July 1, 2014

Nature Connection Kids Club at Heavner Canoe Rental

A friend shared a great new kids program called the Heavner's Kids Club for kids ages 3-8.  Every Tuesday, July 15-August 26, find opportunities for outdoor play, education, exploration, and adventure at Heavner's. Sessions will be located at several State Recreation areas and Parks with activities from 10:00 a.m. - noon unless otherwise noted. 

So get outdoors with the kids this summer. You will have fun, great some great exercise and make memories together. This summer you will find: 
  • July 15 Canoeing, Live Music, Bonfire, and Picnic* (Proud Lake State Recreation Area) 
  • July 22 Kensington Farm Center Guided Tour and Picnic* 
  • July 29 Guided Hike, Nature Photography, Scavenger Hunt, Crafts, and Picnic at Proud Lake State Recreation Area
  • August 5 Kensington Nature Center Guided Tour, Hike, and Picnic
  • August 12 Belle Isle Zoo Tour, Canoeing and Kayaking, and Picnic
  • August 19 Kayaking, Fun with (Live) Music, Bonfire, and Picnic at the Proud Lake State Recreation Area
  • August 26 Beach Party 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. with Swimming, Canoeing/Kayaking, Fishing, Games, and Picnic at Island Lake State Recreation Area - Please provide your own lunch. 
 A parent/guardian must accompany each child to the Kids Club and older siblings may attend. There are only 30 spots are available each week so be sure to reserve you space early.

Parents may sign up for individual sessions for just $12/day for the first child and $10/day for each additional child. Parents and guardians get free admission for the program. If your family attends three sessions, they will receive a free 2-hour self-return canoe or kayak rental (valued at $27.00). In addition, each child will receive a t-shirt with an original Kids Club art design.

For further information and to register for the Kids Club, please call the Proud Lake livery at (248) 685-2379, or visit the Heavner’s Kids Club website.

June 18, 2014

Free Family Art Night

I am happy to promote the FREE Family Art Night at the Two Twelve Arts Center (216 W Michigan Ave, Saline, MI 48176) happening throughout the summer. Each night will have new and exciting projects created by "activity Rob". 
Take the family to enjoy the Free Family Art Nights
at the Two Twelve Arts Center in Saline.
Wednesdays, June 20-Aug 20.

The program is hosted on select Wednesday's throughout the summer from 7:00-8:30 p.m. for children and adults of all ages. Family Art Nights start June 18 and run every Wednesday (except Independence Day week) through August 20.

What will you and your family create this summer?

June 5, 2014

Michigan Free Fishing Weekend

The size of the fish is measured by a
kid's smile! Enjoy free fishing in
Michigan this weekend.
Every year the Michigan DNR sponsors free fishing weekends, with June 7-8, being one of them. Although kids can always fish for free, if you are a non-fishing adult, this is a great time to check out the sport and introduce your kids to fishing. Besides you can get out in nature together! All fishing license fees will be waived for the weekend, however all fishing regulations will still apply. That's right it's FREE fishing!

 There are some ideal Washtenaw County fishing spots for families available. My kids especially like the ease of fishing off the docks at Rolling Hills. While there are very few "keepers" caught there, you can be assured that the kids will catch something - This alleviates the long wait times often associated with fishing. Of course this also spoils your children a bit, but seeing their faces when catching fish, well that's priceless!

Events on Free Fishing Weekend

“First Cast in Fishing,” will be held June 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Hudson Mills Metropark. Meet at the Rapids View Picnic area and get ready to get casting! For just $1/person (when you bring your own fishing pole) or $3/person (to rent a fishing pole) you can get fishing during free fishing weekend. Space is limited and reserved on a first come, first served basis. Preregistration required. For more information or to register, call 734-426-8211.

The Metroparks are also offering “Fishing with the Huron River Fishing Association,” on Saturday, from 8:00 a.m. to noon at the Washago Pond at Willow Metropark (Belleville). Join the members of the Huron River Fishing Association at Washago Pond to learn the art of fly tying, how to cast and maybe catch some fish from the pond! All bait and tackle will be provided. For more information or to register, call 734-782-3956.

The naturalists at Washtenaw County Parks &; Recreation have told me that they will have two opportunities for free fishing.  They will have bait and poles available at Rolling Hills on Saturday June 7 from 10:00 a.m. - noon, and then later at Independence Park from 6:00-8:00 p.m. They do require pre-registration by contacting Faye Stoner at stonerf@ewashtenaw.org or calling 734.71-6337 x334.

On Sunday, June 8, 9:30–11:00 a.m. kids will enjoy Red Fish Blue Fish Teach Kids to Fish at the Gallup Canoe Livery (3000 Fuller Road). Fishing poles, bait and instruction provided for just $5/child. All ages welcome, with an adult. Further details are available at 734.794.6240.

Want to learn to fish but can't get out this weekend? Then the Hook, Line and Sinker program with the DNR might be up your ally. Learn casting and fishing basics with a borrowed rod and reel if you don't have your own equipment. Hook, Line and Sinker programs begin in mid-June and continue throughout the summer. 

So make a date with the kids or start a new tradition while having some great fishing fun. It's time to enjoy that Michigan fishing!

Movies-in-the-Park: Disney's Planes

This Saturday, June 7, at Ford Heritage Park (Ypsilanti Township) families can bring blankets, chairs and a picnic to enjoy Movies In The Park! This weeks free movie is Disney's Planes.

The night isn't only about the movie as there will be music from sonic tap (7:00 p.m.), games, raffles prizes, activities and the feature presentation  "Planes" at dusk (9:00 p.m.).  The movie will show on a giant video projection system complete with concert stereo sound for maximum enjoyment by families.

This is the first of five outdoor movies planned this summer in our beautiful park system. Future Movies in the Park will continue on the first Saturday of every month through October. These events are FREE for ALL ages!

May 29, 2014

Incentivizing Summer Reading Programs

It's not a secret to many of my family and friends that I have been frustrated getting my child to read. I still don't understand why reading is not something he enjoys when he comes from a family of fairly avid readers. Thankfully though I'm not against incentivizing his reading - In other words I'll use bribery when necessary.

That's a good thing too because on a recent shopping trip he begged for a toy, so in seizing the opportunity, I decided to buy it and hold onto it until he read a certain number of books to me. Now he been happily reading to me every evening without my nagging him. Now that the end of the school-year is coming close, I have begun to look for summer reading programs that offer incentives.

We participate in the summer reading programs at the Ypsilanti District Library. The kids love getting the free ice cream at the start of the program and don't realize they are working hard to reach their summer reading goal. This year I even signed them up with reading buddies for the summer. The Saline District Library, Dexter District Library, the Ann Arbor District Library, and the Chelsea District Library all have summer reading programs for kids and teens. Just head over to your local library and check it out. I have heard some of the programs offer some awesome give-away prizes if your child completes the program in time.

For parents looking at other summer reading programs, fear not. There are MANY free incentives out there to encourage your child to read this summer, just take a look!
  • Barnes & Noble (3235 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) - Imagination Destination allows kids to earn a FREE book and reading kit after tracking their reading on a reading log.
  • Chuck E. Cheese - Kids can earn 10 free tokens when they read every day for 2 weeks in a row. Print the reading rewards form, track their reading and take it into a participating location for free tokens! This incentive does require a food purchase for redemption.
  • PBS Kids encourages Summer Reading - Get information for parents and youth to give your child a lifetime of reading.
  • Pizza Hut - BookIt Summer Reading Program - Students in grade K-5 can spark their greatness reading books to be entered into a sweepstakes for great prizes!
  • Scholastic Summer Challenge - May 5-September 5 kids can log reading minutes into the Scholastic site to earn digital prizes! 
  • Sylvan Learning Centers - (1601 Briarwood Circle, AnnArbor) Participate in a free summer Book Adventure program where children (Grades K-8) read grade-level books then take a comprehension quiz. Kids earn points based on how much they remember from reading and can be entered to win many free prizes as they earn points! There are hundreds of books to choose from in all reading levels. 
These types of programs are a great way to encourage children to read throughout the summer months to help avoid summer learning loss. I will continue to add programs as I find them, or feel free to let me know when new ones become available!