Archived Q&A and Reviews
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
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
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
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://126.96.36.199/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
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!!!
- Head Over Heels Gymnastics
- Montclair Community Play Center (3)
- Toddler Family (5)
My schedule is changing, and I'll be able to spend afternoons with my two-year-old son. I'd like to sign us up for some classes and activities in order to have fun and play with other moms and toddlers. But most of the classes I've seen are scheduled in the morning. Does anyone have recommendations for afternoon classes? We like music, movement, nature, and art. Carolyn
- Montclair Community Play Center (2)
- Toddler Family
- University Village Classes for Kids
- Wee Play
You can also check out the Albany library--they have at least a ballet and tap class on friday afternoons. A final source: No Sweat dance studio on solano in berkeley--they have some daytime kids' beginning dance classes. jessica
Does anyone know of any toddler classes (swimming, dancing, gymnastics, music) in Contra Costa, Solano or Napa County for a 18 month old. I drive down to Albany for the swim class on Saturdays, but I was hoping for something closer to home. Any suggestions would be appeciated. Thank you anon
Have you tried the City of Fairfield? They have some great toddler classes like ballet, swimming, Mom & Me, gymnastics and dance. They send out a calendar of programs every 2 months or so. Also, in Suisun City, there's Northbay YMCA - 707-421-8746. They have great toddler classes, too. Tunisha
Hi - I would love to take my 23 month old son to a Gymboree or Kindergym class, but am only able to do so in the afternoons. Everything I've found so far seems to be in the morning. Does anyone know of an enrichment type class (play, music, dance, art,etc. . ) that takes place on a weekday after 2:00? Or even on a weekend? Thanks! Tamarah
- Music Together (2)
- Montclair Community Center
- Wee Play
We are looking for a great place for an active family summer vacation 1-2 weeks long with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. We've been to Kauai, which was terrific, and are thinking of going again, but I'd like to try out someplace new. I've sifted through the places on the website, but they seem to be of the flavor, ''If you are in city X, go to Y,Z'' But I want to know people's favorite vacations ever with young children. Thanks, susan
- Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp
- Cancun, Mexico
- Trinity Alps
Now that it's getting dark very early again, I would like to find some new activities for the evening between dinner (6:00) and bedtime (8:00). In the summer and early fall, we took our two-year-old for walks around the block or to run on the local jr. high track. These activities were wonderful for burning up that last burst of toddler energy at the end of the day, but it's becoming too cold and dark now. What do other families do this time of year an on into the rainy season? Carolyn
We've been going down to our local bookstore and heading for their childrens' section with our 18 month old daughter. She loves being able to run around and shows no inclination to pull things off shelves or demand things (this will change later I know). It's also fun for us - one of us sticks to her like glue & then the other can browse for a while, then we switch off. We might even get our Christmas shopping done early! KB
It's not a physical activity, so it may not fit your needs, but we like the evening ''family'' storytimes at our branch of the Oakland public library. Check the library website to see where there's one near you. nelly
Hi, my sister and her family will be visiting us in a >few weeks. Between us we'll have a 2.5 yr old and two 6 mo. olds. Being a new mom, I'm not sure what there is to do around here with small children, especially in Oakland. I've seen the listings on the UC Berkeley website, but in Oakland the listings are few. All recommendations are appreciated. Alice
(Editor note: click on the links below to see more recommendations.)
Check out Habitot Children's Museum , which is geared toward younger children. It is located at the corner of Kittridge and Shattuck, underneath Mel's Diner. You can visit its website at www.habitot.org. The 2.5 year old might also enjoy riding the steam trains at Tilden Park . Pam
Lots of folks will say these I'm sure: Fairyland ... And of course there's also the Oakland Zoo which is a perfect size for a small child ... Karen (Oct 2001)
Fairy Land , at Lake Merritt, and the Oakland Zoo are both great places for a toddler. They 6-month-olds will probably enjoy being outside and also seeing the animals. (The Little Farm, Merry-go-Round, and Steam Trains at Tilden Park are also great--kids and parents enjoy these--they are in Berkeley, not Oakland). If the weather leads you to want to be inside, the Oakland Museum has a California natural history floor that is full of displays of animals--also popular with many toddlers, although some find the restrictions of being in a museum trying. If the kids like animals, the Lawrence Hall of Science has a biology room that is open weekend afternoons. It often has portions of exhibits that are designed for the very small, too (eg. giant foam blocks). Cynthia
These places are fun with infants and toddlers:
- Habitot in Berkeley (an indoor play area/museum for infants-age 6)
- Totland in Berkeley (a community playground)
- Singing at the Northbrea Community Church (Wednesdays at 10am, $3 donation, parents and kids sit in a room and sing songs)
- Fairyland in Oakland (outdoor, near Lake Merritt, animals, rides, play structures, puppet shows, rides)
- Oakland Zoo
I recommend the Merry Go Round and the Steam Train in Tilden Park as things that both 6 month olds and two year olds will enjoy. Parks that have good baby swings for the babies and climbing structures for the toddler are Thousand Oaks and Aquatic parks in Berkeley. Baby Bounce at the Berkeley West Branch library should also be fun ... HalfDink
I just visited the Oakland Museum w/ two toddlers and it was fun...
There's also Fairy Land at Lake Merritt which you probably already know about.
Montclair Park has a duck pond, two large climbing structures, and lots of grass to frolic on. My favorite nice restaurant in Montclair is Italian Colors, near the Wells Fargo bank. They have crayons for the kids w/ paper on the tables. Food is excellent Susan
Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA) now has a drop-in Little Studio for kids 2-5 and their parents....
We are students on a budget and I need some ideas for things that are cheap but fun to do with a 2-year-old. Any suggestions? Carol
- Downtown Berkeley Public Library toddler story time
- Public Parks Dreamland, Totland, Tilden
- Oakland Museum
- UC Berkeley campus
Get and Arts Card for discounts to cultural events and museums! more info at: http://www.islco.com/yaba/artscard/ Ride a ferry from Oakland to SF; or SF to Sausalito & visit Bary Area Discovery Museum. Children's Fairyland in Oakland is great for younger ones and I often have seen grandparents enjoying themselves as well. Golden Gate Park & Tilden Parks carosels are great too! Oakland & SF zoos, beaches all around the Bay Area are great. Steam trains in Tilden are fun too. Have Fun! Holliday
My one word of advice when going out and about with a toddler and a grandparent is to not overdo it. Schedule plenty of 'down time and see that your little one still gets his/her naps. Sometimes a walk to the corner for an ice cream and a few hours at the local playground are the best activity of all. My parents, who live far away and see my kids only a few time a year, have always loved going along on the kids 'regular' activities, so we usually do big outings every couple of days, with quieter activiites (park, baking cookies, crafts at home, grocery shopping) in between. I have also found that as much as my parents love my kids, they don't have the unlimited stamina and patience that I do (!) for being around small children, and they need to take a break from the kids every now and then. Judy
There seems to be all sorts of wonderful activities to do with children during the week. I am getting really frustrated because I work full time and I don't have the flexibility to take time off for painting classes, gymnastics, music etc... I would like to make a plea to those individuals who run private businesses for these types of activities to please schedule some time for those of us who can only come on the weekends! And if anyone knows of a resource to find weekend classes for toddlers (with parent participation), please let us know! Thank you. Laura
Try swimming classes at the YMCA in downtown berkeley. BB
Boy, do I hear you on this one. However, I think that Kids in Action gymnastics on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland has Saturday classes, and there are also some Kindermusik offerings on Saturdays (albeit limited). Habitot does not offer classes, but it does offer the opportunity to make art. There are also places to go like Little Farm and the Zoo that we find very enjoyable on the weekend. Wendy
Hilltop YMCA in Richmond has a parent child swim class on Saturdays. When your child turns 3 he/she can participate in the regular swim classes- also available on Saturdays. My sons love the swim classes. Ellen
The Berkeley Y has baby gymnastics and various swimming with your child activities -- some that are independent and some that are classes. I've tried the parent-child swim class and we really liked it. The main library has baby bounce which is a story/singing time, and so does the Claremont branch. For kids that are a little older, East Bay Regional Parks has nature activities in Tilden near the little farm. Carol
Gymboree on College Avenue in Rockridge has classes on Saturday morning for kids up to three. The spring 2000 session starts April 10. They also have a Wednesday evening class for kids 14-28 months. The Berkeley YMCA has parent-child swimming classes on Saturday mornings for kids up to three that are fun, too. Linda