Los Angeles

Beat Winter Boredom with 8 Awesome STEM Activities

Winter days can leave families in need of fun indoor activities. We worked with Sylvan Learning, a leader in STEM education for kids, to develop ideas for a “boredom buster” jar full of STEM activities. Each fun project is super simple and includes concrete STEM educational tips to bring the learning home. That’s what we love about Sylvan EDGE programs; the educators at Sylvan Learning always make sure that the kids go home understanding important STEM concepts while having fun doing it.

To make your STEM activities boredom busters jar just print out the downloadable sheets, cut out the activity cards, fold and place in a jar or bowl. Any time the kids get restless or need a screen time break, just pull an activity out for some at-home fun. Note: Some of these activities do take some preparation, so make sure to gather your materials—including freezing your colored ice sculpture shapes—in advance so you are ready to go when boredom calls...or whines, as the case may be.

Weekday Picks: Kingdom Day Parade, More MLK Events, and Free Movies, Jan. 16-20

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." The words and actions of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hold many lessons for kids. As we honor him at a variety of events on Monday, we can pass on that kids should treat all people the way they want to be treated—kindly and fairly. Driving the point home is this year's Kingdom Day Parade in South Los Angeles, with the 2017 theme "Now More Than Ever, We All Must Work Together."

MOCA pays tribute to that idea by closing the week with free admission on Inauguration Day. But if all of this is too much to think about, there are a few opportunities this week to escape with free movies

For more activities, check out the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar and the January GoList. Here are some of our favorites for this week.

Choosing a Preschool: 5 Things That Matter & 5 That (Probably) Don't

In Los Angeles there is pressure to find the best of everything, and finding the best preschool for your little heir is no exception. Some parents jump on this task intimidatingly early, doing research and attending open houses even while Junior is still in utero. And there are so many choices: Play-based or academically focused? Montessori, Waldorf, full-time, part-time, cooperative, parochial, or secular? Media-free or media-intensive? A philosophy of "let children be children" or "teach them everything as soon as possible"? Perhaps we want our kids to learn to use their words in more than one language, to preserve their midday nap, or to spend most of their day playing outdoors in nature.

Fun for LA Kids this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Weekend, Jan 14 - 16

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is 'What are you doing for others?'" This weekend, families can join together to answer that question, by participating in the MLK Day of Service. (We have some great suggestions for kid-friendly volunteer opportunities to get you started!) A day spent giving back is just one way to honor Dr. King's memory. There are parades, celebrations, and concerts throughout the weekend to bring our families and communities together in honor of his legacy.

Little ones can learn from Dr. King's example as well, with a number of events this weekend particularly geared toward young children. Kids can listen to stories, celebrate the diversity our world has to offer, and share their dreams for a better world.

Inspiration can be found on other fronts with Ben Franklin, Moana, and the Pandorans of Avatar all serving as examples of what one can achieve. As change is afoot in our country, now is a good time to ask our children: what do you hope to achieve? And where do you find your inspiration?

Keep reading for some of our most inspired picks for this weekend.

Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Mommy and Me Classes

Sometimes the hardest thing about parenting can be getting out of the house. Especially in the early years, that Mommy or Daddy and Me class might be the only outing you manage all day—even all week. It had better be good. If you're in search of a better reward for your packing and planning than another verse of The Wheels on the Bus, try bringing your SoCal babe to one of these oh-so-LA activities! From sensory conditioning to social justice, cellular rejuvenation to baby drum circle, you might just find your funky tribe amongst these diverse offerings.

See National Parks for Free in 2017 on These Free Entrance Days

A trip to one of our nation's incredible national parks may already be on your family travel to-do list for 2017. Whether it is or not, you may want to check out the just released FREE admission days at some of the country's largest parks. Courtesy of the National Park Service, the 10 FREE days all take place on easy-for-planning weekends, school breaks, and national holidays at select parks.

While many parks have free admission every day of the year, more than 100 of them, including some of the most popular destinations, charge $15 per person or more. Those waiving admission for these 10 holidays include some of those iconic, bucket list spots like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Acadia, Zion, Shenandoah, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, Harpers Ferry, Everglades National Park, and the Cape Cod Seashore. The freebies also extend to a few historical sites under the National Park Service's purview, like the New York home of celebrated American president Franklin D. Roosevelt and national historic parks like Morristown National Historic Park, the scene of an American Revolutionary War battle.

Mark your calendars as the first FREE admission day is coming up this month, Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King Day; and now, read on to find out the rest of the FREE days, and get a peek at some of the kid-friendly parks that are waiving admission. 

Weekday Picks: Last Chance for Nutcracker and Cirque Returns, Jan. 9-13

OK, we all made it to the other side of the holidays; it's time to settle back into routines.

Luckily, "routine" here means there's still plenty of opportunities to go out to see and do things with the kids. Your less crowded calendar lets you get around to ongoing activities that include classic movie screeningsweekly storytimes, and myriad free museum days. There's still time to catch Rogue One at El Capitan and the Science Behind Pixar exhibit at the Science Center. And there are some last-chance events as well this week: Bob Baker's Nutcracker and Universal's From Coraline to Kubo: A Magical LAIKA Experience are both in their final days. There are even two kinds of circus in one day later in the week.

Read on for some of our favorites for the week, and you can always find more ideas through the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar, as well as our monthly picks in our GoList

Carlsbad: 25 Things To Do with Kids (other than Legoland)

Legoland? Who said anything about Legoland? Carlsbad may appear at first glance to be a one-trick town, but there are at least 25 reasons for this Southern California excursion, without ever using the word LEGO. The beach community's mild year-round temps, pristine beaches, and slow, laid-back approach to living offer families much more than just a famous amusement park.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Oshogatsu, FREE Cinderella Tickets, and Super Reptiles, Jan 7 - 8

Tell me if this rings any bells for you: I started the holidays raring to go, all Nutcracker me this, and SoCal snow me that. In fact, I was so fast out of the gate that I felt quite safe taking a break from my glad tidings. But suddenly — wham! — it's January; the kids are going back to school any minute, and all of this seasonal goodness is about to fade away like yesterday's snow. What's a Momma to do?

Luckily, this is that magical weekend when we can still catch the last gasp of frosty fun. If it involves winter, Christmas, reindeer, pretty lights, chill, or ice, this is your weekend to get 'er done. Think of it as one last gift under your tree.

And in case you're worried about holiday let down, never fear. The new batch of celebrations is already upon us, with more coming before you know it. There's never a dull moment when you're a Southern California Mom.

Keep reading in anticipation of the fun ahead this weekend.....

Mission Inn Festival of Lights: The Holiday Lights that Lure People to Riverside

I've been hearing about the holiday lights at the Mission Inn in Riverside for as long as I've been writing about SoCal events, but it took me until this season to finally take the plunge into slightly-less-daunting-than-usual traffic to see the spectacle for myself. I had to know if the lights that USA Today calls the Best Holiday Lights Display in the Nation really are all that. More to the point, are they worth driving an hour or more, when we know there are some pretty impressive holiday lights a whole lot closer to home? I filled a minivan with the toughest audience I know (five 13-year-olds) and drove to Riverside on a Friday night to answer that question. Really.

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