10 Fun Family Activities for Mid-Winter Break

February 11, 2016

Tubing at Northstar California in Lake TahoeWhether you're heading up to Lake Tahoe for skiing or hanging around home for "Ski Week", there are plenty of fun things to do with the kids during their time off this week! Since the weather has been amazing here lately, we've included plenty of ideas for outdoor family fun.

Here's our list of 10 fun family activities and outings in Marin and beyond for mid-winter break.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for February 12, 13, 14 & 15

February 10, 2016

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, February 12

  • Chinese New Year Fun: Tai Chi for All Ages
    Dance Palace, Point Reyes Station
    Friday, 11 am–noon

    Experience the health benefits of Tai Chi for all ages with these introductory classes by local instructor Chris Anderl. Fee: $5–10 sliding scale. Location: Dance Palace 503 B Street, Point Reyes Station. For more info, visit their website.
  • Kids Night at the Museum
    Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
    Friday, 5–9 pm

    Drop your kids off for after-hours fun at the Schulz Museum. Kids will have the Museum all to themselves for pizza dinner, games, art, and cartooning. Recommended for kids 10 and under. Cost: $25 members, $32 non-members. $5 discount for siblings. Advance reservations required; register online or call (707) 284-1272. Location: 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Night Jazz: Dave Getz and Friends
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur
    Friday, 5:30–8:30 pm

    Enjoy live jazz in the outdoor setting of Marin Country Mart. Food available from Marin Brewing Company, FarmShop, El Hurache Loco, BelCampo Meat, Three Twins Ice Cream, Rustic Bakery, and others. Dave Getz was the original drummer for Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company; his quartet performs an eclectic mix of jazz, Latin, samba, funk, and standard. Free. Location: Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur. For more info, visit their website.
  • Penguins+Pajamas Sleepover
    California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
    Friday, 6 pm–Saturday, 8 am

    Experience your own night at the museum! Explore the exhibits after-hours and discover the deepest depths of the oceans, travel to the tops of rainforests, blast off into outer space at your own private planetarium show, and then settle in for story time after snacking on milk and cookies. When the lights go out, roll out your sleeping bag next to the California Coast tank or the Swamp window face-to-face with Claude the albino alligator. In the morning head over to the Academy Café for breakfast. Cost: $109 per person. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family Film Night: Ratatouille
    Presidio Community YMCA
    Friday, 6–10 pm
    Bring your sleeping bags and camp out on the gym floor while you enjoy a fun free movie on a big screen. Free popcorn and It's It ice creams. Food available from Off the Grid at 6 pm, cartoon shorts at 6:30 pm and movie starts at 7 pm. The event is indoors at the Presidio Community Y Gymnasium, 63 Funston Avenue at Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio. Stay warm and cozy with BYO blankets and cushions. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, February 13

  • Third Annual Presidents Weekend Stand Up Paddle
    McNear's Beach, San Rafael
    Saturday, 8 am–noon

    Dress up as your favorite U.S. president and enjoy a family friendly paddle board race for all ages at McNears Beach Park. Day of race registration starts at 8 am, races start at 9:30 am. Award will be given for best costume. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Don’t forget to bring a paddle board. Park entrance is waived for participants. Meet at the snack bar in McNears Beach Park in San Rafael (201 Cantera Way). For more info, visit their website.
  • Saint Valentine's Festival
    Marin Country, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day with the whole family at the Marin Country Mart and Farmers Market this Saturday. Festivities include sugar cookie decorating, a creative reuse heart art project, an old-fashioned photo stand, face painting, pony rides, and live music. Also, enjoy shopping for delicious local produce, artisan cheese, pastured eggs and meat, local seafood, local organic flowers, and handcrafted jams, confections, and chocolates. For more info, visit their website.
  • Valentine's Fun at Marinwood Farmers Market
    San Rafael
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Join the MSEL students at Marinwood Community Farmers' Market for Valentine's Day Fun. Kids can make valentine's day cards. The Terra Linda High School Band will be playing live music. Location: 101 Marinwood Ave., San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family Botanical Valentine's Day Tea
    UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
    Saturday, 10–11:30 am

    Families can enjoy a celebration of herbs and flowers at this educational walk and tea party. We'll use all of our senses as we explore the nature of these fragrant edibles, with a special opportunity to collect for our make-your-own tea party snacks and garden drinks. Finish the fun by making valentines from pressed botanicals to take home. Cost: $20 adults, $15 adult members,  $18 children, $13 member children. Register online, or by calling (510) 664-9841, or by emailing gardenprograms@berkeley.edu.
  • Lunar New Year 2016
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm

    Come marvel at Chinese acrobatic performances, traditional Chinese lion and folk dancing, and much more. Children of all ages can make a take-home monkey craft, go on a Zodiac Scavenger Hunt through the Zoo to learn fun facts about the animals found on the Chinese calendar. Don't forget to stop by the Primate Discovery Center to see all of our monkeys during this Year of Monkey Celebration!  Cost: free with paid admission to the Zoo.  For more info, visit their website.
  • Lunar Chinese New Year Festival
    Fourth Street in Berkeley
    Saturday, noon–4 pm

    Fun for the entire family. Featuring lion dancing and martial arts street performance. Check out their complete schedule of events here.
  • Teen Valentine Party
    Novato Library
    Saturday, 2–4 pm
    Join us for an afternoon of cookies, cakes, tea, paper crafts and board games. For teens 6th–12th grade. Location: 11720 Novato Boulevard, Novato. For more info, call (415) 473-2050 or visit their website.
  • Chinese New Year Celebration and Imperial Dinner
    San Francisco Symphony
    Saturday, 3 pm
    Music, family and tradition: three things at the heart of the San Francisco Symphony’s Chinese New Year celebration. This family event includes a pre-concert Festival Reception which transforms the lobbies of Davies Symphony Hall with lion dancing, Chinese calligraphy, ribbon dancing, tea bars, children’s entertainment and “lucky” red envelopes. Get more info and tickets here.

Sweet Treats for Valentine's Day at Teeny Cake Bakery in Novato

February 9, 2016

Teeny Cake Valentine's DayLooking for a sweet treat for someone special this Valentine's Day? Teeny Cake, Marin's favorite cupcake bakery, is getting geared up for the big day this Sunday, February 14. All of their delicious teeny cakes will be decorated for heart-filled celebrations, and special Valentine's Day boxes with either a dozen or half-dozen cakes will be available for pre-order and pick-up on Saturday or Sunday.

Delivery is also available for a small fee (with minimum order). Pre-ordering is encouraged, as many popular flavors are expected to sell out!

Teeny Cake will also be hosting a high tea service at 11 am and 2 pm on Sunday, February 14. Reservations are required—spots are filling up quickly, so call soon to reserve your spot. Tea service includes a selection of loose-leaf tea, an organic fresh fruit scone, clotted cream and jam, assorted finger sandwiches and hand-made sweets. The high tea costs $40 for adults and $18 for children 12 and under, including tax and gratuity.

Electivity: Customized Afterschool Enrichment Programs, Fun for Children, Easy for Parents and Schools

February 9, 2016

Electivity Marin Mommies presents a sponsored shout-out from Electivity.

Wish there was an easier way for your child to continue learning new skills and discovering new abilities after the school day? Wish you could squeeze in a work email or errand before school pick-up? 

With Electivity’s customized afterschool enrichment programs, you can!

Led by two Marin moms, Electivity was borne from their constant search for quality after-school programs. They were delighted to find interesting programs (tried and tested by their children) and capable instructors with whom they have formed robust relationships. Encouraged by fellow parents’ call for access to high quality and affordable after-school activities, the moms launched a free service to schools, customizing after-school programs offered on school premises.

Electivity curates and builds a full spectrum of programs for schools, and offers enriching learning opportunities that complement the school day through classes such as: languages, STEM, circus arts, culinary arts, cheer, hula, keyboarding, magic/stage presence, multi-sports, performing and mixed media arts, and much more.

Fun Mid-Winter Break Camps in Marin and Beyond

February 9, 2016

studio 4 artLooking for something fun for the kids to do over the upcoming midwinter break? Check out some of the great day camp programs here in Marin. Many of these camps offer drop-in sessions for last-minute fun over the break, as well as before- and after-care.

  • Studio 4 Art
    1133 Grant Avenue
    Novato

    (415) 596-5546
    Camp takes place from February 15–19 from camp times 9 am–noon (ages 4–14) or 9 am–3 pm (ages 7–14). Campers will have the choice of many different projects each day that include painting, drawing, ceramics, mixed media and printmaking, students will create a variety of fine art projects in different art mediums. A sibling discount is offered. Cost: $265. For more info, visit their website.
  • Rolling Hills Club
    351 San Andreas Drive

    Novato
    (415) 897-2185

    The Junior Polar Bear Camp (ages 3–5) takes place February 16 and 18 from 9 am–1 pm, and Polar Beach Camp (ages 6–12) takes place February 15–19 from 9 am-4 pm. This year's theme is "Random Acts of Kindness". Activities include: stories, sensory crafts, and games. Prices start at $60/day. For more info, visit their website.

Four Fun and Easy Homemade Valentine's Day Cards

February 8, 2016

Butterfly valentine's day card

My kids always love to make their own unique Valentine's Day cards to give to friends and classmates every February. Here are four fun and easy card projects to make at home with common craft supplies that you probably have on hand already. We think these really beat the store-bought Valentines, since they're handmade, beautiful, and "from the heart."

Children of all ages can do most of the steps in these crafts, but grown-ups may want to help with cutting and gluing, depending on children's ages and skill levels.

Butterfly Valentines

This butterfly-shaped card that we made is designed to hold either a candy stick or a pencil, and is easy to make and decorate. We cut out the butterfly shape with scissors and decorated the card with stickers. You can embellish yours with whatever you like, such as crayons, markers, glitter, or paint. You'll need:

Hiking, History, and Nature at Olompali State Historic Park in Novato

February 8, 2016

Olompali State Historic Park

Just north of Novato, on the eastern slopes of Mount Burdell, lies Olompali State Historic Park. This gem of a local resource is often overlooked by families as they drive by on Highway 101, but it's well worth a visit. With miles of hiking trails, historic sites spanning 8,000 years of human habitation, and sweeping views of the Petaluma River Valley, Olompali has much to offer for visitors of all ages.

The story of Olompali starts with the Coast Miwoks, who lived on the site for thousands of years. Olompali was one of the primary Miwok settlements in Northern California until the 1850s. At the park, you'll find evidence of their presence here in the form of a "Kitchen Rock", a large stone used as a mortar by the Miwok people to grind acorns and seeds, and a reconstructed village with redwood bark and tule reed kotchas—traditional Coast Miwok dwellings. There's also a native plant garden with educational panels describing how the Miwok used each plant for food or medicinal purposes.

Wonton Party for Chinese New Year

February 7, 2016

Fried wontonsTomorrow, February 8, marks the beginning of the celebrations for Chinese New Year: the Year of the Monkey. It's a tradition in our house to make wontons, as dumplings are traditionally associated with the holiday. Wontons are easy to make, tasty, kid-friendly, and you can get everything you need at your local grocery store. Furthermore, they're something children can help make with minimal effort, and they even have a lot of fun folding the things.

So, pick up a pack of pre-made wonton wrappers and other ingredients and get ready to start your Chinese New Year wonton party! Our recipe is for chicken wontons, although you can use pork, shrimp, or other fillings, depending on what you like or happen to have on hand. Wontons can be prepared in a number of different ways, including steaming, boiling, frying, and can even be served in soup (our favorite).

Ingredients

The wontons

  • 1-1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into pieces
  • 1 package square wonton wrappers

Fun and Easy Paper Crafts for Chinese New Year

February 7, 2016

Dragon paper craftThe Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Monkey, starts tomorrow, February 8. To kick off your celebration, create some neat Chinese New Year crafts, like these cute paper dragons and lanterns. They're easy and fun to make and perfect to decorate the house, and make great playdate, school, or scout group activities. They'll also be perfect to have on hand while you watch the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade on February 20. Have your own parade through the living room!

Paper Dragons

Here’s what you’ll need to make your dragons:

  • Gold stickers or paint (red and gold are traditional colors for Chinese New Year)
  • Crepe paper in red, yellow, or orange
  • Dragon head template (download here)
  • Heavy white paper or card stock (letter size)
  • Markers or crayons
  • Wooden chopsticks or other thin but sturdy sticks
  • Tape
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