5 Interactive Children’s Museums from Around the Country

Parents know the difficulty of keeping kids entertained in the summer. It’s hard enough to find a few activities to do, let alone provide them with exciting new opportunities to learn while school isn’t in session. Vacations are great for relaxing, having fun and introducing kids to fresh experiences, but as long as you’re in a certain part of the country, why not combine fun, fresh experiences with inspiring, interactive lessons? Here’s five of our favorite interactive children’s museums from around the country to keep kids learning while school’s out.

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Boston Children’s MuseumBoston
One of the oldest and largest children’s museums in the world, the Boston Children’s Museum is focused on providing hands-on exhibits to spark imaginations and inspire creativity. It focuses on a variety of areas, like science and the arts, but also places a heavy emphasis on the power of play and stimulating brains through the process of self-discovery. And it’s also located in one of America’s most historic academic communities.

Discovery Place, Charlotte
A trip down the Atlantic coastline leads us to Charlotte, North Carolina, where science and technology meet to form one of the best educational experiences in the country. The main facility isn’t as hands-on as others, but there is a Discovery Place KIDS for families looking to get their kids involved in fun, interactive activities. It also has a unique IMAX® Theatre that takes you into the heart of space journeys and earthly adventures.

Museum of Science and IndustryChicago
If you’re kid is getting a little old for some of the hands-on activities at children’s museums, it’s might be time to move them up to an adult museum. Some museums aren’t designed to capture the imagination of young kids, but the Museum of Science and Industry satisfies any age. It’s a great family destination, and with more than 400,000 square feet of exhibits, it’s bound to have something even the most stubborn kids will enjoy.

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Children’s Museum of DenverDenver
One of the top museums for kids when it comes to the interactive fun factor, it has come a long way since the early days sharing scientific mysteries from a simple bus. Now with a wide variety of permanent exhibits that combine state-of-the-art facilities and hands-on experiences, it helps children learn by allowing them to step into the shoes of physicists, agriculturalists, artists, physicians, dentists, chefs, zoologists and so much more.

Exploratorium, San Francisco
Much like the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Exploratorium’s mission is tailored to speak to people of all ages and from all walks of life. Branded as a “public learning laboratory,” the museum allows kids and adults to become explorers with hundreds of exhibits that encourage curiosity and inquiry. The hub for scientists and artists alike, it provides educational activities for kids on just about every topic imaginable.

5 DIY Teacher Gift Ideas

teacher-giftsIt’s time to go back to school and while you’re busy trying to make it as easy as possible for your kids, so are their teachers! But those teachers need a little boost before the year gets rolling — why not give them a little gift of encouragement? Have your kids help out to make something special and keep them busy on these last few days of summer. Here are 5 DIY teacher gift ideas to get the year started right.

Daily Durability The school year survival kit is a super-easy idea to put together as well as inexpensive. Have your kids think about what their teachers need every day to get through classes — coffee to give them a morning boost, candy to treat themselves after lunch, school supplies to present lessons — anything your kids think their teachers might need or want to make the school day a little brighter.  

fairy-garden-kitNew Life Your kids’ teachers help them learn and grow — take that idea and turn it into the shape of a plant. To make it personal, have your kids paint a terra cotta planter with a cute back-to-school quote and tie a ribbon around it. For the plant, choose something easy to care for like a succulent or an air plant — with a low-maintenance plant, your teacher can focus on making your kids sharp while having a little extra life in the room.

Treasure Over Trash If you want to get crafty with a few things you already have but need to get rid of, turn them into something decorative for your kids’ teachers. Use the nubs of colored pencils to create beads for a necklace or use old crayons to create paperweights with rocks from the garden. For that one, you’ll have to heat them in your oven (be careful!) until they’re too hot to touch with your bare hands. Take the crayon crumbs and set them on top of the hot rocks and let them melt away to make a colorful gift for teacher.

lunch-totePractical Packing If you and your kids are super crafty, try something a little more elaborate like a DIY reusable lunch tote. It doesn’t require a lot of materials or time, just a bit of patience. Check out the tutorial on Camille Styles. If you want to simplify the idea, you can always make a no-sew tote from a t-shirt or pillowcase your child’s teacher can use to carry her belongings to and from school or even just to the grocery store. Or, if you don’t have the time to craft, you can always buy a lunch tote

Whatever you need to make your child’s teacher daily duties a little bit easier, LTD Commodities has a solution! Whether it’s an idea for classroom-friendly snacks or a gift for the first day of school, look to LTD for practical products and inspiring ideas.

Tooth Fairy Day: A Brief History of the Tooth Fairy

tooth-fairy-pillowWith the kids going back to school, taking on new responsibilities and learning new traditions, it’s fitting that August 22 is Tooth Fairy Day. The fictional sprite symbolizes a rite of passage for kids as they grow, learn and evolve, much the way the Tooth Fairy has done over the last century or so. Here’s a little bit about the Tooth Fairy and how she became the unofficial patron saint of lost teeth.  

Cultural Conventions Like many symbols Americans use for holidays and rituals (Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, trick-or-treating), the Tooth Fairy is a blend of ideas and symbols we borrowed from Europeans and other cultures. For most cultures, losing a baby tooth is a stepping stone toward adulthood and so giving children money in exchange for teeth is thought to be the first introduction to responsibility. In Scandinavian countries parents give children money when they lose their first tooth, but no fairies are involved in the exchange. In some places, children throw their teeth at the sun or on a rooftop as a way to request a new, strong tooth, but money and supernatural creatures aren’t part of this ceremony.missing-teeth

Rodents In Spain and other hispanic cultures, children put their newly lost teeth under their pillows for Ratoncito Perez — a mouse who takes the tooth and replaces it with a small gift. In French-speaking countries, a mouse is also given the responsibility of a tooth exchange. Some people believe this idea is traced to Marie-Catherine Baronne d’Aulnoy who wrote The Good Little Mouse in the 17th century. It’s about a fairy who morphs into a mouse to help a queen held captive by an evil king. However, contrary to what people say (a popular summary of the story is the mouse hid under the evil king’s pillow so she could knock out his teeth, which is false) there isn’t a lot in the way of baby teeth and pillows to link it to the Tooth Fairy. There are also theories that children surrender their teeth to the “tooth mouse” so their teeth grow in as strong as a rodent’s or teeth that keep growing because rodents grow until they die.

missing-teeth2American as… The Tooth Fairy The Tooth Fairy as Americans know her today, came to life as early as the 1900s with a combination of characteristics from European folklore. The Tooth Fairy was first mentioned in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1908, but she didn’t find a firm place in literature until 1927. Esther Watkins Arnold wrote a play called The Tooth Fairy (though it’s likely not an origin story) and in 1949, Lee Rogo wrote a short story published in Collier’s about new parents and the mythical creature their daughter believed in — but there’s no explanation on where this fairy came from.

The origins of the Tooth Fairy are murky at best and they aren’t as interesting or fun as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, but it’s a tradition parents love to hold up, year after year and generation after generation — and kids are almost always willing to take cash for a missing tooth.

Keep your traditions alive with LTD Commodities! From birthday celebrations to Thanksgiving dinners, make your custom special with products priced for fun from LTD.

 

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week for the First Day of School

It seems like we just got over the student liberation on the last day of school, and we’re already facing the first day of school! There’s so much to do and to buy, we thought we’d make it a little easier for you. Here are this week’s Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week for the First Day of School.Sharkbite-hem-dress

Inaugural Outfit Girls’ Shark Bite Hem Chiffon Dress is perfect for just about any occasion! She’ll love its uneven hemline and flowing design. Made of breezy chiffon, it has crisscrossing straps and an elastic waist for a comfortable fit. minecraft

Signature Style Let everyone know you play one of the world’s most popular online games with Minecraft Accessories. You’ve dedicated hours to building your cube empire and dodging hostile mobs. Celebrate your successes with these pieces that feature the notorious Creeper. Available in Men’s and Youth sizes, the T-Shirt has a screen print of a Creeper peeking through a hole. Cotton. The Beanie Hat will make your head look like the face of a Creeper.

movie-character-socks

Your Feet Are Covered This Favorite Movie Characters 5-Pair Sock Set is a delightful addition to any fan’s wardrobe. Your favorite characters are featured front and center on the top of these low, no-show socks.cooler-messenger

Refreshments Central Keep your refreshments cold in this NFL Coleman 12-Can Messenger Cooler. The soft-sided insulated cooler displays your favorite team’s logo and has additional storage space for holding your keys, bottle opener, sunscreen and more. The adjustable shoulder strap with a 24″ drop and shoulder padding allows you to carry it around comfortably. quilted-back-pack

Cute Carriers Girls’ Quilted Patch Backpack is great for travel, school or trips to grandma’s house. It features an embroidered appliqué design, made from a variety of solid and patterned fabrics, and embellished with buttons. It’s fully lined and has a roomy interior for all her things. The top closes with a drawstring, and a fold-over flap with a magnetic snap keeps it secure. She can carry it with the top handle, or with the adjustable 9″-18″ shoulder straps.

LTD Commodities has products to prepare you for the first day of school or the last. Shop for all your everyday inspiration at LTD.

 

5 Ideas to Make Your Labor Day Staycation Fun

Labor Day is just a few weeks away — if you haven’t started planning a weekend trip, maybe you should sit this holiday out. But you can still make it a vacation without going anywhere. Here are 5 ideas to make your Labor Day staycation fun.gazebo

Breakfast Picnic There won’t be many more days you can enjoy the weather in the park, so a picnic may be in order. To make it special, make it a breakfast picnic! Bake a few muffins the night before to have as you sip coffee from a thermos as the sun rises. If you’re not a morning person, a midday or evening picnic is just as fun, but it won’t be as much of an adventure.

Drive-in Movie Drive-in movies used to be the thing to do on Friday nights in the summer, but the number of drive-ins that still operate is dwindling. But that makes the experience all the more exciting! Not only do you get to watch a movie from the comfort of your car, but you get all the convenience of the movie theater concessions stand outside! You may have to do a little research and a lot of driving to get there, but it’s worth the adventure.campfire-cookout

Campfire Cookout A campfire cookout isn’t a barbecue. Rather than pulling out the grill, make a fire pit and make dinner like you’re in the deep woods of Maine for the weekend. Make hobo dinners, hot dogs on skewers and roast marshmallows for s’mores. It provides all the entertainment of camping without having to actually camp.

Backyard Carnival If your kids have a lot of friends in town, host a backyard carnival! Rent a bouncy house, get other parents involved to set up different stations for crafts, face painting and cookie decorating. Keep it simple so you don’t have to do too much planning, setup or cleanup. Just make it a day of fun before the kids have to buckle down for the year to study.Stargazing

Stargazing You can stargaze just about any time of the year, but there are only so many nights that it’s warm enough to be comfortable outside at night. Labor Day weekend is an ideal time to take an evening to look at the stars. Saturday, September 6 happens to be International Observe the Moon Night, but Mars and Saturn should be visible as well.

LTD Commodities has everything you need for every holiday and every vacation. Whether you need blankets to snuggle in while you’re stargazing or you’re looking for kitchen gadgets to perfect your Christmas dinner side dishes, shop LTD for great products at practical prices.

Crafts to Ease Summer Fatigue

With just a few weeks left of summer, the kids are showing signs of summer fatigue — and you feel it every time they utter the words “I’m bored.” They’re out of ideas on how to take advantage of these last days of summer and that means you probably are, too. But don’t get too stressed out — you need to save your energy for back to school shopping. Here are a few ideas to keep the kids busy until school starts.bead-suncatchers

Naptime Crafts The Artful Parent uses her little one’s naptime as an opportunity to do simple crafts with her older child. During one such naptime, she created suncatchers out of melted craft beads. It’s a very easy project to do with the kids, but it does require using a hot oven so they need supervision. All you need are colorful craft beads and a muffin tin and you have mock-stained glass ornaments. They’ll catch the summer sun now and bring a little sparkle to your home during the darkest days of winter (but we’re trying not to think about that quite yet).freezer-banana-pops

Mini-Treats What kid doesn’t want to make her own chocolate covered treat? These freezer banana pops from Kids Activities Blog is a scaled-down version of chocolate covered bananas you get at the county fair. The idea is so simple — cut a banana into bite-sized pieces, dip them in chocolate and sprinkles, let them chill and you have a grand, kid-sized sweet treat that isn’t so bad for the little ones.bird-feeder

Bird Treats Another simple treat keeps the kids busy for hours and keeps the neighborhood birds fed comes from Growing a Jeweled Rose. It’s a DIY bird feeder that requires next to no planning, very few supplies and minimal supervision. All it is is a toilet paper tube, smeared with peanut butter and rolled in bird seed. It takes just a few minutes to put together, but watching the birds flock to their creation, it holds kids’ attention until it’s time to go to the pool.gumdrop-bridges

Double-Duty Craft Test your kids’ engineering energy by putting them to work on a gumdrop bridge. Galileo Camps offers this idea to set your kids loose with a box of gumdrops and toothpicks and see if they can come up with a structure before they eat all the gumdrops. It tests their critical thinking skills and the gumdrops are their incentive to come up with something awesome. As a bonus, it gets their brains working again to warm up for the first day of school.bubble-paint

Bubbling with Talent If your kids have a long day of doing nothing ahead of them, perhaps some bubbles are in order. Meet the Dubiens put together a tutorial on bubble painting. Mix a little paint with dish soap, use straws to blow out a few bubbles onto paper and you have art! It’s pretty hard to mess up and the results are almost always gallery-quality art.

LTD Commodities has ideas and products to keep every member of the family busy any day of the year. From summertime crafts for the kids to Christmas gifts for your parents, shop LTD for great products and practical prices.

 

Simplify Your Life Week: Ideas to Simplify Your Life

ClutterIt is “Simplify Your Life Week” — it’s an idea that’s great in theory, but difficult in practice only because it’s hard to know where to start and, therefore, hard to get started. But we’ve put together a list of small things you can do to make your life easier. Here are 5 ideas to simplify your life.

Declutter Decluttering is a big task, but if you tackle a little bit at a time, it can be easy. Take an hour after dinner and, armed with a garbage bag, go through your house from bedroom to bathroom and start throwing away all the things you keep “just in case.” Sometimes you can say “just in case” for years — but when you make the decision that there will be no case for keeping some items, you’ll feel just a little bit lighter.

Electronics-Free Time Take one night a week and declare it an electronics-free night. You don’t have to forgo radio or music, but turn off your cell phone, computer and television and figure out how to entertain yourself without them. It can be a liberating experience — perhaps you’ll be more productive, finish that book you’ve been trying to get through or start conquering your holiday to-do list (it’s never too early to start!). It’s amazing how much our devices distract us.

clutterShred Those documents the IRS tells you to keep for seven years have probably been in that accordion file for ten years. It’s time to start shredding. Don’t do it all at once — we want to keep it simple — just shred one year at a time. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes — just 15 minutes to clear out a year’s worth of junk.

Make Better Use of Your Time We work all week to relax on the weekend, but it’s not relaxing if you have to spend it cleaning. Start doing your chores during the week after work. Clean your bathroom on Mondays, do laundry on Tuesdays, clean the kitchen on Wednesdays and do all of your grocery shopping on Thursdays. You might think you’ll be too tired to do these things during the week, but with your weekends free of chores, you’ll find the energy to be able to enjoy that free time.clutter

Start Saying No Don’t take on too much. Sometimes obligations — either social or work obligations — make our lives feel more complicated and stressful than they can be. Rather than giving your time and energy to someone else, give it back to yourself. Rest, relax and enjoy your free time rather than rush from one obligation to another.

LTD Commodities strives to make our customers lives easier. From helpful hints for everyday tasks to products to simplify your chores, LTD has it all!

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week for Back to School

It seems like summer just arrived, but it’s already time to start thinking about the new school year! There are so many things we have to get prepared for, but if we get the shopping out of the way, we’ll have plenty of time for all the activity the waning days of summer have in store for us. We have a few products to get you started! Here are this week’s Product Picks for the Week for Back to School.Galaxy-print-leggings

First Impressions Eye-catching and trendy, this 2-Pc. Girls’ Galaxy Print Legging Set is a fashionable addition to her wardrobe. The cap-sleeved top features a galaxy-printed shape embellished with sparkling blue and silver rhinestones. The top’s uneven hem and contrast trim give it a futuristic look. The vibrant leggings feature a coordinating all-over print. An elastic waistband provides the perfect fit. Cotton and polyester, with a touch of spandex in the leggings for stretch.

Collegiate-Duffel

College Bound Show off your team spirit with a Collegiate Duffel Bag. It comes in your school’s colors with its logo on the front and its name on the top. Durable and spacious, it has a comfortably padded shoulder strap (27″L) that is adjustable and removable. It also has double carry handles with a 9″ drop that can be joined together with fabric magic. Plenty of pockets help with organization. Full zippered closure. Scented-Markers

Aroma Art Tools Make your pictures look and smell great with 12-Ct. Scentos Scented Markers. The chisel-tip markers are perfect for creating fun drawings with their own sweet scents. Each marker is decorated with a silly face on the front.

Learning-pad

Study Tools This Educational Learning Pad is a multimedia device that’s full of buttons, color and sound. It talks and features letter, word and number buttons that teach children how to spell and count. Includes functions such as word learning, letter learning, spelling, quizzes, songs and repeat. The repeat function with the talking feature makes it easy for children to interact and learn. Lightweight and portable, it has a volume control, making it perfect for use at home, on the road, or in a waiting room. portable-hamper

Hassle-Free Housework Make laundry day less of a hassle with this Portable Rolling Hamper. Its adjustable handle and 2 wheels make taking clothing to the laundromat or even to the next room much easier. The lid of the hamper secures with a zipper. A zippered pocket on the front and two mesh pockets on the side let you bring along supplies such as detergent, softener or dryer sheets.

At LTD, we’re excited about each season! As we say goodbye to summer with a blowout, we welcome fall with equally spectacular products and celebrations. Look to LTD for products and inspiration for every season.

 

4 Fun Ways To Decorate A Locker

lockerA locker is a student’s room away from home. It is a small bit of personal space you visit throughout the day, and it is a prime place for you to show off your own style. Personal expression aside, a decorated locker is easier to keep organized to keep you on track so you make it to class on time. Here are 4 fun ways to decorate a locker:

Clean It The first step is to start with a clean locker. Then, check on the school’s locker policy before purchasing accessories. Some allow students to do everything up to painting lockers, while others permit little to no personalization. If your school has a policy, it should be in the student handbook or just ask an administrator.

Light It Up While the school’s hallways are well-lit, the lockers in those hallways can be dark caves. Put some light in there and it will be easier to find the right books and supplies in a hurry. Battery operated LED candles can go almost anywhere and they”re designed for energy efficiency. For extra bling, use string lights to dazzle your locker. You can even coordinate the light with a curtain that hangs over the locker opening.

locker2Magnetic Personality The metal walls and doors of lockers practically beg to be covered with refrigerator magnets. Funny ones or inspirational ones, they can hold up personal pictures, to-do lists or best online casino reminders to help you get you through the day.

Artwork and Photos The quickest way to personalize a locker is to fill it with pictures. Print and hang up single Instagram photos of friends, or create a big collage. Tuck in some magazine clippings, artwork, postcards, and mini posters. Don’t forget to save space for your own creations, too. Sports and trading cards are a cool touch, as well.

 

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Organizers, Mirrors and Magnets A mirror on the inside of the locker door will give you a place to primp in between classes and list pads and small wall bins help with organization.  Bins provide catch-all storage for pens, pads, art supplies, and more.Nothing is too heavy to put on a locker door; keep everything secured with inspirational magnets or double-sided foam tape. Add shelves to multiply the space for books, but they can also be a good place to hold your gym bag. 

However you decide to decorate your space, remember the decor is a reflection of you. Make it personal and it will be a welcome picture during your breaks between classes.

Cheese Pizza Day: 6 Tips for Homemade Pizza

cheese-pizzaMark your calendars: National Cheese Pizza Day is September 5th. There are few foods that can instantly put your smile on a face the way pizza does. It’s the food for all ages – young and old enjoy pizza in all shapes, temperatures and texture. Frozen, delivery or homemade, even when pizza is bad, it’s still pretty good. But, of course, when you’re making homemade pizza, you want it to be better than pretty good, so here are 6 tips for great homemade pizza.

Weigh it Baking is a science. All professional bakers measure ingredients by weight using a digital kitchen scale. Using a scale makes measuring more accurate and, in turn, more tasty. It’s not a must for making great pizza, but it certainly makes a difference. Besides, learning to measure opens up a new world of professional recipes you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

Plan Ahead Just about every pizza dough recipe you find requires it to be refrigerated overnight. When you’ve mixed together the yeast, water, salt, and flour, kneaded it and let it rise, it’s very tempting to skip the refrigeration step – don’t! Pizza dough ferments while it’s in the refrigerator. One night of fermentation is great, but three nights makes it super. This is how they do it in New Haven. If you’ve ever had New Haven apizza (that’s not a typo – that’s what they call it in New Haven), you’ve had some of the best pizza in the world.

cheese-pizzaRoll it Out In movies and TV shows you see people spinning and tossing pizza dough out over their heads to make a perfectly circular pie; what you don’t see is that it takes years of practice to make it look that easy. Tossing pizza dough is really hard. Don’t be ashamed of using a pin. It’ll make nice circles and it won’t take you years to do it.

Keep it Loose Professionals and serious pizza makers toss the dough, top it and slide it into the oven with the help of a pizza peel (like a big paddle) and a lot of semolina or cornmeal to make it loose so it doesn’t stick to the peel. To do that without everything falling off into your oven in one big lump also takes a lot of practice. But you can skip the practice and the equipment (unless you’re aiming for authentic). Parchment paper or bake mat work just fine to replace the cornmeal and the pizza peel. Roll your dough out on the paper, top it, carry it to the oven and lower it onto the pizza stone. Easy-peasy, pizza-cheesy.

cheese-pizzaKeep it Flat The best homemade pizzas are made with pizza stones, but you don’t have to have one to make a pizza good. Flip over a cookie sheet and use the bottom for your flat surface. Make sure you preheat the oven with the pan inside (as you would with a pizza stone) so it’s hot when you slide your pizza in. Alternatively, you can assemble it all in a cast iron skillet and bake it just like Pizza Hut.

Get it Hot! Turn your oven up as high as the temperature can go – most ovens won’t go much higher than 500°F. The dough has to be baked all the way through without burning the cheese on top. The high temperature for a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) allows the pizza crust to get crispy and the cheese just hot enough to bubble and melt.

Pizza is hard to make – which is why there are so many alternatives to making it at home. But eating a pizza you created yourself is way more satisfying than anything you can buy. Happy Cheese Pizza Day!