Friday, February 5, 2016

Disney World: Paper Chains and Polish Parties

There is an overwhelming amount of information available to people planning a Disney vacation.  Websites, forums, and blogs are literally at your fingertips, providing important tips and suggestions to ensure visitors have a magical experience.  I have consulted many of these online resources when planning our past trips to Disney World.  While researching all the options for their first trips to The Happiest Place on Earth, several friends of ours have asked me a few questions about the planning process and preparing for the trip.  When they were receptive to my ideas, I decided to post them hereWhile this is a blog that was created for Girl Scouts Leaders, I know troop leaders plan family vacations and road trips too.  Not going to Disney?  That's okay.  Modify these ideas to fit your vacation or road trip destination.  I hope your kids enjoy these activities and surprises as much as our girls do!

Paper Chains

"How many more days?!"When are we leaving?!"  
For many parents, the days leading up to a greatly-anticipated time away from home can feel like forever.  To help manage the excitement, we make paper chains to count down the days until we leave.  When the girls were younger, we wrote numbers on the brightly colored links which was good practice for both of them--recognizing colors, writing their numbers, and using scissors.  We drew three black circles for Mickey heads all over the paper links, and I drew fun shapes like balloons and ice cream cones for them to color.  Once the construction paper was decorated, I drew lines and helped the girls cut along the strips.  We used a small piece of tape to fasten each link onto the chain.  As the girls have grown, they've been drawing characters and writing names of their favorite rides on the links.  

A link is removed every morning.  Since it's fun to take a link off the chain, the girls need to take turns.  To prevent arguments, we have a system--my older daughter was born on an even date while my younger daughter was born on an odd date.  The kids look at the calendar when they forget whose turn it is.  This system has worked for us in many different situations over the years!

Quick tips to help prepare little ones for the airport:
  • Borrow a book from the library to show kids what they might see and experience at the airport.  Richard Scarry's A Day at the Airport is a great choice.  This book will help them develop an understanding about what is going to happen at the airport and why.  You will be able to reference the book and remind them of related pages when answering questions like, "Why is this taking so long?" 
  • Practice going through airport security in the comfort of your own home.   Our girls were 3 and 4 years old when we did this the first time.  I pushed them around our kitchen in the double stroller, and we pretended we were in the airport.  When we reached the kitchen island, we were at the security check.  The girls got out of the stroller and practiced taking off their coats and shoes, helping me arrange them in a neat pile which I explained would be a bin at the airport.  After listening to me review what would happen from start to finish in airport security, they would then help grab their coats and shoes, moving swiftly with us to a bench where my husband and I could help them.  Spending just a little time practicing with them made getting to the gate so much easier for everyone involved.
NOTE:  We recently flew from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to the Orlando International Airport, and the procedures at security were different at each airport.  My husband and I don't fly regularly, so I thought I should warn readers like us to keep this in mind when traveling.
Polish Parties

The second time we took the girls to Disney World, we had a Polish Party a couple of days before our trip.  My husband and I let the girls pick out some fingernail polish, and we painted their nails.  Back then we could get away with something sparkly.  Now that I've exposed them to Pinterest...enough said, right?  I still try to steer them toward a design I know I can do--like the 101 Dalmatian-inspired nails here. (Do you see the hidden Mickey?)

Once their nails are dry, we enjoy a Princess Parfait--yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit layered in a juice glass.  Nothing too special or out of the ordinary.  It's all in the name and presentation, folks.  

I invite you to read this post I published to describe how I prepared our girls for their first trip to EPCOT.  Even if you're not planning a trip to this park, these lessons are a fun way to expose kids to other countries.  Want to surprise your kids before your vacation?  Check back soon and I'll show you how.  Thank you for reading, and have a magical day!

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