December 27, 2010

Activities for the Kids During Holiday Break

After a busy week of holiday preparation, family visits, shopping, wrapping, unwrapping, eating and early morning wake ups, I am getting burned out. My kids however, that's an entirely differnt story. They are rearin' to go and already asking "What are we doing this week?" So if the endlessly large mounds of toys and art supplies are not enough to keep your children occupied during the holiday break, maybe some of these local activities will take care of that for you!

Take the family to the Kensington Metro Parks for a winter horse-drawn hayride this week! From December 26 through January 2, from noon – 4:00 p.m. families can enjoy a ride through the winter wonderland that is Kensington and the surrounding wooded areas. After entry into the metropark, the fees are only $3 per child/$5 per adult. For more information, call 248-685-9332 or 1-800-477-3178. Be sure to bring along a thermos of hot chocolate and a blanket to stay warm.

For the crafty, consider one of the many Ann Arbor events happening from holiday break classes at the Ann Arbor Art Center, the Duct Tape Workshop at the Dexter Library today from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. for grades 5 and up, or let the kids make their own New year’s silly hat or noisemakers on Tuesday December 28, 2:00 - 3:00 pm at the AADL Traverwood Branch.

If getting active is the best way for your kids to burn their excess energy consider taking them ice skating at one of the many great Ann Arbor Ice Rinks. Times and costs are listed below.

Ann Arbor Ice Cube (2121 Oak Valley Drive Ann Arbor): Monday - Thursday (6:00-7:50 a.m., 10:30-11:50 a.m., 1:30-2:50 p.m., 4:30-5:50 p.m.and 7:15-8:35 p.m.) and Friday (6:00-7:50 a.m., 9:00-10:20 a.m. and 12:00-1:20 p.m.). Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for youth with $3 skate rental fees. For the most up to date scedule, check the Ann Arbor Ice Cube public skate schedule at their website.


The Buhr Park outdoor ice arena (2751 Packard Street Ann Arbor) will have public skating sessions available on Monday (12:00-2:00 p.m.), Tuesday (12:00-2:00 p.m. and 7:45-8:45 p.m.), Wednesday 12:00-2:00 p.m., 3:30-4:30 p.m. and 7:15-8:45 p.m.), and on Thursday (12:00-2:00 p.m. and 7:15 - 8:45 p.m.). Skating fees range $5-6 for adults and $3.75-5 for youth and seniors with a $3 skate rental cost.

The Veterans Memorial Sports Complex (2150 Jackson Avenue Ann Arbor) has an indoor ice rink with open skate times on Tuesday and Wednesday (1:20-2:45 p.m.) and Thursday (11:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.). Fees to skate are $5- $6 for adults, and $4-5 for youth/seniors. Ice skate rentals are $3.

And finally, there are plenty of public skate times at Yost Ice Arena (1016 South State Street Ann Arbor) this week as well. The public can skate from December 27-28 at 12:00-1:50 p.m. or December 29-30 12:00-12:50 p.m. - The cost for skate rentals is only $2 (check for available sizes though) with open skate costs of $5 for adults and $3 for youth/seniors.

Need something more educational for your little one? What about story time? This week you and your children can enjoy silly stories with Laura Pershin Raynor at the Ann Arbor District Library Pittsfield Branch on Wednesday from 10:00 -10:30 a.m. or storytime at Borders Books and Music (3527 Washtenaw Ave.in the Arborland plaza) on Wednesday and Friday at 11:00 a.m.!
 
Other fun activities for the family include:

A free family movie (Toy Story 3) and popcorn at the Dexter Library at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 29.
Join in the fun with the Whole Kids Club at Whole Foods Market (3135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) on Wednesday December 29 anytime between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to introduce kids ages 3-12 to the tasty world of food and cooking. Ask for a Whole Kids Club card at the customer service counter then pick up a special treat!

Do you have any other great family events happening in Ann Arbor that you might like highlighted or mentioned in a post, please feel free to contact me! 

December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice Crafts for Families at the AADL

Need to get out today? I just read about the free winter solstice crafts happening today at the Ann Arbor District Library on AnnArbor.com. Today from 2:00-3:00 p.m. families can Welcome the arrival of winter with winter solstice crafts at the Malletts Creek Branch (3090 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Ann Arbor).

December 16, 2010

Kids Playing In The Snow

There are some great photos of kids playing in Monday's snow in this slideshow. I especially like the little ones trying to kiss Frosty!

December 14, 2010

Half Off Batteries for All Your Kids Christmas Toys!

With Christmas two weeks away, I thought the Real Deal on AnnArbor.com today was appropriate - Half off batteries at Batteris Plus is Ann Arbor! I don't know about you, but we always stock up just before the holidays to avoid Christmas morning tears when we don't have the battiers needed for the new toys!

December 10, 2010

Ideas for Family Fun This Weekend

From AnnArbor.com

This weekend seems to be hopping with plenty of opportunities to see Santa, so I thought to focus on some other fun and unique activities for Ann Arbor families.

Begin your weekend on Saturday, December 11 at 11:00 a.m. by wandering the University of Michigan Museum of Art (525 S. State St., Ann Arbor) as children ages 4-7 join in for a free story time. UMMA Student Docents will bring art to life as they read stories related to the art on display and invite responses from the youngest of art lovers.

Then after a brief bite to eat, wander over to Saline where this weekend at the Rentschler Farm Museum (1265 E. Michigan Ave., Saline) you can enjoy the Annual Christmas on The Farm program. Families can tour the depression era farmhouse and see how farm families coped at Christmastime.The 12-room farmhouse will be decorated with natural things that might have been found on the farm culminating with a live tree gracing the parlor decked out with genuine 1930s ornaments and lights. There will be plenty of simple decorations, good aromas and pleasing sights and sounds to enjoy, with sock machine knitting, spinning, and quilting demonstrations on-site adding to the event.

My family visited the farm a few years ago over the holidays and found it a pleasant way to spend the day and very much well worth the $1 per adult (children get free admission!) suggested donation. The volunteers were warm, friendly and full of great information! Families can tour the farm on December 11 and 12 from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

December 9, 2010

Bargain Books for Your Children Just in Time for the Holidays

Scholastic books is having a warehouse sale in Belleville (41873 Ecorse Rd., Ste 260) December 9-21 from 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. weekdays, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Saturdays and 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Sunday December 12. Find bargain books at rock bottom prices for gifts or to fill your child's library.

For parents who can't afford to buy books there is even an opportunity to volunteer in exchange for books!

For more information call (734) 957-9834 or to pre-purchase book vouchers sign-up online for a fast-cart pass at www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/warehouse. Parents interested in volunteering can call for shift availability and value of vouchers.

Note: The preferred method of payment at the sale are credit cards, checks, money orders or Scholastic Dollars.

Directions: Take I-275 to Ecorse Rd. exit and travel west past Haggerty. On the north side is a complex called Crossroads Distribution Center. 

Metro Detroit and other Michigan area families can find a convenient Scholastic Bookfair warehouse sale for deeply discounted books by visiting the website website and entering their zip code.

The Children's Health Fund: Fixing the Health Care Epidemic in Michigan One Child at a Time

On Monday TheMotherhood.com invited me to attend a kick-off event for a new Detroit-based mobile health unit that is being funded by the Children's Health Fund (CHF) and Henry Ford Health System with the help of corporate sponsors like Clorox.

As a mother who has been effected by multiple job losses and the fear of being without health insurance, even for a short period of time, I can not image the distress that thousands of Detroit families face in not being able to get health care for their children. So it seemed like a good fit for me and what I believe, to attend the event.

I really never stopped to consider that the ability to get to and from medical facilities was a barrier to getting health care. Combine that with the shortage of Detroit doctors, and there is much cause for concern. While at the event I was shocked to learn Detroit child health indicators are among the worst in the nation! That crisis means that thousands of children have gone without access to comprehensive care, placing their long-term health and well-being at risk.



That is why the Children's Health Project of Detroit has launched a new mobile medical clinic. The unit will visit local Detroit area schools and community locations weekly to deliver health care services such as primary care, preventative care, immunizations and vision and dental exams to approximately 1,000 to 1,500 children a year. In a way, the project helps us to move back to the concept that "it takes a village to raise a child," involving the community as a whole - physicians, teachers, parents and students - to build on-going relationships for solid, healthy lifestyles for the children who need it most.

The (CHF), founded by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and pediatrician/advocate Dr. Irwin Redlener, who were both in attendance Monday, is a leading provider of mobile-based health care for homeless and low-income children and their families. Their Detroit mobile unit was impressive to say the least. With multiple exam rooms and facilities, it clearly will be a great way to reach children in need. Further that with the help of funding from American Idol Gives Back, and corporate sponsors like Clorox, who donated Clorox Disinfecting Wipes for doctors and staff to use on the unit, Children's Health Fund of Detroit will be successful in beginning to wipe out the poor health care conditions for disadvantaged children and their families in Detroit

The charity is a bit different than many simply because individuals can not volunteer to donate time. As Ann Arbor, and more specifically Washtenaw County has the lowest unemployment rate, individuals here are in the perfect position to help Detroit, our state, and low-income children who are in need though. Through the partnership between Clorox and the Children's Health Fund on Facebook we can Connect Kids to Care to help raise funds. Individuals can also make financial donations at the CHF website to help ensure the continued success of the program.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, who spoke at the event, said it best when she said, “Times are tough and so are we!”  We need to step up, to help one another whenever possible, and this is one way we can help make a difference, and make a happier, healthier state for the future of our state - Our children!


Disclosure:  I received a stipend to attend the press conference from Clorox and TheMotherhood. The opinions of the event and the event participants are that of my own.

December 6, 2010

Sing-a-long With Santa and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra This Saturday

This Saturday, December 11, kids of all ages will have the chance to sing-a-long with the fat man himself! Yup that's right, it's time for the annual Sing-a-long With Santa concert  presented by the Benard L. Maas Foundation. After the concert, Santa will meet with the children so he can update his holiday list. A photographer will be on hand to capture the magic with photos being sent to the families in time for Christmas.

The concert is a great start to family traditions and promises to be a fun-filled holiday experience for the entire family.



Where: Bethlehem United Church of Christ (423 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor)
When: 4:00 p.m. December 11, 2010

Admission to the concert is $6 for children and $15 for adults. Family tickets are also available for $35 for up to six family members - That's a great deal! Tickets are available by calling 734-994-4801, visiting the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra office (220 E Huron, Suite 470) or by purchasing online at http://www.a2so.com/.

December 3, 2010

Weekend Happenings: Shop Local, Holiday Entertainment, Crafts and More...

I just wrote about some great holiday family activities this weekend at AnnArbor.com that include several Christmas parades, and traditional holiday celebrations happening around Ann Arbor this weekend, however there are so many other great (and free) happenings I'd like to add. Below are free craft events, cookie walks, and more - Check it out, I doubt your kids will be bored with all the entertainment in the area this weekend!

For the crafty there are several craft shows and free craft events for kids of all ages. From noon - 8:00 p.m. today, Barnes & Noble (3235 Washtenaw Ave. Ann Arbor) will have a free craft event sponsored by the Oak Trails Montessori. Kids can make a beaded bracelet and necklace throughout the day.

For those families that want to shop locally, there are many great night-time shopping experiences to be had. The best part is, virtually all of them will feature free entertainment for the entire family. Ypsilanti (Historic downtown Ypsilanti) has the Starlight Spree on December 3-5 and 10-12 (Fri., 5:00-9:00 p.m., Sat., Noon-7:00 p.m., and Sun., 1:00-4:00 p.m.), Ann Arbor has Midnight Madness (throughout Ann Arbor downtown and the Kerrytown District) on December 4, from 5:00 - midnight with outstanding shop til you drop deals and roving performers and Saline has a a Midnight Madness Craft Show (Saline Middle School, 7190 N. Maple Road., Saline) from 5:00 - 11:00 p.m. on December 4, with a holiday concert held DURING the craftavaganza! Talk about some great local shopping and entertainment.

If the Polar Express is a family favorite, there are several opportunities to hear the story for free. On Friday, December 4, at AnnArbor.com there will be a storytyime event with readings at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 with free cookies and hot chocolate. Santa will even be there for free Santa Photos at AnnArbor.com!  Barnes & Noble (3235 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) will also be hosting a Polar Express Pajama Party on December 4, and 7:00 p.m. with hot chocolate, a holiday sing-along and a special guest visit!

Finally for teens, they can wrap up the weekend by creating their own customized wrapping paper and gift tags. On Sunday, December from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. teens from grade 4 and up can create fun gift tags and wrapping paper at the AnnArbor Library (3333 Traverwood Drive, Ann Arbor) with free materials. For more information on this project, parents can call the AADL call the Library’s Youth Department at 327-8301 or visit the AADL website.

Have you heard of other free events this weekend? Feel free to shoot me a message or comment on the where and when below!

December 2, 2010

This Weekend: Candy Making Class for Parents & Kids

I thought this was a great option for those parents who would like to try making candy with their children but don't want to mess up their own kitchens.

This Sunday, December 5 there is a Parent/Child candymaking class at Ann Arbor Cooks (5060 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor 48103)from 2:00-4:30 p.m.

Parents can team up with their kids to make some yummy holiday treats including chocolate peppermint bark, chocolate truffles, sea salt caramels, and homemade toasted coconut marshmallows. If you'd prefer not to eat all the treats at home, consider this a great way for your child to make their own holiday gifts!

The class is geared for a for a parent and child (ages 6-12 years) team and cost $60 for the pair.

November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Activities for the Whole Family in Ann Arbor

FROM AnnArbor.com:

If you are not in a food coma from all the turkey, out shopping for the crazy deals or decorating for the holidays, there are many great family activities to do this weekend with the kids. Here is a few fun family activities in and around Ann Arbor.


Practice Writing Skills and Letters
Beginning on November 26, kid’s can bring their letters to Santa to Santa’s mailbox located on Liberty Street, in front of Organic Bliss (117 E. Liberty Street). All letters received by December 16th will be answered.

Feed the Birds
Shhh, I heard of a little secret... Behind the nature center at Kensington Metro Park (2240 W. Buno Road, Milford), the birds will literally eat out of your hands if you take along some black oil sunflower seeds. What a great way to get out into nature! On November 26, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks will waive vehicle entry fees and boat launch fees for annual “Appreciation Days”.

Get Your Skate On
Take a break from shopping on November 26 to strap on your ice skates from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at Yost Ice Arena (1000 South State Street, Ann Arbor). Open skate times at Veterans Ice Arena (2150 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor) are also available on November 27-28 at 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. or at the Buhr Park Outdoor Ice Rink (2751 Packard Road, Ann Arbor) on November 28 from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. or 7:15 - 8:45 p.m.

Get Crafty
On Saturday, November 27, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. children and adults alike can decorate an ornament free with in-store purchase at Michael’s Crafts. (Actually I blogged on holiday crafts at Michael's Crafts earlier this month...)

Add A Little Holiday Spirit
On Sunday Night when your family is about to head back to school and work, get into the holiday spirit by attending the Kerrytown Market & Shops Annual Tree Lighting Festival (407 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) from 5:30 - 6:00 p.m. Join in to welcome the holidays in the courtyard with Christmas carols, candle luminaries and Santa lighting the tree!

November 23, 2010

Great Deal: $50 Jump City Gift Certificate for $25

My kids LOVE to bounce - What kid doesn't right? Heck even I like to bounce with them if the bounce-house can sustain an adult body.  It's a GREAT work-out!!!

I just heard about a great deal offered on AnnArbor.coms Real Deal website that allows parents to purchase a $50 Jump City gift certificate for only $25.  Each household is limited to one purchase per person and is valid until November 23, 2011. 



Jump City is a bounce, play & party place (2825 Boardwalk, Ann Arbor) with pop-n-play times on Tuesdays and Fridays for only $7 per child. For more information call Jump City at 734-995-5055 for pop-n-play times, special events, party information & reservations. Purchased gift certificates may be used toward any purchase at Jump City!

November 18, 2010

Crafty Inspirations at Michael's Crafts This Holiday Season

Looking to get into the spirit with fun and inexpensive (or free) craft projects and activities? I just picked up a flier at Michael's for their 6 Weeks of inspirations that includes many free and low cost make it and take it events appropriate for all ages. Keep this list handy, or better yet pick up your own flier at Michael's (3655 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor) since it has a bonus 20% off coupon attached!

NOVEMBER
11/20, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Decorate a cute felt stocking. Free with in-store purchase.

11/27, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Ornament decorating for any age. Free with in-store purchase.

DECEMBER
12/4, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Learn the make a finger knit scarf and create an ornament for FREE. I think this might be the perfect quick how to for school aged kids through teens!

12/5, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. - Create that traveling dad his own own duct tape luggage tag or let your kids decorate a tree ornament for grandma and grandpa. Both projects are FREE.

12/11 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Create your own customized gift card holder or decorated a gift bag for wrapping those holiday gifts. Free with in-store purchase.


12/18, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Last minute shopping necessary, don't worry about it, let your teen make their own button rings to give or keep while you shop in the store. Free with in-store purchase. Also from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. check out the activity sampler kit free demo while browsing!

I figure if I'm there anyway, I might as well let my kids have fun creating while I shop!

November 17, 2010

Significant Childrens Clothing Discount at Ann Arbor's Elephant Ears

Elephant Ears (415 N Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) in Ann Arbor's Kerrytown Market and Shops has today's Groupon deal offering a coupon for $15 off a $30 sale of children's clothing and accessories! Inside Elephant Ears sustainable shoppers can sift through a variety of Fair Trade, organic, and natural fiber children's clothing, footwear, bedding , and more.

This 50% deal is perfect timing for holiday shopping!

November 16, 2010

Your Holiday Photo Could Win a $25 Gift Card From Metro Parent

I just saw this posting to win a $25 Amazon gift card from Metro Parent magazine, and the best thing is, as parents we ALL have something to enter - A holiday photo!

Enter your "Holiday traditions" photo at the Metro Parent website before Wednesday, November 23 for a chance to win and to be included in the December MetroParent.com gallery of photos! From lighting the menorah, to decorating the tree or donating your time to a cause, this time of year is filled with all sorts of precious customs and family traditions. Many of which have been captured on film.

Enjoy!

November 15, 2010

Create Balloon Rockets in Celebration of Aviation Month

I caught wind of this fun project for school-aged children. On Wednesday, November 17 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. children ages 6 and over can create their own balloon rockets at Tree Town Toys (2611 Plymouth Road) in Ann Arbor. This is a free kid's event to celebrate the love of flying and Aviation Month! How will your balloon rocket fly?

November 12, 2010

Find Volunteer Opportunities for Families This Holiday Season

I really am a big proponent of giving back through volunteering. It's a life lesson I am hopefully teaching my children as well. Every year we have signed up as bell-ringers, been volunteer shoppers for Warm The Children, helped out at Food Gatherers and Growing Hope, and anywhere else that I can find where my children can participate. What I haven't found though, was one website that might help me find the best opportunities for volunteering locally and instead I've gone directly to the individual organizations. Wouldn't it be nice to go to one place to find opportunities for volunteering? Now there is.

The Blueprint for Aging, sponsored by Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County, is leveraging its new volunteer website, VolunteerWashtenaw.org, to communicate holiday giving and volunteering opportunities. In addition to the website’s usual formal volunteer programs, the site has been opened up to communicate one-time opportunities for individuals, families, and groups to help others this holiday season.

My quick check-in to the site revealed many opportunities to give and volunteer, and the best part is, there is an area where families can look for opportunities for their younger children to participate in! So let's all give back to our communities to find “Something Worth Doing”.
I'll be back throughout the year looking for opportunities for myself, my children, and likely my cub scout den, you should too. Visit the Volunteer Washtenaw website today!

November 10, 2010

Half Off: 1 Year Membership to the Ann Arbor Art Center

Hello Ann Arbor families! If you want a great deal today for some family fun for mom, dad AND the kids, check out the deal that Groupon has running for a $50 discount off of a family membership at the Ann Arbor Art Center. The centers Youth Art Classes and Adult Art Classes will be further discounted with membership.

November 8, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Release Party

Tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. the Arborland Borders (3527 Washtenaw Ave.), kids ages 8-12 will surely enjoy attending the release party for "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth". Kids can attend the special event featuring all things Wimpy with a book discussion, games, art activities and Wimpy giveaways (while supplies last).

November 5, 2010

LEGO® Atlantis Kids Party

Tomorrow, at the Arborland Borders (3527 Washtenaw Ave.) at 2:00 p.m. kids ages 8-12 can experience LEGO® fun with games and fun give-aways! Join the quest for the Lost City of Atlantis to check out all of the cool LEGO® items Borders has to offer. Come early though, the give-aways are only while supplies last.

Overwhelming Feeling

Hello readers. I'll admit it, I've been a bit overwhelmed for some reason of late. I've not been feeling good and the change in seasons has done a number on me. It's not a good excuse however it's prevented me from posting at the level I expect of myself! I promise to get more great free events posted soon... 

October 30, 2010

Free Building Project (Great to Tuck Away for a Holiday Gift!)

The Home Depot's Kids Workshops offer useful projects including the creation of toolboxes, fire trucks and mail organizers, as well as more educational projects, such as a window birdhouse, bughouse or Declaration of Independence frame kit.



Join in the fun at the FREE Kinds "How To" workshop at Home Depot as a way for your child to make a perfect holiday gift for a parent or grendparent! On November 6, kids can build their very own spice rack from 9:00 am - noon at participating Home Depot locations.

The workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety, while at the same time helping to instill a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, this fun time allows for quality one-on-one time between adults and children. In addition to their free and newly constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron, and an achievement pin!

October 14, 2010

This Sunday: Free Fall Harvest Celebration at Parker Mill, Ann Arbor

This Sunday, October 17 from 1:00-4:00 pm families can stop by Parker Mill for their annual Harvest Celebration. Have you ever wanted to learn about pressing your own apple cider? What about gathering nuts of shelling corn? Find out what the residents of Washtenaw County did in eons past adding family fun activities like kids crafts, snacks, and so much more! And if that isn't reason enough to stop by, the mill is in a beautiful, picturesque setting where the kids can wander and play! We love going there to walk the paths and check out the beauty of the area.

A Day of Fun For Only $5 at The Concordia University Family Carnival Saturday


In conjunction with their homecoming celebration, Concordia University will be hosting a carnival on Saturday October 16 from 11:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m. near the athletic fields. For only $5 ($3 for CU students), children and entire families can enjoy unlimited access to an obstacle course, bungee run, Velcro wall, bounce house, gladiator joust, dunk tank, face painting and carnival style games. Concessions will also be available the day of the event. That's right the kids can bounce to their hearts content with for only $5!

October 13, 2010

Free Bouncing Session at Jump City This Friday!

Do your children like to bounce in those large inflatable bounce houses? Of course they do, but it'll often cost you an arm and a leg to pay for them to bounce. This Friday, October 15 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm though, kids can bounce for FREE at Jump City (2825 Boardwalk, Ann Arbor).
Take the opportunity to enjoy a fun experience with your children as parents and care givers receive valuable information regarding the November elections. This is a great chance to build public will for advocating on behalf of Michigan's youngest citizens and is sponsored by the Great Start Parent Coalition.

For questions or to RSVP for this event, contact Althea Wilson, Parent Liaison for the Great Start Parent Coalition at awilson.firststeps@gmail.com or 734-678-4653.

October 7, 2010

Conoe or Kayak While You Trick Or Treat This Sunday!

This Sunday, October 10 from noon - 4:00 p.m. families can canoe or kayak along the Huron River while collecting Halloween treats and bubbling brews from costumed characters along the way!

Begin your trip from the Argo Canoe Livery and paddle down the river through the city of Ann Arbor, stopping to collect candy and drink "swamp muck." Just watch out for trolls under bridges and swamp monsters in the river!

October 5, 2010

Free Halloween Building Projects

Fall is officially here, and judging by the number of decorative accents I see in the stores and lawns throughout my neighborhood, Halloween is just around the corner. There are several fun and free kids building workshops to help celbrate the season, check them out!

Lowes Build and Grow Clinics have some spooky fun planned for October. Sign up for the Build and Grow clinics in advance to participate on specific Saturday's from 10:00 - 11:00 am for your child to build their own project. The clinics are a great way to help build confidence! besides the free wooden project, children also earn a patch to add to their free apron, and a certification of merit upon completion of their project.

Saturday October 9: With Halloween right around the corner, kids can build a cool Fun House Mirror!

Saturday October 23: Bring your child to Lowe's where they can build a awesome Flapping Bat with glow in the dark stickers!

September 24, 2010

Free Alert: Free Coldstone Ice Cream - Thursday, September 30

Free Alert:

The 9th Annual "World's Largest Ice Cream Social" will be held September 30 from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. at participating Coldstone Creamery locations. So stop in to the CSC at Arborland in Ann Arbor and receive a free 3 ounce sample of Kate's Creation served out of a ready to love pan in a Like It cup.

Hurry though, this will happen only while supplies last and there is a limit of one per customer!

Free Museum Day - Saturday, September 25

Tomorrow is the 6th Annual Museum Day, an annual event hosted by Smithsonian in which participating museums across the country open their doors for free to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket.  There are several museums within an hour drive of Ann Arbor that are free, and three (Matthaei Botanical Gardens, University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History, University of Michigan Museum of Art) in Ann Arbor that are free.  Just be sure to get your free pass for Museum Day!
2010 Participating Michigan Museums:Air Zoo - Portage
Arab American National Museum - Dearborn
Birmingham Historical Museum & Park - Birmingham
Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum - Ishpeming
Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve - Niles
Grand Rapids Art Museum - Grand Rapids
Holland Museum - Holland
Honolulu House - Marshall
Kalamazoo Nature Center - Kalamazoo
Kingman Museum - Battle Creek
Krasl Art Center - St. Joseph
Longway Planetarium - Flint
Manistee County Historical Museum - Manistee
Matthaei Botanical Gardens - Ann Arbor
Meadow Brook Hall and Gardens - Rochester
Michigan Women's Historical Center & Hall of Fame - Lansing
Midwest Miniatures Museum - Hickory Corners
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit - Detroit
Music House Museum - Acme
Muskegon Museum of Art - Muskegon
North Berrien Historical Museum - Coloma
Paine-Gillam-Scott Museum - St. Johns
The Knowlton Ice Museum - Port Huron
Ukrainian American Archives and Museum - Detroit
University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History - Ann Arbor 
University of Michigan Museum of Art - Ann Arbor

Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways - Mount Pleasant

September 22, 2010

This Weekend: Apple Day at the Pittsfield Grange

I have mentioned many times in past articles about how much I love apple cider. REAL apple cider. Unpastorized apple cider. There is just something about its crisp freshness that can not be beat. Unfortunately, unless you have your own cider press, it is becomming increasinginly difficult to find that kid of cider, then again maybe you should just attend Apple Day at the Pittsfield Grange hall! This Saturday, September 25 from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, families can try their hand at pressing their own apple cider with apples they bring or ones they purchase on site.

Come press your own cider, taste a dozen varieties of apples, watch demonstrations of apple-based cooking, and shop the apple bake sale! Bring your own jugs for cider; apples available for sale on site, or bring your own. For more information contact the Pittsfield Gange at preservetrad@gmail.com.

September 19, 2010

Family Fun at the Children's Orchard Family Expo September 25

Next Saturday, September 25, local Ann Arbor families can make connections with local organizations and family oriented businesses for the first ever Children's Orchard Family Expo. The event, held from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds (5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Road, Ann Arbor 48103) will feature many great activities for the kids and adults including apparences by Brandon Inge and Jim Price of the Detroit Tigers.

The Family Expo will include live music and entertainment, great food, and fun activities for children including a bounce house, face painting, clowns, balloon artists,  a fashion show and the opportunity where kids join the circus for the day with Cirque Amongus! For adults there will also be goody bags and give aways, and a silent auction of items from many wonderful Ann Arbor businesses in support of the March of Dimes.

The cost for this wonderful family event is only $2 per person with kids and teens 16 and under getting in free.

September 17, 2010

Free Fall Matinees at Goodrich Quality Theatres

I do love the wonderfully cool fall weather because there are so many great things to do in the Ann Arbor area like visiting Jenny's Farm Stand or even one of many local orchards, however the weather can sometimes be unpredictable for outdoor activities. So what can a family do that is free and indoors? On weekend mornings you can go to the show!

The Goodrich Quality Theatres have a great line-up for the kids, so if you have the opportunity, check it out. Just be sure to bring a long a little extra change for the concessions, because what's a movie without popcorn and there is a 15-minute intermission to accommodate that! (The theatre does sell a great kids combo for $3.00 which includes a 12 oz. beverage, popcorn and a snack of some type!)

Free Fall Matinees play every weekend at 9:00 and 10:00 a.m.


September 18-19: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
September 25-26: Shrek Forever After
October 2-3: Marmaduke
October 9-10: Karate Kid
October 16-17: Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs
October 23-24: Spy Next Door
October 30-31: Last Airbender
November 6-7: Ramona and Beezus
November 13-14: Despicable Me

September 15, 2010

Free Car Seat Safety Check


My kid's grow so quickly that I sometimes don't notice where their heads are in the auto booster seats - My son my have sprouted a ton, because just before vacation I realized he was riding around with his head above most of the back of the booster! Top that off with the changes in car seat safety laws for children passengers in Michigan last year and it gets very confusing very quickly.

I was lucky enough to have a safety seat check when my son attended Safety Town camp, however that was 2 years ago! And a LOT has changed in that time...  Questions that pop into my mind are, is my daughter big enough to ride without the five-point-harness and When will my son be able to ride without a car seat. It's sometimes just too much to remember. The bottom line is, am I protecting my children well enough in their car seats?

Did you know that studies show that 8 out of 10 booster seats are used incorrectly? So are mine being used incorrectly? Are yours? Luckily there is a real easy solution for those families living in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities - This Saturday, September 18 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. families can attend a free car seat safety check by the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department at The Little Seedling (355 S. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor 48103) to make sure your little ones are riding safely while in the car.

September 3, 2010

Staying In Ann Arbor This Weekend? Try These Family Events

Not going anywhere this holiday weekend? That doesn't mean you have to be stuck with nothing to do. There are some great things going on in and around Ann Arbor this weekend, check it out:

Saturday, September 4:

  • Start the day bright and early with a fun 8:00 a.m. bird hike at Hudson Mills Metropark (8801 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter). Its an inexpensive fun way to start your morning costing only $2 per person plus the vehicle entry cost - Just be sure to call now to register 734-426-8211.
  • For those parents who are unwilling to get out that early, after swinging by one of the many local farmers markets for a treat, head over to see Curious George who is making a guest appearance at the Washtenaw Avenue Barnes & Nobel for storytime at 11:00 a.m.
  • For families interested in the areas great farming heritage, gardening, preserving or even if you simply have a kid who likes visiting the farm, check out the Rentschler Farm Museum in Saline between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. - it is an interesting local farm full of history!
  • The electronic signage in Ypsilanti on I-94 has reminded me that season football tickets for EMU are reasonably priced, so why not take the kids to EMU vs. Army football game starting at 7:00 p.m.?
Sunday, September 5:
  • The Saline Community Fair begins next week, however there is an early pre-view beginning at 10:00 a.m.!
  • This is one we've been trying to get to all summer. The plethora of great local artisan's in Ann Arbor makes the Sunday Artisan Market a must see for the entire family! It's open from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m so there is no excuse NOT to visit.
  • Let the music be heard and join in the fun at Dancing in the Streets (Corner of Main and Washington Streets) in downtown Ann Arbor at 6:30 p.m. - This once a year festival is great fun for children of all ages!
Monday, September 6:
  • Check out the Beasts at the Beach at the Kensington Metropark Nature Center from 1:00-4:00 p.m. This fun program will highlight snakes and turtles in the area, not the sunbathers!
  • More time to spend at the Saline Community Fair - For those of you kissing the Michigan State Fair!
  • This may be one of your last chances to check out the Block Party at The Ann Arbor Hand's On Museum! It'll be gone at the end of September...
No matter what have a happy holiday weekend, enjoying the last long weekend of the summer spending it with family and friends. I am sure you will have fun no matter WHAT you do. And for those interested in other activities or events, be sure to check out the events calendar at AnnArbor.com!

September 2, 2010

Register Now for Upcoming Kids Build-it Clinics

I'm back - After a great family vacation I thought I'd better get back to work providing Ann Arbor families some great free and low cost ideas! Since these building clinics often require advance registration, I thought to pass them along:
  • Doesn't matter which football team your kids support, at Home Depot they can build their own football stand on Saturday September 4 from 9:00 a.m. - noon. (I'm thinking too that it might be possible to flip this over for a small football shaped shelf/stool too!). This hands-on free workshop is designed for children ages 5-12 and is available at participating Home Depot locations.
  • On Saturday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m. your children can build the family pooch a cute leash hanger for free at Lowe's! This dog-friendly kid's building clinic requires advanced registration though at the Lowe's Build and Grow website!
  • Teach your kids about fire safety and have some fun doing it while building an awesome Fire Truck on Saturday, September 25 at 10:00 a.m.  This Lowe's Build and Grow project kit even includes a working siren and stickers. Make sure to register early though so that the classes are not filled up!

August 24, 2010

Are you looking for something interetsing (and free) to do this weekend? On Saturday, August 28, 2010 from noon - 7:00 p.m. be sure to stop by the Westgate shopping center (W Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor 48103) for some family friendly fun at the Westgate Festival.

The event will provide a variety of kid activities and educational opportunities from the Learning Express, Nicholas Books and Leslie Science Center - Plus there will be plenty of musical entertainment, an Ambassador program and prize rally, and a “Back to school supplies drive” to benefit SOS Community Crisis Center. All local families are encouraged to come enjoy the great food and entertainment this family event has to offer!

August 20, 2010

Today Through Sunday Check Out The Yspilanti Heritage Festival

This weekend, one of my favorite Ypsilanti local events, The Ypsilanti Heritage Festival in beautiful Riverside Park, is taking place. There's something truly magical about the event. I don't know if it's all the green trees surrounding the park, the quiet trickle of the river as it slowly meanders through the park or the homey feel of the re-enactors, whatever it is, I often feel relaxed, comfortable and happy when we attend. Judging by the other attendees, I might argue we all feel that way! So if you've never attended, consider attending when you plan weekend activities for the family.

Some of our personal favorites are the free little kids area (with the free bounce house for kids 5 and younger), the food (of course), the root beer cart, the duck race, all the great musical performances, and the living history folk who camp in the park. My son especially loved watching them grind cornmeal last year then coming home with his own little baggie of it to make Johnny Cakes!

Some of the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival featured events this year are "The 1973 Ypsilanti All-Star Game That Never Was" featuring Ypsilanti's own Little League gal Carolyn King Minot, and the Haab's second annual bed race. We're also excited to meet the Butterfly Lady!

We'll be there throughout the weekend. After all it's free family fun! So make sure you pack up the kids and head on over to Riverside Park. It's a weekend your family will appreciate for years to come!

The festival runs from noon - 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday.

August 16, 2010

Free Snacks for Ann Arbor Baby & Toddler Playgroups

I realize it's been a slow week in the way of posts - I'll admit, I've been slammed. Which really is not a good excuse. I do however have a great promotion for Ann Arbor mom's. Check it out:

I am running a YoBaby and YoKids promotional event for Stoneyfield Farms next month and am lining up playgroups who may like FREE snacks. Essentially that means that I would come in to your playgroup with healthy, organic samples for the kids, some give-aways, discount coupons and information for the parents.

So how does a free healthy snack sound to you? If you are interested, contact me at Tmayrend (at gmail dot com). It is a really great organic brand that makes for the perfect snack - And yes I was a user of the product before they contacted me!

August 11, 2010

Take The kids Fishing at the Spring Valley Trout Farm in Dexter

As seen on AnnArbor.com:

The summertime of my youth consisted solely of spending time outdoors. I would wake up and immediately leave the house not to be heard from until the street lamps went on, unless I needed nourishment or a cold beverage. My brother and I would catch bugs, wander the local elementary school fields and playgrounds, camp in the backyard or with our family, pick whatever out of the garden and pop it directly into our mouths unwashed. We were typical kids of the times; fishing, hiking and the outdoors were some of our favorite summer memories.

It is a living testament to my parents and grandparents that I have continued spending my time as an adult in much the same way, and love passing these experiences onto my children as well. We garden, camp and, as of late, gone fishing.

For my children, this consists of dropping a baited hook, which mom has carefully threaded a worm on off the edge of a dock with toes dangling in the water. I love listening to my kids squealing with delight when they ‘catch a big one”. It is a bit tiring though throwing back the smallest of the bunch. Lately my children have really wanted to keep and cook what they have caught, too. The tiny pan fish they catch wouldn’t feed us, and would hardly be worth cleaning, so what’s a mom to do? Where could we go to catch fish large enough to eat? And that’s where the Spring Valley Trout Farm came into play.

The Spring Valley Trout Farm, in Dexter, is set on a picturesque park-like setting with pavilions, a playground, and several ponds stocked with farm-raised trout and catfish. They provide everything one could need for a day of fishing including the equipment, bait and helpful staff. I couldn’t see much when driving through the front gates, however the two school buses in the parking lot and multiple cars tipped me off that it must be good. I was really impressed though when stepping through the fishing cabin onto its large covered porch with comfortable seating that overlooks several tree lined ponds and picnic pavilions. It was really quite lovely and an unexpected surprise.

The kids wanted to try their hand fishing in the children’s pond, which was really a great idea since Gabby caught part of our dinner very easily after only a few moments of trying. The kids got help from a friendly young man named Patrick. “Mom his name is the same as on SpongeBob Squarepants!” Zach said. Patrick was only part of the very helpful staff on site that day, who told us all about the farm, gave me a page of their favorite recipes and also cleaned our fish.

As kids do, they got tired of waiting for the fish to bite, so they left me to fend for myself and catch the rest of our dinner. Which I did.

I’d recommend bringing snacks and whatever drinks your family would want, and possibly chairs or blankets to relax on, although you may lean against the rails of the fence lining the ponds. I’d also suggest families bring their own life jackets for any children smaller than 54” in height. Life jackets are provided, however they are the older style with a less than comfortable fit. And don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray. What you don’t need to worry about is bringing your own equipment or cleaning your fish and bagging it in ice, as the staff will do that for you should you choose!

In all the day was wonderful for the children and myself; I was so impressed with everyone working at the trout farm and their friendly, helpful attitudes. If there were any drawbacks to the day, it was that the rain meant that everyone had to stop fishing and stay under the porch at the fishing lodge, even though it was just sprinkling. I was also unprepared to pay $5 per person older than 5 to fish. The added admission meant our fish dinner was an expensive one. I also had not realized that they are only open from only 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., making our late afternoon arrival a little more rushed.

I will say however freshly caught fish is the way to go and makes for a relaxing, educational, fun day with the family!

You can find the Spring Valley Trout Farm at 12190 Island Lake Road in Dexter or online at http://www.springvalleytroutfarm.com/. From Memorial Day to Labor Day they are open Wednesday through Sunday, with weekend hours in the spring and in the fall.

Hint: Make sure you sign the guest book when you visit, because the sign indicated discount coupons are sent each spring and fall!

August 9, 2010

Kids Can Meet Paws and Get A Free Lunchbox

On Saturday August 14, 2010 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. at the Ypsilanti District Library, kids can meet Paws, the Detroit Tigers official mascot and receive a free lunchbox. Make sure to get there early though, as only the first 50 kids will receive a lunchbox!

August 5, 2010

Kids Eat Free All Month Long

Kids and pancakes are like America and Baseball, that's why this freebie sounds so great to me. My kids LOVE pancakes and order them at least 90% of the time when we eat out!

Throughout the month of August, participating IHOP restaurants are helping families out back-to-school shopping by promising that kids eat free from 4:00-10:00 p.m. (one free kids meal for each adult entree you order).

The freebie is good for children under age 12, and they must order from the kids menu. Also note that beverages are not included unless otherwise specified on the "Just for Kids" menu.

August 4, 2010

Free Sam's Club Shopping Weekend - Stock the Pantry or Get Back To School Supplies!

This weekend, August 6-8, is a free Sam's Club Weekend - That's right, no mombership is required to shop at Sams Club. So listen up mom's and dad's, it's time to stock the pantry and grab all the back to school goodies you can get!

July 29, 2010

Create Your Own Ice Cream Bowl This Sunday!

After some very HOT, humid weather in the Ann Arbor area of late, I'm personally ready for a break. I've been cooped up inside with the A/C blaring coming out only after dark. I'm starting to feel like a vampire... Maybe that's an exageration, however I know of families everywhere who have been hiding from the heat, and that's where this fun (and cool) event comes in... How about having a "Sundae" @ the Ann Arbor Art Center?

On Sunday, August 1, 2010 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Ann Arbor area families are invited to head over to the Art Center to paint their very own, one-of-a-kind, ceramic ice cream bowl. Your bowl will be fired and ready for pick up after the event, and while you wait, enjoy your very own ice cream sundae! Since the kids typically get finished much faster than the adults when doing craft projects, the folks at the Ann Arbor Art Center will also have face painting, balloon animals, and a building scavenger hunt for the day.

This would be a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, together with the people you love most. Tickets are only $10 and can be purchase online at the Ann Arbor Art Center or by calling, 734.994.8004 x 101.

July 26, 2010

Free Upcoming Kids Build-It Clinics

Kids who love to build or work with their hands will thoroughly enjoy the upcoming free building projects available at Home Depot and Lowes. In general the clinics are geared for children ages 5-12. They are a great way to spend quality mother-son or father-daugher time with a parent, they are fun (and free), and finally the workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety, while at the same time helping to instill a sense of accomplishment!

Upcoming projects for August projects, highlighted below, focus on bugs and (gasp!) back to school projects...

  • Saturday, August 7, 2010 - Build your own school bus pencil or crayon organizer at a Home Depot kids clinic between 9:00 a.m. and noon. Besides receiving their free constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron and an achievement pin.
  • Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. at a participating Lowe's, children can build their own "beetle shaped" bug box for capturing their favorite critter. Besides the project, each participant will receive a free apron, goggles, a project themed patch, and a certification of merit - As an added bonus, kids who participate in the Lowe's Build and Grow projects this summer will receive a coupon for their own FREE Jr. Frosty at Wendy's. To sign your child up for the free Lowe's Build and Grow clinic of choice, be sure to register in advance at the Build and Grow website.
  • Saturday, August 28 at 10:00 a.m. kids can build a cool school bus at Lowe's. The clinic includes stickers, and a secret compartment in the bus to store chalk. The cute school bus even has a sliding chalboard on top to get creative on!

July 22, 2010

Week of July 26, 2010: Kids' Craft Events

Hello readers...  Do you need more fun kids' craft ideas that are inexpensive and fun?  Here are a few more that are happening in AnnArbor next week!

Monday July 26, 2010:
Children can create works of art using their own hands as a stencil! Add googly eyes, pompoms and gemstones for a finishing touch. This is a free family event for ages 4+ at 10:00-11:00 a.m. and from 3:00-4:30 p.m. at Tree Town Toys, Ann Arbor.

Thursday, July 29, 2010:
"Rock-A-Doodle" is a fun way to create a critter - Think of creating a spider, bird, school bus or even a person - by simply painting and decorating a rock with cool colors and designs. This in-store craft at Tree Town Toys will use supplies from Creativity for Kids, a branch of the famous art supplier Faber-Castell, that specializes in fun, open-ended art projects for kids. Each child, aged 3+, will paint stones and use peel and stick shapes, wiggly eyes and fuzzy, fun embellishments to create a pebble friend to take home. This kids craft project costs $2 and is available from 2:00-4:00 p.m.

July 20, 2010

Youth Summer Reading: Incentives for Children & Teens!

Millions of parents out there are beginning to wonder how summer is slipping by so quickly, while their children begin to graon as they see the school supplies and back to school sales beginning... I've actually been enjoying the summer with my kids, but it has gotten away from me some. In fact I meant to post this article a month or more ago.

For those of you parents who have been tracking your children's summer reading though, it means there will be lots of freebies coming shortly. Take a look at some of the great summer reading program rewards for your child:

  • Barnes and Nobel is giving your child a free book after they have read 8 of them! Just be sure to download your summer reading passport to get started. This program is running through September 7, 2010.
  • Borders is double-dog daring kids to read 10 books to get 1 free! This program ends August 26, 2010 and can be redeamed at Borders, Borders Express or Walden Books.
  • Kids who love to read should join Nicola's Summer Reading Bonanza. Stop by the store to pick up a Reading Bonanza form and start reading! Read 10 books (that you haven't read before) by the August 31st deadline to receive a free book (up to $7.99 in value). Kids names will also be put into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate!
  • Check out your public library. In our case with the Ypsilanti District Library summer reading program, the kids got a free Dairy Queen cone at the start of the program, the will get something half way through and will get something at the end too! I understand that the Ann Arbor District Library also has a great summer reading program for children and youth! 
If you know of other programs with summer reading incentives, please pass it along, I'd be glad to add them to the list!

July 19, 2010

Taking The Kids To The Ann Arbor Art Fair?

It’s art fair week in Ann Arbor, and if you are like countless parents in the area (like me), you may be asking yourself, “If I attend the Ann Arbor Art Fair with the kids in tow this year, will we have fun?” Quite possibly too you might be asking, “What will taking the kids to the art fair mean to me?” “Will there be melt downs?” “Will I have fun if the kids are in tow?” And most importantly, “What is there to do at the art fair for children?”

As my children are becoming more independent and gaining a few years on them it is easier for me to take them places. I’m also beginning to understand the power that these types of experiences afford me – Taking my kids to the art fair becomes a teaching experience, a cultural moment and so much more. So what are the kid friendly aspects of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs; what is there to do at the art fairs this week? Make sure to check out my ideas for parents that are considering taking their kids to wander the Ann Arbor Art Fairs - it's published on www.AnnArbor.com.

July 15, 2010

Upcoming Kids Craft Events

Check out the great upcoming craft projects that are happening throughout the month of July at Tree Town Toys (2611 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor).


Sunday, July 18, 2010:
Stop into the store between 11:30am and 5:30pm to get a free color-in tattoo. If your children are like mine, this event will be a "must do" family outing... Tree town Toys staff will help kids apply the temporary tattoos that they can color in!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010:
Pablo Picasso saw geometric shapes in the planes of the human body - He didn't worry if facial features were scattered on the canvas. Think of his artwork as the perfect kid friendly project! From 1:30-2:30 p.m. kids ages 6+ will learn how to use a variety of angles and shapes to capture energy and motion in a Picasso-inspired portrait with Faber-Castell watercolor pencils on a canvas. Cost for this kids’ project is $5. Please make sure to register in advance by calling 734-929-6545.

Thursday, 22, 2010:
Children ages 6+ may create a one-of-a-kind "designer puppy" from 10:00-11:30 a.m. - Each pup can be designed as a favorite dog breed or create a one-of-a-kind polka dotted pooch! All puppies get tired, so kids will also decorate a bed for their puppy. Cost for entire project is $6.

Saturday, July 24, 2010:
Sticky Mosaics are a fun way to create magnificent mosaic artwork. It's also an excellent summer learning activity since children follow the numbers and place the colorful sticky foam squares onto the patterns. From 3:00-4:00 p.m. kids can create one mosaic in the store and get a second, different pattern, to take home to occupy their time later. This activity is geared towards children ages 3+ and costs $3.00.

More events will posted next week, so stay tuned. To RSVP to any of their kids' events, check out the Tree Town Toys Facebook fan page, or the Tree Town Toys website or call the store at 734-929-6545.

July 14, 2010

Family Campout and Movie in Canton

Pack up your family tent and bring the lawn chairs and blankets for a fun family night under the stars in Canton. On July 16-17, families can come enjoy some great fun at the Heritage Park amphitheater (1150 S. Canton Center Road, Canton MI). There will be some great activities throughout the evening including entertainment starting at 6:00 p.m., followed by the movie Monsters vs. Aliens at dusk.

Families who want additional fun can opt to camp overnight for only $15.00 too. It's a great way to experience camping, and be close to home "just in case" things don't go as planned!

Canoeing will be available for a separate fee during the event. Please note that the event is requestion tents only - No trailers or mobile homes please.

For more information call 734-394-5100.

July 9, 2010

Surviving Summer With Your Kids - A Dose of Humor

A friend of mine from college, Christine Cashen (humorist, dynamic pubic speaker and author) recently did this television segment highlighting ways for moms to survive summer while their kids are at home. I thought all of the tips were excellent and wanted to pass them along - ENJOY!


I do have one final note for moms that she didn't mention... Getting her book, The Good Stuff and locking yourself away to read it would also be a fantastic way to survive your kids being home in the summer. Just don't come out until you've finished reading it. You WON'T be disappointed!

July 8, 2010

Try Fuzzoodles This Weekend!

In AnnArbor.com I recently wrote about my experience with Fuzzoodles - they are fun to use fuzzy, flexible (and reusable) building sticks created by an Ann Arbor company. Luckily the Ann Arbor Learning Express (2465 West Stadium Boulevard) store will be selling them and has a fun "try them out event" this Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

Be sure to stop in and check them out - I am SURE you will like what you see and the kids will enjoy playing with Fuzzoodles as well...  Think of it as free entertainment!

July 7, 2010

Ann Arbor Learning Express Rubber Band Trading Event

Over the holiday weekend I was introduced to the latest kids crazy - Silly Bandz. I had heard about them, and thought my son might like them as an inexpensive souveneer of his weekend up north. Sure enough he was already familiar with these glorified rubber band bracelets that all the kids were wearing. He purchased a pack, with my mother purchasing a second pack of red-white-and-blue glow in the dark "Monster Bands" (knock offs).

So what do we do with them now that we have them? Well he can always just wear them, and in fact was taught a neat trick to combine two colors... OR he can trade them!

This Saturday, July 10, at the Learning Express store (2465 West Stadium Blvd.) in Ann Arbor, there is a Rubber Band Trading Event at 2:00 p.m. - Bands will be displayed, and traded and of course many fun and colorful styles and shapes will be available for purchase!

This Weekend: Free Slurpee Sunday

I have fond childhood memories of hopping on my bicycle and riding to the neighborhood 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee - Heck just thinking about a Slurpee makes me want one! So it's lucky that this Sunday, July 11 2010 is FREE Slurpee day at participating 7-Eleven Stores across the U.S.

In celebration of 7-Eleven's 83rd birthday, 5 million free 7.11oz Slurpee drinks (a child's size) will be given out this Sunday from 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. - Check out the 7-Eleven FREE Slurpee Day deal for yourself.

For those families in the Ann Arbor area, there are three 7-Eleven locations nearby in Ypsilanti (2200 Ellsworth Road, Ypsilanti), Belleville (6040 Rawsonville Rd, Belleville) and south Canton (45490 Michigan Avenue, Canton).

Free Art Class for Preschoolers and Parents

This friday morning is your last chance to check out a fun and free preschool art class at the Allen Creek Preschool (3027 Miller Ave., Ann Arbor 48103) from 10:00-11:00 a.m. The event is a great chance for parents and children to work together, explore art and build a lifetime of memories! Children and their caregivers can choose from projects offered in different classrooms under the guidance of the highly regarded early education teachers at Allen Creek Preschool.

For more information call Allen Creek Preschool at 734-994-3382.

July 6, 2010

Babysitter Training in Ann Arbor

If your teen is hoping to make some extra cash babysitting this summer, there is nothing better than attending a Red Cross training class. It's the "gold seal standard" for parents hoping to hire a young individuals for babysitting services too!

This Saturday, July 10, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. the Washtenaw County Red Cross Chapter (4624 Packard Road, Ann Arbor) will be offering a chance for your teen to become more confident in the face of an emergency while babysitting.

If your teen can not attend this Saturday's session, other dates include July 14, 24, and 28. For more information and to register (cost $50) contact the Washtenaw County Red Cross Chapter at 734-971-5300.

$10 Chiropractic Exams and Adjustments for Kids

I saw this item, and although it isn't an "event" it is an inexpensive way for you to get your child a chiropractic exam and adjustment.

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, First Choice Chiropractic (4748 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor 48104) is offering exams and adjustments, by appointment, for children 12 and younger for $10 on Saturdays. All proceeds benefit Ann Arbor’s SafetyTown program.

For more information call First Choice Chiropractic 734-434-1100

June 28, 2010

Breakfast on The Farm

I took my family to a "Breafast on the Farm" this morning - It was the perfect way to start a day, and a great celebration of Michigan agriculture.

June 22, 2010

Free Kids Health Fair

FREE ALERT!

I just got the heads up on this fun free family event. Tomorrow June 23, 2010 from 12:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. the first 250 children can get free camp & sports physicals, immunizations, and a dental screening  in a fun family carnival atmosphere with face painting, games, prizes, treats and more! The first 200 children even get a free bike helmet too!

Packard Health

3174 Packard Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

For more information contact 734-971-1073 or info@packardhealth.org.

June 20, 2010

Fun Golf Ball Projects for a Happy Father's Day!

I was looking for something fun for the kids to do for my husband this past week. The project had to incorporate cheap golf balls and had to be easy enough for the kids to do on their own. When I was a kid in Brownies, I remember making my dad a golf ball dog...

http://www.freewoodpuzzles.com/golfballdog.html

No that would require my assistance.  We made a golf ball snowman Christmas ornament sometime in my childhood too...

https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/golf-ball-snowman

But again that either required drilling holes or a lot of glue and dexterity...  Family Fun Magazine had a cute golf ball mobile...


But as timely as it was, it was only "golf ball themed" project and not made from reall balls - Although my mom once cut balls in half for a project, it would still require my assistance!

And then it hit me - I had many colorful Sharpie Markers, two boxes of gently used golf balls (the only type my husband will actually USE) and rubber gloves.  So why not allow the kids to create custom designed golf balls?  It wouldn't effect the way the balls performed, it would require very little of my assistance to create and better yet...


It took the kids more than two hours to create. I was able to get a few things done, they could create their own masterpieces and I only had to oversee and give suggestions for the designs! 

We very rarely get a real thumbs up from our custom created projects - Oh who am I kidding, it's like pulling teeth to generate excitement from my husband OR father - however my husband, father and father-in-law LOVED the idea of these custom designed golf balls! Actually I think they're afraid to use and loose their new balls now...

June 19, 2010

FREE Breakfast on the Farm

FREE ALERT!

I first heard about this event when I signed my son up for scouting for next fall - In the newsletter it read "Breakfast on the Farm" I didn't think anything more about it, and THEN I saw more about the family event on AnnArbor.com. I thought "Hmmm, there must be something more to this than I imagined." And there is.

The Washtenaw County Michigan State University Extension program is offering this free program on Saturday, June 26, in Manchester from 9:00 a.m. until noon.  The family fun event will feature products grown and processed in Michigan and serve up a whole lot of fun including a free breakfast!

Kids can:

• Pet a calf!
• See a modern-day milking parlor in action!
• Discover how farmers take care of their animals!
• See big farm equipment!
• Find out what crops are grown in Michigan!
• Eat breakfast with a farmer!

There will even be free Michigan-made ice cream, too (hey it's a milk product, so why CAN'T we eat it at breakfast!?).

The event is hosted by Horning Farms (11834 E. Pleasant Lake Rd., Manchester, MI). For more information on the event, be sure to visit the program website http://www.breakfastonthefarm.com/ or contact the
Washtenaw County Michigan State University Extension office at 734-997-1678. 

The dairy farm tour and all activities are free, however tickets are required to eat breakfast, so be sure to get your free tickets to breakfast on the Farm!

June 18, 2010

Get Dad a Fun FREE Father's Day Gift

FREE ALERT!

Walgreens is offering free 8x10 collage prints now through Satruday June 19 - Just in time to put together a great Father's Day gift for FREE. Nothing says lovin' like a dad's family smiling back at him while he's toiling away at work!
To get your free 8X10 collage, go to the Walgreen's website, create your collage then enter "GOBIG8X10" at checkout. You might even decide to print extra copies for the grandparent's too!

*As an added bonus, if you are new to signing up for Walgreen's online, you can get an additional 25 prints for FREE!

June 17, 2010

Festivals and Celebrations: Enjoy Ann Arbor Area Fireworks Displays!

Looking at the calendar reminds me of the fast approaching festivals, holidays and FIREWORKS - I'm certainly not the only person beginning to plan which displays of pyrotechniques my family and I will be attending. Since that is likely the case, I thought to create a list of Ann Arbor area fireworks displays for the coming weeks through the Fourth of July weekend:


Friday June 18

5th Annual Hamburg Family Fun Fest
Also on Saturday, June, 19
Fireworks at 10:00 p.m.
Located 20 minutes north of Ann Arbor at East Bennett Park, Hamburg, MI
Admission: Free

Saturday June 19

Canton 2010 Liberty Fest
Fireworks at 10:15 p.m.
Located 20 minutes east of Ann Arbor in Heritage Park, Canton, MI
Admission: Free

Monday June 21

Detroit River Days Festival and Target Fireworks
Fireworks at 10:06 p.m.
Rain Date: Tuesday, June 22
Located in Downtown Detroit, Hart Plaza on the Detroit River
Admission: Free

Friday July 2

The Lake Shore Family Festival Fireworks
Also Saturday, July 3
Fireworks at dusk/10:15 p.m.
Located in Ypsilanti over Ford Lake
Admission: See website | Discount tickets are available at many Ypsilanti area businesses.

Saturday July 3

Manchester Fireworks Display
Fireworks at dusk
Located 30 minutes south west of Ann Arbor in Carr Park / 600 W. Main Street, Manchester, MI
Admission: Donations appreciated

Hudson Mills Metropark Fireworks
Fireworks at 10:00 p.m.
Located 20 minutes west of Ann Arbor at 8801 North Territorial Road, Dexter, MI
Admission: $5 Vehicle entry permit

Sunday July 4

Willow Metropark
Fireworks at 10:00 p.m.
Located 25 minutes east of Ann Arbor at 17845 Savage Road, Belleville, MI
Admission: $5 Vehicle entry permit

June 9, 2010

Another Year for: Kids Bowl FREE

Last summer, whenever we had nasty weather, I was blessed that I was able to take my kids to a local bowling alley in Canton AND Ann Arbor for FREE.  This accomodated our otherwise limited budget quite well! This year, the kids Bowl FREE program is back - Check it out at http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/!

The bowling alleys in the Ann Arbor area that are participating so far include:

ANN ARBOR:
Bel-Mark Lanes - 3530 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor (734) 994-8433
Colonial Lanes - 1950 S. Industrial Highway, Ann Arbor (734) 665-4474
 
BELLEVILLE:

Lodge Lanes - 46255 I-94 S Service Dr., Belleville (734) 697-9178
 
CANTON:

Super Bowl - 45100 Ford Road, Canton (734) 459-6070
 
YPSILANTI:

Ypsi-arbor Lanes - Washtenaw Road, Ypsilanti (734) 434-1110

The program runs until August 31, 2010 and allows kids to bowl 2 free games per day!