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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review of VIPS Friday Friends

Looking for something fun and educational to do with your 2-6 year olds to escape the summer heat? Then you should definitely check out VIPS’ Friday Friends which is open to both VIPS and non-VIPS children. We recently went with a group of moms from Louisville Mommies and my kids loved it! VIPS, which stands for Visually Impaired Preschool Services, helps infants, toddlers, preschoolers who are visually impaired, and their families learn about the world using the other senses.

We walked into VIPS to be greeted by 3 friendly staff members that had us sign-in and get name tags. We then proceeded to an area called KIDSTOWN. My sons would have been happy to stay there for the two hours. It is basically what it sounds like. There was a post office, grocery, KFC, and a library to name a few of the stores in KIDSTOWN where it was all their size. I do not know if my 3 year old liked delivering the mail to the all the places, working at KFC, or going grocery shopping best. I think my 1 year old was excited on how many chairs and things were in his reach and it was ok to play with all them.

After some free play in the KIDSTOWN, the staff members rang the triangle to get everyone’s attention and to divide us into groups to go explore 3 rooms: sensory room, Braille room, and computer room. The sensory room had a ball pit, low lights, lights that switched colors. The computer room had various games and drawing programs for the kids to learn and play. Finally the Braille room had alphabet bags where kids explored what things started with each letter of the alphabet and a Braille typewriter where a staff member made name tags for the kids. We stayed in each room until we heard the triangle and then lined up for the next room. After visiting these rooms, a special guest typically meets them in the KIDSTOWN area. These vary each week and have included yoga and dancing. Next, we toured the sensory garden where there were some water balls, herbs, flowers, and vegetables to explore. Then we hit the playground. There were slides, swings, sand play, balls, and more. The surface was nice and soft for the kids and sail shades were up over the sand play area and swings to provide some shade. The staff provided some water prior to heading in for story time read by readers of Braille and large print to conclude the Friday Friends program.

Friday Friends continues every Friday through July 29. It lasts for two hours starting at 9:30am. A recommended donation of $5 is suggested for non-VIPS children at the visit and there is a school bus on the table as you walk in to the building to add your donation. I can not say enough good things about the staff I interacted with there as well. They were very engaging to kids and adults alike. Even helping moms like me wrangling two kids going in opposite directions. What a great way to spend a Friday morning with your little ones. VIPS is located at 1906 Goldsmith Lane.

Be sure and check this program out before summer is over. If you are in the hunt for a preschool, VIPS is starting its first peers program for the 2011/2012 school year as well. Check out their website or inquire for more info when you visit them for Friday Friends.

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