Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

June 17, 2012

Kids Activities in the Bay Area #1: Children’s Creativity Museum

Children's Creativity Museum

As my daughter gets older I’ve been spending more time exploring what kinds of activities and places we can go to keep busy and let her explore the world around here.  One of my latest finds was the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco.  I had never heard of it before but during a lunch out with some co-workers I saw a sign for it and looked it up.  I was excited to see that my local library lets you sign up for one free pass for two people each year(check your library’s website. I’ve found that several of my local libraries offer free passes to a bunch of different places).  So a couple of friends and I took our kids to check it out.

Parking is horrible in the city so we decided to take the Bart train which the kids loved!  I think they would have been happy with just that ride.

Bart Ride

The museum was just a short walk away from the Bart station and on our way in we ran into a festival going on and found out they have these every Friday through out the summer.  There was also this awesome playground.

Yerba Buena Playground

By time we made it off the playground and  into the museum it was lunch time and the museum had this nice patio with both kid sized and adult sized tables to eat at.


Once everyone was fed we started exploring.  First stop was this magnet building area.  My 4 year old daughter loved it!  All the kids had a ton of fun building things and we were there for a long time.

Magnet Building

There were also several “green” rooms that the kids could play on slides or dance in front of cameras and then see themselves on TV.


They also had a bunch of craft stations.  You could make cards or pictures with a bunch of materials laid out among tables, draw on the chalk board or play with some play doh.

CraftsPlay doh

They also had this cool wall where you could play with legos and this huge room with mushroom tables that each had an iPad attached to it.  There was some application that let you draw shapes that would turn into creatures that floated around large screens all over the ceiling.

Lego WalliPad play

We finished off the day riding their giant carousel and then riding the train back home.


We were there from roughly around 11 until 3:30 and only explored maybe half of the museum.  If your kids are a little older there also was an innovation lab where they gave you a bunch of materials and let you create things, a recording studio where you could sing and have them add all sorts of backgrounds to your music video to take home, a Photoshop lab, an animation lab where you could create creatures/things out of play doh and then create animated videos with them and a few more things.  You could probably spend all day there and not get bored.  They even had this “dreaming” area with bean bags to recline on, books to read and neat origami mobiles hanging over head.

If you are in the area I definitely suggest checking this museum out.  I do suggest packing your own lunch as the museum doesn’t have any sort of concession stand.  Fortunately we had brought our own food.

Check back soon for our Chabot Space & Science Museum Tykes Class.

February 27, 2012

“Stained Glass” Window

My brother and sister-in-law gave my 4 year old these clear chips off of our wish list at Discount School Supplies and we have been playing with them on a light table and just a white plastic cover.  Since I had to lay down some new contact paper in our kitchen cabinets I thought why not use the left over for a craft for the kiddos.  Just as a warning for those with younger ones my 19 month old got the most pleasure out of taking the can I stored the chips in and over turning it every chance he got.  My four year old on the other hand loved it and I was surprised how meticulous she was about finding just the right pieces she wanted to use.

Here is her work in progress up close.  Those are just popsicle sticks I washed and let dry because she really seems to like just gluing the sticks together to make odd shapes.  I used the sticks to create a “frame” and then let her go at it making her own design.  She really liked the little circle pieces and dug through the entire can looking for them.  She also liked the “teeth” pieces as she called one of the shapes. Can you tell which one she was talking about? 🙂

Once she was done laying down the pieces I put down a second piece of contact paper over it to keep everything together.

We had some random colored shoe laces that were never used so I tape them onto her “window” so we could hang it up.

This activity pretty much kept her busy until bed time and she already told me she wants to do another one because she “already has a picture in her mind” of what she wants to do.

February 23, 2012

Friday Featured Product

Filed under: Learning,Manual Dexterity,Math,Motor skills — by dsuzuki @ 11:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

There are only a handful of products I love enough that I really suggest to friends and family so I thought what better way to spread the word than mentioning here.  So for the next few Fridays I am hoping to highlight some of my favorite products for families with kids. Note: I either purchased these items, borrowed or was given them as gifts from families and friends.

Today I wanted to highlight the game Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleburg that came with my daughter’s Leappad.  She got one for Christmas and she cracks me up whenever she tells me what she is playing because she says the name of the game with such gusto.  Sometimes I ask her where she learned something and the answer is “Mr. Pencil saves Doodleburg!!!” with both arms raised up in the air.

She loves this game and I’ve sat down with her a few times to watch her play because she’s always coming up with the most amazing, random comments that she says she’s learned from this game.  It focuses on skills like writing letters, numbers, tracing lines, drawing, colors, etc.  One day I was driving her to school and she tells me “Mommy, you are the left side of the car and I am on the right side.  That means we are sitting diagonal!”  I asked if she learned about diagonals at school and she said no it was from “Mr. Pencil saves Doodleburg!!!”  She’s gone on to mention learning about mixing colors, drawing various shapes and a couple nights ago she even started giving me a lesson about animation.  She, my 19 month old and I were doing some painting on scrap pieces of cardboard and I drew an ocean with fish jumping out of it.  Looking at the picture she tells me “Mommy, you can draw more frames so it looks like the fish are really jumping like in an animation.”  This shocked me because at 4 we have never talked about how cartoons are animated or about different frames that make up an animation.  I thought maybe this was something new that she was learning at school but nope, she shocked me again saying she learned this from Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleburg.

After all of these comments she has been making about what she has learned from this game and what she remembers even after not playing it for awhile has made me a huge fan of the game.  If you have a preschooler or a slightly older child (it’s rated for 4-7 year olds) then I highly suggest trying this game out.  It teaches some wonderful concepts, the letter and shape tracing has really helped my daughter slow down and really focus on what she is writing and things like colors, color mixing, etc really has helped reinforce what she is learning in preschool as well.  Definitely a 5 star game in my book!

January 8, 2012

Light Table and Glow In The Dark Hide & Seek

Last year I made a cheap version of a light table using a plastic container, lined it with card board box scraps, put 3 tap lights inside and then taped some wax paper to the lid to diffuse the light a little.  It’s not the prettiest but it’s functional.  My daughter is still afraid of the dark so I’ve been trying to encourage her to get used to being in the dark so I whipped out the light table the other night.

For Christmas my daughter got this great magnet set from one of my best friends so I pulled out the translucent chips to let her and my 18 month old play with.  They both loved it.  I was storing them in a glass container and had a few smaller jars that I picked up from Ikea to store beads and other smaller items.  My daughter enjoyed sorting the different color tiles into different jars, mixing different colors together to see what color they would make and making pictures out of the circles.

My parents and I have been trying to work on colors with my son since unlike numbers, letters & sight words that he picked up with no problem he seems to be struggling with colors.  To him everything is blue.  So I tried pulling out different color tiles and going over the colors with him.  He quickly tired of this and instead preferred picking up each tile, putting it into a jar and then pouring one jar of tiles into another.  Not exactly what I had in mind but still it was great for his fine motor skills to pick up the tiles and get them into the relatively small mouth of the jar.  I was actually surprised how well he did pouring the tiles from one jar to another and how long it kept him fascinated.

Then my husband decided to break out the light sticks and I remembered an activity I saw on Pinterest about a glow in the dark hide and seek game.  I blew up a few balloons and stuck a light stick in each.  I didn’t turn on the flash so you can only see the light sticks in the picture but both kids loved throwing the balloons around in the dark and chasing after them using the glow sticks to find them.  One of the balloons had 2 glow sticks in them and that one looked really cool flying through the air.

Then I had my husband go into the living room and “hide” a few more glow sticks for the kids to find.  This is a picture with the flash on as my daughter found the first glow stick.

Once all of them were found we all joined in the fun of watching the effect of shaking the glow sticks around really fast.

This was my son’s favorite part and he was shaking that stick so fast and crazy I thought he was either going to knock someone out or at least poke an eye out.

These activities didn’t totally cure my daughter’s fear of the dark but at least she’s willing to try things with the lights turned out now and actually asks to play glow in the dark hide and seek now.  So maybe after awhile she will get used to it.  And if not at least we all had some fun with some new activities.

November 29, 2011

Imagination Play With Felt

My daughter had so much fun with our Go Away, Big Green Monster felt activity I started thinking of other felt activities we could do.  I bought this big black sheet of felt and used some of my husband’s velcro tape to attach it to our cabinet doors and it also made for easy removal.  Then I dug out all the little scrap pieces left over from past projects and started cutting various shapes that my daughter could use to create pictures with (she loves it when they do this on Blues Clues and Team Umizoomi).  It worked out really well and she actually really got into it and it turned into a good activity for her to practice using her scissors as well.

Once we had all our shapes cut out she quickly went to work putting together different pictures.

She was explaining how this was the main who lived in the orange house and had a red shed in the backyard.

I didn’t get any pictures but we recently had a play date and my daughter and her friend were both having a blast making pictures on her felt board.

November 20, 2011

Eye droppers, colors & snow flakes

Kaitlyn enjoyed this color mixing experiment so much she’s been begging to do more color activities.   So this time I decided to try out using an ice cube tray and threw in an eye dropper to help with her motor skills.  I added food coloring to come of the cubes and clear water in others and then let her go at the mixing.

It took a few tries to get the hang of the eye dropper but she eventually got it and had a ton of fun mixing up colors.

She made such beautiful colors it seemed a shame to waste them so I tore apart a piece of paper towel and let her drop the different colors on the paper towel and watch how they spread and mixed with each other.

Then I cut up a few snow flakes for her (yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve had to cut snow flakes so they aren’t the prettiest but she was satisfied) 🙂 and she colored those and wanted to hang them up in our play room.

November 11, 2011

Mailbox for letters to Santa & fine motor skills

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Motor skills — by dsuzuki @ 6:33 am
Tags: , ,

My son has just started getting into this shape sorter toy:

He has the circle down pretty well but is still having a hard time with the other shapes.  So I decided to try taking a step back and try something a little simpler.  I had this spare box and decided to make a “mailbox” for the kids to play with.  I cut a rectangular hole in the top and another one on the bottom front so things would fall out after they dropped them in the top slot.

My daughter decorated it and we labeled it “Letters for Santa”.

Since we had the markers already out I gave a few to my son and showed him how to drop them in.

He had a blast with it.  I’ve also tried giving him some of the linkin log sticks and some of my daughter’s flash cards to drop in.  The cards were the hardest for him and he didn’t seem to enjoy that as much without the heavy thunk and seeing the pens and sticks rolling out the bottom so we went back to the markers and sticks.  Surprisingly my daughter really got into it too.

So this activity seemed like a success and my son definitely got the idea of dropping things in the slot.  I will continue to let him play with the shape sorter but hopefully having this as well will help keep down the level of frustration for him.