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Monday, March 31, 2014

Interesting summer camps in the Bay Area

This is part of our summer camp series. We're lucky that there are tons of summer camp options in the Bay Area. It's impossible for me to cover them all, and there are lots of great websites out there that do. But we can highlight some that look a little different! Please comment below on your favorite camps.

These camps offer after-care, but I didn't put in specifics for that, nor for price since there are so many options available.

Hiller Aviation Camp - San Carlos
This aviation museum offers week-long summer camps in aviation and aerospace. All camps include hands-on activities and flying models, flight simulation sessions, aircraft demos, behind-the-scenes museum gallery explorations, aviation themed games and more.

Schedule: half and full day options
Age: entering grades K-8; high school students can apply to volunteer at camp
When: June 2 - September 5

Theater Camps
Hillbarn Summerstage - Foster City
Your child will be immersed in the performing arts in this camp!

Schedule: 9-1, 9-2, 9-3, 9-4, 12-6 depending on age
Age: ages 4-18; high school students can apply to volunteer at camp
When: June 16 - August 3 - various sessions

Retrodome's The Scene - Santa Clara
The California Academy for the Creative and Performing Arts, along with Guggenheim Entertainment runs this camp at Santa Clara University. If your child loves musical theater, including singing, acting and dancing, this is a great place for him or her!

Schedule: 9-3:30 plus two evenings for Conservatory students, and more evenings/some weekend days for Conservatory PLUS students.
Age: entering grades 3-8 for the Conservatory, and grades 7-12 for the Conservatory PLUS.  high school students can apply to volunteer at camp
When: July 7 - August 1

India Community Center Cultural Camp - Milpitas and Palo Alto
Lots of options for fun camps here, including Bollywood dancing, public speaking, cooking, Hindi camp, engineering, art, math, LEGOs, games, culture and more.
Schedule: 9-3 mostly.
Age: entering grades K-8
When: June 9 - August 29

Avid4Adventure - Corte Madera, Oakland, Berkeley
These week-long camps have the kids doing multiple sports, which might include rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and stand-up paddleboarding. Even the little ones get to bike ride and climb the rock wall.

Special for Frisco Kids readers:
The first 50 campers to sign up for East Bay locations get $50 off. Plus you can get an additional $15 off using the code "Frisco Kids" (which is still good even after the first 50 camper bonus is over).

Schedule: 8:45-2:30
Age: Pre-K to 7th
When: June 16 to August 15

Laurel Street Arts - San Carlos
Crafts for boys and girls, and might include mosaics, soap making, glass painting, polymer, pottery painting and glass fusing.

Schedule: half-days
Age: Grades 2-8
When: June 16 to August 29

Other Camp Posts:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bay Area Kids' Cooking Classes and Camps

As part of our summer camp series, do you have a budding chef on your hands? Time to check out some Bay Area kids' cooking schools. Here's some to consider:
By yamakazz (Flickr)**


Paulding and Company's COOK
These culinary classes for kids ages 9-18 (broken up by age group) are held in Emeryville. The hands-on courses range from ethnic cooking (Chinese, Italian, French), to baking, to culinary leadership training. 

Cindy Toque Cooking
Based in Palo Alto, this camp is for kids 10-17, and includes competitions, field trips and hands-on projects. Cooking topics include pizza/pasta, cookies, chocolate and chili - each with their own week.

A Little Yumminess
Our friends at A Little Yumminess are hosting camp again this summer. The San Francisco and Marin camp is for kids ages 7-9. If interested, get on their list, because they're mostly sold out, and they only offer two weeks of camp, which focus on foods from several different countries each week.

In the Kitchen (ITK Culinary)
This organization offers a two hour Sunday cooking class once a month for kids, in Marin. They also have a spring break camp the week of April 14. The classes are hands-on, aimed at kids 4-14.

Galileo Camps
Galileo Camps offer some culinary camps as well, as one of their "majors." This summer they're offering a class in decadent desserts, and one in international foods, for 5th to 8th graders. They have more than 40 Bay Area locations - check the website to see when/where these are being offered.

Classes Bean Sprouts Café and Cooking School
Bean Sprouts Cooking School (and the cafe) opened at the Bay Area Discovery Museum last fall. 
It's for kids ages 2-10 (divided up by age). Their Imaginibbles classes began in October. The 10-week class series for children ages 2-6 included dishes as featured on Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect and Good Morning America. They focus on tasty, healthy recipes along with playful presentation and recipe steps. I couldn't find any current classes listed, but check in with them if you're interested.

Photo: **CC-BY-2.0 (, 
via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, March 27, 2014

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra - Free Family Concert

The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra has free family concerts coming up, with the Squids, who are described as rock 'n roll meets classical. They perform original tunes and arrangements from Lady Gaga to Britney Spears, Mozart to Beethoven.

Here are upcoming family concerts:
When: March 29 (Saturday) - 2 and 3:30 p.m. at the Randall Museum in San Francisco
When: March 30 (Sunday) - noon at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center
When: March 30 (Sunday) - 3:30 at the College of San Mateo Theater

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Link Love: Science, Cinnamon, Baby Carrots and Disneyland

My latest collections of fun links to check out are here!

50 best science museums in the world - via Wandering Educators (take a look through these - fun stuff). Yes, the Exploratorium is there!

33 gorgeous places on earth - someone posted the link on Facebook, but these are truly magnificent. I've been to two of them. You?

Throwing a super science birthday party - via Suitcases and Sippy Cups. Great ideas here!

Where does cinnamon come from? Great educational lesson here, and I learned a lot.

In a similar vein, what are baby carrots?

Win a trip to Disneyland or Disney World, from our friends at Trekaroo.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Coming Up: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Free Family Concert - with Squid Inc.

This weekend, March 29-30, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is offering free family-friendly concerts for its Family Concert series, in San Francisco, San Mateo and Oakland. The concerts last 45 minutes. This one is a string quartet - rock 'n roll meets classical, with the Squid Inc. ensemble. Their original tunes and arrangements include numbers from Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, with Beethoven and Mozart. 

WhenSaturday, March 29 (2 and 3:30)
Where: 199 Museum Way, San Francisco (the Randall Museum)

When: Sunday, March 30 (noon)
Where: 388 9th Street, Oakland (Oakland Asian Cultural Center

When: Sunday, March 30 (3:30)
Where: (College of San Mateo Theater) directions here

The concerts are free, and doors open 30 minutes before the performance.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: Boost by Mercendes-Benz After-School Transportation

Recently we posted about a new after-school van service called Boost by Mercedes-Benz. You can read more about it here. The company is sponsoring this review, however all opinions are our own.
I asked two locals (a friend, and a friend-of-a-friend) who live in the serviced zip codes to test it out. Both live in Menlo Park. “This is a great resource,” said one reviewer, after her daughter experienced her first ride. We’ll get to the ride part later.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Science Fair! Where to get ideas and inspiration

Unfortunately, we don't have science fairs at our school, which is too bad since my daughter wants to be a marine biologist and my son an engineer. We talk a lot at home about science and the proper way to do experiments (hubby is a scientist).

We're now part of the Netflix Stream Team, which means I'll bringing you monthly topical posts, paired with ideas where you can get additional ideas (a hint - some of them will be on Netflix). This post is about science!

Where do you go for science experiment ideas? When I was in middle school, we had to do presentations in class about our experiment - it was a great lesson in public speaking that stays with me to this day. My favorite experiment was making rock candy. You can read about how to make rock candy here (and see photos).

I'm big on chocolate, and you might know that if it isn't melted properly, chocolate doesn't turn out well. So here are a couple of chocolate activities - I'm sure you can find a way to incorporate these into a science fair project!
--chocolate covered crackers with candy
--chocolate with Pop Rocks (the science potential here is great)
--chocolate dipped pretzels
--matzah covered chocolate toffee

For local inspiration, visit some of the Bay Area museums, including:
--the newly renovated/located Exploratorium
--we reviewed their new book Exploralab, which has lots of ideas
--the California Academy of Science
--the Lawrence Hall of Science (Berkeley), The Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose) and the Computer History Museum
That list is not exhaustive.

For some online help, look at Science Buddies, Energy Kids (U.S. Energy Information Center),, and many others.

If you're looking for inspiration on TV, some shows to consider are: Mythbusters, How Stuff Works, Build it Bigger, How do they do it?

Commonsense Media has some tips for motivating, informing and teaching your kid something about science fair projects.

What science fair projects have you done? What lessons have you learned from the process? Please share in the comments section.

Disclosure: all writing and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies

Two days ago, we posted an interview my son did with his favorite author, David Lubar. Here is his review of the Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies, the latest in the Weenies short story series. This book comes out on April 11. (The book level is for for ages 8-12, grades 3-7).

The review:
David Lubar’s books are a collection of short stories. What I really like about them is that all the characters are different, settings are different and timing might be different. The stories don’t usually have anything to do with each other, other than themes like revenge, carnivals, death or something like that. Some are really creepy and have a chance of giving you nightmares. Others end up with a happy ending or semi-happy ending. There’s always a twist to the story that you’re never expecting.

The only real difference between this book and others were that there were major twists instead of minor twists that you couldn’t see coming whatsoever. Sometimes it’s nice to figure things out.

I really loved Mr. Chompywomp. In that story and in some of the other stories, it says “don’t bully or you might end up like this” even though you know it won’t really happen. It’s really fun to think about. You could feel how the characters are feeling, like when she’s revealing a secret I had a smile on my face even though I didn’t know what was coming next. I just thought it was going to be amazing (and it was). The story about the zombie apocalypse – I loved how you can figure things out on your own instead of just having it said to you, like happens in a lot of other books. In Rough Road, I like how you can turn the regular world into an opposite through fantasy. David Lubar might write a story about a kid who lives in a world where apples are poisonous, who is reading a book about a world where apples aren’t poisonous. He can turn the tables on a story about human dimensions and opposites.

They’re amazing stories by an amazing author.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Interview with children's author David Lubar

My son loves to read. I overheard him on the phone recently, telling his grandmother about the Weenie books and he said something funny. So I emailed the author to tell him. After all, what author doesn't like to be told that a 10 year old fan was telling his grandmother about his favorite author and book series. David Lubar indeed appreciated the comment, offering to send my son a book to review for the blog, and agreeing to let my son interview him. 

So Zack got to interview his favorite author. I get to share that interview with my readers. And David Lubar? Hopefully he gets some new readers. Zack's review of the new book, Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies, will be posted tomorrow (read the review here). 

If you're not familiar with the Weenie books, they are creepy short stories with twists in them. There are a lot of these books in this series already - you can find them in your public or school library, at your favorite book seller and through Scholastic. The books are grade level 4, but of interest to grades 5-7, according to Scholastic.

Without further ado, here is Zack's interview, which I typed while listening in on the other phone.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi Day! Exploratorium is free

In honor of Pi Day (3.14), the Exploratorium is free today, with special Pi Day programming. This is appropriate, since Pi Day was started by physicist Larry Shaw in 1988, when he worked at the Exploratorium. Pi Day activities and information here.

The Exploratorium is open from 10-5, but Pi Day activities will be from 1-3:30. Read the Frisco Kids review of the new Exploratorium here.

Some fun Pi Day facts:
MIT sends it admissions letters (emails) to arrive on Pi Day.
Princeton NJ, home and workplace of Albert Einstein for 20 years, hosts big Pi Day events, which coincide with Einstein's birthday - also 3/14.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lose an Hour, Gain a Doughnut - Don't Forget Daylight Savings

Don't forget to change your clocks back (lose an hour) this Sunday, early morning.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 11.38.35 AMParticipating Krispy Kreme are giving away free doughnuts to make the time change a little easier. "Lose an hour, gain a doughnut." Or maybe it should be "lose an hour, gain some weight." They're giving away one free glazed doughnut per guest, no purchase necessary.  

Thank you Suddenly Frugal for the head's up!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spring and Summer Camp Fairs 2014

There are two big camp fairs this weekend

San Francisco

Still planning camp for the summer? Heck yeah! This weekend is a summer camp fair in San Francisco. It includes summer activities for children, youth and families. It's free, brought to you by a number of organizers. They'll have 150+ exhibitors with camps for all ages - toddlers to teens.

When: Saturday, March 8 from 10-2
Where: Balboa High School
Cost: Free
More details: here 

Also this weekend is the Marin Camp Fair on Saturday. It includes almost all the area day camps, plus sleepaway and overnight camps too.

When: Saturday, March 8 from 10-1, with free pizza lunch
Where: Dominican University in San Rafael (1475 Grand Avenue)
Cost: Free
More detailshere 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Boost by Mercedes-Benz - a New After-School Transportation Service

--This post is brought to you by Boost by Mercedes-Benz—

When I saw Boost by Mercedes-Benz in the subject line of an email to me, I got excited. Mercedes wants to give me a car! Alas, that was not the case. They wanted to tell me about their new after-school transportation service being tested in parts of the Bay Area. My next thought was, “they’re rolling out Mercedes car service so school kids can get to soccer practice and piano lessons?”

This piqued my interest, and I read on further, eventually talking with the people behind it. After some initial skepticism, I realized that this is a great service for families who need help with after school transportation. It’s not quite an on-call car service (they might get there at some point, but currently require booking 48 hours in advance). Commitment can be as low as one ride, or you can schedule them on a regular basis. Customers can call with less than 48 hours notice, and Boost by Mercedes-Benz will try to accommodate them if possible.

Coming Up: Marin Real Estate Seminar - Free

If you and your family have been considering a move to or within Marin County, California but want to understand about the towns, schools and communities, this seminar is for you! Given by a Marin mom and Realtor, you'll learn about:

-Marin Preschools

-Marin Schools
-Micro climates within Marin County
-Marin communities and towns
-Average home prices per town
-Marin summer camps
-Mortgage update

This informative two-hour seminar is well worth your time. Presenter, Liz McCarthy has been holding this seminar to rave reviews for over three years and continues to receive requests for the next seminar date.

Upcoming dates in San Francisco:

3/15/14 (Saturday) 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (official start time: 7:00)

It's at the Sports Basement in the Presidio (610 Old Mason Street, SF).

There's no cost to attend,

To find the upcoming seminar dates and times, go to

Questions? Please contact Liz McCarthy at (415) 250-4929 or email

This post is sponsored Liz McCarthy.