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After-School Activities Events Parenting Resources

10 Summer Activities that will Satisfy Bored Kids AND your Wallet

Summer: the ultimate free-for-all.

Instead of being entertained and engaged for 5 to 8 straight hours every day, kids are now looking to you with those big eyes that say “I’m bored.”

Here’s some fun and thrifty ideas to beat summer boredom that will keep both your kids and wallet happy.

Make a tire swing

A simple summer classic, tire swings can easily be put up and taken down as often as you’d like. On the days that the park is too crowded or it’s too hot to make the walk, hop on the tire swing and let the fun begin!

Simply hang a tire from a sturdy branch with strong rope and you’ve got yourself a swing.

10 Thrifty Summer Ideas Guaranteed to Beat Boredom, not your Wallet
Photo by Flickr user twred

Have a cooking day

For those days that the air conditioning is more comforting than the wicked heat, rally the troops into the kitchen and come up with some fun recipes to make as a family.

On those especially hot days where turning on the oven is a no-no, check out this list of no-bake desserts that are sure to beat the heat.

Cooking with Kids

Backyard obstacle course

Who is the greatest obstacle warrior of them all?

Have a competition in your backyard that will be sure to keep kids busy for hours. Make an obstacle course out of wading pools, tires, and ropes to test kids’ balance and agility. For some great obstacle course ideas visit here.

Scavenger hunt

Keep kids entertained and having fun by sending them on a scavenger hunt. Hide clues throughout the house and yard so that kids will have to follow clues to get to their final destination. Place clues underneath rocks, hide a message in a balloon, or even bury clues in the yard so kids will have to dig for them.

The final destination could be anything from a surprise ice cream cone to a special screening of their favorite movie.

geography for kids
photo by Flickr user artstreamstudios

Rainy day fort

What better place to set up camp than in the comfort of your own living room?

Grab some pillows and blankets and build a fort worth writing home about. Shut off all the lights and bring out the lanterns so kids feel like they’re really at camp. Kids can share ghost stories, eat s’mores, and play flashlight tag all just steps from their bedrooms.

Photo by Flickr user designerBrent
Photo by Flickr user designerBrent

Have a boat race

Toy boats can be made out of anything from wood to Tupperware—as long as it floats, it can be a boat!

Go to your local creek or simply fill up a pool in the backyard and let the races begin. Kids can use straws to set their ships sailing and see whose boat is the quickest. For some ideas on how to construct your own boat, check it out.

Photo by Flickr user Jon Olav Eikenes
Photo by Flickr user Jon Olav Eikenes

Tie dye

This is a great outdoor craft as it can get pretty messy!

Grab some white pieces of clothing such as socks, t-shirts, or dresses, and get ready to dye! Tie dye kits can be purchased at any craft store, or simple fabric dye will work just the same. Be sure to follow all the instructions provided to avoid too many stains.

Photo by Flickr user Karly Soldner
Photo by Flickr user Karly Soldner

Dress-up box

Kids love to pretend, and what better way to create a living story than with costumes.

Raid your closet for old bridesmaid dresses or bedazzled jean jackets that you knew would come in handy one day. Most thrift stores are a gold mine for dress-up boxes. Fancy hats, heels, and costume jewelry can be found at a fraction of their cost if you know where to look!

Photo by Flickr user mooshoo {littlepapoose}
Photo by Flickr user mooshoo {littlepapoose}

Backyard water wonderland

This is a great activity for those unbearably hot days. Drag out the inflatable pool, sprinkler, water guns, and even water balloons and have an all-out water blast–bored kids no more!

For an extra cool dip, float some ice cubes in the pool and call it the “cool off zone.” When kids get overheated from running around they’ll get a quick chill of relief.

Photo by Flickr user jennyhud
Photo by Flickr user jennyhud

Fly a kite

Check your local forecast and plan for the next windy day. If your kids have never flown a kite before, I recommend picking up a cheap starter kite. You can find them at any super store or even some dollar stores.

Keep in mind they probably won’t last long, but it will teach your kids the basics of kite flying. Once they’ve mastered it, consider purchasing a good kite that will last all summer.

Photo by Flickr user Vironevaeh
Photo by Flickr user Vironevaeh
Written by Sarah Antrim
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Uncategorized

20 Do’s and Don’ts When Your Child Is Bullied

DO tell your child it’s not their fault. When someone is put down repeatedly they are likely to begin thinking something is really wrong with them. A bully often chooses a target at random and sticks to victims that react in the way that they desire. Assure your child know that it is not their fault they are being bullied.

DON’T take the situation lightly. Although making light of certain situations and joking around can ease stress, a child may see this reaction as not being taken seriously. There is nothing funny about your child being hurt.

DO communicate the issue with the school. Let the school know of the problem and see what their policy and consequences are for bullying.

DON’T blame the school or educators for not addressing the issue sooner. Keep in mind that educators and school staff deal with many children on a daily basis and are not always aware of what happens at all times.

DO encourage your child to write down bullying instances and how they made them feel. It’s important to know how the words or actions of a bully are affecting your child. Are they simply being teased or are they experiencing serious psychological damage? Constant bullying can lead to problems later in life such as eating disorders and drug problems.

DON’T encourage your child to fight back. Although confidence and standing up for oneself is an important lesson to learn, it may not always be the best choice in every situation. Your child can get seriously hurt or make themselves more of a target for bullying.

DO encourage your child to build a support system. Every kid wants to feel like they belong and bullies make kids feel rejected from their peers. If you child has trouble making friends, try enrolling them in extracurricular activities such as a youth group or sports team. Having good friends will help them build confidence and learn that healthy relationships are about being treated equal and with respect.

DON’T ignore the problem or encourage your child to ignore it. It’s a common misconception that if you stop reacting to the actions of a bully they’ll lose interest and move on to the next target. It may deter it for a short time, but the problem is not solved. Address the issue head on and come to a conclusion.

DO empower your child. Let your child know that with your help, they will put an end to this problem. Let them know that it takes a strong person to ask for help.

DON’T try to handle the problem yourself. Your instinct as a parent is to protect your child, but having mommy or daddy run to solve a problem can make matters worse for both of you.

DO stay calm and offer your support. Kids might be afraid to tell their parents about bullying because they are ashamed and think their parents will be disappointed. No matter how angry you are, try to stay calm and comfort your child.

DON’T criticize your child. Maybe they didn’t handle the situation the same way you would have liked them to, but remember that everyone reacts differently under pressure. Children are learning all the time and having the support of their parents is extremely important.

DO remove incentives from the bully. If your child is getting his lunch money or any sort of material object stolen, simply remove them from the situation and it may help the situation. Pack a lunch for your child and leave all valuables at home.

DON’T get the bully’s parents involved. This is often a parent’s first reaction, but it will likely make matters worse. Let the school handle the bully and the parents.

DO expect the bullying to stop. Check in with your child and the school to make sure that the appropriate measures are being taken to stop the bullying.

DON’T force your child to talk about things they don’t want to. Kids might be embarrassed of how bullies treat them and don’t want to open up to their parents about it. If you think your child has been hurt or bullied and refuses to speak to you about it, consult a school counselor or teacher and see if they can talk with your child.

DO practice role-play and safety strategies with your child for when they feel threatened. Ask them which adults they will report to when the bully approaches them.

DON’T encourage your child to get the bully “in trouble”. There is a difference between seeking help and tattling. There are many reasons that children become bullies. They may come from an abusive home or have psychological issues. A victimized child asks for help in hopes that the bully will stop bullying altogether, not just stop targeting them.

DO follow-up with your child. Ask them questions about school every day, not necessarily about the bully but about how they enjoyed their day. If they respond with things like “I hate school” or “I have no friends,” you’ll know that the issue has not been resolved.

DON’T get angry if the issue is not resolved immediately. Sometimes these things take time to fix. As long as your child is not hurt, the most important thing is to be there to support and comfort them. Maintain communication with the school to stay updated on the progress of the situation. The most important thing is to stay calm.

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Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Kids and Money: 10 Ways to Help Them Jive

1. Lead by Example

It’s a fact that most Americans are in debt. Sometimes it is not easy to avoid, especially once you have your own family. Set a good financial example by living within your means; if you can’t afford a new television don’t buy one. Your kids won’t care about shiny new toys and gadgets if they live in a happy, healthy home.

kids and money 1

2. Make Kids Earn Their Money

Instead of handing over an allowance to your child every week, make them earn it little by little. Simple things like brushing their teeth, picking up their room, and doing their homework on time will get them a full allowance. If they want more money, offer chores to be done around the house like washing dishes or dusting cabinets. Kids will be more likely to appreciate their hard earned money.

kids and money 2

3. Encourage Kids to Save

A savings account can help your child see a bigger picture, set goals, and plan for the future. If your kids aren’t too keen on saving their money, offer to put a small amount into their account each time they make a deposit. Don’t discourage your child from withdrawing money from their account or it may discourage their wanting to save altogether.

kids and money 3

4. Don’t Let Your Children See You Stress About Money

The number one reason that most couples argue is financial troubles. It’s hard to live in a happy, peaceful household when you’re constantly worried about how the bills will get paid. As hard as it may be, put on a happy face for your kids. Worrying or stressing will only make the situation worse.

kids and money 4

5. Set Financial Goals with Your Child

Does your child want something pricey like an Xbox or a new bike? To learn and appreciate how valuable big purchases like these are, sit down with your child and set a goal. Let’s say that your child’s allowance is $5 per week. If they save half of their allowance and put it in a savings account that pays interest, how long will it take to get what they want? If they are diligent with their saving, you could offer to match their savings to get to their goal quicker.

kids and money 5

6. Teach Kids to Be Smart Shoppers

The grocery store might seem like a bore to many kids, but it can be a lesson waiting to be learned. Let’s say your child’s favorite snack is $2.50. A similar product of a different brand is on sale for 2/$3. Show your child the difference in what being flexible can buy you. Would they rather have one box of their favorite granola bars or two boxes of a similar kind for almost the same price? Luckily most super markets make it easy and do the math for you and post the price per ounce on the sale tag. You could even create a “treat fund” for your child and see how wisely they spend their money. Give them a $5 allowance to get whatever snacks or treats they wish and see how far they can stretch it.

kids and money 6

7. Talk to Kids About Giving

It’s important to teach kids to appreciate the value of their money. While their allowance of $5 per week could buy them a bag of candy and a toy, a single dollar could feed a family in a starving country for a week. Check out charitynavigator.org where kids can choose a charity to donate to.

kids and money 7

8. Teach Kids About Investing

Stocks and bonds can be purchased online with a small fee. Encourage your child to pick a stock of their choosing and buy a share. They can watch as the stock grows or falls and learn the power of investment. It’s also never too early to start a 401K and saving for retirement.

kids and money 8

9. Communicate the Differences Between Needs, Wants, and Wishes

Allow your children to make their own spending decisions, but encourage them to think hard before they spend their money. If they want to spend their allowance on a toy, ask questions about the toy beforehand. Do they NEED this toy? How often will they play with it? What else could they buy with that money? Kids are quick to act on impulse so raising questions may just change their mind.

kids and money 9

10. Involve Kids in Spending Decisions

Holding your child’s hand through every financial decision or simply making them for them will never teach kids to be financially independent. Kids have to learn from their spending choices whether they are good or bad. They must learn the discipline and rewards of good decisions and consequences of poor decisions.

kids and money 10

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More About Us

Activity Hero Joins the 500 Mentor Network

So what is a startup for moms by moms up to at 500? Kicking butt, of course!

Like many other startups that hustle to get into 500, we crashed an invite-only New Year’s party. We found an unsuspecting & tired Dave McClure, and excitedly pitched the most useful thing ever in the entire universe for a mom (or something like that).

It is quite easy for us to get excited about what we do. We’re after all a company built out of the frustration that no one else thinks our problems are important enough to be solved. Why $2.1 trillion seems a trivial market for Silicon Valley to pursue, we know not, but that parents need help spending $20 billion on kids after-school activities and summer camps, we know quite well, so we’re determined to help them spend it right. And let’s not forget the vendors, over 50% of whom are paying us because of the order of magnitude better conversions they get from our site compared to similar channels; we are determined to continue to awe them.

And we’re not stopping there. Heck no! We’re not resting until all the problems every fellow mom encounters finding the right local services for her kids are solved. It’s a real problem, our problem, and we’re determined to make the lives of our everyday unsung heroes a little easier. (Yep, we just called ourselves everyday unsung heroes. We have pictures in capes to prove it.)

And this is where the 500 mentor network has been super helpful so far. (No, not the cape part, the solving the problem part) In this short time we’ve been here, the conversations with just a handful of mentors, leveraging their combined experience, has just been a goldmine of information, leap-frogging our growth and stopping us from going on wild goose chases. It’s not just time and money that was saved, but the frustrations and consequent greying of hair! Talking to someone like Dave Schappell about vendor acquisition and retention; Bret Terrill about game mechanics; Evan Nisselson about community building; Jason Hreha about design; James Levine about two-sided marketplaces & Chris Turitzen about awesome ideas for FB fan acquisitions around Hallmark & non-Hallmark Holidays – none of which would’ve been available to us just a month ago when we were on the “outside”. This, we already know, is just the tip of the iceberg. We see everyday the 500 family very active on the internal dashboard talking about everything from advisor stake to immigration attorneys to joint Mother’s day campaigns. The network has amazing people proudly proclaiming #500strong.

We’re very excited to be a part of this family. As a startup built by moms, our favorite self-made quote is “it takes an entire village to build a company”. We’ve always known that it’s the people who are going to make the difference, and we are always looking for the right people who can help make the dream of every busy frustrated mom a reality. You can help too: if you have big brains, we can use your help; if you have a loud mouth, we can use your help; if you have big pockets, we could use your help too. Come join our family and let’s kick some butt!

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Events

Cinco De Mayo for Kids: Celebrations Around the Bay Area

There’s plenty Cinco de Mayo for kids in the Bay Area this week. And with sunshine continuing through the weekend, a lot more fun is sure to be had!

Check out the events below if you’re looking for something to do with your kiddos as spring fever continues to go strong.

Cinco de Mayo Street Party – Pleasanton, May 2

Peruse the various community booths and enjoy food, music and fun.

Friday Night Music Jiggle Jam – Carmel Blue, San Francisco, May 4

Preschoolers and toddlers learn to make music and engage in interactive circle time with their parents and other little ones.

Camp Open House – Roughing It Day Camp, Lafayette Reservoir, May 5

Come test drive some camp activities and enjoy an open house complete with site tours and snacks.

May Fete Parade and Fair – Palo Alto, May 5

It’s the 90th anniversary of this annual parade with plenty of fun fair games and vintage vehicles for dad.

Bay Area Children’s Theatre – The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs – Berkeley, through May 6

Kids will love this interactive theatrical production where THEY get to decide if the wolf really is guilty.

Spartans Sports Camp Basketball Clinic – Mountain View, May 6

Join up with other aspiring NBA stars at this completely free clinic on Sunday, May 6.

Kids Game and Puzzle Night – Jigsaw Java, Redwood City, May 5

Enjoy a night away from the kids as they enjoy pizza, popcorn, hot chocolate and game/puzzle time. Ages 5-12 only.

Sunnyside Springfest – San Francisco, May 6

Come support this local elementary school as you enjoy live bands, dance performances, games and a raffle & art show.

Finally, with summer just around the corner, there are plenty of parades and festivals happening all around the bay.

Vintage Vehicles and Family Festival – Palo Alto, May 5

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta – San Francisco, May 5

Fit & Fun Fair – Sunnyvale, May 5

Cinco de Mayo Festival – Sausalito, May 6

Art and Fort Mason – San Francisco, May 6

Norway Day Festival – San Francisco, May 5 & 6

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Contests

Summer Shenanigans Contest

Calling All Activity Adventurers! Are you the mom of a boisterous boy or a day dreaming little diva? We have a meme contest for you!

Send us Facebook-worthy snapshots of your kids caught in the act of summer shenanigans and your photo could be  inducted into the Activity Hero Hall of Miniheros. The Grand Prize is a $50 Amazon gift card! If your clan laughs in the face of humdrum swimming days and burned s’mores, then flaunt your creativity and show us how you fill your summer.

Submit a photo that fits one of three different categories, through the point of view of your child(ren):
*What I think I do
*What I really do
*What I want to do

Impress us with photos that show us how much you like summer – because the photo with the most Facebook “likes” wins!

How to Enter:
Email your picture to us at [email protected] as soon as the fun has begun! Label the  picture either “What I think I do,” “What I really do,” and “What I want to do.” The voting period ends Tuesday, April 17th 11:59 PST. The longer your photos are online, the longer people have to like them.

How to Win:
We will upload your photos into our Summer Shenanigans Facebook album and the voting will begin.People you like, people we like and people other people like can all log onto facebook to vote for the best photos by “liking” them. The meme with the most “likes” wins!
Prizes:
Grand Prize:
50 dollar amazon gift card
3 other prizes for the best photo in each category will also be awarded. 

Anyone who enters the contest will get a free summer cookbook.
Winners’ picture will go in our Activity Hero Hall of Miniheros.

Summer Shenanigans Official Contest Rules and Conditions:

1. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. OPEN to all Activity Hero facebook fans at least 18 years of age. Employees (and their immediate family members and those living in the same household) of Activity Hero, its subsidiaries, and consultants, contractors, legal, advertising, public relations and promotional, fulfillment and marketing agencies, and website providers/web masters and the immediate family members of each are not eligible. Void where prohibited or restricted by law, regulation, or ordinance. Subject to all local laws, regulations, and ordinances.
2. ENTRY: To enter, Email your  picture to complete the “meme” to us at [email protected] Your picture must be labeled either “what I think I do,” “what I really do,” or “what I want to do.”
The voting period ends Monday, April 15th 11:59 PST.
3. THE NITTY-GRITTY: We will input your picture into our template and upload your “meme” to our “Summer Shenanigans” album on Facebook.
You, your friends, your family, our friends, our family will vote for the best “meme” by “liking” the photos.
By entering into the contest, you are stating that the pictures you enter are your own and not copyrighted by anyone else.
We are not responsible if any participants don’t play by the rules.
4. WINNER SELECTION:
Winners will be chosen based on the number of “likes” each picture has by April 17th at 11:59 PST and announced within twenty-four (24) hours of the close of the voting period.
The more the Facebook community likes your content- signified by “likes”- the better your chances are to win.

Winners will be chosen based on the number of “likes” each picture has by April 15th at 11:59 PST and announced within twenty-four (24) hours of the close of the voting period.

The more the Facebook community likes your content- signified by “likes”- the better your chances are to win

The winner will be notified via the participant’s email and announced on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog.
6. PROMOTIONAL:  Where permitted by law, winner grants to Activity Hero, its subsidiaries, affiliates and those acting pursuant to its authority, the right to use the winner’s winning entries, name, entries, likeness and biographical information for advertising and promotional purposes without additional consideration.
Categories
Events

Bay Area Moms: Things to do with your Kids this Weekend (April 6th- 8th)

Looking for something to do in the bay area this weekend? There are plenty of happening (or should we say “hop”pening?) events all around the bay with Easter just around the corner!

April 2-6

San Francisco

First Thursday Free Admission Day – come check out the Pez Museum in Burlingame, which includes plenty of oddities the older kids will love. When: April 5, 10am. Free.

Moonlight Hike – head on over to Oakland for a hike through the redwoods at twilight. Perfect for adults to experience with older children. When: 5pm at Chabot Space & Science Center.

East Bay

Hands-on Art – this drop in activity is ideal for kids aged 18 months and older. Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland – members are always free. When: Tues-Fri, 10am-3pm.

Zeum’s Lil Z Program – For kids 5 and under, your little ones will enjoy exploring music, stories and creativity-based activities in this one-hour educational play session. When: Fridays 10-11am.

South Bay

Friday Night Pajamarama Storytime – come in your favorite jammies and enjoy a storytime designed for kids of all ages. It takes place every Friday evening at the Eastridge Mall in San Jose. When: Fridays at 7pm. Call 408 270 9470 for details.

Baby StorytimeThe littlest ones of the family can enjoy a baby storytime just for them each week at the Campbell library. There are also special storytimes for toddlers, preschoolers and families. When: Times vary – see website or call 408 866-1991 for details.

Easter Weekend (April 7-8)

San Francisco

Union Street Spring Celebration & Easter Parade – local restaurants will roll out their best eats while kids enjoy everything from a climbing wall and bounce house to costumed characters and a petting zoo.  When: Sunday, April 8, 10-5. Free.

Beach Chalet Easter Concert & Egg Hunt – After a yoga session for the adults, stick around to meet the Easter bunny and enjoy an egg hunt. This is followed by the JamBand Family Festival. When: Sunday, April 8, 3-5:30pm. Hunt begins at 3:20.

North Bay

Belvedere Community Center Easter Bunny Brunch – music, face painting, games and of course an egg hunt. Take your own photos with the Easter Bunny. When: April 7, 10am-12pm. $15 per person, includes brunch. Infants are free.

San Anselmo Children’s Egg Hunt – Enjoy the hunt and then a modest fair and puppet show. It’s all happening at Memorial Park. When: April 7, 11am. For ages 7 and under only. Free.

Easter Bunny Breakfast – A $5 donation per person benefits Special Olympics Marin at this special breakfast
happening at the Cheesecake Factory. Children’s music and balloon animals will accompany the breakfast. When: April 7, 9-10am. $7 admission.  Reserved seating only – 415 924 8921

Strawberry Recreation District Spring Faire – designed for children aged 1-8, you can make your own Easter basket, enjoy carnival games and take your photo with the Easter bunny. When: April 7, 10a-12:30p. Children: $8.

East Bay

Children’s Fairyland Bunny Weekend – check out Tap Dancing Easter Bunnies and then meet plenty of other seasonal bunnies and storybook characters. Mother Goose will also be in attendance to show the kids around. When: April 7. Tap dancing at 11:30am. Meet bunnies 1pm, Arts & Crafts 12-3pm. $8 for all ages.

Eggster Hunt and Learning Festival– UC Berkeley is hosting their self-described “largest free egg hunt in Northern California” on the Valley Life Sciences Building lawn. Educational activity booths round out the day. When: 10am-3pm. Free.

South Bay

Los Altos Recreation Department Egg Hunt – find them at Hillview Soccer Field. Four different hunts are divided up by age groups and each include post-hunt activities.  Hunt at 10am, Activities run 9:30-11:30am. Ages 1-8 are free.

Gamble Garden Children’s Easter Party  – This Palo Alto event features arts & crafts, an egg hunt and even a mermaid-themed puppet show. When: April 7, 9:30am-1:30pm. Members: Adults $10, Kids $20. Non-members: Adults $15, Kids $25.

Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Santa Clara – located in Central Park, the hunt takes place in the softball field at 10am. The field is divided into 4 age divisions, and also features an area for those with special needs. Bring your own basket and stay for post-hunt events that run until 4pm. Call 408 615 2260 for details. Free.