Los Angeles

2012/13 Academic Year Calendars for LA Area Schools

The first day of school has been creeping farther and farther back in recent years, cutting deeper and deeper into summer. For many schools, August is part of the school year now, while other districts still cling to the time-honored "never before Labor Day" approach. All of this can make summer camp complicated to maneuver for some families, while others are knee-deep in homework.

From Burbank’s August 13 start date to Torrance’s September 6, don't just assume you know when school starts based on last year! Check our list of start and finish dates for the 2012/13 school year in and around LA County...

Fun & Free Events This Weekend for LA Kids: Butterflies, the Civil War, and Baby Loves Disco! Apr 28 - 29

It’s not til next week and I’m already stressing. I speak of course of Screen Free Week, in which parents are encouraged to turn off (TVs, Blackberries, iPads) and tune in (to the great big world out there).

Luckily, smack dab in the middle of (sensory deprivation) week is Cinco de Mayo, so there are mucho family friendly activities to get you out of the casa. You can find the best of them in our rundown of Cinco de Mayo Celebrations. What is Cinco de Mayo about anyway?  I’ll just look it up on Wikipedia…

There’s perhaps nothing more antithetical to being a couch potato than hanging ten on a bodacious wave. Is that an actual surf term? I haven’t a clue.  But I bet I could find out, if I enrolled my kid in one of the totally rad Summer Surf Camps for LA Kids our intrepid camp reporter has uncovered.  Maybe I’ll get inspired by finding some cool surf footage on YouTube…

…or if that doesn’t work, we could hearken back to a time before screens dominated our every moment. Sure, a couple of decades might suffice, but we at Mommy Poppins like to go all in, so how’s about a trip to the 1500s, as suggested by our editor’s review of ye olde Renaissance Faire.

Regardless of your approach, there’s one screen usage even the most avowed Luddite couldn’t begrudge, and that’s logging onto Mommy Poppins to find the ultimate scoop on family fun activities. So friend us on Facebook, sign up for emails and tweets, or go old school and type in our URL; Mommy Poppins is here to help you through. To get you started, keep reading for our favorite picks for this weekend…

Fun Yoga Classes for Kids in LA and Orange County

Have you ever noticed (of course you have) how vibrantly and easily children move? Throughout their active days they run and glide and bend and fall - all with such freedom and grace (and, unlike us, they're not stiff the next day). Many of us creaky parents (me) seek yoga to settle our minds and loosen our shoulders. It's high time we invited our wee Gumbys to try it, too. Kids may not have our low back pain, but they will no doubt appreciate the other benefits this gentle practice offers. You're never too young (or too supple) to start yoga. Read on for places that will most definitely delight our little yogi-kids.

School Choice in Los Angeles: Focus on Magnet Schools in LAUSD

Over the past several weeks, Mommy Poppins has delved into the mysterious and at times overwhelming world of public school choices available to families who reside within the boundaries of LAUSD (the Los Angeles Unified School District). We've sung the praises of great neighborhood schools, given an overview of options if the assigned neighborhood school is not a great fit for your family, and taken a closer look at the history, philosophy, and reality of independent public charter schools. Today we look at the attraction of the magnet programs, and what you need to know to get your child into one.

Fun & Free Things to Do This Weekend with LA Kids: Kites, CicLAvia, and Chumash Powwow: April 14 - 15

This weekend it’s a little hard not to feel overcome by a sense of doom. We’ve got Friday the 13th.  We’ve got April 15th, which, though it isn’t Tax Day this year, is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. And then, on April 17th, we’ve got Tax Day. (They say 17 is the new 15). Luckily, we’ve found family events filled with fun to brighten your outlook and lift your spirits, and even score you some free food.

If your tax bill has been a burden, maybe it’s time for your kids to learn a trade. You don’t have to pull them out of school just yet; you can wait until summer. Our intrepid camp researchers have found Sewing  Camps and Classes for LA Kids.

You know what I’d like to tell the tax guys?  Go fly a kite!  Seriously, they must be way overworked this time of year, putting in long hours, and nothing is quite as relaxing as sending a fluttering kite aloft to drift on the breeze. Luckily, Mommy Poppins has the lowdown on the way up there activity. Check out our list of Kite Festivals and Places for LA Kids to Fly Kites.

All things considered, this weekend might be a good time to go to a galaxy far, far away. And you’d better go now, because this is the closing weekend for Discovery Science Center's exhibit Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination.

And finally, since every tax cloud has a silver lining, we’ve found a few tax day freebie offers to soften the blow.

Keep reading for our favorite picks for the weekend, and to find out about the freebies.

Sewing Classes and Summer Camps Where LA Kids Can Have Sew Much Fun

Do you have a cool DIYer on your hands? An all-around crafty kid? A tween or teen interested in fashion design? This is the perfect summer to try a sewing or quilting camp. Sewing camps offer kids the opportunity to learn a useful skill, express themselves, and make new friends who keep them in stitches. Not sure your child is ready for a full camp of sewing? All of the sewing centers below also offer kids sewing classes year-round.  (Of course, if you don't opt for sewing camp, you really ought to check out the dozens of other summer camps we know about!)

Guest Blogger: Christina Simon Gives the Scoop on Applying to LA Private Elementary Schools

Christina Simon is the co-author of Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles. She is the mom of a 3rd grade son and a 5th grade daughter who attend The Willows Community School. Christina’s work has been published on Salon.com, Mamapedia, BlogHer, The Mother Company, Scary Mommy, ecomom, and numerous other sites. She blogs at Beyond the Brochure, or you can find her on Facebook.

Fun & Free Events This Weekend for LA Kids: Puppets & Spiderman Mar 31 - Apr 1

Wow.  This has never happened before. We are sorry to report that there are no events this weekend. Not a one.  It was bound to happen sooner or later, the random intersection of timing and chance and …

APRIL FOOL’S!!!  Of course there are events this weekend. There are events up the wazoo (can we say that on a family-friendly site?). April is the month of Easter and Passover and Spring Break and Earth Day, and by gosh your basket will be full with fun, fascinating, and frequently free festivities. It’s time to emerge from our winter hibernation (hello, it rained last week!) and start enjoying all that Los Angeles has to offer.

For starters, how about a little camping?  Southern California offers a wealth of family campgrounds, and naturally we’ve got the list.

His big day may not be until next week, but the Easter Bunny is already in town, meeting his fans and posing for pictures. Mommy Poppins has peered into his datebook and marked down the best Easter Bunny appearances.

Is your holiday less about  jelly beans and more about matzoh? For those looking for Passover-approved bakery goods, we have the unleavened lowdown. (As a bonus, did you know that many Passover treats are gluten-free?)

Still looking for something to do? Can we recommend: Chris Burden's Metropolis II at LACMA? Museum of Flying at Santa Monica Airport?  Or any of our top picks for the coming weekend…

The Not Inappropriate Show: Sketch Comedy for the Whole Family

If you love great sketch comedy, there comes a point at which it feels  almost like a compulsion to pass it along to your children. I remember sitting in the basement of my childhood home as my parents introduced me to Monty Python's Flying Circus, the content of which I only vaguely understood, but which nevertheless infected me with a lifelong love of smart, absurdist humor. The dead parrot sketch, the ministry of funny walks ... Monty Python feels like a part of my very context for life.

Museum of Flying at Santa Monica Airport: Plane Old Fun

At the risk of being accused of gender-based stereotypes, I believe I have located the exact street address of Daddy Heaven. Don't get me wrong - I thoroughly enjoyed taking my son to the Museum of Flying at Santa Monica Airport the other day, and my son had a great time, too. But the people giving off the true glow of aerial ecstasy at this newly re-opened Santa Monica landmark are definitely the dads. It is, hands-down, the ultimate daddy outing.

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