Activities & Classes for Toddlers

Parent Q&A

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  • Parks for a Crawly 9 month old?

    (13 replies)

    Hey!

    Our daughter's not walking yet, but still has tons of crawling energy. She loves pulling herself up and cruising as well. Any good places to go? Having trouble finding a specific park that fits this specific transition phase...like, I know she'll be walking soon enough, but what to do until then? 

    Snow Park has a toddler playground that has a gate. Def some stuff for her to crawl around on. I took my daughter there as a crawly and still go there and she’s 2+

    Here are some ideas:

    Peggy Thompson Pierce Street Park in Albany has a great little kids/crawlers playground which is fenced in.

    Christie Park in Emeryville also has a nice crawler area with little mounds in the rubber flooring and things to pull up on.

    If you are willing to drive a little, Hal Brown Park in Larkspur has a great crawlers area with lots to explore on the ground.

    Have fun!

    You could try the bay area discovery museum in Marin. They have a nice tot area for crawlers and early walkers with lots of padding and things to pull up on.

    Totland in Berkeley is all fenced in and has a sandpit. We spent a lot of time there when the kids were younger.

    Also, we used to live near San Pablo park and there is also a fenced-in area there.  It is often empty in case you're worried about other children bowling over the young one.

    Finally, live oak park has an even smaller fenced-in area.  That's a good one too.

    Snow Park's tot area is nice for crawlers/pulling up to stand. There is a low to the ground tube to crawl through, a low slide, and a bridge. My son had fun there before he could walk.

    Have you been to Totland? It's a good spot for this age!

    I had a wonderful experience with my crawling infant at San Pablo Park in Berkeley where there is wide open grassy fields as well as a nice toddler playground for when she’s older.

    Most playgrounds have a tot section for little kids (under 5) where the ground is rubberized and there are smaller play structures conducive to crawling and cruising. Some that come to mind that i know my kids enjoyed during this phase are Totland, Arlington Park, La Loma Park (the stationary train is an excellent opportunity for long-range cruising!), and Cordonices Park. Have fun! :)

    Not sure where you are, but Totland is great for this age, especially in the morning.

    Tot Lot in Albany! (Not to be confused with Berkeley’s Tot Land, which is also lovely.) This is a small corner lot with tons of push toys, walkers, things to ride on (when she’s ready), etc. Located on the corner of Talbot and Dartmouth. There are often some crawlers and cruisers there, as well as toddlers who want to ride toys (with their grown ups who want to sit down). Hope this helps! 

    Totland on Virginia is great, as are the toddler playgrounds at San Pablo Park and James Kenney Park. My daughter is also weirdly obsessed with Opal Staniek tot lot in Albany, which is tiny but full of preused plastic toys including lots of things to cruise around on!

    I’m curious to hear suggestions as my almost 7 month old has started to cruise and is very determined to keep at it! The Tot Lot in Albany comes to mind as there are benches that could be good for cruising. And the ground is soft. Totland in Berkeley might also work but the ground might be concrete, I can’t remember. 

    Willard park has a perfect place for crawlers.  Fenced in, small structures, little sandpit.  There's also Bateman Park (not Bateman Mall Park) that's all sand and full of toys.  

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  • In search of toddler social activities for a very covid risk averse family. 

    Our toddler is 2.5 years old. We are looking for structured (in age appropriate ways) a daycare or any indoor activities.

    Our risk tolerance and mitigation efforts have been on the extreme side of caution. We JUST started going to the grocery store since March 2020. So we’re at that level of comfort right now. We are looking for activities or classes that align with a cautionary approach as much as can be controlled when getting unvaccinated kiddos together.  

    Specifically, our child has an interest in dance classes in case you have any leads on some that are outdoors for her age. 

    Pt. Richmond, Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley are the range we can manage. 

    Thanks in advance for a roundup of any ideas.

    Have a great day, 

    JV

    There is an outdoor dance class starting Saturday at John Muir Elementary in Berkeley. You can find out more info and sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfA1MRg_OZJmg9VwlyUUM9ls3V2-ag4lmlWpfw6B_R90sm-Pw/formResponse

    The Berkeley Public Libraries hold outdoor story times. Epworth Church (also in Berkeley) has a play group for under 3s. 510 Families has a great compilation of toddler activities too :)

    My daughter went to outdoor music classes at Live Oak Park in Berkeley.  Families sit on picnic blankets, kids dance, very fun. My daughter loved it. I would rate it very covid conscious. 

    https://www.musictogether.com/

  • I'm looking for an outdoor weekday activity or two for our nanny to bring two toddlers (14 months and almost 2 yrs old) to, ideally near Trestle Glen or Piedmont though short drives are fine as well. We've found a great outdoor music class but are hoping to find another activity. In reading through previous posts I've primarily found recommendations for indoor activities or things a little too far away. Would love any recommendations--thanks! 

    You could stop by the Piedmont branch of the Oakland Library and grab some books, then read them at the Mountain View Cemetery. 

  • Hi! My daughter is in school until 3:30 and I’m searching for after school activities so she can engage with art, dance, music, movement. We are tired of the playground lol. She loves art, tumbling, dancing, singing etc - but is very shy. She will not stay for any “drop off” - I’m seeking something that will allow me to stay. So far I’ve only found a ballet class on Solano, will be trying that Monday. But it seems other places I’ve been directed to by friends are closed! Any help is much appreciated! 

    Check out https://www.dancemonks.com/youth

    Two dance artists and educators who are leading a Monday afternoon (4-5pm) creative movement class at Finnish Hall in Berkeley. The class series already started, but they may let you join anyway. Mirah and Rodrigo are wonderful, nurturing teachers!

    I take my 2 yo to Jon Merker's outdoor music classes (Jon's School of Music https://www.jsom.com/winter-2022-14-321) and we love them and have been coming back every week for about a year. He teaches basic principles of music and rhythm in a really fun and playful way, and kids in the class from 6 mos to 5 years love it. It looks like he has 4:30 pm classes. 

  • Weekend classes for toddlers?

    (3 replies)

    We have a 2.5-year-old boy with a lot of energy, and am wondering if anyone knows of good weekend classes or activities for this age. I'm thinking something more organized and directed than open play at Gymboree -- for example, we did parent/child swim lessons at the Emeryville pool this summer. 

    I heard about a gymnastics class on the UC campus, but does anybody have another good recommendation?

    We’ve started our almost-2-year-old in Sunday morning soccer “classes” at Bladium (in Alameda). The program is called Lil’ Kickers and is nationally franchised. I actually haven’t been to any of the sessions yet (the classes were a Father's Day “gift” for me-- ahem, I mean for my husband!), but from what I hear it’s a lot of training in following directions for group activities (stacking cones, parachute play, etc.) with some soccer thrown in. My son loves to kick a ball, and the class actually doesn’t have quite enough soccer for his liking, as he’s in the youngest age group, but I think the groupings for your son’s age range (“Thumpers” or “Cottontails”) have a fair bit more of that. Anyway, the weekend classes seem to fill up fast, but there are lots of sessions throughout the year.

    In this time, I think outdoor is best. My kids are doing soccer - soccer shots etc. and that has been great. They have a 2-3 class.

    My toddler who is 3 just finished a session with Soccer Shots, and I've signed her up to continue through November (Fall session).  They are GREAT.  High energy, kids get a workout, they don't pressure the kids to participate but know how to encourage them.  Plus, she's starting to understand what teamwork means (hard in this socially distanced time).  I realized this was a good class to teach her what working with other kids meant.  She still struggles with this concept, but in my opinion, better than nothing.  They have a few locations in the East Bay.  We go to Cedar Rose Park, and all the coaches seem great.

    They have classes on Sat/Sun.

  • Activities for 1.5 year old

    (2 replies)

    Any suggestions for activities for a 1.5 year old during near Berkeley? Any outdoor movement classes, animals, art, music? Or perhaps indoor, socially distanced classes? Thank you.

    I’ve been taking my 1.5 to Sing Jam’s outdoor music sessions. The sessions are drop-in, held in playgrounds in Berkeley/Oakland, and have a super fun, chill vibe. 

    http://Www.singjam.org

    The Little Farm in Tilden is open again but only with advance reservation, via the website. I checked last weekend for this week and it was booked out! Must plan further ahead, I guess! 

  • Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows of outdoor storytime or similar activities for toddlers in the east bay? My daughter is 14 months old and doesn’t get a chance to be around kids much. I’d love to have her do an outdoor activity that is socially distanced and safe during Covid but will still let her see / be around other kids. Any tips / ideas would be appreciated! 

    Following! I'm also looking for something like this.

    Speaking as a volunteer storytime reader: me and some of my colleagues have discussed this a lot over the past several months, and nobody I know of has found a way to do it safely. When family groups all have to sit six feet away from each other, you quickly reach a point in terms of crowd layout where the storytime reader simply can't be loud enough to reach the back row, or the book isn't visible. That, and the epidemiological x-factor of a bunch of wiggly kids in one place, masks halfway on, all being encouraged to yell and wave their bodies around (plus the bigger problem at every storytime, misbehaving parents).

    Doesn't mean nobody's doing it! But I haven't heard of anyone doing it and I'd personally hesitate to bring my own kid to one, as much as I love storytime. That said, Alameda County just loosened their restrictions on playgrounds, so that may be a better option for now.

    I suggest you form a pod with one or two other families with similarly aged kids, and do regular storytimes with them in someone's backyard or at a park. 

  • We're not feeling comfortable enough to send our son to daycare yet, but we'd like to add some structure to his days. Wondering if anyone has done any toddler classes that you think are worth signing up for. Would love to hear about any type of class - music, sports, art, etc. Zoom is always challenging for this age but I'm running out of ideas, and I think our kid could use a break from his mom all the time too!

    Jon's School of Music has zoom classes, and my son (2.5) has loved them and been super engaged for the whole 30-40 minutes (not the case with other zoom things we tried). I think he's considering adding outdoor classes as well. 

    We've been doing classes with Jon's School of Music, and my daughter has loved them. He's really silly and engaging with the kids, and has a storyline that keeps them paying attention (they have to watch out for Darth Flubber, who is trying to defeat them 😁). He has classes for toddlers up through young elementary school, and the classes are designed to teach the kids beginning music theory about rhythms, scales, keyboard skills (for the older kids) and playing together as a group. For the online classes you just use whatever instruments you might have lying around the house (we use a little drum and xylophone). I think he's exploring doing in-person physically distant classes soon. You can find his contact information and more info on the classes at jsom.com.

    My kid (2.5) hates zoom. The only thing he’s willingly participated in via zoom was the parent-child dance class at Shawl-Anderson. Fun and low-key “dances” like “prance across the room” or “dance close to the computer and then far away.” 

    Jon Merker's School of Music has both online Zoom classes and may soon be doing outdoor socially distanced classes. We have been doing the Zoom-based classes since the pandemic started with our toddler, and hands down, they have been our child's favorite activity the entire time. Jon has a rare talent for making the classes feel incredibly personal and keeping kids engaged, while also teaching them important core concepts in music theory. The most important aspect of the class for us is that our son *loves* his time with Jon. He loves the personal connection, and the fact that there's an adult in his life who is capable of being as silly as he wants to be. We're devoted followers of Jon's School of Music, both the in-person classes and the Zoom-based ones. I can't recommend another teacher of any topic for kids more highly.

    You can contact Jon directly to enroll: http://www.jsom.com/jon-s-school-of-music-1

    Our daughter has been taking zoom music classes through Jon Merker-- he was doing live classes out of the Totland clubhouse and we loved doing them there as well-- and he's now offering classes via zoom. My 4 year old looks forward to her weekly class and loves Jon and the music skills he has been teaching over the last few months. Jon is super engaging and silly for the kids and really pushes them to participate and have fun while learning how to count to a beat, be loud and soft, and gain confidence. We look forward to taking these classes again in person (one day soon!??!) but in the meantime we have really enjoyed them on Zoom. I believe all the info is on his site-- email him for more info too he's super responsive: http://www.jsom.com/

    We love Jon Merker’s online music classes. Both of my kids participate and they have a great time while learning the basics of rhythm, notes and recognizing patterns in music, also team work. We highly recommend his classes. Here’s his email: jon765432 [at] gmail.com

    Our 3.5 year-old has been attending Jon's School of Music (http://www.jsom.com) on Zoom and loving it. It helps that he'd been to a few classes IRL pre-COVID but should be good for new attendees too. Jon is loud, silly and engaging even over the computer and all the kids are totally focused on him. It's the one time we are able to leave our kid in front of a Zoom meeting and have him fully absorbed. Ability to hit a drum approximately on cue is the only requirement, though there is some musical instruction slipped in without the kids realizing. Our younger kid (1.5) has taken part too and also had fun. 

    Yes!  Jon's music class is online and it's amazing.  Jon usually runs his classes out of Totland but with COVID he has moved to an online format that works very well.  I am pasting below the info for May because it was easy to find.  I am guessing it'll be the same for July.  I HIGHLY recommend!

    May 4 - May 31 OnlineI'm offering 2 different kinds of classes right now, with separate fee and attendance structures: Smaller Interactive Classes for 3 - 8 year olds:  and  Big Gigantic Classes for 1 - 6 year olds ...

    You should check out Jon's School of Music (www.jsom.com)! Our son has been attending his live classes since he was 18 months and three years later, he still enjoys music class every week. Jon switched to online classes two months ago, there's a ton of options regarding age/days/time so I'm sure you'll find something that'll match your schedule and needs. Jon's so nice, you can send him an email about trying out a class, he usually responds very quickly. His classes are really fun and our son knows ton of music stuff now too (forte/piano/different instruments). Hope this helps!

    Check out Jon’s School of Music. It’s been a savior during quarantine. Our 3 yo has been doing his online classes several times a week and I swear it’s engaging like nothing else we’ve tried. For a solid 40 mins! The kids love Jon. I love that it shifts the kiddo restless energy, offers learning and silliness and I can get some things done. It’s well priced. If you email him I think you can check out a class for free.

    jon765432 [at] gmail.com

    http://www.jsom.com/

     

    YES!  We highly recommend Jon's School of Music!! Jon's school is normally located in the sweet building covered with a mural inside of Totland playground.  Since COVID he's moved to on-line and by far it's been the best and most successful zoom experience my boys have had. (We tried a few different on-line things, and this is the only one we have stuck with.)  Jon is totally zany in a way that is super entertaining for the littles and it really transmits well and keeps kids attention on-line. And he's developed a brilliant method for teaching music theory and instrumentation that he weaves through his classes in age appropriate ways (his classes are divided in different age groups).  He gets kids drumming, dancing, improvising...and they have a blast. After the class I've noticed my boys tend to pick up their play instruments or sit down at the piano to experiment and even pick out the simple ditties they learn in his class..I can see it's giving them a true musical foundation. 

    We love music classes at Jon's school of Music: jsom.com

    Jon normally teaches music at the little indoor space on the totland playground, and has successfully moved his classes online. Our 3 year-old is really into them, and very engaged (she tried other zoom classes that she couldn't stick with). Our 1 year-old has been listening in and having tons of fun too, also learning the music games (at her own rhythm).

    Jon is great with little kids. He's fun and silly, infinitely patient, and able to build up their knowledge of music at the exact right pace for them - slowly, with tons of repetitions of fun games. He's super creative, making up good ways to remember for example notes, rhythms, what fortissimo or accelerando means, etc. He makes them laugh and want to stay. It's also a fairly active class, with movement and participation.

    I highly recommend - I wish it was in person again, but as long as we're stuck with zoom, we're really glad we have Jon's school of Music!

    We LOVE Jon's Music class -- http://www.jsom.com/jon-s-school-of-music-1 -- pre-pandemic we would go to totland and have in person classes, where kids play all kinds of instruments, learn basics of rhythm and melody, and are part of Jon's "Super friends band." Now in the pandemic, we have zoom meetings a few times a week. It's the only thing meeting online that will keep my 3yo engaged and laughing. 

    Can highly recommend Jon's School of Music (http://www.jsom.com/). Online classes most days of the week for kids between 1.5 - 6 years old. Jon is very entertaining and keeps the kids engaged during the whole class. Our 4 year old daughter loves it! 

    Jon at Jon's School of Music has managed to put together an extremely engaging version of his Big Gigantic Music Classes.  Zoom for young kids is hard, but he's figured out an approach that works.  

    My 2 year old has been with Jon since she was 15 month. She always looking forward to the classes even after we transitioned to the online format. Jon works really hard to interact with every kids individually through zoom and has a keen way to keep them engaged. My daughter sings songs plays trick she learned from Jon's music class all the time. 

  • We recently relocated to Berkeley from the UK with our 21-month old daughter. I work full-time and my partner is the primary caregiver, and though they enjoy the local parks we were hoping to find some affordable, drop-in play/activity groups where our daughter can interact with other toddlers. In our former home, churches and community centers often organized groups like this and charged a nominal fee for snacks, but I haven't encountered anything like this yet here in Berkeley. Any suggestions? 

    See https://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Parks_Rec_Waterfront/Level... for City of Berkeley activities. 

    There's also story time-type activities at the various local libraries. 

    Oh, and this 510Families article has a bunch of ideas: https://www.510families.com/5-drop-activities-east-bay-10-or-less/ 

    Try the Epworth playgroups, it’s in a church but not affiliated with any religious organization. https://www.epworthberkeley.org/epworth-playgroups-cvv8

    Epworth Methodist Church in Berkeley offers playgroups.  They are wonderful!

    https://www.epworthberkeley.org/epworth-playgroups-cvv8

    Look at the city Parks and Rec department and the library in Berkeley and surrounding cities.
     

    Parks & Rec has drop-in play groups called Wee Play that are free every day. Basically it’s just a bunch of toys in a big room, but it’s a good chance to socialize. They also have a free “Baby and Me” class that’s a little more structured but has a more limited schedule. Alameda also has a wee play program that costs a few dollars. Not sure about other cities.

    Libraries have storytime multiple times a week - some of the readers are more enthusiastic than others, but a lot of them are excellent and have songs as well as books. There’s also usually playtime before and after with toys and other toddlers.

    If you're open to going to Walnut Creek, ARF has a free monthly drop-in program that sounds like a great option for your daughter. Here are the details from ARF's website:

    Animal Tales

    Thursday, November 21

    9:00 – 9:45am

    Monthly on the third Thursday

    Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF)

    2890 Mitchell Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94598, USA

    Animal Tales is a free program for kids Pre-K and younger where your child can learn about the magic of animals and shelter life from a young age, forming a permanent love for animals.

    Join us on the third Thursday of every month from 9 am to 9:45 am for an exciting morning of free play in the Learning Center's Vet Clinic and Pet Store, animal storybook time, and meet & greet with a member of ARF's canine outreach team, the Pet Hug Pack!

    No registration necessary

    Donations are always welcome, but not required for participation. Children must be supervised at all times - ARF staff is not responsible for supervising the children.

    Check out the Kindergym at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland. My toddler loves it!

    https://tbaoakland.org/education/kindergym/

    Berkeley, Albany, and Oakland libraries all offer drop in music/reading classes - just check out their websites. My nanny loves the programs at the Mosswood Center in Oakland as well.

    Sadly these are rare in the Bay Area as space is at a premium (community centers are filled with senior activities and most churches here are small buildings with fixed pews that don't have children's space).  Most of the local libraries have 20-30-min story times or music times, which are free and fun if you just need an outing to break up the day. 

    Temple Beth El's Playgroups for Under-3s that are $10-12/each and happen weekdays and Sundays - https://tbaoakland.org/education/kindergym/kindergym-schedule-fees/

    Gymboree is another option and if you go a few times per week for music + gym it can be economical to get the unlimited membership. 

    I've heard mixed things about The RecRoom in South Berkeley - it's $75/mo and they have guided play in the kids area and parents can work from the space in the adult area.  It runs a couple mornings per week, and drop in is $10/day.  https://www.recroomkids.com/

    Check out MCPC Toddler Playtime in north Oakland! It’s not drop in as it runs in sessions but I did it with both my kids and they loved it. You get full access to an amazing preschool space with other parents and kids including an optional snack and circle time facilitated by a teacher. We tried some city-run programs which were fine but MCPC is on a whole other level. I couldn’t recommend it more!

    The Berkeley Y was a great resource when my daughter was a baby and toddler. We went several times per week. They have childwatch, a really cool kindergym, and back then they had a music circle. I still have friends and acquaintances from that scene.

    There is a great inexpensive music class with "teacher Beth" at the Northbrae Community church (it's not affiliated with the church) on Wednesday mornings. 

    Can't say enough about Dawn Margolin at Temple Beth Abraham - it is open to all faiths and really not a religious program at all, but a fun and easy drop in kindergym for toddlers. Songs and fun things for the little ones to do. It's really great and she charges per family rather than per child. She's really got a great sense of that age group and remembers names and is just so kind and sweet. Join up with her. I believe the drop ins are Wednesday and Thursday from 11:15-12pm for toddlers and Wednesday afternoons for three year olds (and almost three year olds) and their siblings. There are also other classes - even sometimes on Sundays. Check it out!

    https://tbaoakland.org/education/kindergym/kindergym-schedule-fees/

  • Hi all! I have an almost 4 year old and 19 month old. My 4 year old has done the usual list of classes (East Bay Music Together, Crowden, some gymnastics, swimming, soccer, and ballet)....my second child has pretty much done nothing b/c it's been tiring to keep up with doing two classes on the weekends (working parents so weekday classes are tough right now) for the 4 year old. In theory, I'd love to find a place that can accommodate both kids in their lessons (either in the same class if a large age range allowed or many classes for the various age ranges running at the same time)....any suggestions beyond Bladium soccer? I could do East Bay Music Together again, but is that going to be too boring for a 4 year old? Thanks!

    I'm facing exactly the same issue, and would love to hear more ideas on what to do with two kids aged 1.5 and 4. Here's my thinking so far: Music Together offers a Spanish language option (canta y baila conmigo), so that might be challenging for both kids in different ways. Another option I've looked at are concurrent but different gymnastics classes - from a brief look at online schedules, both Head over  Heels in Alameda, and Berkeley Rec Club offer concurrent Saturday and Sunday classes for these age groups. The other idea I might try is concurrent and back-to-back soccer classes (this might work with Super Soccer Stars depending on how far you're willing to drive). Finally, I envision hanging out at Lawrence Hall of Science and at the Oakland Museum of California with both kids, as they seem to have a lot for these age groups. But this has stumped me too - I'm really looking forward to ideas. 

    Thanks for response! I was thinking the same in terms of different level but same scheduled time for certain classes....Bladium usually has a ton of classes, so may try that for the summer as they have classes for both age ranges typically scheduled at the same time. A little bit out of the way in terms location but manageable. Was also looking into Head over Heels, and maybe swim classes at YMCA or Aquatech...tough to get into weekend classes though.  Fairyland, zoo, Oakland Museum and Chabot center have been good spots for us but hoping to get more ideas to mix things up....Lawrence Hall and Rec Club are good ideas to check into...

    Have you visited Hands-On in Berkeley (https://handsonberkeley.com/)? It’s a STEAM lab, and we love it so much. The owner is a teacher, and it’s great for sibs because she will set out different projects based on the age of each kid. And she limits the number of kids who are in at a time, so the kids get plenty of attention. The drop-in sessions are for ages 18 mo - 6 years, I think, so perfect for you! Enjoy!

  • Hi Parents,

    We live in Berkeley with a 2 year old. I’d love to start with gymnastics and music lessons. We are relatively new to the neighborhood so I thought I’d ask for recommendations.

    He used to go to Gymboree but seems to have outgrown it.

    Many thanks!!

    [moderator note: here are the many recent replies to the previous question about music classes for toddlers https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/recommend/classes/music_babies]

    My 2yo is loving gymnastics at Head Over Heels in Emeryville. There is also a drop-in open gymnastics play at Cal Bears in Berkeley that we have done once that was fun.

  • Hey Parents,

    Seeking a weekday "Drop off" class for our 2.5 year old. She will be starting preschool this fall & we have yet to "drop off" anywhere! 

    Thank you! 

    I don't know of any classes that are drop-off before age three at the earliest, unfortunately. Is this just to practice for preschool? I wouldn't worry too much about it if that's the case--preschools are pros at helping kids transition even if they don't have any experience with being left by their parents. Maybe try a drop-off playdate with a friend?

    In Lafayette there’s totdrop.com at the community center. You can use4/day, 12 hours/week, pack no nut lunch/snack/drink. They change diapers. $12 or $13/hr. It’s on their website. Easy to schedule and use. I live near that area and not in Berkeley/Oakland so don’t have any recs there. 

    The first drop off situation I did with my daughter before she started preschool last fall was at Habitot - they do a once a month parents night out on the fourth Friday of the month, for ages 2 and up. If you're open to an evening drop off situation, Habitot has worked out very well for us, my tentative child loved it at 2 1/2.

    Tots Around Town through the City of Berkeley.

  • Activities for Toddlers in Piedmont Area

    (4 replies)

    Hi there! I'm new to the area and my nanny and I are looking for activities during the week? Things like readings at Libraries, music classes, art classes, etc. In the city we did a couple classes at Peekadoodle -is there something like that in the area?

    Thanks! We live in the Dracena Park area in Piedmont.

    Welcome to Piedmont! We must be neighbors of sorts as we are also in the Dracena Park neighborhood. The Piedmont branch of Oakland Public Libraries (80 Echo Ave) hosts a cute toddler story time on Wednesday at 10:15 am. It's held in the small brick building to the right of the library trailer. 

    Piedmont Recreation Department puts on Kindermusik classes and all sorts of activities (sports, arts, swim, etc.) for people of all ages. Their catalog of classes is available online and you can filter to your child's age and interests, days of the week, etc.: http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/recreation

    We moved to Piedmont a year ago (1 yr & 2 weeks, but who's counting ;P) and signed my then 3.5 yo son up for the soccer and sports classes through Piedmont Rec and found it a great way to meet other moms and playmates for my kids. 

    If your nanny drives, the story time at the Claremont branch of Berkeley Library is always lively and fun (albeit, very popular so sometimes at capacity). My 2 yo loved Gymboree classes on Lakeshore Ave. 

    Other drop-in activities we enjoyed for some indoor running around when these rainy days seemed never ending:

    Hi there, welcome to Piedmont.  We are nearby in Lower Piedmont.  Our nanny takes our 2 year old to Kindermusik through the Piedmont rec dept.  They have classes Wed and Thurs morning and you can sign up through the PRD website.  They also do storytime at the Rockridge library, and when the weather is nice, Fairyland.  Recently, we purchased membership at the Rec Room in Berkeley so they go there several times a week.  It's only $50/month for an unlimited number of visits.  They have storytime and activities there, too.  I haven't personally been but after visiting several of the local play spaces our nanny liked this one best.  

    Welcome!  We are on Piedmont/Dracena park border and I also have a toddler.  There's a piedmont playgroup that meets weekly.  If you are into nature activities, there's tinkergarden nearby. I think the rest was covered by the previous posts.

    Hope his helps,

    Ella

    Kindergym with Dawn Margolin at Temple Beth Abraham is of legendary status in the East Bay. I first heard about Kindergym from a couple of mom friends (who all said I "had" to go) and have found it to be such a wonderful part of both being a parent and having a very active toddler. My son loves his "gym" and Dawn has created such a wonderful, warm, diverse, welcoming, educational, fun and safe environment. She herself is a force for good and acceptance and this energy feeds the environment at Kindergym. Not only does it get the wiggles out when my son gets to swing, climb, slide, jump and play from station to station, but I get to talk with other parents, get to know my community and learn more about being the kind of parent that is present for my child in a way that I hope I can sustain. We love Kindergym, love Dawn and love being a part of this extended family.

  • Fun classes for under 2 years old?

    (6 replies)

    I'm looking for a Saturday/Sunday morning class for my 16 month old, and am most interested in music, gymnastics/dance, or swim classes.  Most of what I'm finding online so far seems more geared toward parents who are available during the work week, but am hoping for a weekend class in the Oakland/Berkeley/Alameda areas. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!

    The UC Village recreation facility has a gymnastics class on Saturday mornings for children that age. I don't know if there are any more open spots for this session but in about a month or so there will be a new session starting. We go to a class during the week and my 23 month old daughter loves it.

    I really enjoyed the classes at Kinetic Arts Center in West Oakland. Small and fun with great teachers. I appreciated that the class attendance is flexible - you can pay for a certain # of classes and then just show up to whichever ones you want - without losing money on unattended classes. They have the same class on Sat and Sun just at different times so you can choose what works best for you. 

    They also usually have some older kid classes going on during so your child can be exposed to other types of circus/gymnastics. 

    http://www.kineticartscenter.com/classes/circus-classes-youth/

    Aquatech in Alameda offers Saturday/Sunday swim classes that are great for little ones. Ours has been going since she was 10 months old. Indoor heated pool, so year round classes. 

    Our daughter attends UC Berkeley's Gymnastic program Saturday morning. Perhaps you should swing by and take a look. To attend the program, I think you are required to be 18 months. Our daughter absolutely loves it. Outside of gymnastics, we do a lot of family events and look for places where she can explore stepping up and down and exploring spaces/places.  I think most of the things that are available start at 3 years of age. We go to the Discovery Museum in Sausalito and Lawrence Hall of Science on a frequent basis -- but they are both remodeling this month. Hope this helps. 

    Have you looked at Gymboree on Lakeshore?  We took our son there most weekends from 16 to 24 months old and we all really enjoyed it.   

    I highly recommend Ruby's Tumbling in Alameda for gymnastics. My older child went there since she was almost 2 yrs old. She is 7 and still sometimes takes an older kids class, although it's mostly geared towards younger kids. I also take my 2 yr old daughter and she loves it. There are Saturday classes.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

Toddler Activities in Lakeshore Area

March 2011

We have a 20 month old in a great nanny share with another 22 month old in the Crocker Highlands area of Oakland. We are wondering how we can provide the boys (and the nanny) with more socialization and activities before they go to preschool at age 3. Curious to know how frequently other parents take their toddlers to activities.

Currently, the boys go to Kindergym one day a week and sometimes to story hour at the Lakeshore library. They go to the park daily. We just got a pass to Fairyland, but its only open on Fridays. Any suggestions for any activities that are accessible without a car in the area? Any art/music classes or anything near Park Blvd in the Glenview area? We've tried Gymboree on Lakeshore. Our nanny does not drive.

Thanks in advance for any advice Crocker Highlands Mom


We have a 3 year old, who is now in preschool. Prior to starting her in preschool, our nanny (who also did not drive) used to walk her down to Lakeshore everyday. They alternated between Gymboree, the park and the library.

I really thought that our toddler got a good balance between these activities. Sometimes there is a tendency to overprogram little ones and we were cautious not to get her involved in too many activities. At 1 and 2 years old, everything is still exciting, including going to the park, for walks, the library. So, I felt that she was plenty stimulated. And it sounds like your little one is getting a lot of socialization with your nanny share and Kindergym.

Just my two cents... Best of luck! Jessica


Music/Movement/Art/Outdoor Classes for Toddler?

Feb 2011

I've been checking the archives and am looking for recent recommendations for great classes for my toddler (13 months old right now, but I'm also interested in stuff that she could do over the next year or so, as she gets older). Aside from library/storytimes, what are some classes that have really resonated for your little ones? I live in the San Leandro area, but would be willing to travel for a great class. -Seeker


There are so many fun things to do with a toddler. My son's absolute favorite class is his music class at Jon's School of Music. He's been going since he was 17 months old, he's now 22 months(Jon can certainly have younger kids) and he has loved it since the beginning. He looks forward to it every week. Jon holds classes in San Francisco and in Berkeley (which wouldn't be a stretch from San Leandro). I love the class myself. It's so fun to see how excited all the little one's get and the songs are really fun.

I also take him to a swimming class at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA . It's definitely been a great way to get him comfortable in water and to learn about splashing, blowing bubbles, and kicking in the water. It's been very fun for him.

I haven't been yet, but I've heard the gymnastics classes at Head Over Heels are fun and particularly great for kids who naturally love to climb. It's in Emeryville and they have classes for kids as young as 12 months.

Beyond that, spending time at playgrounds is great, going to museums, like the Museum of Children's Art in Oakland where they have a great children's art making studio for $8 a visit, Habitot in Berkeley, and the Bay Discovery Museum which is free the first Wednesday of every month.

I hope this helps! I've spent a lot of time looking for fun activities for my little guy. It's been good for both of us! Nina L.


My kids love John's School of Music . My oldest went from the time he was 2 until he turned 5. The middle one started when he was about 14 months and is still in it. My youngest is only 5 months, and John is always great about letting her come along. The classes involve music, dancing, playing instruments, running around, story time, and stamps at the end of class. John has classes for all ages up to about 6 or 7. Each class incorporates elements of the younger kids class, and adds elements to keep the kids entertained, and learning about music. www.jsom.com (415)971-5435 Paul


Toddler Activities and classes

Jan 2011

I am a stay at home mom to a social and energetic 21 month old. We are in a couple of groups with moms and kids her age and we go to Gymboree a couple of times a week. She really enjoys her time at Gymboree, but we've been going there a long time so I would like to find a new somewhat structured activity for her. She loves to dance, so perhaps a dance/music class? Arts & crafts? I would like to stay away from places with a ton of toys, we can do that at home :) Any/all recommendations are greatly appreciated! anon


You might consider looking for a playgroup. I am a member of a wonderful playgroup in El Cerrito. We meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9-11. ECCP is open to kids 20 months to 5 years accompanied by their parent, grandparent, or guardian. Though not church-affiliated, we meet in the United Methodist Church cellar on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-11 AM. Our dues are minimal. If you have a younger kid, you can bring him or her along too and older siblings are welcome when school is not in session. More information at: http://sites.google.com/site/ecplaygroup/join-our-playgroup


We really like Music Together. You might also check out the classes at Head Over Heels in Emeryville, or the toddler swim or sports classes at the Berkeley Y.


Try Kids N Dance in Oakland. They have a great Parent and Me class for 18m to 3y. It has 15 minutes of free play/tumbling then dance. You can do a trial free drop in class. anon


Activities in Berkeley with 1-year-old

Feb 2008

Just moved into Berkeley from NYC and am looking for a playgroup and/or childcare co-op/swap in the area for my one-year-old boy. (I'm at Bancroft near San Pablo.) Eager to meet parents as well as playmates for my son and appreciate any leads on parenting groups & activities in the area. Many thanks, Maria.


Welcome! We and our one year old live in the same neighborhood and spend lots of time at the Acton tot lot (between Allston and Addison). When we're up for a slightly longer walk (and a cleaner park) we head to Cedar-Rose park (Cedar and Chestnut). Our son can happily spend two hours there. We also really like the park at the very end of Bancroft where there's always a good chance that a train will go by. We've gone to Studio Grow twice although I think that'll be even better when he's more mobile. We also joined the Oakland Zoo which makes for a great ''bigger'' outing. Grandma graciously gifted us a Music Together class which was fun and nearby and my guess is that I could have formed some relationships with other parents in the class if I had wanted to. Everyone was very nice.

When my son was a few weeks old I joined a moms' support group. I did it through Support Group for Mothers which is a local institution. You can find out more about them here: http://supportgroupformothers.com/. I think they also have groups for parents of older kids like yours.

You obviously know about the BPN. The ''announcements'' newsletter is a great source of special fun activities to do with your son. The ''childcare'' issue is where we found our fabulous nanny share right here in the neighborhood. rachel


I'm sure you'll get this same recommendation from many other moms: I highly suggest you start hanging out in my three favorite little kid spots. When my boy was 1 I just loved taking him here. You'll see!

1) Totland Park (Virginia at McKee) http://209.232.44.21/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=12936

2) Studio Grow (10th and Gilman) www.studiogrow.com

3) Tumble & Tea (Telegraph at 43rd) www.tumbleandtea.com.

You will find lots of other cool parents there too! Lisa in Oakland


Afternoon Mom/Toddler Classes

Nov. 2003

Yikes! My toddler gave up napping and I'm in search of a toddler class to take him to in the early afternoon. I've searched past recommendations but have found only activities to do (Habitot, Mocha, etc.). Can anyone recommend a class that might incorporate play, art, and circle time? I'm not looking for a drop-off daycare situation but hope to find a class that parents can participate in, too. Thanks!!!

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