Free Family Earth Day Events for April 25, 2015
Celebrating Library Week at 3 “Play and Learn” Spaces
2 Monday Flash Giveaway Family Conference Passes
Free Family Weekend Events List for April 18-19, 2015
FFTC Birthday Party Sponsor beARTrageous, The Alternative to the Same-Old Birthday Party–Young and Old Alike
Flash Family Fun Idea: Visit The Raptor Center
Okee Dokee KaraOKEE Night.
‘Mall Cop 2′ Swag Pack Monday FLASH Giveaway
Flash Family Fun Idea: April Farm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo
Organize a Family Photography Challenge with PBS Nature




 Come Celebrate with us at Our Birthday Party on April 25! 

More details here!

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Free Family Earth Day Events for April 25, 2015




Earth Day Cleanup at Tamarack
@ Tamarack Nature Center
5287 Otter Lake Road, White Bear Township, MN 55110

Time: 9am – noon
Ages: All ages welcome
Details: Pre-register by calling (651) 407-5350 for this volunteer event.

Annual Ramsey County Earth Day Cleanup
@ Battle Creek Regional Park in St. Paul & Maplewood
Meet at: Battle Creek Recreation Center, 75 S Winthrop St., St. Paul

Time: 9 – 11:30am
Ages: Volunteers of all ages welcome
Details: To register, call 651-748-2500 ext. 333.

Earth Day Cleanup at Minneapolis Parks
Click here for a list of participating park cleanup sites.

Time: 9:30am – noon
Ages: Open to all ages
Details: No pre-registration necessary; just show up at one of the park sites.

Family Earth Day Celebration
@ Wargo Nature Center
7701 Main St, Hugo, MN 55038

Time: 12:30 – 3pm
Ages: All ages welcome
Details: Enjoy refreshments, entertainment, crafts and an Earth Day Fair.

Earth Day Cleanup
@ Lebanon Hills Regional Park
860 Cliff Road, Eagan MN 55123

Time: 9am – 5pm
Ages: All ages welcome
Details: No pre-registration necessary, gloves and bags provided at the park.

Celebrating Library Week at 3 “Play and Learn” Spaces

When the term “library” comes to mind, the action word “read” probably follows. Most likely the word “play” does not follow (perhaps because, at least in my family, playing is often a rowdy, non-library-friendly activity). However, according to the developers of various “Play and Learn” sites installed at several Twin Cities-area libraries, play is paramount when it comes to children’s reading readiness. Did you know that? I hadn’t thought much about it until I started researching libraries for this article. But it makes sense. Play is essential in supporting storytelling, which boosts vocabulary and uses their imaginations to work out real world experiences. My preschooler and I observed National Library Week by visiting three libraries in the East-to-SE Metro that have been recipients of these “Play and Learn” grants to see what kind of enrichment they’re offering:

Library: RH Stafford Branch of the Washington County Library, 8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury, MN 55125
Space: Smart Play Spot designed by the Children’s Museum of Minnesota
Details: Shop at an alphabet outdoor farmers market, camp out with cuddly critters in a tree house, drive a motor boat and explore Washington County Parks. The Smart Play Spot incorporates the six domains of Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (reading, playing, singing, writing and talking) with imaginative play opportunities.

Library: Park Grove Branch of the Washington County Library, 7900 Hemingway Ave S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
Space: An interactive “Play and Learn Space”
Details: Small, quiet spaces encourage letter and number recognition, a cozy place to curl up and read, and a collection of manipulatives specially designed for infants and toddlers.

Library: South St. Paul Library, 106 3rd Ave N, South St Paul, MN 55075
Space: An indoor space to promote imaginative play experiences
Details: My 3-year-old loved the play cafe, navigating with the pretend rocket ship, and choosing books in “The Little Room”, a space dedicated to youngsters.

These are just three spaces carved out at local libraries for kids to work their imaginations, plump up their vocabularies, and prepare or enhance their reading success. Do you have a favorite branch that promotes play? Let us know so we can share!

2 Monday Flash Giveaway Family Conference Passes

Conferences-everywhere I turn there is another conference.

And guess what!  We have two giveaways happening today.

You can enter Moms Rock! Expo here and you can enter to win two family passes to the Bloom Conference at Methodist Hospital on Facebook.

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Free Family Weekend Events List for April 18-19, 2015

The following activities are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to free family fun in the Twin Cities this weekend! And the word “iceberg” just seems so wrong to use when it finally feels like spring out! Speaking of spring, there are lots of options this weekend for observing Earth Day with kids – and Saturday will be the perfect day for it. As always, please check our Family Fun Calendar for more weekend inspiration!


Party for the Planet
@ Como Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103

Hours: 10am – 4pm both Saturday and Sunday, April 19
Ages: All ages
Details: Tons of free activities will take place throughout the weekend, focusing on creative ways to conserve energy. Get the entire lineup of events here.

Outdoor Family Expo
Maplewood Community Center
2100 White Bear Avenue, Maplewood, MN 55109

Hours: 10am – 1pm
Ages: All ages
Details: Come soak up spring by meeting with live animals, exploring outdoor equipment, and participating in activity stations.

Earth Day at Three Rivers (multiple events)

  • Richardson Nature Center: Native Plant Sale & Service Opportunities • 10am-2pm, all ages, search for signs of spring and participate in a service project for the nature center.
  • Carl Kroening Interpretive Center: Pollinators and River Cleanup • 10am – 12pm, all ages, learn all about bees and help the pollinators by picking up trash in their habitat along the river.
  • Lowry Nature Center: Native Pollinators Need Native Plants • 12:30 – 2pm, all ages, more hands-on bee activities.
  • Eastman Nature Center: Pollinators and their Roles • 1 – 4pm, all ages, drop in anytime to learn more about (guess what?) bees! I’m sensing quite the bee theme this Earth Day.


Target Free Third Sunday
@ Minnesota Children’s Museum
10 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102

Hours: 9am – 5pm
Ages: All ages attend free!
Details: Explore the museum, including the new exhibit Sid the Science Kid thanks to the generosity of Target.

FFTC Birthday Party Sponsor beARTrageous, The Alternative to the Same-Old Birthday Party–Young and Old Alike

beARTrageous can create a birthday party for anyone.  If your kids like sports, if your kids like art, if your kids like fairies, if your kids like Star Wars–beARTrageous is the place to go.

It’s also the place to go for adult parties–birthday or no.

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Flash Family Fun Idea: Visit The Raptor Center

Today’s Flash Family Fun Idea suggests you bring kids of any age for a fun and educational visit to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center – though consider delaying the trip til June. That’s the month, my tour guide confided, that she’s betting the construction on the brand new outdoor enclosures will be complete, the raptors moved in and comfortable in their larger quarters. You can still pop over and visit the Raptor Center this spring, though, if you don’t mind a shortened version of the tour and fewer birds on display. Here are five reasons why:

  • Tours are free and often. Tuesday – Friday from 10:30am to 3:30pm, tours step off every half hour. With so many times available, it’s very likely you’ll get a guide all to yourself! Again, there is no charge for the tour, but donations are appreciated to help care for and rehabilitate the birds.
  • In my experience, when I’ve gotten a personal tour, the guide has tailored it to the ages of my children. Don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t have much of an attention span. Or, if you’ve got an inquisitive older child, they can ask as many questions as they like.
  • The birds are beautiful! Get up close to bald eagles, kestrels, owls and falcons. The Raptor Center treats about 800 injured birds a year with the goal of releasing them back to the wild.
  • Your kids can’t get their hands on the raptors, but there are drawers of objects such as feathers and talons that little ones can touch.
  • A children’s corner contains play vet sets, stuffed animals, x-rays, coloring sheets and books if you end up waiting a short time for a tour.

Expect the new exhibits to be complete sometime in June. And here’s another tip: free parking is scarce around the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. If you’ve got some extra time (and a stroller), consider parking on a residential street in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood and walking a few blocks. The Raptor Center is located at 1920 Fitch Ave., Falcon Heights, MN 55108.

Okee Dokee KaraOKEE Night.

Our first attempt at Okee Dokee KaraOKEE did not go as planned.  The kids were super excited and couldn’t calm down enough to sing along.  Plus they really don’t know the songs from Can You Canoe as well as Take it Outside.  We plan to keep trying because it was a really fun night.  Here’s a little clip from our night.

‘Mall Cop 2′ Swag Pack Monday FLASH Giveaway

Opening on Friday, April 17! Read More

Flash Family Fun Idea: April Farm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo

minnesota zoo farm babies

Springtime means Farm Babies time at the Minnesota Zoo whether we’re ready to give them a warm welcome or not! I’m guessing most of the newly-born lambs, calves, piglets and the rest have been spending their time huddled around heat lamps in the barn instead of basking in the sun at the Wells Fargo Family Farm. However, it looks like we’re in for a stretch of sunnier days ahead.

Or, if you’d rather place your bets on better weather later this month, the animals will be greeting guests through April 30th. In addition to getting hands-on with the babies, there are tons of other activities to enjoy out at the Wells Fargo Family Farm area of the zoo. Tram rides from the grain elevator (which, by the way, is a fun attraction in itself!) will run from 11:30am-1:30pm. The other offerings are as follows:

  • Hay maze in the Machine Shed 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Animal Egg Enrichment – Weekends
    • 9:00 Animal Enrichment @ Snow Monkeys
    • 10:00 Animal Enrichment @ Brown Bears
    • 11:00 Animal Enrichment @ Sea Otters
    • 11:00 Meet a Bird Keeper @ Tropics Trail
    • 1:00  Animal Enrichment @ River Otters
    • 2:00 Close Encounters @ End of Tropics Trail
  • University of Minnesota Bee Squad – April 18 & 19 – Learn why we should be more “bee friendly”. Get up close to a live hive and learn more about these important pollinators.
  • MN Pork Growers Oink Booth – April 25 & 26
  • Cow Milkings:  11:00, 1:00 & 3:00

Want to win a year-long family membership to the Minnesota Zoo? Print out the annual Farm Babies coloring contest entry form here and bring it with when you visit. Admission to the Farm Babies exhibit is included with your Minnesota Zoo tickets. You can find current ticket prices and parking rates here.

Organize a Family Photography Challenge with PBS Nature

photography collageWhen my oldest turned 4, she received one of those FisherPrice cameras for her birthday.  At the time, I thought this was a ridiculous gift for a four-year-old, but I have a wonderful kids-eye collection of photos that makes me smile every time I flip through it. Someday, I want to frame them into a hallway gallery exhibition. Over the years digital photography has become a hobby she shares with her dad.  Now she carries an old phone of mine and gets higher quality photos than the little pink camera she used to carry.
If you also share a photography hobby with your children, PBS may have an excuse for you to get out and take some photos together.  Nature’s Animal Homes will share any amateur nature photographs you upload.
Hey amateur nature photographers! Do you have a fun or interesting photo of an animal home? It could be anything from a bird’s nest you snapped in your own backyard to a fort that you built for your favorite pet. Submit your photos here! A select few will be shared with NATURE’s 250,000+ Facebook fans.
I love a great excuse to get out to the parks and nature centers to get some good photos.

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