Did you know the Apple Store provides free classes and camps for kids? Classes include the free use of Apple technology plus instruction allowing kids to be creative with music, photography, art, video, and even coding.
Over summer break, the Apple Store even provides FREE Apple Camp for kids, which are class events that culminate in a final project. All this happens through a program called Today at Apple.
My own kids have participated in several of these camps and classes and have always enjoyed the programs, wearing their free Apple t-shirts, and sharing their creations with our family. Thanks to that experience, in this article we’re sharing everything you need to know about signing up and participating in these classes and camps at the Apple Store, plus a few tips.
Love a good puzzle challenge with the family? The Escape Game at Concord Mills recently opened with 5 escape room challenges for your friends and family to conquer. All five rooms differ with regard to difficulty and the number of players able to play together, so groups big and small, and beginner or more seasoned escape room players, will all find a game that’s right for their group.
Three of my kids, aged 10-13, and I got to play the Playground Escape Game and we had a blast! It was a very cooperative game and really required us to divide and conquer and help each other to solve all the puzzles in time.
The game was full of surprises and we won’t share all the details, so you can enjoy the game yourself. But here’s how our experience went.
The Escape Game at Concord Mills
The Escape Game is located between the movie theater and Dave & Busters at Concord Mills. If you head towards the movie theater parking lot and then keep going around towards Dave and Busters, you’ll see The Escape Game, painted black and white, on the exterior of the mall. You won’t need to walk through the mall to get to The Escape Game, but there’s an entrance in the mall, too!
When you arrive you’ll check in with your name, if you’ve made reservations in advance. This is recommended, by the way. Then, if you haven’t filled out a waiver, there’s a quick form to fill out on a tablet kiosk. Then, you’re ready to go.
Your guide will walk you to your game and welcome you to the space. A movie intro will play on the screen above the door and you’re off.
Our game, Playground, set us up as 4th-grade students on the very last day of 4th grade. But our teacher wouldn’t let us out until we had completed all the tasks on the report card. Each lit up as we completed them during the game, helping us keep track of where we were and how many more puzzles were yet to be solved.
Up to 12 players can play this game, so I was a little nervous about how the 4 of us would do. We’re not exactly expert escape room players. But our game guide helped us out from time to time with clues on the video screen and little tips to let us know if we were headed in the right direction or not. Which, was super helpful and helped keep the game enjoyable and not frustrating.
The Puzzles at The Escape Game
The puzzles we had to solve were all themed by school subject, fitting with the 4th-grade classroom experience. The way information was displayed and hidden for each problem varied greatly. Some clues had us bouncing between rooms as they were opened and some of it was hidden in plain sight and required some deduction and logic, and maybe a little math to find the solutions. Each problem worked together to get us the information we needed to escape that fourth-grade class.
There were lots of fun little surprises along the way, that I, at least, have never seen in an escape room before. My kids really enjoyed those surprises.
Mom Review: The Escape Game: Concord, NC
We had a great time playing Playground. Escape rooms are a great family activity for families, especially with hard-to-please tweens and teens and I would definitely would recommend playing a game at The Escape Game. Our game was really well done and we enjoyed working together to solve it and escape.
In my opinion, I don’t think kids much younger than 8 or 9 would be able to contribute much towards solving the puzzles and they might get bored. Although one nice thing about Playground is that there are a significant number of tasks that require collecting objects and younger kids could certainly help with that. But, suffice it to say, these are really geared toward older kids and adults.
Prison Break: 60 minutes to escape prison. Difficulty 9/10, for up to 8 players
The Depths: A secret underwater lab? Difficulty 7/10, for up to 8 players
Special Ops: A mysterious market…. Difficulty 8/10, for up to 8 players
Gold Rush: Time to find some gold. Difficulty 7/10, for up to 8 players
Playground: Escape the 4th grade, can’t be that hard, right? Difficulty 6/10 for up to 12 players
Tickets for The Escape Game
Tickets are $34.99. Smaller groups may end up together, so if you’d like to book privately, for only your group, you can purchase the entire room beginning at $280. Of course, the other option is just to make sure you bring enough friends to fill the room.
More to Do: Concord Mills
Being located in Concord Mills, a large mall, you could easily turn your visit into a full day. Concord Mills has an aquarium, an arcade, movie theater, lots of shopping, and places to eat.
Our family went to the Lego Store and then decided to drive over to SunFlour Baking Company for lunch, which is a family favorite just about 15 minutes from the mall.
Indoor “sock skating” at the Schiele Museum is just the thing for kids to get out their energy during colder months. Located in Gastonia, NC, the Schiele Museum is only about an hour from Greenville, SC, or 35 minutes from Charlotte, NC.
Sometimes you just come across something so fun and unexpected that you have to share it – which is exactly what happened when we visited the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, NC during a rainy day and to our great surprise, learned that our kids could go ice skating but with socks!
If you didn’t know sock skating was a thing, don’t feel too bad. We didn’t either until we happened upon it at the Schiele Museum. It’s exactly as it sounds: skating with socks on instead of use skates on ice. We’ll tell you more in this story, plus give you the dates when you can get free tickets to the museum.
Sock skating for the 2023-24 season opens November 24, 2023.
About the Schiele Museum of Natural History
We have a whole Schiele Museum story about this amazing museum, which is worth a read. This museum has extensive exhibits on animals, plants, gems and minerals, and dinosaurs. They also have an outdoor farm and Catawba Village.
If you love learning about the stars, don’t forget to see a show in the planetarium. You can reserve your seat when you buy your tickets at the entrance.
During the wintertime, the Schiele Museum has a room dedicated to a winter wonderland of Sock Skating. The room is lit to look like it’s snowing, complete with a little snowbank and a wooden house with a Christmas tree in the window. We have a short reel if you want to see how it all works!
There are benches for parents to relax and watch their kids enjoy skating on a slippery floor. All kids need are socks and they need to be sure to bring their own as the museum does not have socks to lend out.
Sock Skating is for kids ages 2-10 years old and you need to purchase a wristband for $3 for each kid to participate. When we went, it was a busier day and the front desk ladies gave us a timed entry ticket, which was fine. We were basically able to go when we saw there weren’t many kids inside and it worked out great.
My kids absolutely loved this and I thought it was such a creative and unique idea for indoor fun. We spent a lot of time at the other museum exhibits as well, which were awesome. This is easily a great day trip from the Upstate.
Sock Skating at Winter Wonderland opened November 25th and runs usually through February.
Tickets to the Schiele Museum
Tickets to the museum are $7/adults, $6/kids 4-18 and kids ages 3 and under are free. Planetarium tickets are $5/each and farm tickets are $3/each.
There are certain dates every month where admission to the museum is free, thanks to the support of Duke Energy. Free museum admission is available the second Tuesday and fourth Friday of every month from Noon – 4 pm.
Do you have a Roper Mountain Science Center membership? The Museum is part of the same ASTC passport program as RMSC which means great news! If you have a RMSC membership, then you get in free to the Shiele Museum. The ASTC Passport program gets you free admission into partner museums all over the world. If you plan to travel, it can pay for itself in just one trip to a partner museum.
We love the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, NC and they are having a great Back to School promotion August 1-5, 2022!
The Schiele Museum of Natural History is such a cool place with a planetarium, dinosaurs, geology exhibits, an old mill, a replica Native American village, and farm. It’s a great spot to spend a few hours indoors exploring all the museum has to offer plus time outside to check out the farm and village. The museum is offering a great special for teachers and their families the first week of August.
Back to School at the Schiele Museum
From August 1-5, 2022, teachers and their families receive free admission to the Schiele Museum, which includes all the exhibits, the planetarium, and the farm.
All teachers need to do is show their ID badge and they receive free tickets. Their family must be with them at the time of entry.
Do homeschool teachers qualify? Yes! If you’re a homeschool teacher, please bring your certification with you for check-in.
About the Schiele Museum
The Schiele Museum is named for Rudolph “Bud” Schiele, a botanist and naturalist. Bud worked with the community to establish the Gaston County Museum of Natural History in 1961. He needed somewhere to house his vast collection of specimens. This museum was a dream of his since the age of 17.
Boy Scouts will find it interesting to know that Bud turned down the opportunity to be the sole wildlife official in the entire territory of Alaska to be an executive with the Boy Scouts of America organization. Although he passed away just 13 years after the museum was dedicated, his legacy lives on through the museum whose name was changed to honor his legacy.
Exhibits at the Schiele Museum
We have written an entire story on the exhibits at the Schiele Museum – from the outdoor Catawba Village to the Farm to the incredible indoor exhibits (including a sock skating one during the winter that was amazing). You can read our extensive review to learn more about the entire Schiele Museum of Natural History.
Visiting the Schiele Museum
There is no cost to visit the museum August 1-5, 2022 for teachers and their families (with proper ID) in accordance with their Back to School special.
Also, if you think you’ll be returning regularly, consider the membership. The Museum is part of the same ASTC passport program as Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, SC Good news – if you have a RMSC membership, then you get in free to the Shiele Museum. The ASTC Passport program gets you free admission into partner museums all over the world. If you plan to travel, it can pay for itself in just one trip to a partner museum.
Tickets are $7/adult and $6/youth for the indoor exhibits, $5/person for the planetarium, and $3/person for the farm. Children 2 and under and Active Military members (with proper ID) receive free admission.
Hours are Monday – Friday from 10 am – 4 pm, Saturdays from 10 am – 5 pm, and Sundays 1-5 pm.