Create, Code and Play during Microsoft’s free YouthSpark Camps at your Local Store

February 9, 2015

Microsoft Store YouthSpark CampsMarin Mommies presents a sponsored article from the Microsoft Store at The Village in Corte Madera.

While you likely know that the Microsoft at The Village at Corte Madera is your one-stop-shop for best-in-class products like Surface Pro 3, Xbox One, Windows Phones, and the new Microsoft Band, did you also know that it offers free coding camps for kids? Thanks to the YouthSpark initiative, a Microsoft-wide commitment to empowering 300 million young people with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurships, these engaging and entertaining after school and weekend camps are now offered year-round! Today's youth face an opportunity divide—a gap between those who have access to the skills and training they need to be successful, and those who do not—and these camps seek to close that gap.

Make Some Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

February 8, 2015

Valentine's Day cookiesMy kids love to make these basic sugar cookies and decorate them for Valentine's Day. They are easy to make and are a fun project for a rainy day. Decorate your cookies with pink and red Valentine's sprinkles or, better yet, an artistically applied drizzle of rich dark chocolate. They look festive and taste good too.

Give as a gift wrapped in cellophane bags tied with raffia or ribbon or in a heart-shaped box. Who wouldn't be happy to get these delicious and pretty sweet treats on Valentines Day?

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (you’ll need a little more for dusting your work surface, too)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Three Fun and Easy Homemade Valentine's Day Cards

February 8, 2015

Valentine's Day CardsMy kids always love to make their own unique Valentine's Day cards to give to friends and classmates every February. Here are three fun and easy card projects to make at home with common craft supplies that you probably have on hand already. We think these really beat the store-bought Valentines, since they're handmade, beautiful, and "from the heart."

Children of all ages can do most of the steps in these crafts, but grown-ups may want to help with cutting and gluing, depending on children's ages and skill levels.

Butterfly Valentines

This butterfly-shaped card that we made is designed to hold either a candy stick or a pencil, and is easy to make and decorate. We cut out the butterfly shape with scissors and decorated the card with stickers. You can embellish yours with whatever you like, such as crayons, markers, glitter, or paint. You'll need:

The Perfect Camp Awaits at the 2015 Marin Summer Activities & Camp Fair

February 7, 2015

Marin Summer Activities & Camp FairIf you're trying to make a decision on the perfect summer camp for your kids, save the date for the upcoming Marin Summer Activities & Camp Fair, which takes place Sunday, March 15 from 10 am to 1 pm at Conlan Center Gymnasium at the Dominican University of California in San Rafael.

As in years past the Marin Summer Activities & Camp Fair will offer plenty of fun for everyone, with free pizza, fun prizes for kids, and a bounce house, as well as representatives from dozens of summer camps. This year the fair is expanding to include other summer options like tutoring and activities, too! Older campers in middle school and high school are encouraged to attend as well.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for February 6, 7 & 8

February 7, 2015

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Event Calendar.

Friday, February 6

  • Valentine's Day Card Making
    Pottery Barn Kids, Corte Madera
    Friday, 10 am–6pm

    Kids are invited to create one Valentie to give away to a child in need and one to take home for their favorite someone. Location: Corte Madera Town Center, 1600 Redwood Highway #D045. For more info, visit their website.
  • Father-Daughter Valentine’s Dance
    Belvedere Community Center
    Friday, 7–8:30 pm
    Enjoy a dessert buffet, photos, special valentine craft, and dancing. Semi-formal attire is encouraged. Cost: $50 per couple, $15 per additional daughter. Location: 450 San Rafael Avenue, Belvedere. For more info call (415) 435-4355 or visit their website.
  • Montessori de Terra Linda Presents Into the Woods
    Showcase Theater, San Rafael
    Friday, 7 pm

    Join the upper elementary class from Montessori de Terra Linda for a theatrical performance. Students aged 9–12 have worked to develop a show with action and song that will be performed one night only. Tickets: $12 adults, $10 children and seniors. Purchase tickets here. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, February 7

  • Learn to Saltwater Fish
    Paradise Beach Park, Tiburon
    Saturday, 9 am–noon

    Kids of all ages can come out and spenc the morning learning the basics of saltwater fishing at Paradise Beach Park. A limited amount of poles will be available on a first come, first-served basis. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Rain does not cancel the event. Park entrance is waived for participants. Meet at the fishing pier in Paradise Beach Park, 3450 Paradise Drive, Tiburon. For more info, contact Ranger Mike Maraccini at MMaraccini@marincounty.org or visit their website.
  • KinderCycle Kids Swap
    South Berkeley Senior Center
    Saturday, 10 am–noon

    Bring your gently used kids items that your little ones have outgrown and swap them for larger items that fit them. Please bring your used items in  disposable bags, or bags. The admission fee per family is $5 if you have items to swap, and $10 if you don't.visit their website. Location: 2939 Ellis Street, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.

Make Your Own Pink and Red Playdough for Valentine's Day Fun

February 6, 2015

Play doughSculpting with Play-Doh is always a favorite activity for kids, and it can be even more fun to make your own quick and easy Play-Doh style modeling clay (AKA "playdough"), especially on a rainy day. You probably have all of the ingredients sitting in your pantry right now!

We colored our latest batch pink and red for Valentine's Day projects. You can, of course, use any color you like. If you want multiple colors, it's best to make more than one batch, as you add the food coloring during the mixing stage to make sure the color is distributed evenly.

Make a Beautiful Valentine's Day Tissue Paper Wreath

February 6, 2015

Valentine's Day Tissue Paper WreathLooking for a cool kids' craft for Valentine's Day? This tissue paper wreath looks beautiful and is easy to make for all ages, with a parent's or caregiver's help. To make the tissue paper puffs clustered on the wreath, we wrapped tissue squares around our fingers, but you can also just crumple them up, too. It makes for a fun craft for a rainy day or group activity for playgroups, classes, or scouts.

To make this craft you'll need:

  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • Paint (optional)
  • Ribbon
  • Hole punch
  • Mixed red and pink tissue paper

12 Family Fun Chinese New Year Events

February 5, 2015

Lion dance at Bay Area Discovery Museum Chinese New Year MarinThis month, the Year of the Horse comes to an end and the Year of the Ram begins! Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year takes starts on Thursday, February 19. (This year is also known as Year of the Sheep or Year of the Goat, by the way.)

As with many major holidays, there's plenty of family fun to be found in Marin County and all over the San Francisco Bay Area, ranging from a Chinese New Year Festival at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito on February 16 to the big blowout Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco on Saturday, March 7.

Here are 12 fun family Chinese New Year events not to miss in the Bay Area:

Indoor Drop-in Activities for the Little Ones for Marin & Beyond

February 4, 2015

Indoor playRain is in the forecast, so here is a list of fun indoor play spaces for the little ones. I’m always looking for places to take the kids to get them out of the house and burn off all that extra energy. Here are a few ideas for fun indoor drop-in activites in Marin County and beyond:

Fairfax

  • Pavilion Playgroup (ages 0-5)
    Fairfax Pavilion
    142 Bolinas Road

    This group happens end of November through April each year on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:30am -12:30 pm. Indoor playtime during the soggy season! Join other moms, dads and kids at the charming red building on the hill. Children/infant to 5 years enjoy playing with toys, riding scooters and climbing on a variety of soft blocks and mats. Parents enjoy mingling, playing and drinking fresh coffee and tea. Cost: $6 per child per visit or $50 for a 10 visit punch card. For more info, visit their website.
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