Kid Stuff

DIY Cardboard Castle

Transform Your Cardboard Boxes into a Dream Castle

What child doesn’t love a good play castle? During a recent photo shoot with local children here at L.A. Parent, we watched as kid after kid was drawn to a little plastic castle sitting on a corner table. There’s just something about castles – they stir up images from children’s books and invite little fingers to explore the castle’s nooks and crannies. Thanks to “Home & Family,” you don’t have...

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john august

L.A. Parent Chat Room: Meet Screenwriter and Author John August

You may know L.A. local John August from his screenwriting credits, which include “Big Fish,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” But, now he’s notched up a new credit: middle-grade novelist. “Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire,” an engaging and exciting blend of magic, mayhem and mystery, introduces readers to 12-year-old Arlo, a newcomer to Pine Mountain, Col. Arlo soon makes friends and is invited to join...

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girls who code

Merging Two Kinds of Language: Literature and Coding

The front cover of the new Girls Who Code novel, “The Friendship Code,” showcases a familiar image of girl friendships: four tweens are hanging out in a bedroom, chatting it up and having fun.  While the room is decked out in purples and pinks, stars and fluffy pillows, crack open the book, and you’ll discover a story that’s far from stereotypically girly. The “gossip” these characters are dishing has to...

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Shop Talk: Get Things Moving

The new school year is here and it’s time to get busy (as if you weren’t already). These NAPPA award-winning products will help your kids stretch their bodies and brains, while you help them with time-management skills and keep them safe online.

kids club los angeles

Find Victory at Sea With Battleship Iowa’s Kids Club in Los Angeles

Is your child really interested in warships? Not just curious, but run-away-to-join-the-Navy interested? The Battleship Iowa Museum in San Pedro has just the right outlet for such eager-to-be sailors: a newly unveiled Victory’s Cadet Club, a kids club in Los Angeles! Named after the vessel’s World War II canine mascot, the club offers yearlong memberships for ages 6-12 and boasts a bevy of benefits, including tours, a hat and backpack,...

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rock climbing in los angeles

Getting a Strong Hold on Fitness and Fun

As I watch kids scramble up the bouldering walls at Stronghold Climbing Gym one recent morning, the words “no fear” come to mind. Up the sculpted gray walls they go, using the colorful hand- and footholds to stretch, push and pull their way to the top. The gym, located in Downtown L.A.’s Brewery Arts Complex and featured on this month’s cover of L.A. Parent, is pretty safety-forward, with plenty of...

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lisa loeb lullaby girl

EXCLUSIVE! First Listen to Lisa Loeb’s Lullaby Girl

We have the exclusive first listen to Lisa Loeb's soothing version of "Inchworm" from her forthcoming release, "Lullaby Girl," out Oct. 6. The album will be available for streaming exclusively on Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music, as well as for digital download or physical purchase through Amazon Music. Lullaby Girl offers fresh and dreamy arrangements of 13 classic songs from a variety of genres, with a world-class quartet led...

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Shop Talk: Back-to-School Fun and Games

A smooth transition back to school starts well before the first day. These NAPPA Award-winning games and gear will help you get ready for the upcoming school year at home, on the go and at school.

Splash, Sun and Summer Fun

Summer is in full swing. These great products will enhance your family’s fun in the sun. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Seven Summer Activities for Learning in and Around L.A.

It’s a sweet synergy when you can have fun with your kids while they’re learning. Los Angeles is a big city with even bigger opportunities for families to discover and explore together, but you might not have heard of these lesser-known gems. Among them are a path-blazing center that rescues animals while helping kids connect with nature, a shop where you can go back and forth in time (or, rather,...

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Toddle and Spin at Baby DJ School

For a unique musical experience, visit Baby DJ School in Santa Monica or West Hollywood. Run by enthusiastic teacher Anna Wallace (also known as “DJ Annie Wonder”), this isn’t your typical children’s music class with guitars, pianos and drums. Instead, kids ages 2 months to 5 years are introduced to faders, laptops, vinyl records, turntables and other DJ equipment. The 45-minute lessons also feature one-of-a-kind songs such as “Makin’ our...

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Eats for Little Bellies – and You, Too

What are you feeding your family? It’s a question we all have to answer, and these new food options available in stores and online will make that a little easier.

free comic book day

Wow! Bam! Pow! Free Comic Book Day is Here

If there is a comic book fan in your house, you should circle May 6 on your calendar. It’s Free Comic Book Day and, for the 16th year, comic book stores around the country will dole out free comic books – many created just for this day. Titles will include “Super Hero Girls,” “Barbie,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Doctor Who,” “Monster High” and “Underdog.” Among SoCal comics stores participating are...

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Cover To Cover Book Festivals

Southern California book lovers rejoice at the arrival of April, when two major book festivals come to town. The 22nd Annual L.A. Times Festival of Books ( transforms the USC University Park campus into a bibliophile’s paradise from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 22 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 23. As regular festival-goers know, the free event will be packed with author appearances, live entertainment, poetry readings and giveaways as well...

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Shop Talk: Sing Into Spring

Whether you’re on the road again or simply out and about more often, having new tunes can make the trip that much sweeter. Listening at home as a family is fun as well. Visit for more reviews of children’s and parenting products.

pbs kids writing contest

Does Your Child Have The Write Stuff?

Do you have a child who loves to make up stories or draw illustrations? Stop the presses! The PBS Kids Writers Contest is back, and its April 30 deadline is approaching fast. Children in grades K-3 can submit original prose fiction or non-fiction or poetry that they have written and illustrated. First-, second- and third-place winners will be honored at each grade level, and every child who enters a submission...

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Shop Talk: Game On!

Whether you want to head outdoors together or gather around the kitchen table, we found some award-winning products to help you rev up the fun! These are courtesy of the National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA). For more information on NAPPA visit their website at or follow them on social media at @NAPPAawards on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

los angeles family event

For Junior Chefs and Flapjack Fans

Cooking shows featuring kids are all over television, including “MasterChef Junior,” “Chopped Junior” and “Kids Baking Championship.” So it’s not surprising that food festivals also are appealing to kids who love to cook. This month, the All-Star Chef Classic returns to L.A. Live (800 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A.) March 8-11. Besides its adult-focused lineup of “Master Chef Dinners” and “Grill & Chill” and “Southern Eats” strolling events, the Classic will...

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invent it challenge

The Invent It Challenge Shows How Inventive Children Can Be

  Is your child a tinkerer, a dreamer, a builder and fount of ideas? Do they see a problem, whether it is a hole in a sock or a hole in the ozone, and want to find a solution for it? Then you should know about the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge. A partnership between Cricket Media and the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, this annual...

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Toys for Valentine’s Play

This Valentine’s Day, gather your family for some playtime with these award-winning products. It’ll show your kids just how precious you think they are, deepen your bonds and create lasting memories.

yoga in la

Family Yoga Expands at One Down Dog

Yoga is a meditative practice that many use to find calm and inner peace. So, why not make it a family affair? One Down Dog is known for its family-oriented yoga classes and it is expanding. New kids' classes just launched. Having offered prenatal, baby and me, toddler and me, and family yoga classes for some time, kids' classes were a natural extension of the studio's growing clientele. "After having my son, I realized how...

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au fudge

“Just Add Magic” Hosts Season Premiere at Au Fudge

Our own L.A. Parent kid reporter, Lola Bassirat, joined the fun at Jessica Biel’s  Au Fudge in West Hollywood Jan. 14 for the season two premiere party of Amazon Studio’s Original Series, “Just Add Magic.” In the series, loosely based on the book of the same name by Cindy Callaghan, three aspiring pre-teen chefs discover a magical cookbook full of recipes that have interesting powers – and consequences. The story...

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children's resale shops in la

Where to Buy, Sell or Trade Your Kids’ Clothes in L.A.

Buying used clothing for children makes a lot of sense, and if you can clear their closets of outgrown duds at the same time, it’s a no-brainer. I hit up the top resale shops in the L.A. area to find out what types of deals I could make. Here’s the rundown on these awesome spots! The Green Bean: This cozy, colorful Eagle Rock shop is run by Traci Green of...

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Make These Cute, Crafty Owls

As a parent and an art teacher, I permanently have my eyes on the lookout for materials that are fun, inexpensive and kid-friendly. Craft sticks have gotten on my radar lately, since you can buy them in so many lengths and widths, and since craft stores often sell so many fun wooden shapes with them. I love that they allow children to get the sense of building and creating something...

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kids home

Shop Talk: Home Sweet Home

Creating that perfect living space is always a work in progress, but adding just a few things here and there can really turn a house into a home. For more product reviews, visit

girls dolls

L.A. Mom Designs Dolls Representing the Global Scene

You can learn a lot about a little girl by watching her play with dolls. Stacey McBride-Irby, a Gardena native, played out her love of fashion with Barbie dolls. That love never waned, and after earning a degree in fashion design from Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, she turned her childhood passion into a design career. McBride-Irby started as a design assistant for Barbie doll toy maker Mattel. “After an interview,...

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fun ideas for kids

Goodwill’s BOO-Tiques Scare up Deals for Halloween Costumes

The Halloween shopping season is underway at Goodwill Southern California’s 81 stores. The retailer brings back its popular Halloween BOO-Tiques, providing shoppers with everything Halloween. Goodwill Southern California’s Halloween BOO-Tiques have become known as one of Southern California’s most popular one-stop shops for finding deeply discounted Halloween costumes and accessories. Shopping at GSC’s Halloween BOO-Tiques, which feature Halloween-inspired costumes, make-up, home decorations and props, has become a big tradition among...

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community news

Art Lessons That Think Inside the Box

When a friend bemoaned the limited art instruction options for her son in their school and community, Lauren Perelmuter, founder of Art to Grow On Children’s Art Center, sent the boy a Frank Lloyd Wright lesson in a box. His mom was so thrilled that she brought the program into her second-grade classroom, and The Art Box Academy was born. Art to Grow On offers mobile art classes in schools,...

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positive parenting

Positive Parenting: Getting Some Headspace with a New App

Parents looking to give their kids a mindfulness boost – and get one for themselves – have a new option. This summer, the creators of the Headspace meditation app launched Headspace for Kids. Available to Headspace subscribers ($7.99-$12.95 per month), Headspace for Kids features meditations on five themes – calm, kindness, focus, sleep and waking up – for ages 5 and younger, 6-8 and 9-12. The meditations are designed for...

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los angeles attractions

Giving Kids a Strong Hold on Fitness

If monkeys had a playroom, it would be the Stronghold Climbing Gym in Downtown Los Angeles. Located in the historic building that once housed the California Edison Company’s Los Angeles #3 Steam Power Plant, in the Brewery Arts Complex, this state-of-the-art facility houses hundreds of opportunities to scale walls and find routes to the top, across and under various types of simulated climbing terrain. For those who climb, it seems...

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fun ideas for kids

Angel City Derby Gets Girls into Four-Wheel Drive

It’s Saturday morning, and a couple dozen girls age 7-18 are skating around a Gardena warehouse on old-fashioned four-wheel skates. As their coach, Shilow “RegulateHer” Castro, shouts instructions, they pair up and practice nudging each other out of the oval track striped on the cement floor. The girls wear helmets, knee and elbow pads and wrist guards, which are standard for their sport: roller derby. Their team, Angel City Junior...

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special needs

Sign-ups Open For The Miracle Project Fall Theater Classes

The Miracle Project – an innovative program that uses theater, music and movement to help individuals with autism and other disabilities build self-confidence, communication skills and friendships – is kicking off its fall schedule of courses in September. Space is limited, and early registration is strongly recommended. Several classes will be held Tuesdays at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts (9390 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; from Sept....

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community news

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Shares His Children’s Book

Astronaut Chris Hadfield, possibly best known for his zero-gravity music video of David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity,” is coming to town to share his latest book, “The Darkest Dark.” Hadfield will appear from 7-8:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at Saint Timothy Church, 10425 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. Hadfield is also the author of “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” and “You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes,” and...

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fun ideas for kids

A Kiss of Creativity Comes to Encino

A new art studio that caters to kids opened this spring at Encino Town Center, teaching arts skills while allowing children’s self-directed creativity to flourish. Petit Bizoo, “a small kiss” in French, serves ages 4 and up, and offers mommy-and-me classes for toddlers and unique workshops for adult art lovers as well. “I want to teach art and awareness to families, schools, adults and children. [To show them] that art...

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fun things to do in la

A Brick-Tastic Time for LEGO Builders

Brick Fest Live isn’t a place where contractors compare building materials, it's the epitome of fun things to do in LA for builders of all ages. The building at Brick Fest Live involves the small plastic pieces commonly known as LEGOs. Fest-goers can race their custom-built LEGO cars in the Brick Fest Derby or play a game of mini-golf on the Brick-Links. They can showcase their LEGO video game skills,...

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los angeles attractions

4 Classic Carousels for L.A. Family Fun

Want to share an American history lesson with your kids this summer without dragging them to a state capital? Take them for a whirl on an antique carousel. “When you take your kids on a classic carousel they’ll learn lessons about our country that go beyond mere words. You are allowing them to physically experience history,” says Barbara Williams, who was manager of operations for the Santa Monica Pier Carousel...

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fun ideas for kids

Shop Talk: Summer Friendly Products for Your Family

Days are long and the kids are out of school. Make it a summer to remember with these products for outdoor fun ideas for kids.

Take the Family Out to Dodger Stadium

As the Dodgers battle for first place in the National League West and a drive to the playoffs, Dodger Stadium this summer is again one of the best places to enjoy a family outing. And this year the Dodgers are going even farther to make sure you have a good time and get value for your dollar. Of the 81 home games this season, 64 feature something beyond the game...

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activities for toddlers

Where to Find the Perfect Toy Truck Around LA

Hank is a 1-year-old gear jockey. He bounces with a kind of Strauss waltz-like ebullience when a wheel positions itself in his field of vision. I have no scientific data to back this up, but he seems to possess a nimble radar for all things automotive, almost like a shark sensing a floundering adolescent seal on a lazy current. Having witnessed my toddler son’s wide-eyed enthusiasm for all things with...

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MakersKit Opens First Retail Store on Melrose

Whether it's to save money, create a personalized gift or just for the fun of getting your hands dirty, DIY has gained buzz as the new thing to do. But being a “maker” doesn't always have to be an at-home experience. Case in point, MakersKit opened its first retail store on Melrose in L.A. April 10. MakersKit began as a way for co-founders Phillip Kuhn, Mike Stone and Jawn McQuade to share...

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Visit Book Fest and YALLWEST in April

New readers and longtime bibliophiles alike will uncover much to love at Los Angeles events this month. April presents both the 21st edition of L.A. Times Festival of Books and the second volume of the Youth and Young Adult Book Festival, better known as YALLWEST. The weekend of April 9-10, the USC campus (Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street, L.A.) will be stacked with booksellers and book lovers. The Festival of...

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New York Toy Fair – Unplugged

I made my annual trek to New York in February to attend the Toy Industry of America’s Toy Fair, a trade show that features hundreds of thousands of new toys, games and novelties from more than 1,200 exhibitors. It was worth braving the record-low temps and snow flurries of Manhattan for a sneak peek at the products hitting stores this spring or fall. Drones, robots and toys with integrated apps...

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Milk + Bookies Story Time Fundraiser Adds Celeb Readers

Milk + Bookies' 7th Annual Story Time Celebration is gearing up with new celebrity faces and a new open-door policy. In previous years the celebration and its arts and crafts, costumed characters, yummy treats and celebrity readers (who have included Tiffani Thiessen, Jack Black and JJ Abrams) was only open to those working with the non-profit organization. This time Milk + Bookies is extending an invitation to all L.A.-area parents to celebrate...

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enrichment - Music - ETYKids5

Shop Talk: Music 101

Whether you’re a music listener, novice player or skilled musician, these treasures will fit nicely into your repertoire.

12 Great Books for Black History Month

Your child may be awash in historical stories of notable African- American heroes this Black History Month. We’d like to add to the conversation with our list of relatable stories that will help your child see themselves in children from different backgrounds. Here we present books that feature young characters of African descent, among others, and show them working together through fictional and a few lesser-known historical situations. This list...

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The Globetrotters Come to Town

The distinctive sounds of “Sweet Georgia Brown” will be heard in Southern California this month as the Harlem Globetrotters mark their annual West Coast visit. Along with hearing that familiar tune (the team’s signature song since the early ’50s), fans will be treated to the team’s major hoops skills and on-court antics. This year marks a special tour for the Globetrotters, as the team is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Fact:...

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Karate Moviemaking For Kids

If you’re tired of listening to the “soundtrack” of your kids acting out improvised kung fu scenes in the living room, focus that energy in a productive direction by signing them up for Karate Moviemaking Class at the Pacific Martial Arts dojo (2614 Arthur St., Ste. D, L.A.). The course boasts knowledgeable teachers and plenty of fun ideas for kids. Taught in partnership with Coding For Treasure computer science center...

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fun ideas for kids

Great Cold-Weather Gear

Feeling that winter chill? Here are some finds that will keep you cozy as the temperature drops. For more product reviews, visit  

Actor Taye Diggs Celebrates Diversity With New Children’s Book

Helping kids of mixed race and culture celebrate their uniqueness with confidence was the focus of a recent Multiculti Mixer in West Los Angeles featuring a special appearance and book reading by actor Taye Diggs. The event was hosted by Multiculti Corner, a culturally diverse community of people with the intention to recognize, embrace, and celebrate what it means to be a part of a blended family. The co-host of...

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Get Away With a Holiday Heist

Wrap a Victorian parlor around a gangster hideout mixed with a pirate cave and you’ve got Kidd’s Jewelry Heist (, a gem of a hangout in back of the venerable Dinosaur Farm toy store at 1510 Mission St., South Pasadena. More treasure hunt than bead parlor, this is a great place to host a holiday party or a gift-making get-together. Kelly Kidd opened the business in 2012, and expanded over...

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Kip’s Celebrates 70 Years of Toys and Smiles

Don Kipper started working at his father’s toy store, Kip’s Toyland, when he was 9 years old. Besides dusting and organizing shelves, his main duty was tying strings to balloons. Balloons and flags were the main items sold at Kip’s Toyland when it first opened in 1945. Don’s father, Irvin “Kip” Kipper, had just returned home from serving as a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot in World War II. During...

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Yoobi Opens First Retail Store in Arcadia

"You buy. Yoobi gives." Just 12 months ago, Yoobi, headquartered in El Segundo, launched its line of school, home and office supplies in all 1,800 Target stores. If you haven’t noticed the vibrant and colorful items in the school supplies aisle, you’re missing out. But Yoobi is more than just a school supplies brand; it values education and wants to give back to students and schools in need. The company...

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A Local Crop of Kids’ Books

Shop these independent stores for personal recommendations and great family fun By Ronna Mandel If you only shop online, you’re missing out on input from some of our city’s most enthusiastic and knowledgeable kid-lit experts. To find bookstores that felt “just right” for this roundup, I channeled Goldilocks and made tracks for the independents – the magical, privately owned bookstores located throughout Los Angeles. Pages, A Bookstore: 904 Manhattan Ave.,...

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