Weekend Family Fun!

Maker Faire flaming octopus

Saturday was a busy day of family fun! It started when Mike dropped me and Emma off at Maker Faire, where we were greeted by this incredible flame-blowing octopus – El Pulpo Mecanico.

LED inflated forest at Maker Faire

Emma and I had to rush our way through, since we only had an hour before we had to meet back up with Mike (he took the other kids to play with my brother and nephew), but we managed to see a lot! Emma’s favorites were these inflatable space plants from O Yeah Toys and the incredible Electric Giraffe which I didn’t manage to get a photo of, but which has a lovely site.

Maker Faire marble run

My favorite was this marble run – partly because of its simplicity, and partly because of the beautiful junk model of San Francisco landmarks. I am still searching for the name of the group that made it – if you know, tell me in the comments?

I only took Emma to Maker Faire because I knew it would be chaotic and you can see just about anything there. I took Emma rather than going on my own because I think it’s a wonderful way to get kids interested in inventions, crafting, and technology (especially technology – I saw a lot more technology-based making than traditional crafting, although they had a booth with sewing machines that a bunch of guys were playing with, and that was pretty cool). Emma loved it, and Johnny is already planning his visit to Maker Faire in 2015! There were a lot of free activities for kids, and we could have easily spent the entire day there, wandering around. Traffic was crazy getting in and out – Emma and I wound up being dropped off and picked up about a mile away and walking the rest of the way in. I wouldn’t really recommend bringing babies and toddlers, but if you do, the setup is very stroller-friendly.

Great America Carousel

From Maker Faire, the entire family went to a blogger event at Great America (we were offered free entry to the park to celebrate their grand opening), where the carousel was a big hit. We also enjoyed the cable ride where you could get a view of the entire park, as well as much of Santa Clara.

Great America seen from the sky

My kids aren’t big thrill seekers and some of them struggle with crowds, but they adored the local magic show – and I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the performers, even on the second time round of watching the magic show! I’m sure my kids would enjoy the Broadway shows once they start running as well. We didn’t bring swim suits, or I’m sure they would have jumped into the water park section.

The kids were so worn out by the end of the day that they opted to sit in the car with dad while I ran into Costco for groceries, but we made it through a very busy day meltdown-free! It was a nice way to end a week of too-hot-for-no-AC days and a mostly-sick (feeling better now!) mom.

afterschool linky

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The Educators’ Spin On It
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How was your afterschooling week? When does your summer vacation start? My kids only have two weeks of school left, and I am very excited to be done with school drop-offs and pick-ups! Please share you elementary school aged activities in the linky below (by doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest). I loved these spring flowers from ArtClubBlog from last week’s linky!

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

21 thoughts on “Weekend Family Fun!”

  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    That is a LOT to do in one day! Hurrah for no meltdowns and getting to see so much. Glad you’re feeling better, too! :)

    1. I am very relieved to be feeling better! I was impressed with how the kids dealt with so much running around. I think we will just stay home and enjoy family time and playing outside this next weekend.

  2. So glad you’re feeling better MaryAnne! Yes, it was pretty tough this week what with the hot weather. Thankful it’s cooling down now.

    That event looks pretty amazing! We haven’t gone to any big events in a while, and you’re right, looking back, a lot of them are more appropriate for bigger kids instead of babies or toddlers. I remember taking my eldest to everything under the sun but now I don’t take the twins so much because I feel like they wouldn’t get as much out of it until they’re older (or rather, a simpler outing would be just as fun for them).

    1. The cooler temperatures are SO nice! Maker Faire is incredible – and one of the things I was really looking forward to about moving here. It didn’t disappoint, and next year I want to plan more time to really make the most of the day!

    1. New York City is the closest major Maker Faire near you, but there may be some mini ones that are closer. A mini one might even be more fun, since you could actually see everything!

  3. jeannine: waddleeahchaa

    Oh My Gosh, that Maker Faire looks amazing! That is definitely something my kids would enjoy!!! Their creative juices would be free-flowing!

  4. It’s a bummer that I missed the Great America event – I should make an effort to check Bay Area Bloggers group more often. It’s funny that we haven’t seen some of the things that you’ve seen – we spent about 4 hours there and saw only about half of exhibits. We are looking forward to going again next year. Oh, and we used a parking lot with a shuttle to a faire to avoid traffic.

    1. You were smart to use a shuttle! We were just getting dropped off so we thought it might be okay to just drive straight there, but I think the shuttle would have been faster. We wound up walking the last mile and a bit because we could walk faster than we could drive.

  5. We missed Maker Faire this year (for good reasons). We went the past two years and will probably go next year. The first year we brought a stroller for J who had just turned 3. The second year, I bought a ticket for my mom who went around with J while John and I split off to look at what we were interested in. I’m not a big crowd person, and Maker Faire keeps getting bigger and bigger. I think it’s worth overcoming the crowds though.

    We went to Great America during a company picnic for a friend before J was born. J is a thrill seeker. I think he’d greatly enjoy it.

    1. J would adore it, if he’s a thrill seeker! I’m not a crowd person either, but agree that Maker Faire is worth it. I kind of wish they would do several smaller, more themed events throughout the year instead of one monster production, though.

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