Los Angeles

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids this Weekend: Dan Zanes, Read for the Record, and So Long Petersen, Oct 18 - 19

Someone file a name change because Philadelphia is about to become the city of Motherly love. That's right, Mommy Poppins is setting up shop in the town William Penn founded. I'm looking forward to cheesesteaks and soft pretzels and runs up the steps of the Art Museum. But that crack in the Liberty Bell? We had nothing to do with it, nothing, you hear? (We were being careful!)

Of course, the real excitement is in our little hometown (which is, for the record, bigger than Philadelphia, not that we're bragging). This weekend we can explore the communities that make LA great, with the Found: LA Festival of Neighborhoods, the Sherman Oaks Street FairTaste of Soul LA, the Mar Vista Community Fall Festival; Fall/Harvest/Pumpkin/Halloween festivals at Underwood Farms, the Original Farmers Market, Kidspace, Descanso Gardens, Calabasas, the LA Zoo, Shadow Hills Equestrian Center, and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium - to name a few.

The Read for the Record fun starts this weekend, with high octane readers like Josh Duhamel and kid-favorite locations like Lakeshore LearningLeVar Burton boldly goes where no one has gone before...scratch that, where a lot of people have gone (the Santa Monica Library), but dudes, he's Geordi, Kunta Kinte, and the Reading Rainbow guy! If you're looking for a theatrical experience, we've got a mouse with no tail, a hungry caterpillar (so hungry it'll take him two days to eat through the Southland), a tree-planting mana princess with a pea and a newly clad emperor, and a silent Joan of Arc (with choral accompaniment).

And Dan Zanes, pretty much our all-time favorite kids' performer, makes a rare LA appearance for two shows at the Wallis.  Catch that train, Philadelphia!

Keep reading for our favorite picks for the weekend...

An Epic Week: This Week's Picks October 13 - 17

Doh! This is the month to celebrate all things Homer at a myriad of Odyssey themed events sponsored by the Los Angeles Public Library. And while our picks primarily focus on things to do with kids, this week also offers a few worthwhile opportunities for parents.

If you live in Pasadena and have a little one headed for school soon, Kindergarten Elementary Nights is not to be missed. On the Westside, Digital Domain in Santa Monica is hosting a Minecraft Workshop for parents who want to connect with their children’s latest obsession. Meanwhile, we've got our five picks for fun things to do with the offspring this Monday through Friday:

The Odyssey Project: Introducing a Classic to LA Kids

Sometimes the drive to school and after-school can feel like an Odyssey - that is until you remember that the The Odyssey journey actually took ten years and that we should therefore be grateful that the Sepulveda Pass can be traversed in under an hour. The Los Angeles Public Library offers an homage to Homer’s heroic poem The Odyssey throughout the month of October, honoring the original epic journey at several events sponsored by The Library Foundation of Los Angeles. This month-long literary quest to determine the significance of the ancient epic to present day Angelenos goes deeper than commuting time, of course, and finds fun ways to introduce the classic to another generation.

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids this Weekend: JPL Open House, Discover MDR and Music Center Pop Ups, Oct 11 - 12

Look to the stars, baby!  It’s a truly astronomical weekend in Los Angeles. First we had another one of those blood moon things, (which I’m told was lovely but, you know, late. Momma needs sleep). Then we had all sorts of executive visits (both presidential and vice). I didn’t actually see those either, though I may have heard them (helicopters and Tea Party rants). But I tell you what I wouldn’t miss for all the world: the return of the JPL Open House. Science, dudes! Rockets! Spacecraft! 

If the only star you need to see is your own beaming baby, you might want to check out LA Parent’s cover kids contest. If you can’t say Star without Wars, you can join fellow readers at Barnes and Noble or fellow bricklayers at Toys R UsThe Music Center is the star of its own festivities, as is Marina del Rey.

And as any child will tell you, the real star of October is Halloween.  The trains, mazes, and spook-fests have begun. You have two more weekends to get your spook spirits up, before the most hallowed eve arrives. And possibly the Great Pumpkin.

Keep reading for our most out of this world picks for the weekend...

The Drought: Ways to be Water Wise for California Families

Because we write for and about thoughtful parents, the Metropolitan Water District recently invited Mommy Poppins to an all-day seminar about the drought in California. As a native Californian, I was anxious to attend, because I vividly remember the drought in 1976-1977. Back then, restaurants were not allowed to serve water unless requested, and we barely flushed our toilets. Our mantra was “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.” Much has changed since the 70s. For one thing, all toilets these days are low flow and consume far less water than they used to. More importantly, the MWD and other water agencies across the state have learned many lessons and as a result have greatly increased our capacity to store water from wet seasons to have it available during dry times. But what else should families be doing, and how can we help our kids to preserve their most important resource? 

10 Questions To Ask During a Preschool Tour

A preschool tour is the best opportunity for parents to get a feel for a school before tackling the admissions process. Hopefully, you see the school in action, or at least check out what the classrooms look like. Keep your eyes open for important details. What type of student work is on display? Do the kids seem happy and engaged? How do the teachers interact with them?

When you're on the tour, don't be shy about asking questions. This is your chance! "Parents should ask as many questions as they want to help understand and grasp our program's philosophy," says Lisa Pacheco, center director at Children’s Creative Learning Center. Jennifer Jones of Battery Park Montessori and the Pine Street School adds, "I encourage parents to ask questions based on their personal priorities for their children. For example, if the child is physically active and the parents are concerned about it, they should ask how the school will satisfy the child's need for physical expression." Open-ended questions are best, as they tend to reveal more about the school. For example, "How do you support literacy?" is better than, "When do you teach the alphabet?"

Here are the top 10 topics to ask about when you're visiting preschools.

This Week's Picks: Tam O' Shanters and Bagpipes October 6 - 10

While the people of Scotland were recently thwarted in their bid for independence, they still have plenty of national pride -which is on display in Ventura this later this week at the Seaside Highland Games. Gather the clans and pin your wee lads and lassies into their plaid kilts. Be sure to prepare with a hearty snack if haggis isn’t your thing. The Games offer a great opportunity to appreciate the sport of large men throwing things. And remember, this is the first week of October so be on the lookout for free admissions at local museums. Another thing to be on the lookout for? A full lunar eclipse. 

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids this Weekend: CicLAvia, Jack O'Lanterns & Hot Wheels, Oct 4 - 5

This is a weekend of the weird and the quirkythe spooky and the ookyThings popping up unexpectedly, nothing where you expect it to be, and surprises at every turn.  What has put such mystery in the air?  Is it the end of the summer and the beginning of the Fall? The approach of our most spooktacular holiday season? Or maybe, just maybe, it's the renovations our site is undergoing which might lead to some extraordinary and/or unexplainable results. For which we apologize and/or say you're welcome.

There is also much going on to leave you inspired.  It is a weekend filled with compassion, and hope, and giving back. Whether there's an angel on your shoulder, or a Mustang in your garden, this is the kind of weekend that reminds us that LA is really just our own little hometownGrab your bike or take a strollsay hola to your amigos and listen to the music of your neighborhood.

You know what else? Pie!  And Hot Wheels!  Let the October fun begin!

Keep reading for our most perfectly placed picks for the weekend...

This Week's Picks: Hispanic Heritage and Halloween Lights: Sept 29 – Oct 3

We are in the midst of Hispanic Heritage month, an annual celebration that runs from September 15 to October 15. Several Latin American countries celebrate their anniversaries of independence during this period. It’s a great time to hail our city’s rich Hispanic Culture before we segue into October and Halloween. Start the week making a Mayan Mask at the Library and finish up at Descanso Gardens’ Rise of the Jack O’ Lanterns.

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