Lisa Pacheco, center director at Children’s Creative Learning Center. Jennifer Jones of Battery Park Montessori and the Pine Street School adds, "I encourage parents to ask questions based on their personal priorities for their children. For example, if the child is physically active and the parents are concerned about it, they should ask how the school will satisfy the child's need for physical expression." Open-ended questions are best, as they tend to reveal more about the school. For example, "How do you support literacy?" is better than, "When do you teach the alphabet?"

Here are the top 10 topics to ask about when you're visiting preschools.

Preschool Directors Share How To Pick a 'Good Fit' Preschool

Applying to preschool is one of the most important (and potentially harrowing) experiences for young children and their parents. It’s the beginning of their education, their introduction to schooling and their foundation for a life of learning. In NYC, we are lucky to have many preschool choices available, but it can be a lot of work to figure out which one is best suited to your child.

We asked directors from participating preschools at one of our recent Preschool Fairs to share their insights about the admissions process and what parents should look for in a program. Who better to explain how to navigate this journey than these experts, who help families find the right schools for their kids every day? Read on for their top tips.

10 Outdoor Games from the '70s that It’s Time To Teach Your Kids

When folks talk about summers back in the day, they say things like, “We just went outside and played.” OK, but what did we play—anyone remember? We’ve got hundreds of ideas for playtime with your kids, but we especially love these throw-back games that used to keep us entertained until the streetlights came on. So Red Rover those neighborhood kids right on over and teach the whole crew a few of the games that the Brady brood played in their AstroTurf backyard!

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