Month: June 2014

Planning your 4th of July Celebration!

Growing up the 4th of July was always a big celebration for our family. It was my Dad’s birthday and the park nearby had a wonderful firework show that we were able to enjoy from our front yard.

My sister’s and I were able to continue that tradition for years with our kids. I’m now looking for new ways to celebrate with my husband and our younger daughters. I have some great memories of celebrating the 4th of July and I hope that I give them the same. With that in mind, I’m looking for ways to step up our 4th of July celebration and thought I’d share my ideas with you.

This week I’ll be posting some yummy recipes, tips,  and things to remember while celebrating the 4th of July.

First off we need Fireworks. Here are some links for Fireworks shows in Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire from Pomona to Temecula and San Diego County.

Here is great list of 4th of July Celebrations in Orange County from kidsguidemagazine.com

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This weekend while visiting family in San Diego, we got a 4th of July warm up. We went to Mission Bay and viewed the firework show from Sea World. It was such a wonderful evening out. I hope some of the events on these lists will help you plan your 4th of July too.

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Fullerton Arbortetum

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Last Saturday we visited the Fullerton Arboretum, this very tranquil place is located  just off the 57 frwy in Fullerton on the Cal State University Fullerton campus.

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 As we walked  along the dirt path we were greeted by glorious sunflowers and a waterfall. The waterfall leads to a stream that flows throughout one side of the arboretum and into two ponds. The ponds are hosts to ducks, fish, turtles and cranes. The stream instantly inspired my daughter to draw and write in her journal.

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There is a small nature center for the kids (with binoculars for the kids to use during their visit), a fruit orchard, a children’s garden, a community garden, walking trails (one with redwood trees) and a plant store called the “Potting Shed” that sells plants which reflect the Arboretum’s Garden Collections: Cultivated, Desert, Mediterranean, and Woodland.

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They have guided tours of the Heritage House. This Eastlake style home was the home of Dr. Clark, one of the most highly regarded individuals in early Fullerton. The home was relocated to the Arboretum in 1972. The interior is fully restored and refurbished with furniture and medical equipment of that era. A suggested donation of $3.00 is encouraged be not required.

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The Farm Stand is open every Sunday and sells vegetable grown at the arboretum. They offer educational opportunities for adults such as Yoga in the Garden, Composting and an Eating in the Yard Series. They also hold an ongoing children’s series called Bug-Safaris, There are plenty of walking trails and benches to sit and enjoy the views and a quick snack.

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Bring your water and be advised that picnicking is not allowed inside the Arboretum, there are however picnic tables just before the entrance. Parking is free on a dirt lot. A  donation of $5.00 to visit the arboretum is suggested but not required. For a complete list of events check their calendar. In addition to the Family Fun to be had here, places like this are a great addition to your Summer Educational Series. Here’s a list of botanical gardens and arboretums in the United States.

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Girl Scout Brownie meeting – end of year celebration

Last night was our end of year celebration for my Brownie troop. The majority of the of my Brownies voted on having a “candy” party at the park. They wanted to eat candy,  play games, to have no parents or siblings in attendance, have music to eat pizza and have more candy.

I went to target and bought brightly colored plates, napkins, tablecloths and cutlery that all went in line with their “candy” theme. I bought popcorn, cookies and of course, candy. My head was spinning walking through the candy aisle. I had text my co-leader to refocus. I kept walking through the aisle, I couldn’t  think anymore. Not only is this stuff unhealthy, it’s expensive.
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Thanks to her, I was able to refocus and complete the shopping. I ordered 2 pizzas from Costco and (for my sanity) bought a veggie and fruit tray, which almost all the girls ate.

Here’s my agenda for the party:

Pre-meeting: 15 minutes/6:15-6:30

Playtime at the playground

Opening: 5 minutes/6:30-6:35

Flag, Promise and Law

Snack/Dinner: 30 minutes/6:35-7:05

Pizza time/Candy time

Games/crafts: 25 minutes/7:05-7:30

Make Felt Pipe Cleaner bubble wands and have some bubble time

Balloon Games

Frisbee Golf

Family/Closing Time: 15 minutes/7:30-7:45

Pass out Badge Bags

Special Thank You’s to parents who went above and beyond

Here’s how the party actually went:

Bubble time (without the pipe cleaner bubble wand craft) playtime at the park, eat, playtime at the park, get badge bags, special thank you’s and it was over.

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So much for all the planning. It was their party, they re-planned it and had fun. One girl said “this is the best party ever”. This party was definitely girl led!

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TedX Teen Challenge

TedX OrangeCoast’s mission is “To help turn inspiring ideas into actions”. TedXOrangeCoast  is  holding a contest to celebrate the work of teens while focusing on STEAM projects, the contest is open to all teens ages 13-19 years old.

Teens are challenged to come up with an “Idea Worth Doing”. They should submit their idea along with a their plan of action by August 31, 2014. Winners of the TedX Teen Challenge will receive exposure for their project, cash prizes and mentorship for a year. Winners be announced at the 4th annual TEDxOrangeCoast event to be held September 19-20, 2014 at Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo, CA.

The Keys of interest for the projects should include one or more of the following: 

  • Innovative: Existing or new project with a novel approach of addressing existing problems

  • Collaborative: Talent and passion win games, teamwork win championships

  • Social Impact: Positive and  measurable impact affecting our community and beyond

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To learn more visit TedXTeenChallenge

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“Ella” chemotherapy Barbies

Talk about Taking Action –  Melissa Bumstead did just that when she petitioned Mattel to produce more of the “Ella” Chemo Barbies.

Melissa’s four year old daughter Grace has has a rare form of leukemia and will receive chemotherapy treatments over the next year and half. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles had only six of the barbies to give out and Grace received one of them. Melissa took action by creating a petition to ask Mattel to make enough “Ella” Barbies for all kids with cancer.

Within 3 months she collected 100,000 signatures! Because of Melissa’s action, Mattel has agreed to make more and distribute the “Ella” Barbie to hospitals through out the country beginning in August.

This is her post from her change.org petition site in May 2014:

Victory – Melissa Grace’s Mom: Mattel called…they will annually make more Ella Barbies! That means that every year hospitals and foundations will receive a fresh supply of dolls, so there will be more Ellas for kids with cancer like Grace!

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Melissa, children around the country will have you to thank for your selfless efforts. Thank you and God bless you for taking action and helping other children!

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Inspire your Girls to be “Pretty Brilliant”

A new ad from Verizon sends the exact message I try give my girls daily, this ad sends the message to tell our girls they are “pretty brilliant” too.

Verizon has a campaign called “Inspire her Mind”. This campaign focuses on inspiring parents and girls to stay engaged with all things STEM. Research shows there is a significant drop-off in women interested in these fields between childhood and adulthood, from 72% to 55%. Women make up half the workforce in the US. Yet, as far as STEM jobs go, we only hold 25% of the jobs.

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Our words have a huge impact on our girls. Inspire their future by telling them how smart they are and how imaginative they are. Encourage them to get dirty, to look for bugs, go camping, let her find out how things work and let her build things. Through play time and family time we can spark our girls imagination in subjects like science, technology, engineering, astronomy and physics.

Verizon website dedicated to this campaign includes various videos and facts with in-depth insight, facts and figures from research studies. It also features women who are established in stem jobs.

We need to work together to be make a significant change in the lives of our girls.

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Lessons learned at the park

A formal educational setting is not needed to provide lessons to you children. Teachable moments can arise in an instant. As a perfect example of this: the other day, we were at the park and I was stressing to my daughter that she did not need to push back and forth while on the spinning apparatus thing (for lack of better word) because it works by centrifugal force.

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I turn around for a second and it happens; a yell, a cry and her lip is bleeding. So needless to say our time at the park was cut short. Although she got hurt,  it was a lesson none the less.

There is a lot to learned at the park, here are a few:

Literacy: A simple literacy activity that you can do with your child while visiting the park is to simply read the signs. Read the directions and information that you will find around the playground. When you get home have your child write about their experiences at the park that day. If they are still little have them draw it, you can ask them to describe the picture to you and you can write it on the drawing afterwards.

Physical educational: Let them run, climb, jump and slide. Not only will they burn of some steam but they actually be exercising. Most playgrounds have different play areas with designated age levels so they can exert their own physical skills. Take a ball with you to the park and practice kicking an throwing the ball while you are there.

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Science and nature: My daughters favorite thing. Go on a nature walk, discuss the nature surrounding them. The trees, flowers, water features, grass and bugs. How do the plants grow, why does mold grow on this side of the tree, what type of flower/tree is this, what type of insects live here and what do they eat and what are the different parts of plants? Collect some leaves and do leaf rubbings when you get home.

Social/Etiquette skills: Lets face it some people just don’t pick up after themselves. You can teach them pick up at least five pieces of trash. (serve your community)  If everyone did that, our parks would sparkle. Parks are also very sociable places. It is an ideal opportunity for your child  (and yourself) to socialize with other children (moms) and learn a variety of social skills such as talking, listening and sharing.

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History: Many parks have some great history behind them. Find information on plaques/memorial statues.

Art: A brilliant way for children to express themselves is through art. Have them draw their experiences. Make a collage out of the leaves they have collected. One of our favorite activities is to gather and collect “nature” then they make create nature creatures. Use grass as rope to tie twigs together.

A simply trip to the park can provide so many lessons.

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Whole Kids Cooking Club at Whole Foods

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We attended the Whole Foods, Whole Kids Cooking club on Friday, “Cooking a Rainbow” was the theme. The goal of the cooking class was to support healthy eating habits by eating from a rainbow. This class was a hands healthy eating course for kids.

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The host had an array of beautiful juliette sliced veggies such as sweet potato, squash, zucchini, finely chopped rainbow broccoli, edamame and a black bean pasta. The younger kids, 3-4, had a great time piling veggies on their plate and the 6+ age group arranged their veggies into beautiful rainbows. All of them were so proud of their creation. They topped their colorful plates with a warm marinara sauce.

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For dessert they were given slices of bananas, they scooped out the middle of the banana filled it with peanut butter and dipped the bottom in chocolate. Both of my girls loved it.

Since the all the kids made such a big plate of veggies, my girls couldn’t even finish even a quarter of what was on the their plate. My husband and I were able to fest on the leftovers later on. Overall, this was a refining moment for all of us, the girls loved the veggies and I found a Black Bean pasta that I can’t wait to incorporate into a dish.

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Our local Whole Foods has kids cooking classes twice a month for the cost of $5.00. They provided an abundance of ingredients (all of which were organic), my girls were able to try (and liked) the black bean pasta and my girls understood the concept of eating from a rainbow. Since the discussion was ripe for the taking, we walked around Whole Foods afterwards and discussed the importance healthy eating habits. I look forward to the next class.

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Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

This is a free global reading program that encourages kids to read all summer long. This addition to my Summer Educational Series, keeps kids reading books and logging their reading minutes (online and on smartphones). They can enter sweepstakes to win prizes and earn digital rewards when they complete weekly reading challenges. This year’s theme is “Reading Under the Stars!” Kids will unlock constellations and learn fun facts about space as they reach reading milestones every week.

Kids 4-14 are the core ages, but if you read to your younger children, you can log reading minutes on their behalf.

You can sign up online at www.scholastic.com/summer .  Although kids can log minutes through any desktop browser,  mobile device (tablets or phones) browser, or through the free Scholastic Reading Timer mobile app on iOS and Android devices, you must register or authenticate via a desktop browser first. The website is completely kid safe as there are COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) laws that Scholastic adheres to. 

Scholastic also offers a lot great ideas through their Scholastic Parents Facebook page. Parents be sure to visit  the content calendar, it provides free daily expert tips and articles, activities, discounts on books, and special Friday giveaways.

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Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

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Google launches “Made with Code” website to get girls coding

If you are the parent of a girl – pay attention to this – Google is spending $50 million dollars to get girls to code. This is a huge statement!

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From googleblog.blogspot.com:

Today, we’re attempting to solve this issue on a much larger scale. Along with Chelsea Clinton, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab, National Center for Women & Information Technology, SevenTeen, TechCrunch and more, Google is launching Made with Code, an initiative to inspire girls to code. The program includes:

  • Cool introductory Blockly-based coding projects, like designing a bracelet 3D-printed by Shapeways, learning to create animated GIFs and building beats for a music track.
  • Collaborations with organizations like Girl Scouts of the USA and Girls, Inc. to introduce Made with Code to girls in their networks, encouraging them to complete their first coding experience.
  • A commitment of $50 million to support programs that can help get more females into computer science, like rewarding teachers who support girls who take CS courses on Codecademy or Khan Academy.

We’ve also posted videos about women who are using code in their dream jobs, like Miral, Danielle, Erica and other inspirational girl coders — like Brittany Wenger, who is using code to fight cancer. And, we’ve developed a few steps parents can take at home to get their daughters excited about computer science. Read more about the initiative here.

Nowadays, coding isn’t just a skill useful for working at a tech company; engineering isn’t just for engineers. Interior design. Medicine. Architecture. Music. No matter what a girl dreams of doing, learning how to code will help her get there. Their future — our future — is made with code. Let’s do what we can to make sure that future is as bright as possible.

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National Summer Learning Day – June 20th

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Yesterday marked the beginning of summer for us. It was My 7 year old daughter’s last day of school and she is not happy about it. She asked me “Why can’t the teachers just take the weekend off and start the next school year on Monday?”

I have a huge responsibility here, I need to keep her learning and engaged during the summer. I have listed a few things in my  Summer Educational Series  that she will be taking part in. Celebrating National Summer Learning Day on June 20th that goes right in line with my mission.

Summer Learning Day  is a day to spread awareness about the importance of combating summer learning loss and the need to offer learning opportunities for all students to keep brains engaged in the summer months. Summer learning is for all children, not just those who need to catch up in school. It helps to encourage children to be:

    • Creative and innovative.
    • A chance to use the great outdoors as a classroom.
    • A way to make sure your child is eating healthy and staying active during the summer.
    • A way for older youth to discover a career through job experiences.
    • A step up to the next grade or school level.
    • A tool for helping children and schools perform at their highest level.

This year, hundreds of events, big and small, are slated to celebrate summer learning across the nation. Find Summer Learning Day events close to you, Summer Learning is about bringing together fun activities and learning to provide a safe space for the children of working families.

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As a parent, you can help by turning everyday errands and outings into a learning experience. Download and print out some of the resources below to learn how.

  • Summer Learning Tips for Parents
  • This sheet offers some overall tips on finding a summer program for your child and other low-cost activities that you can do with your child during the summer months.
  • Ideas for Activities at Home
  • This sheet offers fun and easy-to-use ideas on how to turn everyday errands and local outings into learning for your child.
  • Ideas for Older Youth
  • Getting your tween or teen to learn during the summer can be a challenge. This sheet gives you ideas on how you can make it so fun and interactive they won’t even realize they are learning!
  • Ideas for an Active and Healthy Summer
  • This sheet gives ideas on how to keep your child physically active and fit, while eating healthy during the summer months.
  • Getting Teens College and Career Ready During the Summer
  • This sheet offers ideas families can use to work with teens during the summer to give them a start on what comes after high school and beyond.
  • Summer Reading
  • This resource will give you tips on how to keep your child reading all summer long.

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Free LEGO’s for our Future Builder’s

I absolutely loved LEGO’s as a child, as an adult I love to see my children playing with LEGO’s. I know that LEGO’s provide a child with complete freedom that allow their imaginations to soar. They encourage children to give their ideas and predictions a try and their mistakes become masterpieces with endless possibilities.

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As a parent, I love that as the child grows, their building possibilities grow from the same set of LEGO’s. They could potentially use the same blocks for years. Although, I am sure that they will add on to their existing set with some of the new themed sets. One set that I am very pleased to see coming out in August is a limited-edition box set called “Research Institute”, featuring three female scientists.

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LEGO stores hold FREE Monthly Mini Builds

Your local LEGO Store has FREE monthly Mini Model Builds on the first Tuesday of every month.  Your child can learn how to build a mini model and take it home for FREE (I think I already said that but I love FREE). These events are for kids ages 6 to 14.  The next upcoming Mini Model Build is: LEGO Beach Van: Tuesday, July 1 and begins at 5:00 pm until supplies last. 

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June 2014  Mini Build

Lego’s are an important part of your child’s development. Here are some the many benefits of Lego’s from ehow.com

Math and Science Skills

  • Building with Lego bricks fosters spatial reasoning and awareness of proportions and patterns. As a child builds, his or her mind is reasoning about what pieces will work best, how they should be arranged and how big or small the creation should be. The basic Lego bricks also teach fractions and division. From whole to half to quarter, children are learning fractions without even realizing it. Physics and engineering skills are also stealthily being developed. As a child builds a tall building or bridge, he or she is learning to think in three dimensions, balance weight and use supports for these structures.

Child Development

  • The most obvious physical benefit of building with Legos is the development of fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are those that require small muscle movements. As a child manipulates the Lego bricks, he is developing the coordination of the small muscles in his fingers and hands. The ability to follow directions is also a benefit of Lego building. Many Lego kits come with step-by-step instructions that a child must follow in order to complete the task.

Thinking Skills

  • As a child builds with Legos, she is using problem solving skills. She has to figure out which blocks work in her building, sometimes using the trial and error method. Planning and organizing are other benefits. Lego building requires the child to have a plan before she builds, even if it is only a basic one. She also must organize his thoughts as well as the Lego pieces in order to bring her idea to life.

Creativity

  • Creativity is, perhaps, the most obvious of the benefits of learning with Legos. Building with blocks fosters a child’s creativity. Children can toss aside the instructional kits and use only the Lego bricks to create anything their minds can imagine. Free, open-ended play encourages children to think outside the box and dream up endless possibilities.

 

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The Benefits of Vacation Bible School

We are less then a week away from Vacation Bible School. We attend and volunteer at the VBS through Calvary Chruch located in Santa Ana.

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Calvary Chruch’s VBS is not affiliated with the church that I attend but I love several things about this VBS:

  • It’s FREE 
  • They never turn a child away
  • They help local children without transportation get to and from VBS
  • They are very organized and loving with the children
  • They teach children about giving back

Our VBS starts the day by meeting in the main church, they sing and pray together then head of to their classes where they have a bible based curriculum and then circulate in the campus and do crafts, play games, have a snack and than meet back up in the main church and end their day by singing to the lord and praying together.

They encourage children to give back by contributing through the “Penny Project”.  The kids bring in their “pennies” to fund a project to benefit the work of a missionary family. The kids will learn all about this family and what their pennies will help build or provide. This year they are helping a missionary family that is in the process of opening a new Transition Home in Balti, Moldova for 10 boys. The home will be provide a safe, loving home for boys who are too old for an orphanage but still need protection, school, and job training. The money our children raise through the “penny Project” will help buy comfortable furniture for the home, so it won’t be just a house, but a home. Now, I don’t know about you but I think it’s very impressive that my little girl come’s home understanding what missionary work is and is searching for pennies to help people she’s never meet .

VBS not only helps our children discover and grow closer to Christ, they also make friends and have memories and values to last a lifetime.

As for me, I love that volunteering at VBS works on my heart to witness the body of Christ at work. I volunteer in the craft room, which is non-stop from the moment you walk in. VBS needs a lot of volunteers to make it possible for kids to attend. Everything from donating snacks to helping with parking, helping with sign in’s each day, leading or assisting in a class room, helping in crafts room, kitchen area or music. There are tons of jobs that aren’t even addressed here. Every job is important and helps change the life of a child.

I know, yet another volunteer job and no money. But these volunteer positions that I take on give me more then money ever could. They give me the opportunity to give back to my community, to help someone, to make a difference and to refine my purpose by serving. I hope that my children see that volunteering within your community is needed and how important it is to give back. Volunteering doesn’t take money just your time and effort. Kids need to be taught how to volunteer. You have to be the example.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15

 

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pictures from last years VBS from OC Register.com

 

 

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Crystal Cove Tide Pools

Every time we come here, I fall more in love with this beautiful spot. Crystal Cove State Park is designated as an Underwater Park and definitely goes under my Summer Educational Series. This place makes it easy to add a learning experience to a family fun day at the beach.
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Nothing is better then nature’s classroom. Stop by art museum, located across from the one restaurant on the beach, and pick up a Sea Life pamphlet (made especially for kids but I love it) It describes how to explore the tidepools and the sea life you find at different tide levels.  All the kids love seeing sea anemones and get so excited by the Shore crabs. You can also read through the Crystal Cove State Park pamphlet with your to give them a some of the history of Crystal Cove.

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I am simply amazed by God’s beautiful creations when I’m here. The pristine beach is surrounded by 80 foot coastal bluffs. It has 3.2 miles of beach and seven separate coves to explore. There’s plenty of room on the beach for sunbathing and picnicking.
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There are volunteer led tidepool walks and every Wednesday throughout the summer, the Education Commons has classes on sea glass jewelry making, historic radio shows, historical games and more. These classes are from 9am-4pm and best of all it’s FREE.
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A great way to teach your kids about serving your community and preserving our beaches is to join in a beach clean-up effort check out Save Our Beach.

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How to Find the Park

The park is located off Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, California with easy access from I-5, 405 and 73. Crystal Cove State Park is located just north of Laguna Beach, California and just south of Corona Del Mar, California. Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, passes directly by the Park. There is parking both on the ocean side of PCH at Reef Point and Pelican Point as well as inland parking at El Moro Day Use Parking Area by the Ranger Station which can be reached by going inland at School/State Park traffic signal, located next to El Morro School.. A few miles north from Reef Point is the Los Trancos parking area with trolley access to the Historic District.

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