This weekend we spent some time at the mall. We are fortunate to live near the world’s largest outdoor mall, Ala Moana Center. The weather was perfect, and Grandma took the kids with us to purchase a couple of new (darling) little outfits. It was nice to get out and have a change of scenery, and the kids had a lot of fun.
When we got back, we realized that Raspberry Bug is barely able to fit into her 2T- sized clothes anymore and we needed to head back the following day.
While I did enjoy the mall the first time around, we kind of spent our fun money for that weekend already and (not to be too blunt, but) MALLS ARE EXPENSIVE. This “On A Dime Mom” did not want to go “shopping” again so soon. But the kids had expectations for fun and adventure already in their heads from the last trip. I accepted the challenge and we ended up doing a whole list of things “On a Dime”, most of which were (I’m proud to say) educational at the same time!
- Reading Maps:The first learning opportunity presented itself right away. Ala Moana Center is three stories tall and loops inside and out with stores, stores and more stores. Being the directionally challenged mom that I am, I needed to find a map. Thankfully, there is a large lit-up map at practically every turn in this mall. Blueberry Ball got one of his first tastes of how to read a map. “The map says we are here. We are trying to find this store number. Can you help me locate it on the map? Now, which way do we need to go to get there?” He needed help the first couple of times we did this, but he caught on quick when it came to the association between levels 1,2, and 3 and the numbers on the map. He liked this “game” so much that he began looking for maps as we walked so we could “play” it all over again.
- Fish Ponds: On the way, we saw a koi pond. This was great for both the children. Two-year-old Red squealed with delight at the sight of a fish pond and four-year-old Blue started to ask questions, “What kind of fish are they? What do these fish eat? Are they all friends? How did they get so big?” I gotta say, he made this learning experience pretty easy for me! He did all the brainstorming, I just had to supply a lot of answers =).
- The Lego Store: I love Legos. They teach fine motor skills, creativity, color recognition, and more. I even made a Sight Word Learning Game From Duplos. I don’t know if every Lego store is like this, but the one at Ala Moana Center has large Lego-shaped bins full of random pieces with big Lego table tops for free-style building. They even have one set up in identical format for younger children to play with the Duplos. They must have spent over forty-five minutes at this store building and interacting with the many other kids there. Blue built an entire “space ship” and Red was fascinated with the flower and window pieces at the Duplo center. The only reason Blue ever left (seriously, I think he could have lived there) was because Sissy said it was time to go.
- Safety Precautions: Safety is always something I try to teach my children while we are out in situations where likely scenarios are able to be discussed. The perfect teaching opportunity came when I couldn’t find the Lego store on the map. I walked up to the desk and asked the nice man for directions and he was more than happy to help. As I left, Blue asked me who he was. I took this opportunity to explain to him that the desk that sits in the middle of the big walkway is for if you need help. I told him that if he gets lost and can’t find Mommy or Daddy, to ask one of those nice men for help and not a stranger. It may seem simple, but I will be glad I had that moment with him should he ever get lost. He was confused about why that person was okay, and why he wasn’t viewed as just another stranger, so I had him look at the clothes the man was wearing and explained that the uniform says he works there and is there for his help and his protection. I love it when he can see real-life examples of safe practices. Mommy got lost (silly as it was) and asked the right person for help. Another good example was the crosswalk. There isn’t yet a light to tell pedestrians when it’s okay to cross the road between the mall entrance and the parking garage. Instead there is a man, called a crossing guard, standing on the crosswalk wearing a bright yellow vest, using funny hand signals to tell us when it is safe to come across. Great practice for when he will one day be old enough to cross without mommy’s hand.
- The Pet Shop: We didn’t actually do this one that day, but Daddy took Red for some Daddy-Daughter time a couple of weeks ago, and I thought it was a brilliant idea. The pet store has all kinds of animals and pet supplies. I may take Blue next time we go since he is so fascinated with what animals need to survive right now. “What does a parrot eat? Let’s go look in the bird section and see.”
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