• Toy of the Month

    With spring in the air, we thought our toy of the month should reflect the general theme of blossoming and blooming that’s happening all around us!  As we welcome this season of new growth and having fun, Great Explorations is excited to announce the Hoberman Sphere as our toy of the month!

    The Hoberman Sphere is both an architectural feat and practical toy. It can shrink down to a portable size, letting you store it in a diaper bag or “busy bag” while you’re on the go. It’s mesmerizing for kids (and adults!) and comes in three different sizes: mini (on sale for $8.50), average (on sale for $24), and mega (on sale for $85).

    The sphere isn’t just a fun and convenient toy – it can also be used to teach and practice relaxation skills. St. Pete-based Licensed Pediatric Psychologist (and Great Ex Board Member) Dr. Audra Walsh uses the Hoberman Sphere with her own clients, calling it the “Breathing Ball.” She shared with us the importance of relaxation and explained how she incorporates the sphere into her practice: “I use the “Breathing Ball” to explicitly teach and model belly breathing. I also use it as a visual tool. Expanding and shrinking the sphere helps the kids I work with see what’s happening inside their body when they inhale and exhale. My own kids love to play with the “Breathing Ball,” so it’s a great way to teach them relaxation skills in an exciting and interactive way!” Dr. Walsh also shared an article with us that can help parents and educators use the Hoberman Sphere as a relaxation tool with their own kids: https://www.mindful.org/a-mindful-kids-practice-the-breath-ball/

    Whether for fun, for play, or for learning, the Hoberman Sphere is the perfect toy for the season! Stop by the Exploration Station and pick up yours today! Supplies are limited!  More information on Dr. Walsh’s practice and ways she can help your family can be found here: www.audrawalsh.com

    April is a Reciprocal Month

    April is almost here and again we are thrilled to partner with The Florida Aquarium to offer members from both organizations free admission to the other. Admission to The Florida Aquarium is valid for all Great Ex members listed on the Great Ex membership for the entire month of April! In return, The Florida Aquarium members are offered free admission to Great Ex for up to 5 members listed.


    Memory Mondays

    April 1st

    10 am – 12 pm

    Great Explorations will host a FREE program for adults with memory loss. Participants will take part in programs focusing on art, music, movement and stress reduction and will enjoy quality time with others. This monthly event is sponsored by AARP and presented in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. Additional support is provided by Harmony Home Health.

    This month our theme is Spring Fever and we will enjoy April Fool’s Day with a magic show from Thomas Hayden, sing-along songs with Larry Lewis and Cyn Alicea from Arts4All Florida will lead us in Mindful Moves. As always, the program will incorporate art, movement, humor, brain boosts and brain-healthy recipes along with socializing and light refreshments.  The program will be held at Sunken Gardens upstairs in the Garden Room located at 1825 4th Street North.  For more information, contact Lael Arango at larango@greatex.org.


    Terrific Tots at Sundial

    April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
    9:45 to 10:30 am

    Every Tuesday, join us at 9:45 am in the outdoor plaza at Sundial to participate in this iconic Great Ex program. Terrific Tots at Sundial is for children ages 1-4 along with their caregiver and includes songs, stories, creative expression opportunities through art and movement, and community time with fun and engaging toys.  The program will encourage curiosity, communication, creativity, and critical thinking! This program is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Lael Arango at larango@greatex.org.  Themes this month include:

    • 4/2: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?  – animal sounds and water painting
    • 4/9: My Five Senses – sensory craft and explorations
    • 4/16: Guess How Much I Love You  – hearts and bunnies, oh so sweet
    • 4/23: Five Little Ducks  – duck friends and counting
    • 4/30: Walking Through the Jungle  – jungle animal creations


    Terrific Tots – Members Only

    Wednesdays & Fridays
    April 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 24, 26 (Not on 4/19)
    9:30 am

    On Wednesday and Friday mornings, before we open to the public, members are invited to join us for songs, movement, art and story time in Great Beginnings at the museum! Terrific Tots is a unique bonding experience for children ages 1-3 and their caregivers. This is a great community time for tots and their adults! This program is FREE and is available for Members only.  Explore art, music and language with your little one in this fun and safe environment. At the beginning of each class, we will join in sing-a-longs that encourage movement and caregiver involvement. Please note that on Fridays we tend to get MESSY with our activities so we encourage participants to dress accordingly!  For questions, please visit greatex.org or call 727.821.8992 x 226.


    Day of the Young Child

    April 10th
    10 am to 12 pm

    Come celebrate our tots as we spotlight this critical development time with our Day of the Young Child event on Wednesday, April 10th from 10 am – 12 pm.  In partnership with WEDU, we are proud to host storytime and photos with Buddy the lead character from the popular children’s show Dinosaur Train!  Below are the activities and resources that will be available:

    • Storytime and photos (10:30 & 11:30) with WEDU‘s Buddy Dinosaur from Dinosaur Train
    • Developmental screenings provided by Help Me Grow Pinellas
    • Informational materials regarding vision and screening opportunities from Preserve Vision Florida
    • Activities for children 5 and under provided by Great Ex
      • Dinosaur crafts, sensory crafts and play, and literacy activities

    The additional activities happening inside the museum will be included with regular admission or are free for our members.


    Parents’ Night Out

    April 12th 
    6 – 10 pm

    Drop off your children (ages 4 -10 and potty-trained) for a night of fun at the museum with our Exploration Team while you take some time for dinner, shopping or just a night for yourself!  Children can play in the museum, watch exciting science shows and wind down the evening with a G or light PG-rated movie. Pizza, snacks, and juice are included. Advanced registration is required. https://greatex.org/programs/parents-night-out/  Please contact education@greatex.org or 727-821-8992 x 225 for more information.


    Great Connections’ Spring Fling

    April 14th 
    10 am to 12 pm

    Great Connections is a monthly, sensory-friendly program for children with special needs and their families. In April, in conjunction with our community partner the Council for Exceptional Children Suncoast Chapter 176, we will host a special Spring Fling themed edition of this favorite program.  In addition to the usual fun of enjoying the museum gallery floor children can opt to participate in:

    • Complimentary family photos with a bunny costumed character (optional of course) generously provided by photographer Eric Walley
    • Furry critter petting opportunity
    • Egg hunt
    • Prizes & snacks generously provided by the Council for Exceptional Children

    Great Explorations will modify lights and sounds and will provide a “cool down” room for families who need to take a break.  This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other families and community resources while the kids enjoy the power of PLAY!  Cost: $5 per person and is free for GreatEx members!  Contact Lael Arango at 727-821-8992 x 209 or larango@greatex.org for more information.


    Community Outreach

    The Great Ex STEAM team is on the move and out in the community at lots of wonderful events available to the public.  Stop by and play!

    • March 30:  Ironkids (pre-registration required)
    • March 30:  Kforce STEM Event (Free but prior registration is required using password: CelebrateSTEM)
    • April 6: Youth STEMPosium 9 am – 2:30 pm at the SPC Allstate Center
    • April 6: Fit City 5k Glow Run 5 – 9 pm at North Straub Park
    • April 13: St. Pete Earth Day 10 am – 4 pm at Williams Park
    • April 20:  Mainsail Art Festival 9 am – 6 pm at  Vinoy Park
    • April 27:  Health Spring Fling 11 am – 2:30 pm Largo Central Park
    • April 27:  Autism Speaks Walk 8:30 am – 12:30 pm Raymond James Stadium


    Spring Plant Sale

    April 13 – 20

    Spring is in the air and we will have beautiful lilies, hydrangeas and chrysanthemums for sale at the museum gift shop daily until 4:30 pm and on the museum floor from 4:30-5:30 pm.  Prices will range from $10 – $15 and proceeds will benefit educational programming at the museum!


    First Annual Senior-Junior Charity Golf Tournament

    May 4th
    11 am

    Great Explorations is thrilled to present our First Annual Senior-Junior Charity Golf Tournament on May 4th.  The funds raised will support educational programming at the museum and out in our community.  This 9 hole scramble, alternate ball, shotgun start tournament will be a perfect opportunity for the Junior (15 and under) to learn, have fun and help raise money for a great cause along with their Senior (16+) partner.  The tournament will be held at Cypress Links Golf Course in St. Petersburg.

    For more information or to register to play or sponsor visit: Great Explorations Golf Tournament

    Sydney Merrell

    Author Sydney Merrell

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