May 29, 2014

Incentivizing Summer Reading Programs

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

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

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

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

May 16, 2014

Ann Arbor Skatepark Grand Opening

Save the date - The new Ann Arbor Skatepark will have it's grand opening on June 21! The 30,000-square-foot facility located at Veterans Memorial Park (2150 Jackson Road) will be free for the public to use. Skateboarders will enjoy features such as kidney pools from 5 to 9.5 feet deep, a snake run, clover and flow bowls, rock ride, and a slappy curb.

The grand opening celebration will include a ribbon cutting ceremony, contests, demonstrations from pro skaters, music, vendors and more! For more information on this free event, be sure to stay tuned on or on the Ann Arbor Parks Facebook Page.

Ann Arbor Skatepark Grand Opening
Saturday, June 21, 2014
 11:00 a.m., Ribbon cutting ceremony and remarks
Noon-6:00 p.m., Skateboarding contests, lessons, music, vendors and more
2:00 p.m., Professional Skateboard demonstration

May 15, 2014

Summer Camp Open House at Peachy Fitness

Here is a head's up on a summer camp open house from my friends at Peachy Fitness.Zaini is opening a new studio and the camp open house on June 14 will allow your kids (Ages 3-12 years) to try Zumba, Yoga & Dance for free. Be sure to stop by 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. to check out the opportunity plus all of the fun and deals!

For more information be sure to visit the Peachy Fitness website!

May 11, 2014

Family Friendly Film Series: My Neighbor Totoro

The Michigan Theater (603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor) is hosting a free movies for kids 12 & under on May 18 at 1:30 p.m.

My Neighbor Totoro follows Satsuke and Mei, two young girls who find that their new country home is in a mystical forest inhabited by a menagerie of mystical creatures called Totoros. They befriend O Totoro, the biggest and eldest Totoro, who is also the king of the forest. As their girls’ mother lies sick in the hospital, O Totoro brings the sisters on a magical adventure but also helps them to understand the realities of life.

Tickets are free for children 12 & under, $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, students, older children and teens. This movie is rated G.

May 10, 2014

New Cub Scout Daycamp in Ypsilanti

Do you have a boy finishing kindergarten? Considering joining Cub Scouts next fall? Then  attending the NEW Cub Scout summer day camp would be an exceptional introduction to scouting.

This year, day camp is back for a week filled with fun as scouts enjoy a Knights of the Roundtable experience like no other. The camp is conveniently located too. On June 25-27, boys can join in the fun at the Washtenaw Sportsman's Club (Ypsilanti). Registration is now open so don't wait. Fees increase June 1!

I volunteered at the camp a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact I will be back this year leading the nature and weather stations! Your son will have a great time experiencing shooting sports (archery, BB Guns & wrist rockets), completing scout skills, skits & songs,making some fun craft projects and even experiencing a gigantic slingshot. Believe me you won't want to miss the sling-shot it's pretty cool. 

May 9, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend Events Round-Up

Happy Mother's Day from one Ann Arbor mom to another!
I wanted to wish all the wonderful Ann Arbor Mom's a fabulous Mother's Day. May you each get a fantastic breakfast in bed, a few extra minutes of quiet coffee, time to take a leisurely bath or whatever it is you wish for the most. Mostly though, I hope each of you take a few moments for yourself!

For the rest of the weekend though, let's see what events are happening around town!
Friday, May 9:

Attention all Ann Arbor Moms, tonight would be a great night to drop your kids at "Kidz Night Out" with Bricks 4 Kidz (Ages 5-12 - Ann Arbor Senior Center, 1320 Baldwin. $30/$25 for siblings). at 6:00 p.m. Kids will enjoy a variety of craft activities, games, challenges, and open play using motorized Lego sets, plus get pizza, dessert, juice & water. 

After dropping them off, head down to Ladies Night Out starting at 5:00 p.m. Many of the stores and restaurants in Downtown Ann Arbor will be having in-store specials and activities. Be sure to pick up your Ladies Night Passport too - Filling it out will enter you in drawing for a prize package worth over $3,000! The first 1,200 shoppers will also receive a fun, flashing light up ring and with a purchase of  $25 or more you can get free parking.

Saturday, May 10:

Is it time for the kids to Touch a Truck or perhaps swim during Safety Day at Goldfish Swim School? There are plenty of crafts for Mother's Day at Whole Foods (10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.) and the Ann Arbor District Library and Ypsilanti District Library. Although some of the free events require pre-registration so be sire to check the library websites.

For non-Mother's Day activities there is Nature Fun for Kids (2:30 p.m.) at County Farm Park for kids ages 4-7, free dinosaur tours, planetarium shows, and family history day at the Ypsilanti District Library at 11:00 a.m.

Sunday, May 11:

On Sunday perhaps a stop at the Domino's Farm Petting Zoo is in your near future, they are now open 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. You should also consider checking out the Hands-on DNA science demo at the UM Museum of Natural History at 11:00 a.m. If you wanted to get out and about I heard about a great Mother's Day Wildflower Hike at the Leslie Science & Nature Center (1:00-2:30 p.m.)

Regardless of what you choose to do, please enjoy your weekend plans, take some time for yourself and be sure to leave time in your weekend planner for YOUR mom!

Free Safety Day at Goldfish Swim School

Swim safely this summer after attending the Safety Day at
Goldfish Swim School Ann Arbor, May 10, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Swim season will be here before you know it, which means parents everywhere will get nervous when their children get near the water. This Saturday, May 10, the Goldfish Swim School (2107 West Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor) will help parents breathe a sigh of relief as the third annual Safety Day happens.
Saturday May 10th from 2pm-4pm is Safety Day! The event includes open swim, a bounce house, hot dogs, snow cones, airbrush tattoos, and MUCH more!

This is a FREE event for the public. F
rom 2:00-4:00 p.m. parents can take their kids to a free safety day
that will include open swim, The Washtenaw County Marine Safety Division, a bounce house, airbrush tattoos, and much more fun.

Touch-a-Truck Event for the Kids

Saturday May 10, 9:00 a.m.-noon, at Ypsilanti Community High School where children of all ages can check out the "Touch a Truck" event.

Touch-a-Truck is a free event in Ypsilanti
that allows kids to check out trucks of all types sizes! 
This free event is sponsored by Washtenaw Success by 6 and provides kids an opportunity to see, touch and learn about dozens of cool vehicles. From fire trucks to motorcycles, cement trucks to police cars, to UPS trucks to garbage trucks and school buses and everything in between...

In addition, many local organizations will be in attendance helping families find information about Ann Arbor preschool opportunities, childcare and health services available in the community. The Mobile Learning Program will even be there with free crafts.

Year-over-year thousands of families in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti attend this enjoyable free event - The new location this year promises to be even bigger and better. So be sure to get out and get "touchy".

Lemonaid Day Detroit

My kids love setting up a lemonade stand in the summer. OK specifically they LOVE the idea of making money selling lemonade. Sadly though, our neighborhood is fairly quiet so they get little to no traffic. Lemonade Day though might just change all of that.

What's Lemonade Day? It's an opportunity for your kids to run their own business!

Kids will learn invaluable business skills, and even get a fun (and free) workbook to help them build their business plan. Doesn't that sound like a great opportunity for your kid? To learn more about Lemonade Day or to sign your child up, find them online at

Now I just have to help my children secure the best location for their lemonade stand!!! 

May 1, 2014

Safety Town: Perfect Beginner Kids Camp Experience

The summer before both children entered Kindergarten, each of my children were enrolled in a right-of-passage. Safety Town. Honestly, if it is not a right-of-passage it should be. The valuable program, geared for children 4-1/2-6, helps develop learn safety awareness in a fun and entertaining way.

Safety Town programs teach children skills for life! Programs often teach
bike safety, fire safety and stranger danger as well as many other life skills.
We attended the Lincoln Consolidated School Safety Town program. I found it to be an exceptionally cost-effective all day camp program for my children.

Each day they focused on being safe in a scenario - Fire safety, safety while playing near power lines, bike safety, stranger danger, pool safety and so much more. My children especially loved the miniature town they experienced during bike safety and both enjoyed being in the "house" that filled with smoke, allowing them to experience what it might be like to be in a house fire. The year my son went the pool unexpectedly closed down, so instead of swimming the fire department used their hoses for some water-time fun.

 Think this might not be the right lesson for your child? Know that both of my children have been able to help someone when they needed help. My 6 year-old daughter performed the Heimlich maneuver on a choking child and when we found a burning house in our neighborhood my 9 year old helped call 9-1-1 and knock on neighbors doors to have them get to safety. These are very valuable lessons that help set your child's educational future in mode.

Many of the Safety Town programs are low-cost or offer scholarships for families needing assistance too, so don't let that be the stopper.

This summer sign your child up for a Safety Town program near you. Below I have provided links to many of the area Safety Town programs for your consideration.

Ann Arbor Safety Town
9:00 am. - noon
June 23-27, July 7-11, July 14-18 and July 21-25
Cost: $89
Extend the day by combining it with summer day camp for all day programing 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.  Cost $249

Lincoln Consolidated (Ypsilanti) Safety Town
Not yet listed for 2014

Plymouth/Canton Safety Town
Not yet listed for 2014
Milan Area Safety Town 
1:00-3:30 p.m. M-Th
August 4-14
Cost $60

Chelsea Safety Town
8:30-11:00 a.m. or noon-2:30 p.m.
June 16-20
Cost $60

Dexter Safety Town
June 16-26 and July 14-24 M-Th
9:00-11:00 a.m., noon-2:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Cost: $80