Summer Activities

Summer of Slither Sleepovers at the California Academy of Sciences

August 3, 2011

Kids with penguin at California Academy of SciencesIn honor its newest exhibit, Snakes & Lizards: The Summer of Slither, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is offering a special edition of its popular Penguins + Pajamas sleepover for kids ages 5 and older and their adult chaperones. These sleepovers feature an exclusive overnight stay at the Academy, special live animal presentations, access to all exhibits including Snakes & Lizards, a late night snack, and breakfast. Right now through August 20 you can save $20 by entering promo code PPAUG20 when you purchase your sleepover tickets online.

During your very own night at the museum, you can explore the entire Academy, take in an after-hours planetarium show and special animal presentations, and slither through Snakes & Lizards, where you’ll discover more than 60 reptiles from around the world with incredible adaptations like projectile tongues and remarkable camouflage. Before bedtime, whisper good night to Lemondrop the 15-foot-long albino python, and settle in for story time with cookies and milk to learn about Pierre—the Academy’s famous wetsuit-wearing penguin.

National Parks Go Fee-Free June 21

June 19, 2011

Redwood trees at Muir WoodsTo celebrate the first day of summer, all of the over 100 National Parks that normally charge an entry fee will be free to everyone on Tuesday, June 21! This is the third in this year's series of fee-free days at the National Parks. Other upcoming fee-free days include September 24, 2011 (Public Lands Day) and November 11–13, 2011 (Veterans Day weekend).

In the San Francisco Bay Area, National Parks that charge an entry fee include Marin's own Muir Woods National Monument, San Francisco Maritime National Park, and the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez. Other popular parks within a few hours of the Bay Area include Yosemite and Pinnacles National Monument (south of the Bay Area in Monterey and San Benito counties). A full list of fee-free weekend parks across the USA can be found here.

Summertime Sailing Fun in the Bay Area

May 13, 2011

Kids and mom sailingGuest contributor Barbara McVeigh shares some great resources for summer sailing and nautical fun for kids and families.

The America’s Cup sailing race is yet two years away, but the excitement in the maritime communities is beginning to build just like the wind before a full blown gale.

There are lots of family fun sailing events planned this summer with activities promising to please the youngest of sailors to the crustiest of old salts. Treasure hunts, model boat building, schooner sails and pirates in Vallejo are just some of the teasers to lure a landlubber into the magical world of sailing.

Youth sailing camps start in June. The sport encourages teamwork and develops self reliance and confidence unlike any other activity. For a child, this can be the beginning of lifelong knowledge of the sport and art of sailing, as well as a connection to the natural elements of sea and wind. Kids laugh and have fun sailing!

Combating Nature Deficit Disorder

April 2, 2011

girl in natureMarin Mommies is pleased to present a guest article by Ally Kushin, Camp Director for Coastal Camp at Headlands Institute. She discusses the increasing problem of nature deficit disorder and highlights local opportunities to connect children to the natural world. Ally has worked in the field of environmental education for the past 9 years as a naturalist, park ranger, and camp director.

In 2005 the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv popularized the term “nature deficit disorder.” In it, he refers to the trend of children spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral, social, and medical problems. Louv claims that causes for the phenomenon include parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the “lure of the screen,” referring to increasing electronic media consumption.

Children who spend more time in nature are known to develop increased concentration, memory, and self discipline. The latest research has established amazing connections between the amount of time spent in nature to everything from better grades to increased immunity to germs to stronger bones.

Never Boil Corn on the Cob Again!

August 28, 2010

Corn on the cobSince this summer hasn't really been all that summer-y, maybe try to capture that summer feeling by dining on some of the season's iconic foods. Corn on the cob is one of those. Wonderful sweet ears of white corn from Brentwood and the Central Valley are available now, so grab some while you can. Of course you get bonus points if you're growing it right in your backyard and you can go grab some off the stalk moments before cooking it.

Our favorite method of cooking corn is to husk it and throw it on the BBQ grill. Get it nice and brown, which gives it a wonderful toasty corn flavor—we had kids fighting over who got the most charred ear of corn at the last family gathering. This method, however, is not always a practical one, especially if you're pressed for time. Normally most people just husk the ears and boil them in some salted water. I discovered an alternate way of cooking corn, one so good that I doubt I'll be boiling corn ever again: the microwave. Yes… the microwave.

Chef Daddy Grills Food Your Kids Will Eat

July 12, 2010

I've found that one of the ways to get my kids to eat so-called "yucky" food (or rather potentially "yucky" food, since usually they've never actually tried it) is to involve them somehow in the preparation of it. Since it's summer, we tend to cook outside on the grill quite a bit, so combine participation with the spectacle of charring food over an open flame and you have pretty much an irresistable combination.

Let me first note that safety is first and foremost when cooking on the grill with kids around. Anything that gets hot enough to put a nice sear on the outside of a steak can similarly do so on someone's hand or arm, so the first rule of helping Daddy cook dinner on the grill is "stay away from the grill". The second rule is—wait for it—"stay away from the grill". Sensing a pattern here? Kids are not allowed outside unattended when the grill's hot, and trips outside to see what's going on are on a strictly escorted basis and confined to a safe zone on the deck overlooking the barbecue area.

Dino-Mania at the 2009 Sonoma County Fair

July 28, 2009

Sonoma County Fair 2009In case you missed or just didn't get enough of the Marin County Fair, you'll be happy to know that the 2009 Sonoma County Fair starts today at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, and runs through Sunday, August 9. It's worth checking out if you've never been: it's bigger and a lot different than Marin's smaller, more intimate fair, and has more of an agricultural focus, which is natural for a more rural county like Sonoma. The Sonoma County Fair also features a famous annual flower show, which is usually really worth seeing.

This year's theme is "The Fair Before Time", so there are plenty of dinosaur-themed attractions on hand, including three-dozen life-size dinosaur replicas sited througout the fair and Dinosaur Island, where aspiring paleontologists can dig for dinosaur skeletons, build volcanoes, and paint on a mural. Dinosaur identification, imitation, and look-alike contests will be held, and the flower show this year has been dubbed "The Garden that Time Forgot"! The Fair also holds a daily parade, which this year features two special guests: a 10-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex and a 20-foot-long Stegosaurus.

Still Time to Take In a Unique Summer Camp

July 25, 2009

Le Petit Jardin French immersion campEven though it's almost the end of July, there's still time for your kids to take in a late-summer camp session for fun and enrichment! Two camps offering late-summer sessions include San Anselmo's Le Petit Jardin French immersion program and Sausalito's Pine Point Cooking School.

Le Petit Jardin is a licensed preschool specializing in French language instruction for toddlers. Director Amber Smith-Lopata is now offering French immersion classes to grade school children in Marin. Students learn vocabulary and conversational skills through total language immersion in a small group setting. Hands-on learning activities include music, arts and crafts, games, reading, gardening, and occasional neighborhood outings. It's all totally in French, of course!

The King Tut Show for Families

July 13, 2009

Canopic Stopper of TutankhamunThe exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at San Francisco's de Young Museum is probably the hottest museum show in the Bay Area this summer. If you grew up in the Bay Area, then chances are you remember the blockbuster 1979 Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition from when you were a child. We had a chance to view the current King Tut show last week, and took our ancient Egypt-obsessed six-year-old and three-year-old through to look at artifacts from the tomb of the famous boy king and other Egyptian notables.

Overall, the show is stunning. All tickets are timed and dated, so you line up at your appointed time (the museum really has this organized well) and then enter through a set of double doors that look like they came from Pirates of the Caribbean or another similar Disneyland attraction. You're ushered into a dark room where a brief 90-second video introduces you to King Tut and ancient Egypt. When the video ends, another set of doors swing open and you enter the actual exhibition, where you're greeted by a beautiful, near-life-size granite statue of Tutanhkamun.

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