Dec 10

Good Day Sacramento and Good Family Fun!

We’ve just added Sacramento!

A big thank you to Julissa Ortiz and the whole crew at  Good Day Sacramento for inviting me to share Mom Maps on air last week. It was so exciting to see the enthusiastic response from local moms and dads. After the segment aired, Good Day Sacramento invited parents to share their favorite local kid-friendly places on their Facebook page. With more than 50 comments, we have been busy making sure everything gets mapped in Mom Maps so you can find these picks next time you make the trip to California’s capitol.

While in Sacramento, we had a great time visiting the ArtBeast Studio. What a fabulous place for kids to explore a whole range of classes and drop-in creative activities. If I lived in Sacramento, I know this would be a favorite for my family. Mom Mapper Shayla and her daughter Kali came along and took this great video.  Little Kali even had the chance to make her  very first painting! (And do check out Shayla’s blog, Me Turned Mom.)

Sacramento is just the latest city to be added to Mom Maps. We now support 27 metro areas and we’re adding more each week with the help of our growing community of moms and dads who love to share their favorite places for kid-friendly fun as well as the many parent bloggers and family travel experts who contribute to our app. It’s a truly collaborative effort. Together we’ve mapped more than 26,000 kid spots and captured thousands of reviews for parents, by parents. Mom Maps has come a long way since I created this app when my family moved to San Francisco and I was inspired to create a tool to find cool things to do with my two year old.

Thanks to the many Sacramento parents who provided their picks and feedback on their favorite kid spots….  and to you, for joining with me to create this great resource for families!

Happy Holidays,

Jill Seman, Founder, Mom Maps


Download the Mom Maps iPhone app and take all of our kid-friendly picks for Sacramento (and more than 25 other metro areas) on the go, or search online at www.kidsplayguide.com.

Nov 10

Get Outside! Tip Sheet for Kid-Friendly, Cold Weather Fun

Photo by Tony the Misfit (Flickr Creative Commons)

Even when the weather turns cold and wet, there’s no end to the activities and places you can explore with kids. You can, of course, opt for staying warm and toasty by browsing our growing list of indoor play areas on the Mom Maps iPhone app or on the Kids Play Guide website. (Also be sure to check out our recent post: “Kid-Friendly Fun on Rainy or Cold Days: Our Favorite Places to Get the Wiggles Out“.).

If, however, your family is up for braving the elements, this just might be the time to discover a new place to explore. Our community of mom and dad mappers has made it easy to find kid-friendly places for outdoor fun in your area and on the road. Browse the “Parks” and “Playground” categories on our iPhone App or website, and you’re sure to find a great new family destination.

To add to the fun, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite links and resources for winter and cold weather activities. Now bundle up, get outside and play!

  • From The Grass Stain Guru: Try a fall color walk or check out some other ideas from her Fall Play video
  • Try these winter nature activities for kids on eHow
  • Download this free Winter Activity Guide from Nature Rocks, chock full of games, activities and safety tips.
  • Our friend Erin (@AKontheGo) recently shared this great article from Wild Backpacker on Staying Warm While Backpacking the the Coldest Weather
  • Did you know? Winter can be the best time of year from some outdoor activities, like exploring tidepools. Here’s a good round up of theBest Tidepools for Kids in California from Trekaroo
  • If you find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area (where Mom Maps/Kids Play Guide is based), ready the rain shield for your stroller and find a great place to a walk on the Stroller Hikes website.
  • We like this list compiled by National Wildlife Foundation/Wildlife Promise on favorite Outdoor Blogs by Parents.
  • Our friends at Fun Orange County Parks have created the first and last resource you need for outdoor fun in Orange County from beaches to parks to playgrounds.
  • For all you Twitter fans, the #PlayOutdoors hashtag is one of our favorites for the best news on outdoor family fun, year round.


Take Our Skinny Scoop Poll: “When the weather turns cold, what activities get you outside with your kids?”

Nov 10

Featured Mom Mapper: Road Trips for Families

So how did we find the more than 24,000 kid-friendly places mapped in our Mom Maps iPhone app? We’ve been building  a vibrant community of parent Mappers who love to share their favorite picks and places for outdoor and indoor play, learning places, family dining and more. We’d like to introduce you to Road Trips for Families, and in particular, their “Feed Me” and “Geocaching” editor, Julie Henning. Julie is also the creator of the the very handy Milwaukee Love Kids and Madison Loves Kids iPhone apps.

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Road Trips for Families brings you travel information and advice from real families who love to hit the road every chance they get. It’s a great resource for planning your next family road trip because you’ll find expert itineraries, information on what’s along the way, gadgets — plus a whole lot more. Julie’s specialty is dining out with kids — and as a mother of three she can appreciate that this is no small task, especially when you’re on the road. You need convenience, clean bathrooms, and a place to burn off energy—not to mention prices that don’t break your travel budget on the first day. Julie loves to venture little off the beaten path to find and share unique, family-friendly restaurants that feed your appetite and your sense of adventure . She’s also a great resource for geocaching, “the nation’s high-tech treasure hunt”.

We’re proud to team up with Julie Henning and Road Trips for Families to map some of their favorite roadside attractions and kid-friendly destinations. So now you can take Road Trips for Families’ kid-friendly travel picks and recommendations “on the go” using the Mom Maps iPhone app (or browse online at www.kidsplayguide.com.)

Follow Julie and Road Trips for Families

  • www.roadtripsforfamilies.com
  • @RoadTripsEditor (Road Trips for Families on Twitter)
  • @roadtripsfeedme (Julie Henning on Twitter)
  • Facebook: Road Trips for Families
  • Find out more about Geocaching

Oct 10

Cool Places, Mobile Apps (and more!) for Kids Who Love Science

If you have a budding Einstein at home, or just love to learn about the world around you, here are some of our favorite kid-friendly places, mobile apps and other cool resources that will appeal to the scientist in us all.

20 of Our Favorite Kid-Friendly Places for Hands-On ScienceBrowse these and lots more kid-friendly places for fun and learning online at Kids Play Guide or take it “on the go” with our Mom Maps iPhone app. Check out reviews from other parents and share your own.

  • Jagger Museum and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, HI): stop here on your tour of Volcanoes National Park to learn more about lava, volcanic eruptions and the history of the Kiluea vacano.
  • National Museum of Natural History (Washington DC): a great place to explore mammals, oceans, skeletons, and dinosaurs. Don’t forget to visit the insect zoo!
  • National Air and Space Museum (Washington DC): check out the amazing collection of space craft and historical airplanes (Lindbergh, the Wright Brothers among the most famous)
  • Liberty Science Center (Jersey City, NJ): three floors of interactive science exhibits located in Liberty State Park, including the country’s largest IMAX dome theater
  • Sony Wonder Technology Lab (New York City), a free technology and entertainment experience for all ages
  • Boston Museum of Science (Boston, MA), features a revolving schedule of IMAX films, temporary exhibitions and planetarium shows
  • Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, AL), home to Space Camp, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is recognized as one of the most comprehensive U.S. manned space flight hardware museums in the world
  • Louisville Science Center (Louisville, KY): the largest hands-on science center in Kentucky, with 150 interactive exhibits and activity stations, and a four-story IMAX theatre.
  • Orlando Science Center (Orlando, FL): lots of hands on exhibits for science lovers of all ages
  • Adventure Science Center (Nashville, TN) planetarium, preschool fun, birthday parties, camps, and the “Science Cafe” lecture series
  • La Brea Tar Pits / Page Museum (Los Angeles, CA): take a trip back in time when saber-toothed cats and mammoths roamed Los Angeles!
  • Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater and Science Center (San Diego, CA): located in Balboa Park, this museum includes San Diego’s only IMAX theater, an observatory and offers interactive exhibits, classes, camps and birthday parties
  • Discovery Science Center (Orange County, CA): over 100 hands-on exhibits to educate and entertain the whole family
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver, CO): IMAX, planetarium, workshops, hands-on exhibits — mummies and dinosaurs too!
  • Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA): hundreds of hands-on exhibits that mix science and art, offering a variety of ways to explore and understand the world around you
  • Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose, CA): get hands on with science and technology in the heart of Silicon Valley
  • California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco): the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof
  • Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland, CA): observatory and learning center focusing on astronomy and the space sciences
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, CA): one of the country’s best aquariums. Check out 200 exhibits, including majestic jellyfish, 2-story kelp forest and local sea otters — all in the heart of Monterey’s historic Cannery Row
  • Hands On Children’s Museum (Olympia, WA): hands-on science fun for younger children, families and school groups. Birthday parties, preschool programs and camps too.

Kid-Friendly and Educational Science Apps for Kids

  • Apps for Learning, from Moms with Apps: a great list of mobile apps that will help kids learn about math, the solar system, animals and more.
  • Star Map, explore the stars with this virtual planetarium
  • BrainPop, learn something new everyday. Great for 3rd to 5th graders
  • Space Images, from NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Other Cool and Kid-Friendly Science Resources

Sep 10

Mobile Apps: Essential Links and Resources for Families

(Image by William Hook)

There are so many new smart phone products on the market every day. It’s difficult to keep up, let along sift through it all to find the family-friendly gems. Most of the parents I know have a growing list of questions and concerns about the increasing role that technology is playing in our everyday family life, especially where kids are concerned. But whether you’re gung-ho or on the fence, this is a trend that here to stay. Luckily there are a lot of great resources to help parents make informed choices.

It was an interest in mobile technology “for parents, by parents” that led me to co-found Moms with Apps, a community of parents developing mobile applications for families and kids. Our philosophy has always been to support collaboration and honest information sharing among parents as a means to create truly exceptional (and truly family-friendly) mobile applications. It’s been exciting to watch our group flourish over the last two years and to see the diversity and creativity of our members at work. Applications span reading (PicPocketBooks, Tales2Go, AppyZoo Duck Duck Moose), learning (Math Girl Number Garden, Arithmaroo Counting, Kids Time Fun – Learn to Tell Time),  fun and creativity (Faces iMake, Cupcakes!, Build a Zoo, Snow Globe Maker), as well as road trips and travel (My Little Suitcase, Sunday Drive, Road Trip Bingo). My app, Mom Maps, helps parents find and share their favorite kid-friendly locations from parks to playgrounds, indoor play places, museums and restaurants (more than 24,000 kid spots and counting).

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. For parents taking the smart phone plunge (or just thinking about it), here are some of my  favorite links and resources for navigating the world of smart phones and a few links for those interested in developing their own app.

Have a great idea for an app? There are great resources for that as well:


Jill Seman is a San Francisco Bay mom, the creator of Mom Maps and one of the co-counders of Moms with Apps. She has over 15 years of engineering and management experience with media processing companies like Nvidia, S3, Cirrus Logic and Chips and Technologies.

Feb 10

Tools that build – not sever – connections

With a lineup of over 100,000 apps, Apple has an app for most needs among its iPhone-carrying customers – that is, the adults. As it turns out, app developers are creating more and more apps for children, which raises a number of interesting questions. Is even more screen time good for kids? What are apps offering to kids? How much learning and growth can be triggered by the use of iPhone apps? Is it all about video games in the end?

As an iPhone app developer, mom of two small children, and a member of MomsWithApps, I deal with this question every day, professionally and personally. In my mind, the child/iPhone combo often conjures images of images of kids playing video games for hours on end, and that’s often the case. At the same time, there are also some fantastic educational apps and benefits that come from mobile devices. So what might be some characteristics of apps for kids that make them worth downloading?

As a parent, I am looking for apps that start with the iPhone but encourage engagement with the world beyond the device, like sparking conversations with family and friends, exploring “real world” sites and phenomena through maps and geocaching. I applaud apps that truly require strategic and creative thinking, not just mindless repetition. The latest hot app is not necessarily good for kids just because they like it. In selecting apps, parents should look carefully for ones which are gateways back into the “real” world, not just a highway to the couch.

“Educational” means not just math facts, drills, and phonics, but also activities and content that encourage and develop social and communication skills: like PicPocket Books’ picture books, Tales2Go’s audio library or the conversation starters from the Family Matters App. By expanding horizons, these apps become tools for engagement rather than a drug for tuning out.

As responsible parents, we must look closely not only at the content we allow our children to experience on the screen, but also how, when, how often, and where they are plugged in to mobile devices or other screens. One of the best ways to practice moderation and to set enforceable limits is to model the right example for your kids. Recognize that technology can be addictive – not only for kids but for adults too. If you don’t want your kids to zone out in front of the screen, then stop constantly checking your own devices. Set boundaries and limits that work for your family, and enforce the rules.

In our household, computers and mobile devices are kept on the main living level so parents can monitor online behavior in terms of content and time spent on-line. We have the kids tell us which games they are playing, what they like about them, and have them show us how they play as well – maybe even play with them, all to ensure that communication and engagement come with the virtual fun. We also make an effort to stay current with new communication platforms and technological developments.

Down the road, knowing how to navigate that world – and engaging in it creatively and actively – will keep doors open longer for communicating with kids.

Thanks to MomsWithApps’ Lorraine Akemann and Lynette Mattke for collaborating and contributing to this post.

Feb 10

Mom Maps Announces Version 4!

Mom Maps announces version 4 with embedded maps, search capability, pictures and the ability to add kid spots on the go! And best part is its now FREE. Click on above link to download a copy and let us know what you think. Please send us a note if you would like us to add locations near you.