May 29, 2012

Summer Fun is on the Way

I apologize for the sparse posting, but we just got through our three day weekend and we're transitioning to life without school right now, as well as a job change for me.

Even though I haven't posted a lot, take a look at that free fun calendar over there! You could stay away from home all day every day in the central Iowa area, and never be bored again. If you missed the latest round of Summer Sanity Savers, you might want to take some time to scroll through all the posts there. As always, if you know of an event or have a question about a place, let me know in the comments or through email and I'll look into it.

I also have to share a little of what we've been doing here. My younger one loves animals of all sorts. We had an opportunity to get some toad eggs from a friend's pond, so we brought a few home. I've been having the kids journal their observations, and I just thought this one was cute. (She just turned 5)

And here are our newly hatched tadpoles.  We are just transferring them to a  larger environment because they're outgrowing their current one.  I'll post a bit more about them later in the month as they grow legs.

May 27, 2012

BOGO Water at Casey's!

Expires 6/30, so you may be able to use this one a few times.  Click here to get a printable copy.

May 23, 2012

FREE Stage Acts for 2012 Iowa State Fair Announced

It's almost time for me to start posting about my Iowa State Fair love again!  How does it sneak up so fast?  They've already sent me all the information about pre-buying tickets, and now they've released the list of free acts you can see at the fair this year!  These are always great acts, either up-and-coming newbies or the people we all love, and a lot of great local artists.

Check out the link here for the whole list.  Who are you looking forward to seeing?

I always love The Nadas and The Blue Band for local talent.

Check it out!  Boyz II Men will be here on August 19!

May 22, 2012

Another GREAT Kindle Deal

Here's a great chance if you've thought about getting a Kindle.  The refurbished Kindle is only $69.  It comes with the same 1 year warranty as the new one, so it's not a high risk to buy the refurbished one.  Through AmazonLocal (this is just like Groupon), you can also get a $20 voucher for the Kindle FREE!  Once you get your voucher, you can buy the refurbished Kindle for only $49.


Click on the pretty picture and you can see all the information.

Amazon Best Albums of 2012 $2.99 each!

This is a short time sale, so get one of these while you can! $2.99 each for whole album MP3 downloads--that's cheaper than buying 3 of the songs off the albums.  See the whole list HERE, and here are a few of my favorites.  I'd guess this will only last the rest of today.

Summer Sanity Savers Free Educational Resources

There are so many great educational resources available on the web, and I’ve gathered some of my favorites together in my bookmarks.  I guess it’s time to share these here for my friends.   Many can be used online, and many more have printable pages for use wherever or whenever you want.  While I realize this is a lot of information and a huge compilation of links, this should be all the pages you’ll need to keep any aged child having fun learning all summer long.

Letter Recognition
This blog has so many great ideas for teaching children about letter recognition.  It is much more fun than plain flash cards, and it offers hands –on activities, artistic endeavors, and so much fun that your little one might not notice she’s learning.

Letter Sounds/Phonics
Starfall is one of my favorite places to go.  Who needs to pay big money for Hooked on.. when you can go here for free?  The activities start off with simple letter recognition and move on to letter sounds and beginning reading.  They even have printable reward certificates and some fun games on the site.

Make your own puzzles, games, worksheets
This site allows you to create word searches, crossword puzzles, and board games based on your own choice of topics or learning area.  They also have an area to print out your own reward certificates, spelling words, and vocabulary sheets.

Online books
These sites allow children to read or have books read to them online. 

Great general resource roundup
This site has a huge list of learning resources for every grade level.
Another great source for lesson plans in all subject matters can be found here.
Preschool activities here have printable worksheets and books for whatever pre-reading skills you want for your little one.

Science activities
There are many great resources for science information.  Two of our favorite books are Geology Rocks (she’s from Iowa!) and Kid Concoctions.  The Kid Concoctions page has a lot of resources, and you can also purchase your book directly from them.  They sell food coloring that doesn’t stain!

Get some great home science experiments to try out with your kids.  The great thing about science is that sometimes it looks like magic, sometimes it looks like messy fun, but it is always a learning opportunity.

Math activities
I love this page for practicing basic math skills and playing games with math.

Free printable coloring pages
There are lots of resources out there, depending on what interests your little ones.  The best way to find what you want is to search “free printable coloring sheet dinosaur” or whatever your favorite coloring subject.  This site has free ebooks, and also has whole coloring books that you can print out and staple together.
Free sheet music

Do you have a favorite site you'd like to add to the list?  Any requests for specific types of information?  I had a million links in my favorites, so I tried to pare it down to just one or two favorites in each category.  

May 21, 2012

Summer Reading Activities

Summer Reading Activities
While I'm not a fan of regimented learning programs for kids over the summer, it's important to keep their brains engaged to they don't slide back so far along their learning path.  Since reading is most near and dear to my heart, I'm starting here with the first post.

Maybe you have a child who hates to read, maybe one who needs some improvement in basic reading skills, maybe your child reads everything in sight.  Whether you need a motivator or a reward, there are a ton of great ways to keep your children reading over the summer.  Most are free, some even offer freebies for you and your children.  Not only that, but they are fun ways to get out of the house and DO something.  What could be better?

The focus here will be local for me, but I am also trying to provide some nationally-based programs for the non-local readers.  As always, a quick google (or swagbucks ;) ) search will find similar programs in your area if these aren't local to you.
Public Library
  • First, the Ames Public Library summer reading program.  They have TONS of reading groups for all age groups from birth up through high school, and they offer them several times a week so they will be sure to fit into your schedule.  Our family favorite last summer was the family craft story time.  It is made to be a little more multi-age, so you can take several siblings together.  It's an hour long, which includes stories, songs, dances, and a make-and-take craft.
  • The Nevada Public Library, while much smaller, has some great activities geared a little more toward the school-aged set.  These usually involve magic shows, science demonstrations, etc.   It looks like they are continuing the activities on Wednesday afternoons.  There are also some age-based story times listed.
  • Obviously, your own library will have something similar.  Just looking around during my research, I found many fun and interesting themes and incentive programs.  Both of our local libraries offer summer reading programs where children are rewarded for reading a certain number of books or attending library programs.  

On Your Own

Are you wanting to do it all on your own in your house?  There are still many great resources available to you, and most are free or very low cost.

  • The CSLP offers more great resources for parents, kids, and educators.  Browse around the site to find the information that is relevant to you.
  • This page looks to be a more commercial site, but they have tons of free resources available.  Just clicking around, I found some great information and advice, along with printable activities and reward charts.

May 20, 2012

Summer Sanity Savers FREE Kids' Workshops and Events

If you're looking for more great FREE things to do with your children this summer, you can also check out my previous blog posts labeled SSSS (summer sanity savers series.)  Be sure to click read older posts to see all of them.

 I usually post about different activities, either through a blog post or through the free fun activities calendar on the right side of the page.  I thought it would be a good resource to have a comprehensive link to each store's activities calendar as well.  Here goes:

  • Bass Pro is one of our favorites for summer, weekend, and holiday events.  They seem to have so many, and the stores always seem to have a good aquarium to visit along with it.  Their full summer schedule hasn't been released yet, but look for it at THIS LINK.  They say the kickoff will be June 4.
  • Kids Bowl Free is a national event that occurs in a lot of bowling alleys across the country every summer. 
  • Lego Stores worldwide have monthly events for your little builder.  Check out their events page HERE.
  • Home Depot has kids' workshops the first Saturday of each month.  Just show up between 9 am and noon at your local store.  You can look at the projects HERE.
  • Lowes has their Build and Grow clinics on the second and fourth Saturdays of most months.  You are encouraged to pre-register.  You can pre-register and also see the project at this link.  In our area, there have been many times where the clinics sell out.
  • Michaels does a lot of classes.  Here's their event calendar, which includes events for the US and Canada.  Most classes/workshops are free, but they occasionally have a nominal materials fee.
  • Pottery Barn Kids stores also have free kids activities.  They have a book club (story time) every Tuesday morning at 11 am, and many other themed activities.  Check out their schedule HERE.
Where do you go?  Which ones have you tried?  I'd love to hear if you know of any more opportunities for free fun.

May 19, 2012

Summer Reading Programs = Free Books!

If you're looking for more great FREE things to do with your children this summer, you can also check out my previous blog posts labeled SSSS (summer sanity savers series.)  Be sure to click read older posts to see all of them.

 I went searching for more programs, and found several.  I know there are other stores who do these types of reading programs, so I will add more to this post as I locate them or the store releases it.

  • Summer Break with Book it!  There are also a lot of fun activities and some book suggestion lists.
  • Barnes and Noble usually has a summer reading program, but they have not updated their page yet.  I will come back and edit as soon as I can.
  • Scholastic had a great page last year with a ton of resources.  This year, they have Keep Kids Reading All Summer Long, with book lists by age and a lot of great articles for parents and teachers.  There is a chance to win a prize pack.  See more HERE.
  • Half Price Books has the Feed Your Brain program. 
I will keep looking for more programs, but please let me know if you find something so I can add to this post.  

May 18, 2012

Free or Cheap Kids' Movies -- Summer 2012

If you're looking for more great FREE things to do with your children this summer, you can also check out my previous blog posts labeled SSSS (summer sanity savers series.)  Be sure to click read older posts to see all of them.

Free summer movies seem to be going by the wayside.  Two years ago, there were freebies everywhere.  I will post what I can find.  If your area has free or low cost movies, let me know in the comments and I'll get it added here. 
  • Regal Theaters has gone to $1 movies on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10:00, with proceeds going ot the WIll Rogers Institute.  You can check here for their Regal Summer Movie Express.
  • Cinemark has 10 movies for $5 if you purchase the tickets in advance.  Even if you don't do every one, $1 a show is a decent price.  Learn more about Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse HERE.  In Ames, print this flyer for the schedule and $1 off your snacks.  Click here for Jordan Creek.
  • The Ames Public Library offers free movies every Friday at 2:00 pm.  They usually have some popcorn as well.  I'm sure your local library does something similar.
  • Showcase Cinemas has Bookworm Wednesday, in which kids get to watch a free movie IF they have read a certain number of books.  There isn't much information on this one yet, but watch this page for more details.

May 17, 2012

May Amazon FREE Downloads

I'll start with the Kindle bestsellersThe free bestsellers are in the list on the right, but if you also look on the left, you'll see many books for under $5.  Did you know you don't even have to have a Kindle in order to read these free books?  Amazon has reader apps for many different types of devices.  You can download that HERE--free.

You can get any kind of book for free!   These books change DAILY!  If you see one you like, click quickly and get it.  Check that bestsellers list every day for more great freebies.

 Here also is the Kindle Daily Deal.  This changes (obviously) every day, so bookmark this page.

The top Kindle books for $3.99 and under.  While they aren't free, it's nice to have a good cheap list to work from once you've downloaded and read EVERY free book there is.  (Is that possible?)

On to the free music...  You can start here on the bestsellers list.  The top 100 free downloads are in the list on the right.  Some are singles, and some are entire albums.   Find your favorites, or try out some new artists.  When it's free, anything goes.

 Don't forget the cheap MP3s for the month.  Since this is a free post, I'll just post the link to the May $5 whole album downloads.  They're all alt and indie albums.  Even better this month are the UNDER $5 albums.  There are great current albums like MDNA and Florence and the Machine for $3.99!

And just one more FREEBIE!  You need a FREE android app every day, right?  Bookmark this page, too.

Making the Most of Summer Sanity Savers

If you're looking for more great FREE things to do with your children this summer, you can also check out my previous blog posts labeled SSSS (summer sanity savers series.)  Be sure to click read older posts to see all of them.

Extending the Fun

Very often, a trip to the park or a walk around the neighborhood or a stroll through the woods can be enough to keep kids entertained and active for a few hours.  We scatter these kinds of activities in with our "field trips."  Some of the trips listed in the previous post can be turned easily into activities that get kids thinking, using art, science, math, and reading skills without even realizing it.

Here are some things that we do to make our trips more meaningful.

Before the trip:
  • Predicting.  This is a great critical thinking skill for children to practice.  Maybe you're going to the same park you've been to a million times, maybe you're trying out a new place for the first time.  Either way, you can teach or practice predicting skills on the way.  Walking/driving/riding bikes--it doesn't mater.  This can be as simple as asking the kids "What do you think you'll see?"  It can be as complex as having the kids pre-write in a journal predicting what will happen on their trip.
  • Pre-planning.  Why should you have all the fun?  Ask your helpers to pre-plan the trip.  What do you need to take (sunscreen, hats, bat and ball)?  What do you hope will happen along the way?  Shall we pack a picnic?  What do we need to wear, based on the weather?  What mode of transportation should we take?  Again, this can be a short discussion before you leave or a writing or drawing project days before.
During the trip:
  • Don't forget that the getting there can often be as fun as the final destination.  What can you do along the way to make it more fun?  
  • Scavenger hunts are great fun.  You can make a list of things that you think you might find along the way.  This can be done as another pre-activity by the kids, or you can make up a list of your own or find one on the internet.
  • Don't want anything that structured?  Give the children bags and tell them to try to collect 10 items along the way.  
  • I Spy--we play this a lot.  It's more of a visual scavenger hunt, where we try to point out things that we see.  We also sometimes do themes--birds, animals, flowers, specific colors.  Ask everyone to find the letter C on something, then move to something else once it's been found.
  • Notebooks can be fun tools for extending the fun.  My older one writes a little "journal" of her activities, the little one just draws or scribbles.  I buy up tons of notebooks in the clearance section after school starts, and Target has cute little notebooks in their dollar spot.
  • Another way to track your activities is with a digital or disposable camera.  Allow the kids to borrow yours if you're brave, or buy a tougher kids' version of a digital camera.  The photo quality doesn't have to be great, but it sure is fun for them.
Post Trip/Summary:
  • These activities are great for a winding down activity or even to be saved for a rainy day or sometime when you don't have anything else planned.
  • On the way home, ask "what was your favorite part?"  Ask some leading questions, have them summarize the trip for a parent who couldn't come along, or call or write a letter about it to a grandparent.
  • Make a photo book.  These can be done with a few pieces of scrap paper or notebook paper stapled together.  Kids can draw or write about the activity and what they learned, what was new to them, what was their favorite part.  You can also use some of the great photo deals that are posted in order to make hardbound photo books printed out for use later, small photo albums or "brag books", and there are even blank book forms you can draw or paste pictures into.  These can be independent projects for older kids, cooperative projects for groups, or something you do for them if they are too young to do it themselves.
  • This is one we really like.  We use photosensitve paper and place the found items on the paper, then place it outside for a few minutes (longer if it's cloudy). The resulting "art" takes up a lot less room than keeping all the rocks, leaves, and pine cones. This kit is under $10 and has enough for several collages.

I hope this post can help with ideas to keep your children active, having fun, and learning all summer long.  Do you have a favorite activity?  I'd love to get more ideas from readers here. 

May 16, 2012

May Amazon Grocery Deals

We'll start with the "clippable" click coupons.  They're always listed in my Amazon post on top, but I'll include them here as well.  I understand people in NY state may not get as many as those of us in other places.  The key here is that the coupons change when you refresh, so if you don't see one that is mentioned, refresh till you do.

The Managers' specials are HERE.

Now for the coupon codes and markdowns!  Remember there's already the 15% with Subscribe and Save, so the coupon code is just added to the per cent off.  You can see all the deals right here .

This month is gluten free month, with TONS of markdowns and deals on gluten free grocery items.  I've been dabbling a bit in gluten free, so I now can see what a good price many of these are.  Here are my favorite:
  • Tiger Tiger rice noodle bowls, they are $20 for 8 bowls, then save 15% with subscribe and save, and an additional $1.50 with the coupon.  That brings them down under $2 per package.

  • Rise Bars in various flavors, 5% off with subscribe and save, and an additional 10% off when you click this coupon.  This brings many down to around $1 each.
  • Urban Pantry bean mix, three large jars or organic beans, go from $20.25 to $17.21 with subscribe and save, then take $3 off with coupon.  That makes these beans under $5 per jar.
Check out all the deals, though!  These are just my best buys.

Where to Find Summer Sanity Savers

If you're looking for more great FREE things to do with your children this summer, you can also check out my previous blog posts labeled SSSS (summer sanity savers series.)  Be sure to click read older posts to see all of them.

 For me, the best part of summer is all the great trips you can take.  Sure, there are grand, two week vacations in the Bahamas or going off to Disney World or the beach or a cabin in the woods.  Many times those are unattainable for many different reasons.

When I have the kids home for the summer, we often do 2-5 small "field trips" throughout the week.  These can be as simple as going to the library, park, or even a little nature hike around our neighborhood, or we can go as a family to a festival a tank of gas away.  I'm making this a more general focus, because I put up a lot of free local activities in my calendar on the right side of the blog.

Where to find your adventures
I used to travel for a living, visiting many large cities and small towns locally and throughout the country.  It's amazing to me when I meet a person from somewhere and mention that I love something in their town, only to hear that they have never heard of it.  One of the first things I do when I get to any city or town is find the Chamber of Commerce or visitor's center and start looking for something fun.  Nearly every town, regardless of size, has a museum or attraction of some sort.  You just have to know where to look.  Make it your mission to discover all that your own town has to offer.

Free or low-cost everyday activities:

  • Local city parks are free, fun entertainment.  Walk to the park, and you've extended your fun.  Pack a picnic snack or lunch.  Even the most basic lunch is more fun when you're eating it outside.  Some have free or low-cost wading pools for extending the fun even more.

  • State parks have more wildlife, and often swimming or fishing opportunities.  Have you tried Geocaching yet?  It combines some modern technology with hiking and exploring, and can be the perfect outdoor adventure.
  • Local farms are so much fun!  We have many small farms in the area that allow people to come and take tours.  I've posted before about the awesome small farms that do Sample Sundays where they have free samples and fun activities for all ages.  Our local berry farm allows people to come in and pick their own fruits.
  • Zoos, petting zoos, and aquariums.  This doesn't have to be your giant metropolitan zoo to be fun.  Hand feeding a few goats or sheep can still be fun for young adventurers.

  • Local city or county museums can be great fun for children and adults alike.  Take a look around your own community and the ones surrounding it--I live in a town of 6000, and we have several museums.  I've been to smaller towns that have some incredible historical places.  Even better--most are either free or such a low cost as to be negligible.
  • Take a bus tour of your town.  If you have bus service, make a plan to get on the bus and ride somewhere with the kids, even if it's just to do some shopping or another necessary errand.
  • Go to the fire or police station.  Be sure to call ahead and ask, but many will take kids on an impromptu tour.  Join together with a few other families to make it more like a real field trip.
  • "Tour" a local pet store.  We have Earl May, and when I need anything for the garden we go and visit all the pets.  It's like a small, free zoo.  They even give the kids popcorn in some garden stores in our area.
  • Work on a garden.  Even if it's a small container garden on your porch, what better fun?  They get to dig in the dirt, play with a watering can, and watch something transform from day to day.

  • Tour a garden.  We have wonderful botanical gardens with indoor and outdoor facilities, perfect for rainy or sunny days.  Many cities have interesting gardens for tours.

  • Free bowling!  Even if your own local bowling alley isn't on the list of free ones HERE, a day of bowling is a pretty inexpensive outing.  Many places now have bumpers and automatic scoring, so all you have to concentrate on is having fun.  Call ahead and ask about what time they have leagues or free days.
  • Free movies!  Again, there are a few different places offering free movie days for kids.  Ask at your own local theater.  Also, I've posted about it before, but Family Video has free kids' movie rentals all the time.  Our library has free movie showings on certain nights, and your local library usually has movies that can be checked out. 
  • Roller skating or ice skating.  If you still have that sort of thing in your area, or just put on your own skates and skate around the park.
  • Community theater.  In our area, there is a children's theater group that does productions a few times a year.  It's very inexpensive admission, and very fun for everyone attending.  Come home and encourage the kids to put on their own production.  A few empty boxes and some markers make the sets, then raid the dress-up box or closets for costumes.
  • Small town fairs and festivals.  This is our absolute favorite thing to do.  We try to find at least one festival every weekend.  Most of these are free to enter, with lots of free activities.  Eating the fair food is a fun change for us, but you can also pack a picnic lunch for a free (except for the gas) fun day.  Where else could you watch people haul big cheese wheels or have tractor rodeos?
 Next post will be how to make the most of your experiences, preserve memories, and add some educational value to the fun.

May 15, 2012

May Casey's Pizza Coupons

Since this is such a popular post each month, here are the Casey's Pizza coupons for May of 2012. They've got large taco pizzas (my favorite!) for $13.99 this month, and the new coupon is $1 off a dozen donuts. Click here for the printable coupon.

Here are all their May specials:
  • Buy 2 get 1 free on Powerade.
  • 2 for $2.22 Stride gum
  • 99 cent Wonka candy
  • and many more!

Summer Sanity Savers

We're getting so close to summer vacation! Have you made your summer plans? I run my summer with the kids like a summer camp. We have a loose schedule that looks fun but also keeps them learning. I have done the Summer Sanity Savers Series (SSSS) before on my blog, and I often tag posts with SSSS even if they aren't technically in the summer. You can click that label in the tag cloud on the right, and it will bring up all the posts I've previously written on the subject.

This will be the first post for this summer, and I'm just going to touch on the basics today--how do I make my schedule, how do I plan our time. I expect to have several more posts on this topic throughout the next two weeks.

Your schedule can be as loose or as regimented as you'd like. I like to have a basic idea of what we'll be doing every week, and I make it easy by having the same schedule each week. We do this as cheaply as possible, and it absolutely can be done for free or just the cost of gas in your tank.

We like to go somewhere EVERY day, even if it is a walk around the neighborhood. As my kids get older, we can walk or bike further, and we can stay out longer without naps and meltdowns.

Monday is usually our stay home day.  We play in the yard, ride bikes, do gardening, but we rarely venture outside of our property line.  This is also an opportunity to relax, write in journals, and catch up on chores.

Tuesday we love to go to the Family Craft Story Time at the Ames Public Library in the morning.  We plan to meet friends for a picnic lunch or go out somewhere for lunch occasionally. 

Wednesday--in our town, there is always a cool afternoon activity at the public library.  We like to pack a picnic lunch and walk to the library, stopping to eat at one of the local parks.  We trade out our library books and do the summer reading program.

Thursday is our park day.  This can be a local city park or a hike around in a state park.

Friday is our "big" field trip day.  We generally stay in our town or the one next to us all week long, but on Friday we plan a longer drive.  For ideas on where to go, you can click on my wandering label. 

As you can see, this is a very loose schedule.  We rarely have firm plans, except that we know we will go somewhere and we will include lots of reading opportunities.  You may need an hour by hour thing, or maybe you don't even want something this strict.  It's up to you what you do with your family.  For us, we won't always get out of the house if we don't know at least roughly what we are doing.

Hooray for Freebies

This looks like a few really good freebies for your Tuesday.  I just received a free full sized package of Secret deodorant from one of their Facebook Friday giveaways.  It was the only thing in my mailbox today, which makes me happy.
  • How about a Schick Hydro for free?  A million years ago, Schick sent me a free Quatro.  I love that thing and have been using it ever since.  Evidence that free samples work!  I always used disposables before that and cut myself to shreds.  I'll be looking forward to trying my Hydro.
  • Free sample of new Ovaltine sticks.  I love this for my coffee!
  • Looks like Charmin is doing giveaways all week.  (I worked all day yesterday, so missed the initial announcement on this.)  Like this page on Facebook and watch daily for it to go live.
  • Redbox is doing 10 days of deals. Text FUN to 727272 to get in on it.
  • Cafe Escapes sampler of free K-Cups!  Just click here, like the page, and fill in the info.  I had to refresh a few times, but it worked.  I have gotten some great freebies from them.

    May 13, 2012

    Spring Gardening

    We've been doing some gardening lately, so there goes any free blogging time I might have. I thought this might be a good time to repost some of my favorite gardening posts. And maybe some freebies?

    Free gardening resources:
    And now for some of my own resources, culled from my own internet research and trial and error.
    • Lasagna beds for preparing soil and less tilling.  This one will be better for the fall.  
    • Egg carton planters, one of my most popular gardening posts.  You can start your plants at any time in egg cartons, but it needs to be something with a short growing season at this point.  Awesome way to get the kids involved.
    • My personal favorite, The Three Sisters.  We work in a lesson about Native Americans, talk about soil and seed science, and enjoy lots of beans.  For the past two years, we've gotten straight line winds that blew over our corn.  Crossing our fingers for this year.
    • Another fun one, potato in a bucket.
    • Gardening in small spaces: hanging baskets.
    • And how could I forget composting?

    May 6, 2012

    Mother Earth's Magical World

    This is always a fun time.  There will be a lot of great crafts to do, plus live music and story telling.

     It's all at McFarland Park (outside of Ames) and between 2 and 5 pm today.  I've had it on my free fun calendar, but I thought it was worth highlighting.  Haven't checked out McFarland Park yet?  Here's a post I did about it last year.  They have so many great activities for families.

    May 5, 2012

    Blank Park Zoo Adventure Days

    It's a little bit of short notice for the first one, but it will be worth a last minute trip if you don't already have plans today. Blank Park Zoo is having Adventure Days every other Saturday throughout the summer. This first one is a Cinco de Mayo theme. While it isn't free admission to the zoo, the extra events don't cost extra. May 5 – Fiesta Latina Experience the zoo in a new way- in Spanish, as you learn about Latin American countries and cultures. Do you know which animals at our zoo originate from Latin American countries? Have you ever Salsa danced? Don’t miss the flower making activity from the Latino Heritage Festival and the performances and lessons from Salsa Des Moines from 2-5pm. Check out the whole schedule here, and as always this has been added to the free fun calendar on the right. If you know of any other events I've missed, I always welcome reader submissions.

    May 4, 2012

    National Public Gardens Day!

    Well, I somehow let two weeks go by without posting. I apologize, and I promise that the summer sanity savers are coming soon so you can plan your free summer fun. As a good start, how about a free day at your local public garden?  Better Homes and Gardens sponsors this every year, and it's a great opportunity to check out someplace new.

    In my area, Reiman Gardens is participating, but there are many gardens in many states taking part.  You can see all the details here, or click here for the full map.

    Make your plans to enjoy some beauty on May 11.