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Posts Tagged ‘things to do’

flying kite blogThis weekend, Petaluma is encouraging everyone to detach from their devices and join the community for some unplugged fun. From April 10-12, Petalumans will be out and about, enjoying picnics together, enjoying the waterfront, strolling downtown and more.

There will also be plenty of unplugged events to choose from this weekend. On Friday, you can treat yourself to a self-guided tour of Petaluma’s waterways, or unplug with tea at Aqus Cafe from 4-6 p.m. On Saturday, there will be a hike at Helen Putnam Park, sheep shearing at Petaluma Adobe State Park, and sing-alongs at Aqus Cafe. On Sunday, Steamer Landing Park will be hosting free boat rides from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a kite flying picnic from 1-4 p.m.

To see a full list of events, visit petalumaunplugged.com.

Of course, you don’t need to go anywhere to enjoy a technology-free weekend. Here are a few things you can do to occupy your time when you’re not plugged in to your device.

1. Write a letter to a friend, your grandparents, a teacher or a relative. You know, the old-fashioned, snail mail kind. Tell them something fun that’s going on with you, or let them know why they’re important to you. Who knows, they may even write you a letter back, giving you the surprise of something nice coming in the mail among all your bills and advertisements.

2. Get lost….but in a good way. Explore your town, but leave the GPS at home. Find places you’ve never discovered before, and don’t worry about losing your way. After all, you can always ask someone for directions if you get lost.

3. Go outside and play. Take a hike in the hills. Go to the beach. Play on the playground. Go for a bike ride. Take the dog to the dog park. Strap on some roller skates. Build a fort. Play hopscotch or jacks (do you remember those?). The possibilities are endless!

4. Sit and do nothing. Seriously. Remember what it was like to NOT pull out your phone when you had idle time? Think of the things you could now do with that time. You could watch people walk by. You could stare at the leaves in the trees. You could try to make shapes out of clouds. Or…you could do nothing.

5. Color. As in, the kind where you have to stay inside the lines. Or don’t stay in the lines. Heck, scribble all over the page, if you want. Just grab a box of crayons, a book of pictures, and have at it. Coloring is an awesome way to just get lost in the moment.

6. Play board games. What’s the most obscure game you used to play as a child? Chutes and ladders? Pick up sticks? Risk? Clue? Candyland? Or perhaps you like some of the newer games like Apples to Apples or Cranium. Find a game you used to love, or discover a new one. To get you started, check out this list of 76 board games you can play.

7. Learn a new recipe. But not the kind you look up online. Grab one of your grandma’s old cookbooks and find the most interesting recipe you can find. Then make it for your family or friends.

8. Read a book. Not your Kindle, but an honest-to-goodness book, the kind that emits a light scent of paper, ink and glue.

9. Take a nap.

10. Journal. There’s a major difference between blogging and journaling. When you blog, you’re sharing your inner thoughts without eh whole world. But when you journal? Those thoughts are just for you. It’s here that you can get down your deepest thoughts without censoring yourself, being absolutely honest because there’s no one to offend and no one to make you feel stupid. It’s just you. And magic happens when you journal – you learn more about yourself than you thought you already knew. Try it every day for a week, and find out what happens.

What do you do to unplug?

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The Taz and me at his 6th grade promotion

The Taz and me at his 6th grade promotion

In the last few weeks of the school year, our whole family catches summer fever, eager for the day when the last school bell rings and we can enjoy the lazy days of June, July and August. That last day of school is cause for celebration, and we revel in it the whole weekend long.

And then Monday morning hits, and so does reality — because now there’s nothing to do.

Sure, there are camps and vacations to take in between the last day of one grade and the first day of the next. But camps and vacations cost money, and sometimes it’s not possible to load the kids up with paid-for activities to ward off the “I’m bored” blues. So to keep you from going crazy or broke this summer, I’ve put together a list of cheap activities your family can enjoy until school gets back in session.

Go on a backyard camping trip. Spend the day putting together all the things you’d need to go on a camping trip, then set up the tent in the backyard. Bring out the lanterns and sleeping bags, and don’t forget the s’mores! Then spend the evening telling stories underneath a starry sky before turning in for the night.

Pack a picnic. Fill a basket with numerous small bites, from crackers and cheese to grapes and apple cider. Let the kids help choose which kinds of foods would be best to pack up. Then take them on a hike in the hills, to a grassy knoll at the park, or to the beach to enjoy a delicious afternoon of play.

Our new garden of succulents!

Plant a garden. Get the kids interested in spending time outdoors by giving them a small piece of the yard that’s just for them. Help them to plant seeds or seedlings, decorate it with colorful stones and small markers, and encourage them to tend to it daily by watering and keeping it free from weeds.

Stage your own play. Keep the brains of your vacationing kids working by having them think up and then perform a play for family and friends. Dive into the costume box or the back of your closet for imaginative disguises to help them get into character. Encourage them to create programs with the names of the actors and titles of each scene. Then serve popcorn and juice boxes for the neighborhood as they enjoy the performance.

Hunt for buried treasure. Go to the Dollar Store to find small trinkets to serve as pirate’s booty. Have the kids stay in the house and hide their eyes while you bury the booty in the backyard. Then let them loose to discover where X marks the spot on the map you’ve carefully drawn. Not keen on the kids digging up your backyard? No problem. Take them to the beach and let them hunt for their treasure in the sand.

Go thrifting. Speaking of buried treasure … This is a fun way to search out eclectic items you just won’t find in a regular retail store. If your kids are the kind who love combing stores for various trinkets (my son is NOT), then they’ll love digging through other people’s tossed aside items to find their diamond in the rough.

Make a puzzle. If you’re anything like me, you have boxes of photos you despair of ever getting organized. Don’t let them go to waste! Get some Mod Podge and help the kids glue the photos to a piece of cardboard. Then carefully cut the mounted photos into puzzle-piece shapes for them so the kids can put them back together. These would also make cute gifts the kids can make for Grandma and Grandpa.

Throw a spontaneous dance party. Put on your favorite dance jams, turn the music way up, and then spend the afternoon bouncing around the living room with the kids. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a terrible dancer. In our house, we actually have contests to see who can dance the worst. I think I win every time.

My stepson’s first several cranes

Learn origami. My teenage stepson has challenged himself to fold 1,000 paper cranes by the end of 2013. The result is a room filled with cranes of various colors and sizes. Teach your child the art of paper folding, and watch as they spend the afternoon creating all sorts of tiny masterpieces.

Teach them to bake. Forget the diet for one afternoon and spend it making cupcakes! Or dig into the recipe books and bake bread from scratch. There’s an art to baking that should be passed down to our kids, and what better time to teach them than the dog days of summer? Of course, it’s best to bake in the morning before the day heats up too much.

What do you like to do in the summertime with your kids?

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This article will be published in the Press Democrat on Friday, February 8.

A friend of mine had to teach a group of teenagers about how seeds travel so they can germinate. Her challenge: how to teach about the topic and also keep these technology driven kids interested for more than an hour.

As a crafts teacher for younger children, her natural talents were geared towards more artistic activities. So my friend utilized her skills and had the teens decorate “seeds,” or in this case, wine corks that would represent seeds. You should have seen how fast those teens grabbed at stickers, paint daubers and colorful pens to decorate their corks.

Then my friend took the teens to the local creek. The teens were instructed to throw their corks in the water and watch as they got closer and closer to the finish line/collection point my friend had put at the end of the race, where the corks could be retrieved. The teens got really into it, following their “seeds” as some corks flowed downstream easily while others got stuck behind rocks. In the process, all of the kids not only learned something new but were entertained beyond their smartphones, MP3 players and video games.

Sometimes it takes a little bit of creativity to “trick” youngsters into having fun away from their electronic toys.

One of the hardest parts of raising kids is knowing how to keep them entertained. It’s easy to let them sit in front of the TV for hours on end. But to get them up and moving, or to exercise their mind? Finding ideas to occupy them when they’ve run out of things to do can be a real challenge.

For Robert Correa of Novato, the answer to keeping kids occupied is as easy as giving them a list of things to do every time they say they’re bored.

“Housekeeping, lawn mowing, dog walking, baby-sitting, reading, dishwashing,” Correa listed off the top of his head. He suggested that older kids would find enjoyment in being taught how to cook, and any kid can fly a kite, paint a picture, ride their bike, or skate. He also noted that kids should call their grandparents when they find they have “nothing to do,” just to tell their grandma and grandpa they are loved. And, of course, there is nothing like throwing an impromptu dance party in the privacy of your own living room.
“Put on some of your old records or CDs and dance together or sing together,” Correa said.

Elizabeth Dalton of Santa Rosa has three boys, ages 6 and 4 years old, and 20 months, and knows all too well the importance of having something fun up her sleeve to keep her sons entertained. One activity she discovered is called geocaching, otherwise known as a good old-fashioned treasure hunt. But in Dalton’s case, she gives the activity a prehistoric theme.

“I bury dinosaur toys outside and have the kids dig them out,” she said.

Jessica Snowden of Santa Rosa has a different kind of treasure hunt she suggests for quick entertainment.

“Make a list of age appropriate items,” she suggested, like telling younger kids to find something tall or red, and older kids to find something horizontal or bigger than a foot. As they find each item, then can check them off their pre-made list. “I have done this treasure hunt in teams for birthday parties or sleepovers,” Snowden said. “I have also done it with cameras,” she added, noting that cellphones and handheld video game systems worked well for this activity, allowing kids to capture their treasure through a photo instead of collecting the actual item.

Lorna Brown, owner of My Gym Santa Rosa, is known for having fun things for younger kids to do. One game she plays with kids is to blow up balloons (not helium), and give one to each child.

“Give them indoor space to bop them around, encouraging them to keep them up in the air,” Brown instructed. “Let them know that if their balloon pops, then game over.” She suggested that when the kids need a break from so much play, they can stop and decorate their balloons with markers.

And every kid can benefit from an “I’m bored jar.” Take an afternoon to brainstorm 100 fun things to do. Add in things like making homemade playdough, taking a hike in the hills, building a fort in the living room, learning how to speak Pig Latin, writing an illustrated children’s book, trying to beat your own record of bouncing a ball on a tennis racket, blowing the biggest bubblegum bubble, or anything else you and the kids can think of. Every time the kids say, “I’m bored,” point them toward the jar and have them pick an activity at random.

Do you have any tricks to entertain your kids when they have nothing to do?

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Swinging on the zip lines at Expedition Island

Is exercise one of your family goals this week? Looking for something active to do as a family this weekend? Here are a few ways to have fun and be fit!

Little League signups
For many Sonoma County Little Leagues, sign-ups begin this week. CLICK HERE to discover when and where your league will be conducting theirs.

Family Night at Cal Skate
Saturdays 6-8:30pm
Cal Skate (6100 Commerce Blvd, Rohnert Park)
Every Saturday, a family of 4 can take advantage of the “Family Pack”. For $39, you can get 4 admissions, 4 quad rentals ($2 more apiece for inline), and a 16″ pizza. Additional family members: $6 admission, $3 quad, $5 inline. calskate.com

Sunday Night Family Bowling
Sundays 5-7pm
Double Decker Lanes (300 Golf Course Dr, Rohnert Park)
Another $39 special. Check in between 5-7pm and get two hours bowling and shoes, a 12″ pizza, and a pitcher of soda. doubledeckerlanes.com

Rock Climbing “Climb Time”
Saturdays/Sundays, noon-2pm
Vertex Climbing Center (3358a Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa)
Climbers aged 5 to adult can enjoy a two-hour coached climbing session for only $20. This is suitable for all levels, whether beginner or veteran. Reservations are required. climbvertex.com

Family Fridays at Expedition Island
Fridays, 4-7pm
Expedition Island (755 Southpoint Blvd, Petaluma)
Open Play sessions on Fridays are buy one, get one free. Purchase a 90 minute admission for one child, and one adult or sibling can play for free. Admissions are generally $20, giving access to zip lines, a climbing wall, and many other ways to monkey around. expeditionisland.com

Weather a little glum? Check out out guide to indoor places to have fun!

Have a fun, and ACTIVE weekend!

Crissi Dillon
SantaRosaMom.com

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