Tag Archives: Berkeley kids


10 kid-friendly outings for summertime in Berkeley

BAMPFA with kids: photo by Sally Mason
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Summertime means staying up late, swimming and eating frozen treats, right? Yes. But there’s a wealth of other options too. Here are ten terrific outings for you and your family.

1. Grab some sunscreen and a hat. Tilden Park’s Lake Anza is open daily through September 9 and the merry-go-round will be running this summer, too. (Check hours).

2. In North Berkeley, climb to the top of Indian Rock then follow secret stairs to an abandoned clubhouse at John Hinkel Park. Zachary’s is nearby if all this climbing gives you an appetite.

3. Strawberry Pool is open with three lanes for lap swimming and three lanes for play. There is also a kiddie pool. Day Passes are $6 for adults and $4 for kids under 12. Kids 3 and under are free. Afterward eat outdoors at one of Berkeley’s restaurants with a patio. … Continue reading »


Locals celebrate 10 years of Schoolhouse Creek Common

Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: courtesy: Brad Smith
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On Sunday May 1, neighbors in North-West Berkeley came together for a day to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Schoolhouse Creek Common. The gathering was also an occasion to thank Jamie Day, who is described as “the guiding light and spark plug” for the development of the park by the neighborhood, and his wife, Phyllis Orrick, both of whom have done so much to create and maintain this open space.

The common, which is on the corner of Curtis and Virginia streets, is a 9,000-square-foot park that is both loved and maintained by local residents. It is located near the site of an elementary school that was built there in 1856.

The original school was replaced by the San Pablo Avenue School and then, later, the Franklin Elementary School. In 2003, Franklin was closed, and a year later the Berkeley Adult School moved into its remodeled buildings.

Schoolhouse Creek Common, created by citizen volunteers with the help of the Berkeley City Council — including then councilwoman Nancy Skinner — and the Berkeley Unified School District, opened on May 13, 2006. It continues to be supported by BUSD. … Continue reading »


Berkeley artist in residence: Thacher Hurd

Thacher Hurd. Photo: Susan Sandoe
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Earlier this year, Berkeley’s Creston Books re-released famed illustrator Thacher Hurd’s Pea Patch Jig, a picture book featuring a feisty mouse who gets in all sorts of trouble exploring Farmer Clem’s garden.

The picture book, originally published 20 years ago, is aimed at children aged three to six years’ old, and was inspired by a song, Pea Patch Jig, written by singer-songwriter John Hartford.

Berkeleyside caught up with Hurd, who lives in Berkeley and who has written and illustrated more than 25 books for children, to ask him about the reissue. We also spoke to Marissa Moss, the founder of Creston Books.

How long does it take to do each illustration for a book? What comes first: the words or the pictures? Can you work on more than one book at a time?

I don’t know how long it takes to do each illustration. They’re all different. Usually about a week per picture, but if it’s going well, four days. Plus time to mull it over and fiddle with it, which may happen weeks later.

Yes, I do work on more than one book at a time. They’re all at different stages, all the way back to little ideas in the way back of my mind. … Continue reading »

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Top tips for family Halloween activities in Berkeley

Trick or treat. Photo: Thomas Hawke
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Local Halloween events for children have been curated for us by our friends at 510Families.com. Face paint optional!

Pre-Halloween events

  • Halloween Playdate at Habitot: For special needs children, 0-5, this event is a special celebration that is fun for the whole family. These after-hours playdates are open to the public and great times for children and families to play with hands-on exhibits, explore the art studio and enjoy family bonding time in a safe, accessible and fun environment. Register here. Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2065 Kittredge St., 1:30-4:30 p.m. More.
  • Halloween House Workshops at Habitot: Grandparents and grandchildren will build and decorate a Hansel & Gretel-style Halloween house. Costumes welcome! This event is FREE to Grandparent Circle Charter Members, and $29 per child for everyone else. Registration required at habitotreservations@lmi.net or call 510-647-1111, ext. 14. 2065 Kittredge St., Friday, Oct. 23, from noon to 1 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. More.
  • Scary Stories and Magic Tricks at South Berkeley Library: Spooky stories and magic tricks for ages 5 and up. “These stories are slightly spooky and told in traditional storytelling style.” Wednesday, Oct. 28, 1901 Russell St., 7 p.m. More.
  • Solano Avenue Parade: Cal’s marching band, police escorts and 400 elementary school children in costume makes a fun show for toddlers who can sit on the curb in front of Wells Fargo or Starbucks on Solano to watch it go by. Friday, Oct. 30, begins at 10 a.m. on upper Solano Avenue. 
  • Halloween Community Parade: Described as “creative, cute, creepy and festive,” this parade makes its way through the neighborhood around San Pablo Park. Festivities include a costume contest, freeze dance, food and goodie bags. San Pablo Park, 2800 Park St., 3-6 p.m. More.
  • Solano Avenue Costume Contest: Cash grand prizes for the adult and kid categories, and great second place prizes are promised. Albany YMCA, 921 Kains, 5-6 p.m. More.
  • Harvest Festival at James Kenney Community Center: Families are invited to a FREE mini-Halloween carnival. Friday, Oct. 30. 1720 Eighth St., 3:30-5:30 p.m. More.
  • House of Screams: The event is free and suitable for kids 5-15. Friday, Oct. 30 at Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Services Center at Grove Park, 6-9:30 p.m. More.

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Trying out food delivery services in the East Bay

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Between my regular life as a parent of three busy children and my temporary situation as a part-time home renovator, I have tested local food delivery services to the limit over the past few months.

My favorite for fresh restaurant-quality food:

San Francisco’s Munchery wins hands-down as long as I remember to order before the 2pm cut-off. My children LOVE the salted chocolate chip cookie and have come to expect it when they see the telltale Munchery bag around. One of my children declared it, “Always delicious” and I tend to agree. Since meals are prepared by restaurant chefs, many of the food choices are creative. Always fresh because I finish the cooking at my house right before serving. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley softball field named in honor of Jane Hammond

ABGLS community members in front of City Hall after the vote to name the Jane Hammond softball field. Photo: ABGSL
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A once-nameless field in Berkeley will now honor one woman’s achievement in a local softball league, with the approval last week by the City Council to name the Codornices Park field the “Jane Hammond Field.”

Bestselling Berkeley author Michael Lewis, whose daughter plays for the Albany Berkeley Girls Softball League (ABGSL), and who coaches one of its teams, is among the many who are delighted with the decision. Lewis said Hammond, who has devoted 25 years to the league to date, brings a persuasiveness to recruiting and retaining players from many different backgrounds, with graduates of her program going on to receive college athletic scholarships.

Read Michael Lewis on the unique Berkeley spirit of the ABGSL.

“It’s fair to say that the players my kids play with have overlapped from other schools and crowds that otherwise we wouldn’t have been with,” Lewis said. “Communities are stitched together by people like her, and it’s nice just to acknowledge all the works she’s done.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s One World Play Project aims to empower young women through sports

In hot pursuit. Photo: One World Play Project
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One World Play Project, a Berkeley-based organization that sends indestructible soccer balls around the world, has launched an initiative that aims to empower young women through sports. Called #AllGirlsCanPlay, the campaign began on May 7, and its roll-out coincides with the women’s World Cup in Vancouver, which kicked off this week.

#AllGirlsCanPlay has been in the works for a while, but became a concrete idea in the fall of 2014, said Neill Duffy, whose title is “Chief Catalyst” for One World Play Project.

“We were looking for a trigger point,” Duffy said.

One World Play Project has used international soccer events to dovetail with its campaigns in the past. After working on the prototype “indestructable” ball for two years, the company launched during the 2010 men’s World Cup in South Africa and sent balls to São Paulo during the 2014 men’s World Cup in Brazil. … Continue reading »

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Fathers the focus of Nancy Rubin’s photography show

Photo: Nancy Rubin
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UPDATE, 07.16.15: Nancy Rubin’s photography exhibition at the North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library has been extended until July 31.

ORIGINAL STORY: When Nancy Rubin taught the pioneering Social Living class at Berkeley High School from the late ’70s to the ’90s, she became something of a public figure and was often asked to comment on the challenges faced by teenagers. People would say: if there was one thing that could be changed to help the kids who are getting in trouble, what would it be? Rubin was quick to point out that there was no “magic wand.” However she did have a suggestion: “Put a loving father in every home.”

That’s not to say that children can’t be raised exceptionally well by a single mom or two women, Rubin said recently at her home, where she was preparing for her first solo photography exhibition that centers on fathers. All sorts of kids do really well in all sorts of family situations, Rubin stressed. But as someone who grew up with a “wonderful, warm” father, Rubin could only wish the same for the students she was mentoring, some of whom had no relationships with their own fathers. … Continue reading »

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10 kid-friendly outings for summertime in Berkeley

Berkeley Kite Festival July 25-26: one of many fun events for kids this summer in Berkeley. Photo: Whitney Moss
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Now that Memorial Day is behind us and all thoughts turn to summer, we bring you, via our friends at 510 Families, ten kid-friendly outings that suit the season.

1. Get lost among the stacks at the Bay Area Book Festival the weekend of June 6 and 7 at Civic Center Park. There will be a free book for every child, dance performances, pony rides and a meet-and-greet with Judy Blume among many other literary wonders.

2. Swing from the life-size hammocks and bounce on the trampolines at We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym. We love Berkeley’s all-abilities playspace for its drop-in fun, last minute camps, and birthday parties. Did you know they also provide “break time” for parents (meaning YOU CAN LEAVE THE KIDS THERE)? Just thought you should know. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley author Marissa Moss says goodby to Amelia, a character that has delighted readers for 20 years

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By Michael Berry

After 20 years and more than 5 million copies sold, Marissa Moss‘ “Amelia’s Notebook” series has arrived at its concluding chapter.

The Berkeley writer is bringing her feisty, hand-drawn creation back to its small-press roots, publishing “Amelia’s Middle-School Graduation Yearbook” through her own children’s press, Creston Books.

Moss, 55, said she took her inspiration for Amelia’s story from a composition book she originally intended for one of her three sons. Although she had already published a number of picture books, she decided to experiment with a new combination of hand-written prose and pictures to tell the story of a fourth-grade girl trying to figure out a move to a new school. … Continue reading »

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YMTC ‘Fiddler’ cast learns lessons from Holocaust survivor

YSam with  Aya Nakashima, Rachel Cornejo, Laurel Schweidel, and Alana Goldberg, all cast members of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Photo: Courtesy of YMTC.
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What is Fiddler on the Roof? A charming love story (several love stories, really)? A family drama? A tale of religious/ethnic persecution?

To Jennifer Boesing, the director of the upcoming Youth Musical Theater Company’s production, it is all of these and much more. In her program notes, she says that it is “about the one constant in all of our lives: change. Resistance to change, despair about change, revolting for change, and celebration of change. It is about the necessary challenge of loss and rebirth. It is truly a celebration of what it means to be human.”

Celebrating what it means to be human met its greatest challenge of the 20th century in the years of the Holocaust. As part of the in-depth approach to theater that marks Boesing’s directorial style and that she encourages in her students, she invited Sam Genirberg, a Bay Area Holocaust survivor, to talk to the cast of 7th through 12th graders in the midst of their rehearsals Jan. 23 at their spiffy new rehearsal space on the southern end of Aquatic Park. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Christmas Fantasy at Tilden Park is less spectacular, but 103-merry go round is in better shape

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“They ruined Christmas!” starts Mike K. of Berkeley’s Yelp review of Tilden Regional Park Merry-Go-Round posted on Dec. 11.

That is how I was feeling when my children and I headed up to see Christmas Fantasy this weekend. While my daughter warned me that her friends were whispering on the playground at school that it was “lame” this year, I couldn’t forgo tradition. It was not the same, but it also not the same owners.

For the past decade, hundreds … Continue reading »

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Ferguson decision prompts thoughts written in chalk at Berkeley elementary school

Chalk writing outside Malcolm X School in Berkeley. Photo: Ben Hardy
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The Ferguson-related protests that have consumed Oakland for the past two nights, and spread to Emeryville last night, have not, so far, directly affected Berkeley, although BPD has been on alert and has called for mutual aid in case it was needed.

That’s not to say many in Berkeley weren’t thinking about the decision announced Monday not to indict the police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Someone, or perhaps several people, maybe children, took time to write their thoughts down with chalk in front of the recently installed mosaic walls at Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley.

Ben Hardy was on his way to work Wednesday morning when he noticed the writing. He took the photos shown here. Among the sentiments expressed: “Black Lives Matter,” “Don’t Hurt or Kill Anyone,” and “We Stand with Ferguson.” … Continue reading »

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