MAD (Mindie, Adam, Alex, David) Family Fun is the result of friends and family asking "How do you find so much fun stuff to do?" So, I decided to share with everyone! There are no BIG secrets involved, I promise. I just have a knack for finding fun and now I want to share it with you!

MAD Family Fun is a place to find activities, events and ideas to have more fun with your family. Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Visit (online) Cornell Lab of Ornithology for a FREE poster and more!

Sign up to get a FREE Bird poster from Cornell Lab of Ornithology! They also have live BirdCams. Spend a little time watching close-up views of Red-tailed Hawks and Great Blue Herons at their nests. What a super neat site!

FREE Mom bumper sticker

Are you a mom? Do you know a mom? Of course you are/do! So why not get a FREE mom bumper sticker for yourself or someone you love. Being a mom is hard work and it is nice to be recognized! As the site says "Displaying your sticker with pride will help us build a mom-friendly culture, where moms are appreciated every day, not just Mother's Day" (note, your do NOT need to make a donation to get your free sticker)

Chapter book reading adventures

We here at MAD love to read. Everyone in our family (well except the newest Fun Tester) reads daily. I believe the one thing kids can never have enough of are books. We have gone from reading to our oldest to having him read simpler books to us.

Recently we have found a new way to share our love of books and develop imagination. We have begun reading chapter books together before bed. Our first selection was Journey to the Center of the Earth. At first our son was disappointed by the lack of pictures. So after each chapter we closed our eyes and imagined what we saw. He found this so much fun that now he is illustrating the book! After a chapter he draws a picture of what he thinks it was like!!

We have already picked out two more chapter books to read next, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Treasure Island. Barnes and Nobles has a wonderful hardback Classic Starter selection in the children’s area. Each one is only $5.95. Not bad for a hardcover book.

Maybe reading the classics aren’t for your family, but there are plenty of chapter books out there. I have to admit, our son is not the only one who looks forward to cuddle time and a chapter before bed each night!! So find a topic that interests you and read with your children. Trust me, the magical memories are worth the 10 minutes each night.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Arbor Day!!!

It is Arbor Day and according to the Arbor Day Foundation:

Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in 1872, it's celebrated on the last Friday in April.

The Arbor Day Foundation website has all sorts of interesting stuff to thumb through, including how to celebrate Arbor Day and the Nature Explores Families Club with free down loadables.

Also if you Google Arbor Day 2012 and your state you can find events planed to celebrate. If nothing else, get out there and hug a tree. Remember they give us shade!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Noodle toy

Check out this super cute and easy toy you can make with/for your kids... A noodle marble race track! All you need is a noodle and some marbles. Cut the noodle in half with a box cutter or scissors.  If you don't have any noodles left over from last summer, you can always pick them up at Dollar Tree for a buck a piece. We are planning on trying to hot glue sections together to go all the way down our stairs!

National Richter Scale Day

Charles F. Richter
It was 112 years ago today that Charles F. Richter was born. The American seismologist invented a scale in 1935 that could measure the amount of energy an earthquake releases. Here is some information on the Richter Scale for kids. There is a neat table on there that tells the Magnitude of Earthquake, Effects of the Earthquakes, and Occurrence Frequency. Did you know there are over 9,000 earth quakes every day!?!?!?! Most we never even feel but thanks to Richter they can be detected!

If you don't feel like checking out the link, here is a quick simple way to understand the Richter Scale by Scholastic:

9.0 and above — Causes complete devastation and large-scale loss of life.
8.0 — Very few buildings stay up. Bridges fall down. Underground pipes burst. Railroad rails bend. Large rocks move. Smaller objects are tossed into the air. Some objects are swallowed up by the earth.
7.0 — It is hard to keep your balance. The ground cracks. Roads shake. Weak buildings fall down. Other buildings are badly damaged.
6.0 — Pictures can fall off walls. Furniture moves. In some buildings, walls may crack.
5.0 — If you are in a car, it may rock. Glasses and dishes may rattle. Windows may break.
4.0 — Buildings shake a little. It feels like a truck is passing by your house.
3.0 — You may notice this quake if you are sitting still, or upstairs in a house. A hanging object, like a model airplane, may swing.
2.0 — Trees sway. Small ponds ripple. Doors swing slowly. But you can't tell that an earthquake is to blame.
1.0 — Earthquakes this small happen below ground. You can't feel them.

So why not have some earthquake fun in honor of Mr Richter today. Set up some blocks and have your kids jump and see how hard they have to jump to knock them down. You can also put out a bowl of water and jump to see if it makes ripples. Be creative and have some fun. Not to mention all the jumping might just wear them out a little!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FREE earplugs

Summer is coming and that means the kids will be home ALL DAY!!! Ugh. What's a mom to do? Why not get a FREE pair of ear plugs for those moments when you just need to escape! LOL

TODAY (April 25th) is World Penguin Day!!!

Why you might ask, is it World Penguin Day......

Well the word on the street, or, um, I mean ice, is that today marks the start of the Adelie penguins’ migration northward into the surrounding Antarctic seas. Umm, did someone tell them that today and today only, was the day to do this!?!?! I am sure it is AROUND this time of year that they start to migrate. But who cares, right? Lets have some penguin fun today on World Penguin Day!!

First off, lets learn a little bit about these Adelie penguins shall we.....

Here is a great site called Penguinscience! They have all sorts of great stuff on penguins like information on adaptation, a classroom power point your kids can watch, and more. And KidZone has everything you need to learn about and have fun with penguins. They have songs/poems, worksheets, make a book, coloring sheets, mazes, ahhh the list just goes on and on!

And here is a video showing Adelie Penguins and encouraging girls in the area of science!

So have some fun with penguins today. You might even learn something! Shhh don't tell the kids they are learn......

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

$1,000 BHG Garden Giveaway!!!

Who doesn't love to win things!?!? Who doesn't want a nice backyard for the summer!?!? Well, Better Homes and Garden are giving away FOUR  $1,000 prizes for plants, planters, gardening books and supplies. So head on over to their facebook page and enter to win!

FREE Princess Activity Kit

Target is having a National Princess Week with lots of deals on all sorts of things for your little girl. They also have a link for a FREE Princess Activity Kit. It is filled with all sorts of wonderful princess stuff, like a make your own crown, paper dolls, games, party ideas and much, much more! So get printing people.....

Cute cookie giveaway!

Check out these totally cute cookies from Campervan Cookie Co.!!! These handmade cookies are so totally cute!!! Did I mention I think they are totally cute!?!?!

You can WIN THESE COOKIES and a bundle of Campervan Cookies goodies! All you have to do is  share the Campervan Cookie Co. page with your friends, asking them to 'like' it. When they get to 500 likes, one will be chosen at random to receive this fab prize of Rich Chocolate cookies, t-shirt, mouse mat and key ring. The lucky winner could be you! How cool is that!!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pet rocks... no really!

Are the kids driving you up a wall? Do you need a craft to throw at them fast??? Tell them to go find a rock. This will give you enough time to grab the glue and wiggly eyes!! You might even have a few seconds to enjoy the silence.

Once the eyes are on, tell them to go play with their new friend so mommy can have a 5 minute break!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Freebies

It is Earth Day and to celebrate many places are giving away Freebies! I love FREE things, don't you? Here are just a few I have found.....

Disney Store – FREE reusable tote [bring in 5 plastic bags to exchange] on 4/22

Target – FREE reusable totes [these always go so fast] on 4/22

Starbucks - bring in a reusable cup and get a FREE hot or iced coffee or a hot or iced tea on 4/22

Earth Day Printables & Activities – Head over to here to check out the list!

Michael’s Arts & Crafts – FREE tote for kids when they “Make-It-Take-It” from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. on 4/22.

Jo-Ann Fabric – Snag a FREE tote bag if you are one of the first 50 customers on 4/22.

Pottery Barn Kids: Get a FREE packet of sunflower seeds from 4/21 – 4/22

Caribou – FREE cup of coffee on 4/22 when you use your own cup!

NASA – Free activities for the family in Washington D.C. on the Mall from 4/20 – 4/22. NASA will have Earth and Activity Tents which will host activities and hands-on demos, all for FREE!

Living Locurto – Free printable Earth Day Bookmarks – you can laminate them so they last longer

Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores – FREE trees on 4/23 (check with your local store)

Friday, April 20, 2012

National Park Week starts April 21st!

National Park Week starts tomorrow!!! So what is National Park Week? Well in a nut shell, it is a week with no park admission fees! That's right folks, step right up and visit your nation's national parks for FREE all week long. What adventures will you have?

Party for the Planet at your local zoo events

Earth Day is April 22nd, and what better way to celebrate than with the planet’s amazing and diverse wildlife? More than 100 of the top zoos and aquariums across North America are throwing the 6th Annual Party for the Planet – the largest combined Earth Day celebration in North America!

Local AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are the perfect place to connect with nature and conservation in your community. Party for the Planet festivities throughout the month of April feature environmental education activities, amazing animal encounters, and fantastic family fun.

Need help findig your local zoo? Just click here!

Party for the Planet 2012 Participating Zoos and Aquariums
Abilene Zoo
Akron Zoological Park
Albuquerque Biological Park
Alexandria Zoological Park
Aquarium of the Bay
Audubon Zoo
Bergen County Zoo
Bergen County Zoo
Birmingham Zoo
Brandywine Zoo
BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo
Brookfield Zoo
Buffalo Zoo
Buttonwood Park Zoo
Caldwell Zoo
Cameron Park Zoo
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Charles Paddock Zoo
Chattanooga Zoo
Children's Zoo at Celebration Square
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
Cosley Zoo
CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point
Dallas Zoo
David Traylor Zoo of Emporia
Denver Zoo
Detroit Zoological Society
Dickerson Park Zoo
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Downtown Aquarium (Houston)
El Paso Zoo
Ellen Trout Zoo
Elmwood Park Zoo
Fort Wayne Chidren's Zoo
Fort Worth Zoological Association
Franklin Park Zoo
Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Georgia Aquarium
Gladys Porter Zoo
Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History
Happy Hollow Park & Zoo
Houston Zoo
Hutchinson Zoo
Indianapolis Zoo
Jackson Zoo
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jenkinson's Aquarium
John Ball Zoo
Kansas City Zoo
Knoxville Zoo
Lake Superior Zoo
Lee Richardson Zoo
Lehigh Valley Zoo
Lincoln Children's Zoo
Lion Country Safari
Little Rock Zoo
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park
Maryland Zoo
Memphis Zoo
Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden
Mill Mountain Zoo
Miller Park Zoo
Milwaukee County Zoo
Mystic Aquarium
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
National Aquarium in Baltimore
National Aviary
National Mississippi RIver Museum & Aquarium
NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Niabi Zoo
Oakland Zoo
Oklahoma City Zoo
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
Peoria Zoo
Phoenix Zoo
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Potawatomi Zoo
Potter Park Zoo
Pueblo Zoo
Racine Zoo
Red River Zoo
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
Sacramento Zoo
Saint Louis Zoo
Salisbury Zoo
San Antonio Zoo
Santa Ana Zoo
Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo
Sedgwick County Zoo
Sequoia Park Zoo
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Smithsonian National Zoo
Sunset Zoo
Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Tautphaus Park Zoo
Tennessee Aquarium
Texas State Aquarium
Toledo Zoo
Toronto Zoo
Trevor Zoo
Tulsa Zoo and Living Musuem
Turtle Back Zoo
Utah's Hogle Zoo
Virginia Living Museum
Virginia Zoo
Western North Carolina Nature Center
Zoo Atlanta
Zoo Miami

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's National Garlic Day!

They have a day for everything, don't they!?!?! Well today is National Garlic Day! So have some garlic bread or other garlic dish and enjoy some fun facts......

Did you know?

  • Garlic is a member of the onion family which also includes leeks and shallots.
  • Its pungent flavor is due to a chemical reaction that occurs when the garlic cells are broken. The flavor is most intense just after mincing.
  • The majority of garlic (90%) grown in the United States comes from California.
  • When picking out garlic at the grocery store, choose firm, tight, heavy dry bulbs.

  • I bet you DIDN'T know......

  • If your rose garden is being attacked by aphids, an excellent home remedy to get rid of them is to spritz the leaves and blooms with a mixture of crushed garlic and water.
  • The psychological term for fear of garlic is alliumphobia.
  • The smell of garlic can be removed by running your hands under cold water while rubbing a stainless steel object.

  • And if you happen to be in Gilroy, CA this July, go check out their Garlic Festival!

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Do you have a Kindle? Free e-book!

    I personally do not have a Kindle. There is something about feeling a book in my hands that causes me to cringe at the thought of getting one. BUT, if you have one, check this out... You can get a FREE e-book for activities to do with your kids!

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Calling all marshmallow architects

    Do you have a budding architect at home? Maybe just a kid who loves to eat? Here is an activity where they can do both! All you need is a box of toothpicks, a bag of mini marshmallow, and some imagination! What will you build (and eat)?

    Tax Day Food Freebies!!!

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

    A fictitious dinning experience to die for!!

    As you all know, here at MAD, we are all about low cost and no cost fun, but every once in a while you need to splurge and pamper yourself. On a recent vacation to Canada we did just that at Kiwi & Canuck!

    This was our son’s first experience with “fine” dinning and I was delighted with the menu choices, as there was something for him at every course. We all started by sharing the Trio Sampler. It wetted our palette for the culinary adventure we were about to partake in.

    Chef Lydia Dschankilic

    I and our son had the House Salad, while my husband was delighted by the Martine Claim Chowder. For our mains, my husband had the signature Venison, which he reported was tender and cooked just perfect. I opted for the Grilled Maple Salmon and was NOT disappointed. Our 6 year old picked the Angel Hair Bianco and to our surprise and delight, he ate every last bite. That in and of itself speaks volumes as to the fantastic food served here!

    Now as many of you know, I love cheesecake. But I have to say I was unsure about Kiwi Cheesecake. I should have never doubted it for a minute. It melted on my tongue and left me wishing I had the recipe. My husband and son had the Maple Tart and again my son ate every last bite!

     As if the food itself was not enough, the staff was amazing and friendly. The atmosphere was inviting and comforting, even to a 6 year old. And while we did not need to be concerned about allergies, it made us fell good to know that the chef cared enough about her patrons to have options available to those who needed them.

    What more can I say but that if you are ever in Toronto and looking to pamper you taste buds, then you must look past the prices (I know I am cheep) and visit Chef Lydia Dschankilic’s Kiwi & Canuck restaurant!

    Disclaimer: Kiwi & Canuck, Toronto's hottest new fictitious restaurant, is a virtual project by Lydia Dschankilic based on an assignment at Conestoga College, Culinary Arts: Chef Training program.

    While we did not actually go to Canada, nor eat at this fictitious restaurant, the fictitious menu provided not only made me wish it were real, drool like crazy, but I also think I might have gained 5 pounds! Best of luck to Ms. Dschankilic on her culinary schooling and I hope one day to have the chance to actually eat at a restaurant where she is head chef!

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Chore Camp Brochure

    Oh if only this were real! I would so send my son to Chore Camp! Print out this great gag, a Chore Camp Brochure, and see if your kids get the hint!

    Sun time

    Here is another wonderful craft (and learning) idea from the NWF. Why not make a sundial!?!!? Not only will you have fun making this craft but you can also educate your child about the science behind it! Now keep in mind, you need to start this craft at NOON so you can make the numbers in the right spot. If you have a school aged child, this would be a good weekend or summer activity.

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    What time is it? Alligator moving time!

    You know it is spring in mid-Michigan when Mr. C, at Critchlow's Alligator Sanctuary, announces it it time to move the alligators to their outside exhibits. This is the second year we have joined in the fun. And once again, we had the time of our lives.

    Mr. C is amazing with children. Our oldest son, who is fast closing in on 6, has know Mr. C half his life and LOVES him. They met at an outreach program Mr. C did in our community and that was how it all began. When our son found out it was alligator moving time, he was ready to go and help. Maybe ready is not the word.... like more excited them Christmas morning!

    This is his "I am so happy I can't smile right" grin!

    Mr. C not only let our son hold an alligator but actually put him to work. He was put in charge of holding this little gator's head while measurements were taken. Our son left that day even more in love with Mr. C and the gators because Mr. C took the time to let him be involved.  Mr. C also let mommy get involved. I can now proudly say, I have micro-chipped an alligator!!! How many people can say that!?!?!

    Now of course when it came time to work with some of the larger alligators, our son was put on the side lines for safety reason, as he should be. But he was happy to watch too.

    So why am I telling you all of this? We'll first off because Mr C and his gators are awesome. Second, because not only did our son get to help, but I micro-chipped an alligator (wounder if he would let me sex one???) And third, because if you live in mid-Michigan you need to get your hind end to the sanctuary this weekend (April 14/15). Why? Because they will be moving the last of the gators outside, including their biggest. And it is still winter prices of just $3!!! (And if you ask nice, he might let you hold a little one and take a picture.)

    Want more on Mr. C and the alligators, check out our previous posts Hidden Gem and last years moving day.

    Teddy Bear Toast

    I must admit, I have developed an interest in making food fun, not just for my children, but because I enjoy the crafty aspect of it. This morning for breakfast my son got Teddy Bear Toast! All you need is a piece of toast, some banana, and a few raisins. Simple, cute and yummy!!!

    This idea is now on....
    A Diamond in the Stuff

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Plastic egg math fun

    Easter is over and you now have a bunch of plastic eggs laying around. So what are you going to do with them all? Sure you can put them up for next year, but why not use some for a little math fun! With a permanent marker, put numbers on them like in the photo. Don't forget to put wiggly eyes on #1 so your caterpillar will be complete.

    So what can you do with this little guy? Games! Mix them up and see how fast your child can put them in order. Do addition or subtraction problems with them. Use your imagination and just have fun!

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Family wall art

    Tell me this isn't a wonderful way to show off your family, even the camera shy ones! All you need is some construction paper to trace the hands on. Cut them out, stack them up, and put them in a frame. You can add your own wording either by hand or on the computer. Now if I could just get the baby to uncurl those darn little fingers of his......

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    10 places every kids should see

    First off I want to say this list of 10 places every kids should see is not my list, but it does have some good places to go. In fact I have been to 3 of the 10! How many have you been too? If you live near these or are taking a vacation this summer, keep them in mind.

    Introducing new foods at any age

    That's right, new foods aren't just for babies. I am a picky eater and I was lucky enough to marry a foodie. He has encouraged me to try more things and it has been great for our children because they are exposed to more stuff through him. But how does a picky person share new foods? Through FUN!!!

    New foods can be scary to kids, but with a little imagination as a parent, we can make it fun. An example of this happened at our house this weekend. Our oldest had never had kiwi fruit so after seeing a photo online I made him a fruit palm tree.

    And guess what? He likes kiwi!!! Now I am not saying making new food fun will make every child like a new food, but I think it makes it a little less scary to try new food. I know, some of you are saying "but I am not very creative." You don't have to be! I googled "creative food ideas" and it is amazing what other people have done that you can copy. So be creative, borrow from others and get your kids eating new things! Here a just a couple of the ideas I found.......

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Make some Easter cards

    Looking for some Easter fun? Why not make some Easter cards? These adorable cards will sure to be a hit for anyone who gets them!

    Follow that trail

    Here is a neat way to help your kids find their Easter baskets... a jellybean trail!

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Easter S'mores

    Everyone loves S'mores. Don't these just look yummy! Just use a peep instead of the same old marshmallow. In the photo they use the chicks but we went with the bunny peeps because they were flatter and easier to melt in the microwave.

    Mickey Easter printable

    Need something for the little ones to do before the big egg hunt this weekend? Why not try this printable from Disney featuring Mickey!

    Liquid or solid??

    Who wants to make some green slime???  Actually you can make it any color you want! This fun activity not only teaches kids how to follow a recipe, but lets them explore some great science ideas along the way. Or heck, maybe just have fun playing with the slime!

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Make a seed mosaic

    I always tell our fun tester, there is no wrong or right in art! Here is a chance for kids to make art with more then just crayons by making a seed mosaic!! You can find bags of beans and lentils at your local market and they can be used in other crafts as well. So get drawing and gluing and remember there is no right or wrong in art.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Cherry blossom art

    Here is a beautiful and creative way to make some art you might even want to frame! This idea comes from and it is for making Cherry blossom art. The supplies needed to make this beautiful art are so simple you might be surprised!

    Get ready for International Pillow Fight Day (April 7)

    Oh yes people, it is real, International Pillow Fight Day!!!! Time to get your pillows fluffed and armed. The kids may never know what hit them!!! Check out the International Pillow Fight Day website to see if there is an event near you! Happy swinging!!!!!