Author - Joy Peters

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Where To View the Solar Eclipse in the Twin Cities – Plus Other Fun Events
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Get Your FREE 2017 Museum Day Tickets
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10 Free Things To Do With Kids In Downtown Minneapolis in Summer
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60 Fun Summer Outdoor Games for Kids
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Twin Cities Independence Day & 4th of July Events
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National Get Outdoors Day Round Up – 2017
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Twin Cities Summer Reading Programs – 2017
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Twin Cities Vacation Bible School Opportunities
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Universe in the Park 2017
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Green Card Youth Voices – Review

Where To View the Solar Eclipse in the Twin Cities – Plus Other Fun Events

On August 21st, the U.S. is going to see the biggest solar eclipse since I was in early grade school. A lot of parents are young enough that they don’t remember the last one, so this can be an exciting family event for everyone. It will run from approximately 11:45 to 1:00 p.m. While we won’t get a total eclipse here in Minnesota, we’ll still get enough to make it interesting. If you won’t be traveling to see the total eclipse but still want to get in on the fun, we do have a few places to view in the Twin Cities. This is what we’ve found so far. Leave us a comment if you know of other viewing areas

Where View the Solar Eclipse in the Twin Cities - Plus Other Fun Events

Standard Disclaimer: Don’t Look Directly at the Sun! Check with your local library. Some are giving out eclipse viewing glasses for free. Supplies are limited.

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Get Your FREE 2017 Museum Day Tickets

In 2017, Smithsonian Museum Day is Saturday, September 23rd. On this day, visitors can get two free tickets to participating museums. Tickets are available while supplies last starting August 25th through the Smithsonian website. Minnesota always has several participating museum (not always the same museums). Some of these museums are cheap year round and many require a road trip. Each year, we lay them all out for you here, listing the museum and its address, an approximate drive-time from the Twin Cities, and the prices you would pay any other day.

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10 Free Things To Do With Kids In Downtown Minneapolis in Summer

Grab the stroller, hop the bus, bring a picnic or cash for lunch, and you can make a day (or more) of it in downtown Minneapolis.  There is so much going on and much of it is free and family-friendly.

Downtown Minneapolis

Why wait for an out-of-town guest to explore downtown? I’ve outlined 10 Free Things to Do with Kids Downtown to get you inspired. These activities are not all on the same day of the week, but it would make for a really long day if you powered through all ten activities at once. If you want to play tourist, you could probably get through all of them in a few days. Read More

60 Fun Summer Outdoor Games for Kids

There seems to be study after study, advocating outdoor time for kids. Experts suggest a correlation to everything from better overall health, to lower anxiety to better eyesight. While we would prefer if our kids spontaneously wanted to play outside, getting outside and enjoying it takes practice. We’ve compiled this list of outdoor games for kids that parents can employ to help encourage independent outdoor play.

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Twin Cities Independence Day & 4th of July Events

Do you have a Independence Day Go-To Plan? Or do you like to switch things up each year? Since I didn’t grow up here, I like to check out different festivals each year.

We’ve collected several ideas for celebrating Independence Day as a family. If you know of an event — free or paid — that you’d like to see added, please drop us a line via our contact form. Thanks!

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National Get Outdoors Day Round Up – 2017

National Get Outdoors Day is Saturday, June 10th this year. You can find an extensive list of events at the National site, however many of their listings seem outdated this year, so we recommend calling to verify. We have verified the dates below for you.

National Get Outdoors Day

Image courtesy of MPRB

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Twin Cities Summer Reading Programs – 2017

2017 Summer Reading Programs

Where do your kids fall in the summer reading spectrum? Whether they love to read or hate it or are somewhere in between, there is probably a program out there for them. If they are ambitious, they can participate in several. There is no rule that kids can’t use the same books for several programs.

A couple years ago, I did some research on the reality of the income-based achievement gap and how parents can Increase their Child’s Chances in School with a few Simple, Budget-Friendly Habits. Summer reading is another place where the achievement gap grows. However, the fix is offering your kids easy access to a lot of books and empowering them to select their own reading materials.This is where summer reading programs can come in handy.

The following are few programs we found plus our own:

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Twin Cities Vacation Bible School Opportunities

Vacation Bible School seems to be a little like scouts or sleep-away camps in that some parents did it when they were kids and consider it a childhood rite of passage. While others, like me, did not even know these camps existed until I was an adult. I have very little experience with VBS, so this list is merely a collection of churches that have submitted their programs to us. I can’t personally endorse any.

Twin Cities Vacation Bible School Opportunities

Faith formation of our children is such a personal matter, that I recommend visiting the websites of these churches and possibly attending a service to decide for yourself if the program is a good fit for your family. Follow the links to explore and register for programs.

June Vacation Bible School Programs

6/5-6/9 • Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley • Deep Sea Discovery • 9:30-11:30 am • Ages 3½-Kindergarten • $15/child.

6/12-6/16 • Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley • Deep Sea Discovery • 9:15 am-12:15 pm • Ages 4½-completed grade 5 • $15/child.

6/12-6/15 • King of Grace Lutheran Church, Golden Valley • Mighty Fortress • 9 am-11:30 am • Ages 3+ (3-year-olds require a parent to be present) • FREE.

6/19-6/22 • Living Hope Lutheran Church, Shakopee • Cave Quest • 9 am-noon • Ages 2+ (2 and 3 yr olds need a parent) • $10 donation request/child.

6/19-6/22 • Grace Church, Eden Prairie • Big Story • 9 am-12:15 pm • K-5th Grade • FREE.

July Vacation Bible School Programs

7/10-7/13 • Calvary Memorial, Wayzata • The Heavenly Story  • 6 pm-8:30 pm • Games, crafts, snacks, small groups… the Gospel of John, and Jesus Christ! • FREE.

7/24-7/28 • Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Roseville• VBS Theatre Camp • 9 am-12 pm  • Age 4 – 6th Grade • Musical performance Friday, July 28 @ 7pm • $35/child or $70/family before 6/25; $45/child or $90/family after 6/25.

August Vacation Bible School Programs

8/7-8/11 • Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Plymouth • Maker Fun Factory • 9 am-12 pm • Age 4 – 6th Grade • FREE!


Do you have a VBS submittal? I’ll continue to add them throughout the summer. Submit them to Joy  

For more ideas on how to keep your kids busy this summer check out our 2017 Guide to Twin Cities Summer Camps.

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Universe in the Park 2017

Universe in the Park

Looking for an astronomy fix? During the summer months, we don’t have the Friday night Public Viewings at the UofM’s Institute for Astrophysics, instead there is the Universe in the Park program on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer. These events are held in various parks — some close, some not so close. The program starts with a 20-30 minute presentation at 8:30 p.m. and then, weather permitting, an opportunity to view the sky through telescopes until 10 or 11 p.m. Participants can learn how to use a star map and go home with a free one. This program is free, but a vehicle permit may be required ($25 annual/$5 daily). Don’t forget to dress appropriately for Minnesota summer evenings (You know the drill — layers and insect repellent.) Since it IS a park, and you are paying for a days worth of parking, you might as well arrive early with a picnic and have some playtime.

Participating parks are listed below:

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Green Card Youth Voices – Review

I recently stumbled on the book, Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from a Minneapolis High School (affiliate link*). It looked interesting, so I checked it out for myself, but after reading it, I plan to share the stories with my middle schooler. With immigrants and refugees frequently in the news, these stories are a way to introduce the subject from the point of view of someone close to their own age who has experienced these issues first hand.

Green Card Youth Voices

Green Card Youth Voices

Each essay in this book is written by a student of Wellstone International High School and tells their personal immigration story. The stories are told in a very matter-of-fact style that makes the stories that much more compelling. There is so much we take for granted in our own lives. This book will introduce you to 20 young people, many of whom have overcome poverty and language barriers to find their place in Minnesota. Each essay is a couple of pages and an easy read. This is a really good book to pick up, put down and discuss as you have a few minutes to read and talk together.


Green Card Youth Voices

Each essay has a photo of the writer and usually only a couple pages.

Now we can top off our reading of the book with a visit to the exhibit. Over the summer the Green Card Voices Exhibit will travel between three Ramsey County Library branches – Roseville in June, Maplewood in July and Shoreview in August. The exhibit will include the stories and photos, but also a QR code to see the story told by the author on video.

Green Card Voices began in 2013 and is an initiative crated to record and share the stories of American immigrants – regardless of status.

*The book link is an affiliate link to FFTC’s Amazon Store. We receive a small portion of any sales.

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