Movie Night on the Midway - Summer 2015 Edition

Watching movies under the stars is among my very favorite things that I never get to do. I look at people who have those movie projectors, hang sheets in their backyards, and host movie nights, and jealousy courses through me. But every summer, San Diego, we get our chance because we have Summer Movies in the Park. Holly cow it's crowded, but that means that 1.) someone out there is doing (or has done) a very very good job of marketing it and 2.) it must be worthwhile.

Which brings me to the best Summer Movies in the Park event ever, Movie Night on the Midway. It happens twice a summer. This Friday, July 3 is one of those nights. On Friday, grab your picnic blankets, folding chairs, and favorite snacks and head to the deck of the USS Midway Museum for a special showing of Back to the Future. I thought I saw a DeLorean the other day and I got excited about this event all over again.

Now, a few logistics: Doors will open at 7:00pm and the show will start at 8:00pm. But! From what I hear, the movie nights on the Midway are particularly popular, so show up early and with an extra dose of patience.

And if you can't make it to Movie Night on the Midway this week, it's okay! On Thursday, August 13, you'll get a second chance.


Ode to the Jellyfish.

I don't often visit aquariums, but when I do, I love to see the jellyfish exhibits.

Jellyfish were my arch nemeses in the ocean when I was a kid. They ruined all my fun. But in a tank (and hopefully an animal-friendly one), I find them fascinating and beautiful. Watching them float up and down is a therapeutic experience for me. So this week I wanted to share my love of jellyfish with you. And if you feel so inclined, I have a book recommendation and a fun project for you to try as well.

Read on.

Several years ago, again in that preschool classroom of mine, we embarked on a year-long exploration of the ocean. Each month, we'd learn about a different marine animal. We researched sea urchins. We read about orcas (a class favorite) and about sea stars. And then, we moved onto jellyfish. Again, most kids hate jellyfish like they hate bees, but I urged the class to keep an open mind.

So we read this book. We learned that jellyfish don't have brains. They just bump and sting, bump and sting. (As adults, we know that it's slightly more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it.) In short, I wanted my students to know that the stinging jellyfish do really wasn't personal. It's just what they do.

Near the end of our unit, I "made" some "moon jellies" from gelatin and brought them into class. The kids had a blast breaking their "jellyfish" apart and no animal was harmed in the process.

And then we tied ribbon to shower caps and made something like this:

At the end of the month, we all participated a jellyfish dance. We bumped and swayed and stung our friends to our hearts content.

It was a blast.

Locally, Birch Aquarium is the spot to check out jellyfish. And if you have a BofA card, you can visit Birch Aquarium (or this one) for free the first Saturday and Sunday of every month thanks to a promotion called 'Museums on Us.'



Once upon a time in a preschool classroom in Los Angeles, 24 young children held paintbrushes dipped in white paint and listened to the music from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. One moment, their brushes drifted serenely across giant pieces of construction paper. The next, their hands swirled and dashed as the Nutcracker battled the villainous Mouse King. The activity was both mellow and exciting, engaging and centering. The children loved it.

I tell you this story because this is an activity almost anyone could do, at almost any time, in almost any place. But we don't. We're too busy or we forget to or we default to looking at our phones in our downtime.

For this reason, I wanted to mention a special event happening this Sunday at Oceanside Museum of Art. On Sunday, June 7 from 1:00 until 4:00pm, families are invited to join musician Scott Paulson for an electronic jam and doodling session. And it's free.

Now Parents, I know your weekend schedule is jam-packed with birthday parties and laundry and soccer practice. When I talk about an event coming up at a museum and suggest you go, you think I'm crazy. Like, certifiable. The thing is, I wouldn't talk about it if I didn't think it was worthwhile. It's a free, structured way to spend some really quality time together.

So just give it some thought, okay?

For more information on Free Family Art Day and other upcoming events at OMA, head here.



Shore Thing at MCASD La Jolla starts up again on five two eight and I can't wait.

To translate: Starting this week through the end of August, every Thursday evening from 5:00 until 8:00pm Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego will be free and open to the public. Guests can enjoy tours of the latest exhibitions and a little live music, even hit up the cash bar. It's BYOP (Bring Your Own Picnic), which sounds like the perfect way to take in THAT VIEW.

For more information on Shore Thing and other upcoming events at MCASD, head here.



I talk a lot about free opportunities to visit museums here. And if you stick with me, I will again later in this post. But first I wanted to talk about finding ways to support your local museums by paying for things when you can - like admission or special events or even buying things in the gift shop. I know you may know this, but just in case someone out there doesn't, I'm going to explain why. Museums are non-profit organizations, which means that although it may charge admission (sometimes a lot!), the museum puts all of its proceeds right back into the organization. Moreover, most non-profit organizations get the gross majority of their money from private donations. And because the economy is (still) hurting, non-profit organizations are also (still) hurting. So when you have the opportunity to check out a museum for free and you walk by one of those glass donation boxes, drop a few dollars in there. Or coins. Coins count. If you do, I believe some good karma will come your way.

Onward to the free stuff.

Next Monday, May 18 is Art Museum Day. I've spoken about Art Museum Day before, but as it is an annual thing, I'm going to talk about it again. On Art Museum Day, the Association of Art Museum Directors convinces museums across the country to offer free or reduced-price admission for one day. (Actual dates vary from institution to institution.) This year, some of my very favorite spaces are on the list and there are over 180 museums, galleries, and centers in all. Depending on where you live, you might even be able to check out two in one day.

Someday Walker Art Center, Noguchi Museum, and Crystal Bridges, I will come visit you. This year though, I'm staying local and heading to Laguna Art Museum to see it's Robert Henri's California exhibit. 

You have a few days to get your Art Museum Day game plan together. Ready, set, go.


Some Thoughts This Teacher Appreciation Week

This post is part of a promotion of Alter Your World, an Alt Summit project aimed at celebrating actions, big or small, that focus on good in the community.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I'd like to take some time to talk about teachers and teaching. From time to time I like to do that. This is one of those posts.

Do you know a great teacher? Was there someone who made a big impact in your life? I was lucky because I had several - one in first grade, one in fifth grade, and one in high school. And as a teacher, I've had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, many, many more.

Today, I'd like to talk about one of those special teachers. She is using social media in her classroom and giving her students the opportunity to explore that space in a safe and meaningful way. Her name is Corie. She teaches second grade. Several years ago, Corie decided to incorporate Twitter into her social studies curriculum. Together with her class, she composes tweets and posts them to a private account, which can be seen by parents. The children share what they are learning about and in return, the parents ask questions. It's a thoroughly modern way to interact that is loaded with meaning. From the students' side, they get to share what they are interested in. On the parents' side, they get bite-sized updates about what their children are doing in real time. And then the parents can use these tidbits to fuel dinner table conversations. It's a win-win situation and a totally genius way to use social media in the classroom.

So this Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to say kudos to Corie and all of the other teachers out there who are using technology in innovative and creative ways. And if your child has a special teacher, I hope you'll find a small way to let them know how much they mean to your family this week. Need an idea? I have just the post for that. 



May, you are shaping up to be a very fine month indeed. Why? Well, my sister is coming to visit and also today is the first day of The Big Exchange.

And what, might you ask, is being exchanged during this Big Exchange? Culture, my friends, thousands of years of it. And art, too. Hundreds of pieces of it. Because during The Big Exchange, if you have a membership to one of over 20 participating museums in San Diego County, for the next two weeks you can go visit any of the other museums for free.

Lucky for me, I'm a member of not one, but two of these very fine institutions. You too can become a member for as little as $25 a year.

So if you haven't been to see Lalla Essaydi at The San Diego Museum of Art, or Gravity and Grace at MCASD, or the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the San Diego History Center, I would say that now is a very good time to go.