Marin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Ross Valley Charter, opening this fall for TK–5th grade at the White Hill School campus in Fairfax.
Enter a Ross Valley Charter kindergarten/first grade classroom and you discover a joyful buzz of activity. Scanning the room, you notice a group of children happily constructing a marble run with blocks and PVC pipes, others playing a math game with a parent, and some outside observing wildlife with magnifying glasses and notebooks. Amidst the action, you locate the teacher, sitting on the rug with a small group of students forming letters on mini chalkboards. A girl approaches: “Would you like to see the painting I’m working on?”
One of the things I love most about winter in Marin is being able to hike to a beautiful waterfall, and when it rains families have many to choose from. The waterfalls in our list here all involve hikes of varying length, and all are perfect destinations for a family outdoor outing. There's something for hikers of every ability here.
All of these waterfalls are at their most spectacular after the big rainstorms we've been having this winter. This also means the trails will be pretty muddy, so make sure you put on the rain boots and dress the kiddos in something that you don't mind getting dirty. Here are four of our favorite Marin waterfall hikes, in order of difficulty (although all of them are family friendly). All but one of these hikes (Cataract Falls on Mt. Tamalpais) are on lands administered by Marin County Parks; visit their website for more info and to download printable trail maps for each preserve.
Our family really loves hiking in Marin during the winter, especially when there's a waterfall involved. One of Marin's favorite family hikes is at Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve near Fairfax. The trail here winds through Elliott Nature Preserve, along San Anselmo Creek, to the 20-foot Cascade Falls. It's particularly popular during the winter and spring when the creek is flowing, but it's a great place for a fun family hike at any time of year. This easy out-and-back hike is about 1.5 miles round trip.
Start out at the trailhead on Cascade Drive in Fairfax and head onto Cascade Fire Road. San Anselmo Creek burbles along to your left, and you'll find a couple good flat spots for the kids to walk down and explore the creek. Ordinarily you'll follow Cascade Fire Road for approximately a half mile until it meets with Cascade Falls Trail, fording shallow parts of the creek in a couple spots.
Whenever we're in (or near or driving through) Fairfax, we try to stop at Fairfax Scoop, the awesome ice cream shop on Broadway right downtown. It's a tiny little place, but you can't miss it—it's the bright yellow storefront with a line of people snaking out the door.
Fairfax Scoop makes fantastic handmade organic ice cream using locally sourced ingredients. The day's flavors are written on a whiteboard, and can include innovative flavors like vanilla honey lavender, toasted hazelnut, Mexican chocolate, Buried Treasure (peanut butter, chocolate, and Newman-O's), and Controlled Burn (cinnamon with crystallized ginger and red chile!), as well as the usual ice cream parlor suspects like peach, strawberry, chocolate, and mint chip. Vegan-friendly sorbet and soy options are always offered, too. Flavors rotate, so there's usually something new whenever you visit.
Kids' scoops will run you $1.95, a single scoop is $2.85, and a double is $3.95. Portions are really generous, so be sure you're really hungry before you order that double scoop! There's a 25¢ discount if you bring your own reusable container, but we always opt for their fresh-baked waffle cones, which are actually the only kind of cones they have (and they don't cost extra, like at other ice cream shops).
Help support Fairfax Parks &Recreation at an English Tea Party on Sunday, February 8 from 2 to 4 pm. This first-time event will be held at the Fairfax Women’s Club and features members of the Fairfax Theater Company in costume as your favorite characters from Alice in Wonderland. Tickets are $20 for adults, and $15 for kids ages 17 and under, and free for children under the age of 2 will be admitted for free.
Come enjoy a Sunday afternoon tea party and meet Alice, the March Hare, the Dormouse, and the Mad Hatter, who will also be available for photos with guests. Delicious tea sandwiches, organic teas, hot chocolate, scones, and scrumptious desserts will be served.
This event is expected to sell out and space is limited, so hurry and reserve your tickets now! Tickets are available for purchase at 16 Park Road, next to the Fire Department in Fairfax. You may also send in your check to Fairfax Town Hall, 142 Bolinas Road, Fairfax, CA 94930 to obtain tickets. Cash or checks only please.
Join the Friends of Peri Park this Saturday, May 17, from 9 am to noon for the unveiling of the park's new play structures. Peri Park playground is located at 16 Park Road in Fairfax. This free celebration features refreshments from Mana Bowls and Peri Park merchandise for sale.
The national non-profit KaBOOM! awarded the Town of Fairfax a $20,000 Let’s Play City Construction Grant to build a new playground structure with community involvement. As part of the agreement with KaBOOM!, the Town of Fairfax needed to raise a matching $10,000. The Peri Park campaign has been a resounding success, raising nearly $15,000 to date.
The mission of Friends of Peri Park is to improve the enjoyment and safety of Peri Park Playground. Their goal is to develop a community of volunteers, parents, children, and friends to help further their mission by supporting with volunteer assistance and fundraising efforts.
If your child is entering kindergarten in the fall, you like many Marin parents, have probably considered an independent school. Cascade Canyon School is a K-8 school in Fairfax with a small, full-day, developmental kindergarten program that's capped at 10 students. We asked Cascade Canyon School to answer a few questions about their school and its programs and philosophies.
If you're interested in kindergarten at Cascade Canyon for the 2013–2014 school year, they'll be holding a final parent tour on Tuesday, June 4, at 9 am. For more information, visit www.cascadecanyon.org or call (415) 459-3464.
Please describe your school’s educational philosophy. What’s it all about?
At Cascade Canyon School, everyone knows everyone, and children feel comfortable expressing their individuality all the way through eighth grade. Within our accepting, inclusive community, we foster cross-age relationships and multi-age learning opportunities. Teachers, students and families work together to support our students' intellectual, social and emotional development. We offer small classes and a flexible, responsive learning environment that allows each student to reach his or her full potential. Our teachers are skilled in teaching to different learning styles and incorporating students' interests into the classroom.
Marin Mommies presents a guest article by Anne Mannes, FOCAS Program Director in Fairfax. She highlights some of the classes and events happening through FOCAS this winter and spring.
We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! We are looking forward to a great 2013 and encouraging all of you to take advantage of the fun and affordable classes happening via FOCAS.
For the winter and spring sessions we have a little of everything for every age, including our new offerings such as Zumbatomic/Zumba Gold, Yoga for Toddlers, drop-in basketball, ceramics for adults and more. Please be sure to check out our website www.fairfaxfocas.com for our full schedule and/or pick up a copy at Town Hall. Below is a sneak preview of the highlights:
Fairfax Moms: In the interest of building a fully supported and sustainable network of Fairfax families with little ones 0–6 years old, we have started Fairfax Moms. It is offered in affiliation with FOCAS and the Town of Fairfax. Membership dues are $30 per year or $50 for two years. Membership dues will enable us to offer the speakers and programs that parents/caregivers want. It will also streamline the process of adding new members and welcoming new folks to town, helping them get plugged in right away. To join and/or learn more about the benefits of this group, please go to the website www.fairfaxmoms.net/ BigTent offers simple profiles, subgroups, a classified section and a calendar. The New Parents Group is part of the Fairfax Moms meeting on Tuesdays from 11 am–12:30 pm at the Community Center. We hope to see you soon!
Families looking for a great place to dine in Fairfax owe it to themselves to check out Iron Springs Pub and Brewery. Located in the Fair-Anselmo Plaza shopping center just outside downtown Fairfax, it's a fantastic place to grab a bite to eat and maybe even a house-brewed beer (for mom and dad, of course).
Iron Springs offers an assortment of well-conceived pub fare, like burgers (including a house-made veggie burger), sandwiches, salads, and "Big Plates" with offerings ranging from roast chicken to Mayan poc chuc. The kids' menu offers the usual suspects, most of which can be accompanied with fries, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, or sliced cucumbers and baby carrots.
On our last visit, the pub was literally crawling with families enjoying a lunch together. Kids get the usual coloring paper and crayons, and there's even a bookshelf in the corner that has a nice selection of books for both children and grownups. It's a place that encourages you to relax and hang out.