Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shearwater Aviation Museum

Shearwater Aviation Museum

The main difference between this museum and the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum is that this one features aircraft and aircraft carriers from the armed forces, as opposed to commercial and recreational aircraft. Most young children won't know the difference, but if you have a little person who is really into "army guys," this one might be of special interest for him or her.

Head left down the hall to the big showroom and the first thing your little one will encounter is the "Wall-O-Temptation," that is, a line of huge bells with a warning sign to refrain from ringing them.  But don't panic, they have stuffed them with foam to prevent a sure ding-dong-disaster.  Be assured your child will move on; there are big planes to look at.  At the back, there is even a cockpit you are invited to sit in. Unlike the one at the ACAM, this is not a toy simulated to look like a real cockpit, it's the real deal.  Beware of the gap in the platform- little legs could get caught! If your child is brave enough to be helped into it, this would be a great photo op. You'll wish you brought a little pilot's costume. Blue opted out of this one on account of the height- it's certainly not as friendly as the one at ACAM but some kids would enjoy it I'm sure.

 There is a room off to one side with mannequins in air force uniforms, and a fantastic old-timey underwater suit.  Very young children might be frightened by the static models. Or maybe it's just my kid.  They are kind of creepy, so we kept moving.

Now for this museum's crowning glory:  Just on the other side of the mannequin room is a giant concave mirror used to help land planes on an aircraft carrier.  It's like one from a house of mirrors and you can have a lot of fun with it. I'll admit we spent most of our visit admiring our wide faces and long arms.  Awesome.

It's also worth noting that this place has a water fountain, which doesn't sound that exciting I'll admit. But when you think about it, they are not very common anymore and sipping from an active stream of water is a simple joy most kids don't get the pleasure of trying until grade school. 

There is plenty of aircraft artwork upstairs, most of it painted with breathtaking detail. I found it quite fascinating but I suppose young children would have to have a special passion for airplanes or airplane art for the second floor gallery to hold their attention. There's also a  bit of taxidermy.  But if art and stuffed roadkill don't appeal to you, you could probably skip the upstairs.

There is a second hangar to explore with more helicopters and airplanes.  We moved from one aircraft to another pointing out the letters and numbers painted on them and talking about numerals. Workers had opened up the doors of the showroom to make way for a new Sea King that was arriving, making the active daycare playground behind the museum clearly visible, and suddenly the airplanes lost their prominent spot in within my child's attention span. So we headed out.

The gift shop was sparse but the rubbery-foam toy planes they sold were all we needed.  They were much better quality than the brittle papery ones you usually see. We got a nice yellow one to bring home and spent a good long time zooming it and crashing it. It wasn't as nearly as fragile as I thought it might be, and was well worth the $5 price tag for all the fun we had.

While we were in the area, we drove a bit further down the road and visited Fisherman's Cove, so between the museum and the cove we had a complete tour of air and sea in a half-day excursion.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum

Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum 

Almost anyone who has come and gone from the city is aware of this museum; you can't miss the signage on your way past the Halifax airport, not to mention the jet parked adjacent to the highway which certainly garners some second glances. Despite this, the Aviation museum doesn't draw the same crowds as the museums within the city limits. Which is a shame  because for a wide range of children who are into machines and transportation, or even levers and buttons, this museum has a lot to offer. But at least this means a less crowded experience for you!

There is no admission fee for this quiet gem, just a suggested $5 per adult donation. You have nothing to lose! If you give it a try and your toddler runs screaming five minutes into the exhibit, you can even be forgiven if you opt to forgo the donation bin until your next successful attempt. One of the advantages about this museum is that it's about 25 minutes from North Dartmouth, just enough time for your little one to catch a power nap on the way, so hopefully that won't happen.

This museum has a long, enclosed ramp to get into the first showroom, which  is great for strollers and fun for toddlers to trot down (and up, and then down again!), and all along it are model planes in display windows. Then turn the corner and BAM! Helicopters and planes galore!  Real ones! Whoa!! If your little one is already pumped up from the little models on the ramp, they will not be expecting this enormity of the real aircraft by contrast. They'll want to climb into one. They can't... they're not allowed. But wait! What's this?  An actual size toy cockpit just for kids!  Even if your little one doesn't necessarily like airplanes, they'll love sitting in the pilot's seat, pulling levers and beeping buttons, and swiveling the yoke around going "rrrrrrr" and blowing raspberries.  Blue, who is two, who doesn't give a rats' caboose about planes normally sat in this thing for the better part of half an hour, chauffeuring me to various circuses and balloon stores around the world.

There's a model of the airport grounds and all its components, which light up when separate buttons are pressed.  Little children won't be tall enough to see the lights come on, but I find that generally kids don't care, just pushing all the buttons is a joy.  


Down another ramp is the hangar, where many more planes await your little explorers. You can climb up small steps to view the insides of planes and cockpits, and in one place you are invited to step on a pedal to slowly make a plane engine turn over. The kids will enjoy having something interactive at their level.

If you have one of those tots who spends a long time playing with buckles on car seats and high chairs, they will enjoy walking around and buckling and unbuckling the easy-to-maneuver seat belts on the plane seats scattered about. Please don't rush them away from this activity to look at more planes; the hands-on parts of the exhibit is great for developing fine motor skills, and it will be what they learn from the most! This is a great opportunity to sit beside your child and play pretend. Where will you go on your plane vacation?

At the gift shop you will find T-shirts for babies and young children, as well as the usual tourist fare and some toys. We opted for some cheap foam planes (3 for a dollar), which were great fun until they inevitably crashed and broke to bits, but that's all part of the learning. Now might also be a great time to introduce paper airplanes to your little one, and if you don't know how to make one, now's the time to learn! There are many great websites on the topic, such as this one. Memorizing the steps to making a basic paper airplane is something all parents should master. One day it will pay off when you find yourself with nothing but a piece of paper to save your child from disastrous boredom (in a bank, a line up, something new to toss when their frisbee goes on the roof and they're in tears...)

If your child loves plane or helicopter themed activities and you want to explore aircraft further, you can take them to the airport, the Shearwater Aviation Museum, or even just the library for some airplane themed books. We enjoy the very hilarious "Angela's Airplane", by Robert Munch,a silly story about a five-year-old who accidentally flies an airplane. We also like the more informative, "We're Taking An Airplane Trip" by Dinah L. Moché, which takes a practical approach to the subject of air travel and airplanes, and is a great resource if you have an older child (3 to7) who is taking a plane for the first time.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hello New Friends! It's me!

Hello new friend! Thank you for finding me on the internet. You must be someone who is looking for new ideas for your little ones. I like you already. I hope you will like me too.  I’m Michelle, and I’m awesome at doing fun things*.  I like to make magic things happen. I’m exactly like the Wizard of Oz, except that by Wizard, I mean “Mom”, and by “Oz” I mean Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Oh, and by magic, I mean mind-blowing from the perspective of a small person with limited understanding of how anything works yet, including space, time, and object permanence. That makes it easier.

I love to read, and I’m a proud holder of a Halifax Regional Library Card. I’m especially interested in the topics of Childhood Development, Psychology, Neurology, Pedagogy, and genetic epistemology. I’m also interested in supercalifragilisticexpialidociousness, and antidisestablishmentarianism. Maybe not really those last two, but I read the sentence before it, decided it sounded pretentious, and I decided to make it worse.

In addition to being a Mom I’m also a human person (be nice, trolls!), an Early Childhood Educator (ECE), a photographer with a Bachelor of Photography (BFA), and most recently a member of the internet!!! I have worked for a Public Daycare and for a private care-giving firm, and at present I run a small home-based daycare.

I have a daughter who was born in 2011, and for the purposes of this blog I will call her Blue. This blog not about Blue; although she will be a feature in it. Chances are you have your own little ones and they are the centre of your universe.  So what I’m NOT trying to do is to prattle on about my own kid and adorable stuff she said, because your time is valuable and reading about specific kids doesn’t necessarily help you decide what to do with yours. Instead my aim is to try out lots of new things, with Blue’s help, and together we’ll figure out what things might be fun for other little ones to try. A few things will be classic activities or those found on Pinterest (what did we ever do without it?) but I’m also hoping to generate some new ideas, and also give information that will be of local interest to fellow Haligonians.

I also hope to weigh in on some popular topics of discussion, and maybe even have a good rant or two. You might not agree with me on every topic. But people tend to read things that affirm their biases, so if you disagree with me, this blog might not be for you. In that case you should find another blog that is able to assure you that everything you already know is right.  That way you won’t have to change your perspective, which will be easier for you.
Happy reading! 

*Legal Disclaimer: I have very few academic credentials in the field of awesomeness or the study of fun things. Ask your doctor before having too much fun.