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Escape the summer heat at Pretend City’s newest exhibit

Summer has definitely arrived in Orange County! And warmer temperatures have prompted my family and I to seek out fun ways to stay cool. One of these summertime solutions is also a favorite of ours year-round — Pretend City

The Irvine-based children’s museum is currently featuring an ocean-themed exhibit called “Adventure Under the Sea.”

During the exhibit, guests can explore super-fun themed days, such as Mermaid Mondays, Tide Pool Tuesdays, Water Safety Wednesdays, Think Tank Thursdays and Fish Fridays! Check them out here:

  • Mermaid Mondays – (11am-12:30pm) Story time, meet and greet and photos with mermaids. (No mermaids July 10 or 31)
  • Tide Pool Tuesdays – (10am-1pm) Featuring real and pretend mobile touch tanks for kids to explore.
  • Water Safety Wednesdays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Valuable summertime water safety tips from local water safety experts and swim schools.
  • Think Tank Thursdays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Explore science, technology, engineering and math skills while learning about our oceans, water cycles and more.
  • Fish Fridays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Learn how to keep our oceans and beaches clean to protect our fishy friends. (No activity on July 14 or 21)


Once you enter the museum, you can find this exhibit in the back left corner. Once inside, you can’t miss the main attraction, the HUGE whale-shaped bounce house! Parents need to accompany little ones inside the bounce house, which proved tricky for me, since my daughter really wanted to go in and my son most definitely did NOT. My whole crew ultimately gave it a shot, but we only lasted a matter of seconds before they all wanted to get out. I think it was just a bit too loud/dark inside for my youngsters, but I think older children would get a kick out of it! 


My crew did, however, enjoy some of the other interactive parts of the exhibit, such as the photo booth dress-up area, and even a section where they could help build and decorate a ship.

Beat the heat and enjoy this splashy exhibit all summer long, through September 7!

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Festival family fun at Kidchella!

Get ready to move and groove at Pretend City’s Kidchella Festival this week! The festival runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through Saturday, April 8. They’ve got live music from local talent and even a real car kids can paint on! For all your little artists, there are plenty of festival arts and crafts, plus music to dance to. For more information, check out the Pretend City website. I’ll post an update soon after my crew checks it out soon!

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Trader Joe’s moves in to Pretend City!

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My kids and I recently visited Pretend City to celebrate “Noon-Year’s Eve,” a family-friendly New Year’s Eve event offering countdowns and plenty of confetti. As soon as we walked inside the City, my son immediately noticed that the grocery store was closed for renovation. He was disappointed since this is his favorite part of the Pretend City experience.

So, you can imagine my excitement when we were invited to preview the new-and-improved grocery store experience at Pretend City, courtesy of Trader Joe’s! My kids were ecstatic as they raced inside to check it out. They’re already huge fans of Trader Joe’s, so combining TJ’s with one of their favorite kid’s museums is just icing on the cake.

I was amazed at the transformation of the generic grocery store into a mini Trader Joe’s — complete with pint-size carts and baskets, fruits and veggies, bouquets of flowers and even cash registers complete with the infamous Trader Joe’s bells. You’ll also find a “demo” area, Trader Joe’s Crew Member Hawaiian shirts and TJ’s branded products.

My kids both give the renovation two enthusiastic thumbs up! Their favorite part? The interactive cash registers! They loved ringing the bell and checking out “customers” as they came through their aisle. Even re-stocking the items afterward became a fun game.

The small baby-friendly corner that was previously included in the store has been removed to create more space for the produce section of the new Trader Joe’s.

Don’t miss the Grand Opening celebration on Monday, January 16 at 10:15 a.m. The celebration will include a lei-cutting ceremony, free giveaways and more! Plus, kids can observe live demos all day, just like the ones we see at our own neighborhood stores.

For more information about the grocery store and Pretend City, click here.

Address: 29 Hubble, Irvine, California, 92618
Cost: Children over 12 months and adults — $12.50 each

 

 

 

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Conquering fears at Pretend City’s Superhero Summer!

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My family has always loved Irvine-based Pretend City, so when we heard about a new exhibit opening, we knew we had to check it out! The newest exhibit, “Super Powers,” from Omaha’s Children’s Museum debuted last month and will continue through September 18, 2016. According to the Pretend City website, the exhibit “introduces children to the mental and physical powers displayed by everyday superheroes and allows them to put these powers to the test through daily educational missions.”

My two toddlers put their powers to the test recently during an action-packed visit to the children’s museum. We began at the Super Powers Headquarters, where we had our choice of masks and capes to play the part. Unfortunately both my kiddos were reluctant to put any capes or masks on, but for any superhero-loving kids, this would be a huge hit.

My four-year-old son was immediately drawn to the Sky Slider zip line, though he was rather intimidated by it once we were in line to actually try it. He finally tried it, but was still unsure. After mini-freakouts and running back and forth around the exhibit, he finally worked up his courage to try it again. This time, he tried the shorter zip line, which helped him build up his confidence more. By the end of our visit, he was literally in tears because he didn’t want to stop! I love that he was able to conquer this fear with the help of the awesome Pretend City staff and volunteers!

Another exhibit fave was the Wind Tunnel, where gusts of wind will flutter your superhero cape as you stand in front of a TV screen and appear to be soaring through the air and saving the day! My two-year-old even got a kick out of this one.

The Super Cycle bikes were another fun challenge for my son, who pedaled as fast as he could to make more energy and charge up the fuel cell. Once again he was challenged by this, but he pushed through until he reached his goal.

Other fabulous features of the exhibit include the Comic Creation Station, Rope Maze, Storm Shooter and Decoding Station. But the fun isn’t just for the big kids — my daughter was thrilled to see Mini Hero Park, where the museum’s littlest guests could take off their shoes and play with blocks and balls and crawl through tunnels. My daughter stayed in here for at least a half hour — she loved it! My favorite part? Toddlers and babies are contained in the park by baby gates, which made it easier for me to watch both kids even though they were in different areas of the museum.

I would definitely recommend Pretend City’s Super Powers exhibit the next time you’re in Irvine. Not only is the exhibit worth the trip, but so are the other fun features of the museum — including the Cafe, the Beach, the Grocery Store, the Marina, the Farm, and so much more!

Click here to learn more about the exhibit and start planning your next visit!

P.S. Don’t forget to check the “Field trip report” on the Pretend City homepage to avoid large groups. (If you’re a mom or dad of toddlers and babies, you know how important crowd-size can be!)

Disclaimer: Pretend City provided me with complimentary attendance, though all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Photos courtesy Pretend City and Kristin Chessman

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“Play’s the Way” Playgroups at Pretend City: A review

We recently completed our six-week “Play’s the Way” Playgroup at Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine. My son was part of the Terrific Two group, which included about seven or eight other toddlers. By the end of the program, we were sad to say goodbye to our new friends and instructor, Ruth. I hope this program continues, because there’s so much potential for it to grow and become even better!

I spoke with a few other parents toward the end of the program, and here were some of our thoughts:

  • We loved the interaction time in the community room prior to our free play in the City. This time was special because it taught our toddlers about circle time, how to become better listeners and how to interact with peers. In the future, we’d love to see more of this time together!
  • We appreciated the handouts at the end of each class. They provided helpful parenting advice and tips pertaining to our little ones. For future sessions, it would be especially helpful to discuss some of these handouts more in person, too. Granted, I know that’s easier said than done when anxious 2-year-old’s are pulling us in 10 different directions…
  • This group LOVED singing and dancing together during circle time. Any chance to get the wiggles out is much appreciated by parents, too!
  • What a treat to visit Pretend City weekly for six weeks! My son enjoyed exploring different parts of the City we hadn’t before, such as the play area set up in the theater room. We also enjoyed heading into the City with our group to do activities together, such as reading books in the Library.

Thank you, Pretend City, for the opportunity to experience “Play’s the Way”! We hope to see the program continue later this summer or fall!

Disclaimer: Pretend City provided me with complimentary attendance, though all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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“Play’s the Way” Playgroups at Pretend City: Weeks 2 & 3

Now that I have a toddler and a 6-month-old, getting out of the house is an event in itself. It seems like no matter how much I prep the night before, something always happens to throw me off track — be it a diaper explosion, a crazy-for-milk nurser or a toddler tantrum. Because of our *issues* getting out the door at a decent time, I do my best to avoid morning classes or meet-ups. But sometimes they just can’t be avoided, like with our Pretend City Playgroup. It has a 9:45 a.m. start, which I know isn’t considered early for most people, but in my little world, at this moment, it is. I was so proud of myself for making it to the first group meeting EARLY, with my daughter fed and content and my son in a good mood, too. Well, apparently it was too good to be true, because it hasn’t happened since, unfortunately. We made it to the second half of the second playgroup, and completely missed the third. Both times my daughter decided to stay up most of the night needing extra mommy time, throwing off the following mornings.

So, unfortunately I don’t have a great recap to offer for these weeks, but I can share a little about the second half of the second playgroup, at the very least…

We arrived during the free time in the city, so my son quickly became re-acquainted with his surroundings and was quickly off and running. By far, his favorite part of the city is currently the grocery store, where he can shop, weigh produce and even check out customers at the register.

Once we returned to the group meeting room, we read a story and talked about what we enjoyed at the museum that morning. Our instructor for the day, Jenny, said she had brought her guitar for a song at the beginning of the class. My son loves music, so I was sad to have missed this!

We received a handout on the importance of literacy on our way out.

I’m crossing my fingers we can get back on track next week for more fun and learning in the city!