We're going to cover a lot of ~ground~ in these posts. Make sure you hit up all 3 parts!:
Friends, lets talk about my FAVORITE x 1,000 kid-related word (besides “phase”…ha!). The R-Word. RECIPROCITY. R-E-C-I-P-R-O-C-I-T-Y. Reciprocity.
What is this magic thing, you ask? Well, if you have a membership/season pass to many of our fine KC kid-related institutions, you probably already have access to this fine benefit.
Reciprocity is when institutions (zoos, science museums, children’s museums, arboretums, etc) form a network. If you have membership at one within the network, then you get FREEEEEEEE access to any of the others in that same network! Each kind of institution has its own network, so you might belong to one or more.
Have a SCIENCE CITY/UNION STATION membership? Use it at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. We JUST used this over spring break, and we saved $70 for our family of four (2 adults, 2 kids). The whole membership only costs $95, so it was a DEAL.
Have a KC ZOO pass? Planning your summer vacation? You can get in HALF-PRICE at the world-class zoo in Omaha! (Save $38 for a family of 4…admission is $38 instead of $76).
What about WONDERSCOPE? Check out the DELIGHTFUL museum in Topeka’s Gage Park (where you can also get half priced admission with your zoo pass at the Topeka Zoo next door). If you have a $150 membership level or higher, you get in free there too!
Overland Park ARBORETUM members? (If you’re not, you should be! We LOOOVE the hikes, train display, and nature playgrounds, and it’s very affordable). Visit the excellent Missouri Botanical Gardens this summer!
Are you planning a bigger trip this summer? Check the museums in the city/state you’re headed to, or consider a leg-stretch at a location along your road trip route! No offense, McDonalds, but running around an amazing science center for a hour ABSOLUTELY beats your PlayPlace. (Sorry-not-sorry).
Don’t have a pass, but planning a trip? Check what your ticket prices would be at any of the museums/zoos you’re planning on hitting up. Are they within the reciprocal network? Does the cost offset the price of the KC-based pass? We actually bought the Union Station/Science City pass this year because we knew we were visiting Chicago and San Francisco within the calendar year. The pass gets us well over $100 worth of admissions (just for the two days of visits to the museums we’re planning to visit in those cities) PLUS we get access to all the great stuff here in KC!
Here are some of our favorite FREE/reduced price places within a few hours of KC (and PLEASE drop your favorites in the comments if we missed some...which I know we did!):
SCIENCE CITY/UNION STATION ($95 for family of 4) gets you into: The List: https://www.astc.org/members/pdf/PassPub05_14.pdf
WONDERSCOPE (must be the $150+ pass level to gain access to the ACM reciprocity program) The List: http://childrensmuseums.org/images/Reciprocal_Brochure_3419.pdf
The OP ARBORETUM ($50 or $75, depending on age of your kids) gives you free access to: The List: https://www.ahsgardening.org/uploads/pdfs/2019_RAP_Members.pdf
TIPS on USING RECIPROCITY:
I am so excited to share with you something fun that we did to prepare our hearts and get excited for Christmas this year. Our family is Christian, and so it was fun to celebrate our love of Jesus and sensory play with these activities. It was amazing to see how much our kids learned (4 Year Old Twins & 2 Year Old). Their focus was much better when participating in sensory play while we discussed the Birth of Jesus. During the sensory play we had discussions, sung songs, read our favorite Christmas books, and read from Luke 2.
Note on the Bins: For most of the bins I used stuff that I had laying around the house. My goal was to make it fun, quick, and inexpensive. All of the bins I prepared in less than 5 minutes and my girls enjoyed helping me put them together.
Day 1: Angel Sensory Bin
Contents: Marshmallows, tin foil, and cotton balls
Discussion: Angels are God's messengers and the news that angels told Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds in the Bible.
Day 2: Travel and Census Bin
Contents: People Figurines, Coins, Plane, Train, Car
Discussion: We counted people (basic concept of census), found coins in the sensory bin (represented taxes and reason for the census), and discussed Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem and how it was a long journey because they did not travel by plane, car, or train.
Day 3: No Room In Inn (Knock, Knock Sound Bin)
Base: Popcorn (awesome crunchy sound)
Contents: Bells, Pots and Pans, Spoons
**You could do anything that you have around the house that makes noise
Discussion: We talked about how there was no house or hotel that Mary and Joseph could stay in. I had the kids "knock" the different items together and I would say there was no room in the inn.
Day 4: Manger Scene (Where the Animals Live is Where Jesus was Born)
Contents: Animals, Person Figurine to be baby Jesus, Yellow Ribbon to be Straw, Lego Block to be the manger, tissue paper to swaddle baby Jesus, popsicle sticks and Lincoln logs to build fences or mangers.
Discussion: We did a lot of singing "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night." We talked about how baby Jesus was born where animals lived.
Day 5: Baby Washing (Could substitute with Baby Swaddling if you do not have a baby doll you can "wash")
Contents: Water, sponges, spray bottle, and soap
Discussion: We talked about baby Jesus being born. We washed the baby and then swaddled the baby. We talked about what a gift babies are.
Day 6: Shepherds Sensory Bin
Contents: Candy Canes, bells, and Cotton Balls
Discussion: We talked about shepherds and how their job was to watch sheep. We also talked about how candy canes are shaped similar to the staffs that shepherds used. We discussed angels appearing and telling the shepherds the good news. We also talked about how exciting it was that the shepherds got to visit baby Jesus.
Day 7: Star in the Sky
Base: Shaving Cream
Content: Foam Stars
Discussion: We talked about how there was a bright star in the sky the night Jesus was born. I introduced the Wise Men and talked about how they would follow the star to find Jesus.
Day 8: Bright Star
Base: Yellow Jello
Content: Foam Stars
Discussion: I used this day as kind of a fun review day and went over everything we had discussed. We also talked more about the special star and Wise Men.
Day 9: Perfect Gifts (Our Perfect Gift)
Base: Heart Noodles
Content: Baby Jesus
Discussion: I wrapped up a cardboard box filled with heart noodles and Baby Jesus. The kids unwrapped it and we talked about how at Christmas time we receive gifts. I then discussed how Jesus is our greatest gift. We talked about Jesus being God’s Son. I also talked about the gifts the Wise Men brought Jesus.
Day 10: Birthday Party for Jesus Sensory Bin
Content: Candles, Cupcake Tins, Cupcake Liners, Sprinkle Bottles (Anything Birthday Related)
Discussion: We talked about how Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’s birthday. We sung happy birthday to Jesus and talked about how fun it is to celebrate birthdays.