March 30, 2012

Weekend Events Round-Up: March 30-April 1

It's the weekend before Easter. Many of the area's schools have released the kids for spring break. So  NOW you are starting to think about things to do, events and activities for the kids.

While the weekend planner looks a bit on the light side, there is still plenty to do in Ann Arbor with kids. Between the many area Egg Hunts, including the one at Hudson Mills on Sunday, spring story time programs, free movies at the local Quality Theaters or Festifools in downtown Ann Arbor on Sunday there's something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Saturday, March 31:
Sunday, April 1:
  • Take the family to check out a free movie! See Yogi Bear during the Free Movie weekend at local Quality Theatres, Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m.
  • Don't forget that Physicspalooza hits the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum this weekend
  • Maybe the timing is right to take your little guy (or gal) to a guided dinosaur tour at the UM Museum of Natural History. The free tours happen on weekends at 2:00 p.m.
  • Feel free to stop by and create something crafty during the Festifools Crafts program at Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth Ave. Ann Arbor) at 2:00 p.m.
  • Join the FestiFoolishness at the FestiFools parade on Ann Arbor's Main Street at 4:00 p.m. The kids will enjoy the giant puppets, music and activities.
If your kids are off next week for spring break, a list of daily activities is available on the Ann Arbor Spring Break Planner too.

March 29, 2012

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum’s Physicspalooza

This weekend, March 31-April 1, the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum (220 East Ann St., Ann Arbor) is hosting Physicspalooza. Youth and teens that avisit will learn about motion, gravity, light and magnetic power as well as using electromagnets to pick up paperclips and make rainbows with prisms. You'll even get to make and play with flubber! All the wonderful things to do, while exploring all of the aspects of physics.
The event Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon - 4:00 p.m. will be free with regular admission to the museum ($10 for ages two and up). For more information about the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum’s Physicspalooza,visit:

Report Card Blues From Your Child's Math Grades?

Has your child’s most recent report card sent shivers down your spine? Need to improve several grades before the end of the school year? Does “new math” send you running for the door? Fear not, help is on the way from Mathnasium of Ann Arbor (2111 Packard Rd, Ann Arbor).

Mathnasium, teaches kids math the way that makes sense to them - Which is not always intuitive for parents! Theirs curriculum has helped thousands of students nationwide including my two children.  My kids have actually gained knowledge beyond their classroom expectations by attending some classes at Mathnasium. This tutoring means that I can sit back and relax and not worry as much, because frankly some of the new math they bring home, makes me feel inadequate.
On a recent stop to Mathnasium, Vera the co-owner, showed me some pretty impressive information. Charts where student after student had significantly improved their math grades after attending classes. Some students saw this improvement in as little as three months!
This sample is of a third grade student that had a 27% overall improvement after
three months of math tutoring at Mathnasium of Ann Arbor.
What really works for my children is the positive reinforcement within the program. My children actually look forward to attending. And of course, the ultimate proof of success is in the ability and confidence your child exudes and the increased math score that you will see. Be sure to stop by Mathnasium of Ann Arbor and ask to see some of the student scores and testimonials, you'll be glad you did. Your commitment to your children, to help them catch up, keep up, and get ahead in math will be well worth the visit!

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March 28, 2012

New "Critter House" Weekend Hours at the Leslie Science & Nature Center

My son enjoying a recent outing to the Leslie Science and Nature Center
I was very excited to read the other day that the "Critter House" at the Leslie Science and Nature Center (1831 Traver Rd., Ann Arbor) has added weekend hours for families to enjoy! From rabbits to rats, iguanas to turtles the “Critter House,” will now be open Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Families can enjoy the animals, ask questions, and take part in different hands on activities every weekend. And the best part is, that the activity is MOSTLY free! The LSNC is only suggesting a $1.00 donation for your visit.
Stay the entire day and walk in the woods, walk  the Black Pond Trail, or view the raptors being fed (Saturday's from 4:00-6:00 p.m.). So come on out and see the critters, throw a Frisbee, or enjoy lunch around our picnic tables.

March 27, 2012

Learn to Read With Circus Vowels: Product Review & Give-Away

A couple of weeks ago, local author and school teacher Jodi L. McMaster, gave me two copies of her new book Circus Vowels: The Long and the Short of It - One to read and the second to give away to one lucky Ann Arbor Mom reader. Read on for information about the book, my book review, where you can purchase the book Circus Vowels and how you can win your own signed copy!
Win a signed copy of the book Circus Vowels: The Long and the Short of It
My children and I really did enjoy reading the Circus Vowels book! As the title suggests, it's a story about the alphabet vowels visiting the circus, what they encounter when they get there and how their behaviour, good or bad, affects their sibling vowels. Basically though, the story illustrates how each vowel has a characteristic sound in certain grammatical situations.

The book has a simple, engaging story, but what I especially liked was that I can help my children remember how vowels might sound, by remembering the story. It has proven as helpful to my kindergarten student that is just beginning to read, as it has to my second grader who still struggles to remember grammar rules.  I also appreciated that the back of the book includes several pages of simple activities to re-enforce what was just read and learned about.
"A, E, I, O and U are very confusing letters, which we call vowels. Sometimes they yell their own names, sometimes they say their very quiet sounds, and sometimes they don't say anything at all!"
The book is probably best for children in pre-school through second grade as they are learning to read. It also makes a wonderful tool to help young developing readers to remember the grammar rules.

So grandma or grandpa, moms and dads, be sure to get your own copy of Circus Vowels:The Long and the Short of It for your home library, or considering buying and donating a copy to your child's favorite teacher or the school library. It would make an excellent book to have in your library "learning toolbox"! You can buy Circus Vowels: The Long and the Short of It on Amazon for 10.

Would you like to win a free copy of Circus Vowels?

Leave a comment below about your favorite vowel sound. (I like the short "i" in Spring!) One lucky winner will be chosen from a random drawing of all entries submitted before April 12, at midnight! An autographed copy of the book will be mailed to the winner the next day.

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Recycle Ann Arbor Earth Day Video Contest

Is your teen passionate about recycling? Recycle Ann Arbor, is asking teens in grades 6-8 to enter the 2012 Earth Day Video Contest. Students are encouraged to create a video on “Why I Recycle.”
The first-prize winner will receive a $500 U.S. savings bond, and a free recycling workshop for their class. Four honorable mention awards will also be given, each honorable mention winner will receive a $50 gift certificate for Nicola’s Books. Videos should be no longer than three minutes, and should be received by March 30.

March 23, 2012

Weekend Events Round-Up: March 23-25

After a record setting weather week in Ann Arbor, local families are likely to be bummed about the impending cooler weather and rain, but fear not, there are still lots of free events and activities for the kids! What are you doing in Ann Arbor with kids this weekend?  Are you heading to the Lego Brickbash? Hopping over to Briarwood Mall? Taking your teens to see the Hunger Games? Are you going to be busy?

 Friday, March 23:
  • From 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. today, the kids can hop on over to Briarwood Mall to celebrate the release of "Hop". The mall will be giving away plus bunnies from "Hop" throughout the day. The free event will also feature crafts, games, and more goodies for the kids! 
  • Do you have a Hunger Games fan in the family? Be sure to take your teen (Grade 5-12) to the Hunger Games party at the Dexter District Library (3255 Alpine St., Dexter) at 4:00 p.m.
  • After dinner be sure to take the kids to the Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) to see Mr. Eric sing and play guitar during his free concert for preschoolers and kids through grade 3. Eric Litwinis a New York Times bestselling author of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. He is also a national award winning musician. Eric is a guitar-strumming, book-writing, harmonica-blowing, banjo-picking, song-singing, award-winning, folksy, fun type of guy! The concert begins at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 24:
  • For a rainy Saturday, there is nothing better than seeing a free movie! See Alvin & The Chipmunks Chipwrecked during the Free Movie weekend at local Quality Theatres, Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m.
  • The March 24 Lowe's Build and Grown Clinic building clinic for kids features a fun "Art Station" if you are luckily enough to have pre-registered. The free kids building clinic starts at 10:00 a.m.
  • The Grange Jr. Makers program happens only once a month on the third Saturday of the month at 10:00 a.m.
  • Lego fans will go crazy over Brickbash 2012 from 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. where thousands of Lego's and Lego displays will be available!
  • Ann Arbor Mom Facebook fans have the heads-up on this, however Briarwood Mall is hosting a free health fair and Teddy Bear Clinic from noon-4:00 p.m. Saturday.
  • Do the kids wanna get crafty? Be sure to stop by Michael's Crafts for Craft Month. From 1:00-3:00 p.m. kids can make a cute little frog and at 2:00 p.m., teens can make a custom designed and cut t-shirt! Free crafts are the best!
  • Let your teen cut-loose while they design their own Cut T-shirt at the Ypsilanti District Library (229 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti) at 2:00 p.m. Bring your own t-shirt for this free event or use whatever YDL has available!
  • Older kids, tweens and teens (ages 7-18) can also Decorate a Cupcake Ypsilanti District Library (8975 MacArthur Blvd., Superior Township)  2:00 p.m. as a yummy treat!
  • It's another Hunger Games Party in celebration of the movie's opening weekend. This time the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti) gets into the action at 3:00 p.m. Expect a book discussion about this wonderful book!
Sunday, March 25:
Anyone that NOT interested in seeing the Hunger Games and wants to rent out their teens should contact me immediately! :) I read the book and am ready for the movie...

There is a lot ramping up this year too, so watch for the post about spring break activities for the kids, of course there is always the Ann Arbor summer camp and daycamp list for those planning ahead and the list of Egg Hunts and Easter Events!

March 20, 2012

Kids Night at The Original Cottage Inn Ann Arbor

Kids eat free during Kid's Night at The Original Cottage Inn
Ann Arbor Monday's 5:00-8:00 p.m.
I was just turned onto this by a friend…

Did you know that The Original Cottage Inn in downtown Ann Arbor (512 E. William, Ann Arbor) recently started offering Kids Night? Each Monday from 5:00-8:00 p.m. the kids can enjoy some crafts, the "create-your-own-cupcake" station, and of course kids eat free! It’s a nice way for mom and dad to relax while their children are entertained.

March 15, 2012

Early Spring Hike at Leonard Preserve

This time of the year may be unpredictable weather-wise, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and get the family outside.

This weekend you have the perfect opportunity (and perfect weather) to do so too, with a hike through the Leonard Preserve. Join a Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation naturalist this Sunday, March 18 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. to head out into nature to identify shrubs, trees and try spotting early spring greens. Wear appropriate clothing though, including boots and shoes that may get wet and muddy!

March 14, 2012

Free Cone Day at DQ

DQ Free Cone Day is
March 20, 2012
When the weather hit 70 yesterday, I had to take the kids to swing by Dairy Queen. OK I suppose I didn't HAVE to, however as we drove by I thought "oooh, they're open!" So we stopped for our first ice cream cone of the season. And that's when my son noticed it - the sign that read "Free Cone Day!"

"Look mom, our ice cream is FREE!"

I explained that actually Free Cone Day wasn't for a few days yet, but he's already determined to get his free ice cream cone!

The details:

In celebration of spring, participating Dairy Queen locations are offering Free Cone Day on March 20, 2012. Of course there is a catch – A donation for the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital is much appreciated in exchange for your freebie!

So take the kids to do the DQ for their own free ice cream cone.

Ann Arbor area DQ locations:

Dairy Queen - 1805 Packard Street, Ann Arbor
Dairy Queen - 2430 West Stadium Boulevard, Ann Arbor
Dairy Queen - 400 East Michigan Ave., Saline
Dairy Queen - 101 East Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
Dairy Queen - 1801 Washtenaw Ave., Ypsilanti
Dairy Queen - 8041 Main St., Dexter
Dairy Queen - 266 North Canton Center Rd., Canton

March 9, 2012

Weekend Event Round Up: March 9-11

Whether it is heading out with the family to make and enjoy some maple syrup, seeing a free movie (Diary of Wimpy Kid Welcome to the Next Grade) at local Goodrich Quality Theatres, walking among the dinosaurs that are visiting in Novi at the Discover the Dinosaur event or taking the kids to one of the many storytimes throughout the area, there is something for the youngest family members to the pickiest teen!

Friday, March 9:

3:30 p.m. Teens can join their friends or make new friends during Teen Gaming at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti).

7:00 p.m. Check out the owls during the Owl Prowl at the Leslie Science and Nature Center. Cost: $8/advance, $10/at the door or $30/family in advance or $38/family at the door. . There is a family rate of $30 in advance and $38 at the door.

Saturday, March 10:
10:00 a.m. It's a free science workshop for the entire family at the UM Natural History Museum and throughout the day at many local libraries including the Ann Arbor District Library, Dexter District Library and the Ypsilanti District Library.

10:00 a.m. There will many great activities at the grand opening for the new Lamaze Family Center in Ann Arbor.
11:00 a.m. Everything is more fun in a museum, especially storytime. Children 4-7 are invited to hear a story in UMMA galleries bringing art to life.

2:00 p.m. Kids 5-12 will get a chance to get creative when they decorate their own diary at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti)

2:00 p.m. Learn a little about animation and how the earliest cartoons were created during a Flip Book Animation program at the Ypsilanti District Library (8975 MacArthur Blvd., Ypsilanti).

3:00 p.m. Teens in grades 6+ will enjoy making their own lip at the Ann Arbor District Library (Malletts Creek Branch). Everyone will go home with a sample to keep and a kit to make more!

7:00 p.m. Check out the owls during the Owl Prowl at the Leslie Science and Nature Center. Cost: $8/advance, $10/at the door or $30/family in advance or $38/family at the door. . There is a family rate of $30 in advance and $38 at the door.

Sunday, March 11:

12:00 and 3:00 p.m. Teens in grades 6+ can make their own jewelry during the Mosaic Jewelry Workshop Sunday at the Ann Arbor District Library (Pittsfield Branch). All supplies will be provided during this free event.

2:00 p.m. Have you ever seen an "altered book"? Kids 8-12 can create their own altered book at the Chelsea District Library (221 S. Main St., Chelsea). Simply rescue an old book and stamp, collage, paint, embellish . . . do anything you like, and your book takes on a whole new personality! All materials are provided free for the event.

I've started putting together my spring break list for families staying in Ann Arbor those weeks in April. If you have an event or camp you'd like listed, be sure to contact me at tmayrend at gmail dot com!

March 8, 2012

Lamaze Family Center of Ann Arbor Grand Opening

We had just moved to the area when I was pregnant with my second child and one of the best things I did was to find the Lamaze Family Center Ann Arbor (2855 Boardwalk, Ann Arbor -  next to One on One Athletic Club). I was able to take prenatal yoga which was a huge Godsend!

Are you expecting a child to be part of your family? If so, you might want to visit the Lamaze Family Center Ann Arbor this Saturday during their Grand Opening Celebration. From 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. families can check out all the center has to offer for families including infant classes and playgroups for toddlers.

The new spacious and sunny new location to sample some of its newest program offerings, meet the educators and staff, and enjoy a choice of active family time in the morning or pampering time just for mom in the afternoon. The Grand Opening Celebration features a schedule jam-packed with fun activities for the whole family.

Key activities being featured free during the day include programs for families and moms-to-be:

· Signing Smart Baby Sign Language with Kathy Brady 10:00 a.m.
· The Art of Roughhousing with Anthony DeBenedet 11:00 a.m.
· Robinsongs Music Together with Robin Robinson 12:00 p.m.
· Car Seat Safety/Baby Wearing Mini-workshop by The Little Seedling 1:15p.m.
· Infant CPR Basics with Jody Hughes 2:00 p.m.
· Prenatal Yoga with Marlene McGrath 3:00 p.m.
· Parent-Toddler Playtime 10:00 a.m. - noon
· Creating Tiles for the Children’s Wall 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
· Prenatal and Family Portraiture with Cheryl Hall Photography 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
· Pampering Bliss with Ulta 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
· Mini-Massage and Relaxation Treatments with Barb Lindberg 12:30 - 4:00 p.m.

March 5, 2012

Magic Treehouse Event at Nicola's Books

Join Jack and Annie LIVE when they visit Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor
for the Passport to Adventure! A Magic Tree House Live Reading Tour. 
Last year when my son got into first grade his teacher introduced him to the Magic Tree House book series.  For a mom of a boy who hates reading this was a precious gift - They were books he WANTED to read, or in the very least sit with mom to read! I suppose that's why I was excited to hear about the “Passport to Adventure! A Magic Tree House Live Reading Tour” coming to Nicola's Books (2513 Jackson Avenue, Ann Arbor 48103) next Monday, March 12 at 6:00 p.m.

It's the second annual Magic Tree House event at Nicola's Books; Expect the characters from Mary Pope Osborne’s beloved Magic Tree House series visit the children live and in-person. Fans will enjoy Jack and Annie’s magical traveling adventures through a live, theatrical performance with songs based on the bestselling Magic Tree House series. Events will also include cool giveaways, and an official Jack and Annie “book stamping.”

Ann Arbor Mom Facebook Fans got a heads up on this free event a few weeks back. Would you like to be in the know??? Join the Ann Arbor Mom on Facebook for fun facts, events and freebies.

Brick Bash for Lego Enthusiasts of All Ages

Brick Bash 2012 in Ann Arbor should be lots of fun so be
sure to add it to your calendar!
Do you have a Lego lover in the family? Then this free event will be perfect for you! Be sure to add it to your calendar.

On Saturday, March 24 at 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. at the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, thousands of Lego's will be available for play at Brick Bash. Brick Bash is a free LEGO-building exhibition with lots of LEGO-related things to see and do. there will be hands-on fun in piles of LEGO bricks, educational projects, and amazing creations built by hobbyists from around the country.

For more information on the event, be sure to check out Bricks for Brains Ann Arbor on Facebook.

March 2, 2012

Weekend Events Round-Up: March 2-4

Mild weather means families throughout Ann Arbor can start getting out and about. With that in mind there are lots of great activities happening.

Make your own Cat In The Hat Pencil Cup Holder
at Michael's free craft event Friday night.

Friday, March 2:

4:00-6:00 p.m. Head over to Michael's for a crafty bookmark and Dr. Seus pencil cup holder.

Saturday, March 3:

11:00 a.m. Teens can stop by the Ypsilanti District Library to learn a new craft during the Amigurumi Club

11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Kids can learn about science and the pitutatory gland furing the free science workshop at the U-M Natural History Museum.

11:00 a.m. Jazz Jam Jr. hits the Chelsea District Library (221 S. Main St., Chelsea) where kids can   Listen to a jazz story, improvise jazz riffs and rhythms, enjoy refreshments, and step into the colorful world of this important American art form.  The free program targets several age groups with programs for kids age 3-5 at 11:00 a.m. and a program for kids age 6-9 at noon.

4:00 p.m. Do you have a budding entertainer on your hands, kids and teens can participate in Kid's Open Stage at Oz Music (1920 Packard St., Ann Arbor) the first Saturday of every month a 4:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 4:

1:00 p.m. Teens can come to the Comic Artist Forum at the Ann Arbor District Library (343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor) to draw, learn, share and get some fresh ideas for your next comics or graphic novel creation. Drawing supplies will be provided. 

1:30 p.m. Kids 12 and under can see a free movie at the Michigan Theatre (603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor) during the Family Friendly Film Series where Rango is being shown.

2:00 p.m. What do mammals have in common with fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds?  Find out when taking the family to the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center & Waterloo Recreation Area for the hands-on interactive program Science Alive. Learn about live animals from each of these groups, the characteristics they share and the differences that set them apart. The cost is $2/person or $5/family. Advance registration is requested at 734-475-3170.

3:00 p.m. Kids can learn about science and the pitutatory gland furing the free science workshop at the U-M Natural History Museum.

For parents that are beginning to consider summer camp options for their kids, I have begun updating the Ann Arbor summer camp and daycamp list too! I'm looking for quotes from parents on camps they love and updates on camps too.

March 1, 2012

March is National Craft Month: Getting Crafty With Kids!

I have always loved crafts. It seems I have passed along that special gene too as my kids love doing craft projects. Between the three of us my husband is out 2-3 closets in the basement that are filled with supplies; It's basically a craft store in our basement!

This month your kids can enjoy many free crafting events including Craft Month at Michael's and for the serious crafter at Crafts 2000 (15312 South Dixie Highway, Monroe MI).  If you've never been to the Crafts 2000 discount outlet you are missing out big-time!
During National Craft Month be sure to check out the many free events in
Ann Arbor for the kids, teens and tots in your life!

March 2: Kids can create a colorful bookmark at Michael's Crafts from 4:00-6:00 p.m. for Read Across America, there is also a free Make-it, Take-it Dr. Seuss Pencil Cup Holder for ages 3+. it's free while supplies last!

March 2-3: March maskness hits at Crafts 2000 too where kids can make a cool Mardi Gras mask for free from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

March 3: With many kids beginning their science fair projects, be sure to stop in at Michael's at 3:00 p.m. for the My First Science Fair demo!  The amigurumi club for teens at the Ypsilanti District Library at 11:00 a.m. might be a fun way to learn a new craft.

March 10: From 1:00-3:00 p.m., take the kids to learn to make a t-shirt tote bag at Michael's. This would be a great idea to implement on all of their old-outgrown t-shirts after too! The project is free with the purchase of a t-shirt. This event is for kids ages 3+. Stay in the store a little longer too to have the kids make a free yarn doll from 3:00-5:00 p.m. What about decorating a "diary"? Kids can do that at the Ypsilanti District Library at 2:00 p.m.

March 10-11: For your favorite Girl Scout, head to a fun pin swap at Crafts 2000 where the girls can make and take OR trade the fun, cool pins that they are creating for free. The event runs 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. throughout the weekend.

March 12: Do you have a Daisy, Brownie, Junior or other Girl Scout in the family?  Be sure to stop by Michael's for a free craft demo 6:00-7:00 p.m. celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts. Girl Scout Troop Leaders should be sure to stop by too!

March 17: The amigurumi club for teens at the Ypsilanti District Library at 11:00 a.m. might be a fun way to learn a new craft. Peeps-O-Rama starts at the Ypsilanti District Library too. Kids ages 4-7 should stop by at 1:00 p.m. to make Peep "Accessories" as well as other fun projects.

March 24: From 1:00-3:00 p.m., kids ages 3+ can stop by their local Michael's stores to make a cute frog out of a purchased egg. This is a free event while supplies last. Would your teen enjoy accessorizing a t-shirt by making some cool cuts? YDL can help. Learn to make fun cuts to make a customized cut t-shirt at 2:00 p.m.

March 31: Kids can make a terra cotta butterfly from 1:00-3:00 p.m. with the purchase of a clay pot. This Michael's event is geared for kids over age 3. For children and teens a little older, Crafts 2000 has a free memory wire bracelet project 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. The amigurumi club for teens at the Ypsilanti District Library at 11:00 a.m. might be a fun way to learn a new craft.