March 31, 2014

Birdwatching for Beginners with Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation

Are your kids interested in nature? Do you look for outdoor activities and events? Do feathered friends intrigue you? Do you know a scout that might be interested in this fun, free program? Then grab your binoculars, a bottle of water and plan to have some fun as Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation and Naturalist Faye Stoner introduce the family to Birdwatching for Beginners.

Birdwatching for Beginners gets the entire family outdoors together.
Check out this free event on April 5 at Independence Lake at 9:00 a.m.




On Saturday, April 5, 9:00-11:00 a.m. at Independence Lake (3200 Jennings Rd, Whitmore Lake, MI 48189), families will enjoy an hour of slides and discussion about bird identification using field marks, habitat, behavior, and songs, followed by an hour spent outdoors practicing birdwatching skills. If you have them please bring binoculars and a field guide. This free program is suitable for kids ages 8+ and the entire family. Once in the park, plan to meet at the Beach Center Classroom. A vehicle entry fee may be required to enter the park.


For more information, visit parks.ewashtenaw.org, call 971- 6337 or email Faye.







photo credit: Daniele Zanni via photopin cc

March 26, 2014

A.L.I.C.E. Initiative for Parents

Even though this is not a program for children I felt it was an important one to share with area parents. Tomorrow night, March 27 at 6:00 p.m.at the Ypsilanti District Library (5577 Whittaker Rd., Ypsilanti 48197), Ann Arbor area parents and teachers can learn about the A.L.I.C.E. Initiative. The program provides active shooter training and awareness in the event of a school shooting.

It would be nice to think that "this will never happen" in fact it likely never will, but the scouter in me thinks it is important to "be prepared" too. Parents are encouraged to attend one of the free sessions.

The decision to provide active shooter training to all school personnel was precipitated by the Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012, other acts of school violence and school shootings across the nation. Local law enforcement professionals worked with WISD and Ann Arbor area school districts to select and implement a response method. The group adopted the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate or "A.L.I.C.E. program". Adopting this will provide tactical advantages to teachers and students to use in the event an intruder enters a school. To learn more, please attend the program tomorrow night at the Ypsilanti District Library.

For more information on the A.L.I.C.E. Initiative, contact Dr. Sarena Shivers at sshivers (at) wash.k12.mi.us.

March 25, 2014

LEGO® KidsFest in Michigan

Have you ever taken your kids to experience the LEGO® KidsFest? I hear that ticket sales are rocking and it is quite the place to be. The LEGO® KidsFest comes to Michigan April 25–27 at Novi's Suburban Collection Showplace.

The event is filled with interactive, creative and educational LEGO activities for the whole family. Stop in for hands-on educational fun for all ages with LEGO & DUPLO® Construction Zones, dozens of large-scale and miniature LEGO models and displays, LEGO Games, group builds, LEGO Master Builders, and much more!

Buy tickets today for the Michigan LEGO KidsFest. Kids 2 and under are free, Ages 2-17 and seniors $20, adult $22.

March 24, 2014

Hike at the Eddy Discovery Center This Saturday

Explore the Eddy Discovery Center (17030 Bush Rd., Chelsea, MI 48118) trails during the Harbinger Hike on Saturday March 29, 2:00-3:30 p.m. It would be an excellent way for the kids to find early signs of spring. Who knows you may even see  animal awakenings, early sprouts, and perhaps a few unorthodox blooms during this free event!

March 21, 2014

Weekend Event Round-Up: March 21-23

It has been a while since I have posted a weekend planner. This just seemed like a good weekend to share, and honestly I had a bit of time to collect the information. My daughter is excited to be off with my cousin for a weekend away - They will be crafting, seeing the new Muppet movie and sewing a dress for her to wear for book character day at school. I on the other hand want to see Divergent, will likely take my son to see the Muppet movie and will be shuttling him around to various Science Olympiad practices. I'll then end my weekend with my Brownie Troop skating at the Spectacular Scout Skate at Skatin Station. No rest for the weary here!

What are your weekend plans for this first weekend of spring? Doing anything special with the kids in Ann Arbor? If not I hope this weekend events round-up can provide some great ideas for fun!



Saturday

9:00  a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Predators and Prey at the UM Museum of Natural History

9:00 a.m. & 10:00 a.m. Free movies: Madagascar

10:00 a.m. Celebrate the 10th birthday of the AADL Malletts Creek Branch with a Happy Birthday Craft Celebration For Youth (ages 3+).  Make a three tiered paper cake with gems, tissue paper, stickers and ten candles and have a little treat.

10:00 a.m. Get crafty when visiting Michael's (3655 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor). For just $2 kids get to decorate a picture frame with felt stickers. This program runs every half hour until noon.

11:00 a.m. Get hands-on with a great snake demo at the UM Museum of Natural History (1109 Geddes Avenue Ann Arbor, MI 48109). Explore the world of snakes: How they move, how they hear and smell and what they eat. Kids will even get up close and personal with snake skin, hear like a snake, and use museum specimens to learn more. This is a free event however donations are always appreciated! Families can also attend at 3:30 p.m.

11:00 a.m. Celebrate the beginning of Spring by planting an herb garden and enjoying an ice cream float at the Ypsilanti Library (Michigan) Spring Fling free event.

11:30 a.m. Check out the stars when exploring the planetarium at the UM Natural History Museum during the "The Sky Tonight: Star Talk".  Learn about stars, constellations, planets, and telescopic objects in the current night sky. Cost is $5/person. Other planetarium shows are hourly on the half hour throughout the day.

12:00 p.m. Rainbow Loom Meet Up at Michael's crafts. Cost if $5. Register at Michael's online.

2:00 p.m. Free dinosaur tours.

2:00-4:00 p.m. Get your lab rats excited with gravity experiments during the Ypsilanti District Library (Whittaker) Library Lab Kids. This program allows kids in grades 1-6 to dive into scientific discoveries with fun, hands-on experiments. Be sure to wear old clothes for this messy lesson about gravity. Parents do need to stay to help too. Registration is required for this program by calling 482-4110 x1340 or logging onto your library account. 

3:00 p.m. Free Event. Raptor Feeding at the Leslie Science and Nature Center (1831 Traver Road Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105).

4:00 p.m. Bring your budding artist to the Drop in and Draw Kids teen event. Kids will work on drawing skills. All skill levels are welcome, all supplies are included free too.

4:00 p.m. Experience spring by creating a spring terrarium at the Eddy Discovery Center (17030 Bush Rd., Chelsea, MI 48118). Families should bring a glass container with a lid (quart to gallon size) and be ready to dig in to create a small ecosystem beautiful enough for display. This is a free event.

Sunday

9:00 a.m. & 10:00 a.m. Free movies: Madagascar

12:00 p.m. The Critter House is open at the Leslie Science & Nature Center.

2:00-3:30 p.m. The sky's the limit when your kids create their own telescope!  This Eddy Discovery Center program allows your kids to be their own little Galileo as they make their own working telescope with astronomy buff Meg Gower. The cost for this program is free to members of the Waterloo Natural History Association or $2/person or $5/family Supplies for the telescope are $8/telescope. This event is limited to creating 20 telescopes so advance registration required at by calling 734-475-3170.

2:00 p.m. Free dinosaur tours.

3:30 p.m. Hands-on snake demo at the UM Museum of Natural History.

4:00 p.m. Your budding musician will enjoy the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Family Concert "The Planets" (at the Michigan Theater) featuring music from Star Wars as well as many famous planetary musical compositions. Starting at 2:30 p.m. kids can enjoy pre-concert activities including an instrument petting zoo. There will also be a real Apollo Space suit for viewing and after the show, Astronaut Tony England will be signing autographs.Sounds like a plan that is out of this world!

March 20, 2014

Live From Australia: A Creature Conservancy Program

On Sunday, March 30, 2:00-3:00 p.m. families will enjoy visiting Australia (without the long flight) as The Creature Conservancy visits the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center. The Creature Conservancy will be bringing live animals from “down under,” including a kangaroo, a wallaby and a kookaburra. Families will have an opportunity to view these seldom-seen animals up close and learn about their habits and habitats.

Advance registration requested by calling 734-475-3170734-475-3170. The cost is free to members of the Water loo Natural History Association, $2/person or $5/family for non-members.

Predators & Prey at the UM Museum of Natural History

 On Saturday, March 22, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. families can explore the UM Museum of Natural History (Ruthven Museums Building - 1109 Geddes Ave., 48109) during a special Predators and Prey Discovery Day.

The special day-long free event at the Museum will explore the interactions of predatory animals and their prey from prehistory to today. Learn about what can fossils from India tell us about the world. Find out how humans affect predator/prey relationships. Ages 5-99 will enjoy this family event with activity stations and special guests, so be sure to stop in and explore!

Free family fun exploring the UM Museum of Natural History during
Predators and Prey Discovery Day
March 22.

March 10, 2014

Teacher from the Black Lagoon Michigan Theater: BOGO Tickets

Next Sunday, March 16, at The Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor), families can enjoy seeing The Teacher from the Black Lagoon and Other Story Books. There is even an added bonus for seeing the 1:30 p.m. show - BOGO tickets.

That's right, families can now take advantage of a special 2 for 1 offer by using the code TMN241 when purchasing tickets at ticketmaster.com.  That's admission for two to this fantastic children's theater production for just $19.95!

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon and Other Story Books is a musical revue featuring a wide variety of contemporary and classic children’s book favorites, including Teacher From the Black Lagoon, Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse, Chrysanthemum, Dogzilla, Grumpy Bird, I Want My Hat Back and Splat the Cat. This performance is best for kids in grades pre-K to 4.

Be sure to get your tickets soon, it's sure to be an enjoyable afternoon for the whole family!


March 5, 2014

Free Spring Movies

Free movies are a wonderful thing. They give us something to do when spring is muddy and gray. Weekends, through April 26 at 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., your family can enjoy free movies at local Goodrich Quality Theaters. That's 4 opportunities to see a free movie each weekend!

In Ann Arbor, that gives us a choice of two theaters for free movies this spring:

Goodrich Quality 16
3686 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor

Goodrich Canton 7
43555 Ford Road, Canton Twp.





2/28 & 3/1: The Boxtrolls 
3/7-8: Dolphin Tale 2 
3/14-15: Earth to Echo 
3/21-22: The Book of Life 
3/28-29: RIO 2 
4/4-5: Mr. Peabody and Sherman 
4/11-12: How to Train Your Dragon 2 
4/18-19: Penguins of Madagascar 
4/25-26: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb


It's hard to pass up a free show not matter how much concession stand goodies you purchase. So one of these snowy, wet or dreary late winter early spring weekends, be sure to sneak out with the kids and enjoy your free movie!





Chasing Away Winter at Castaway Bay

Castaway Bay is a great family get-away for winter break, spring break or any time throughout the year when you just need a tropical get-away near home!
With the winter we've been having I was blessed to have another opportunity to visit Castaway Bay in Sandusky Ohio a few weeks ago. My family got to get out of the cold, catch a wave, visit with Snoopy and spend quality time together enjoying a tropical weekend getaway. Best of all, Castaway Bay just a few hours away, there was no snow and it's always tropical at Castaway Bay!

As a blogger I enjoy these trips; It's been a few years since my last time at Castaway Bay visit and I was glad to go back. Even though we've been there before, I was amazed we discovered several new things about Castaway Bay this time too.

Did you know that the parrots in the lobby sing every hour? How did we miss that the last time? Also Castaway Bay has many great activities for the kids too. That would be activities in addition to being in the waterpark. This year my kids enjoyed crafts, karaoke, and a special movie. Perhaps because my children are a few years older now, I felt more comfortable letting them run down alone to activities areas too. At our last visit it was all about the waterpark.

The other new thing I learned on this trip is that the Sandusky area has several really good wineries. I don't know why that hadn't occurred to me before since I know that areas along the lake are usually perfect for growing grapes. (Like in Michigan) Since this was a blogger get-away though, we were also offered a special wine sampling program in the evening. My husband was a bit bummed to not be included in the wine sampling, but I was able to bring a fantastic bottle of Firelands wine home for him to share.

I'll have to say, not much has changed at Castaway Bay since my last review. It's a perfect place to visit no matter the weather. The rooms were immaculate, the staff was always smiling and happy to assist you, the waterpark was kept up well, there are plenty of places to dine on good food. In short, the amenities within the resort are perfect.

My one fear was easily alleviated. As my kids are getting bigger, I wondered what their thoughts on the waterpark might be. Would they still enjoy it? Was it a big enough waterpark to give them a thrill? It's not as big as some of the other resorts, so as a parent I worried about that.

The size of the waterpark is great though. I can sit back with a book if I wanted to, and easily spot my family pretty much anywhere. That means no one gets lost and mom and dad don't have the worry. There are plenty of water slides and the wave pool to occupy the older kids too. Quite honestly my nearly 10-year-old son enjoyed the weekend as much as any of the younger kids in attendance. He loved the large water slide roller coaster the best. My daughter enjoyed the entire waterpark - as long as she could get wet! Check out what the kids had to say about Castaway Bay.



"Castaway Bay was EPIC. I loved the cool water slides and everything we did. I can't wait to go back another time." ~Zach
"My favorite part was the water park and the hot tub. I was only sad I couldn't go outside in the hot tub." ~ Gabby

A note about Gabby's comment. With the snowy and cold winter, there were icicles hanging outdoors above the hot tub making it unsafe. That's why we couldn't be outside.

As I mentioned above, I felt comfortable too allowing my kids to go down to karaoke and the movie that was playing. There certainly was a lot to do during our stay - We ate well, played, visited with the Peanuts gang and relaxed in style. I'd especially like to thank Castaway Bay for the get-away and the fun beach towel craft project for the kids. My kids now have a fun souvenir reminder of their stay. They especially appreciated the welcome basket from Lake Erie Shores & Islands too! And I of course appreciated the blogger wine tasting and bottle of wine from Firelands wine.

I highly encourage any Ann Arbor area parents to take the opportunity to head to Castaway Bay. On the way to the resort grab a bottle of Ohio wine to enjoy in your room, then let the kids loose to explore, craft, swim and play. Castaway Bay is the perfect get-away for winter break, spring break, an extended weekend or any time you want a tropical get-away within a 3 hour drive!


Thank You Castaway Bay,  Lake Erie Shores & Islands
and Firelands wine for a great blogger weekend!