I am the person that I am today as a result of many life experiences— and especially those which occurred before the age of 12 or so (as I've started to realize lately!) So I found it particularly interesting to visit some of the places we used to frequent when I was a child, but with my children. Their childhood in Israel has certainly been quite different than mine was in Northern California, but I'm happy to say that they loved all the same things I did! Here's a little peek, which may be helpful to some of my readers (nearly 25% who live in California!) and hopefully an interesting (and possibly humorous) break from crafting for the rest of you?
First stop is The Little Farm in Tilden Regional Park, still sweet and well maintained. A nice introduction to real live farm animals. Just make sure to go in the morning or early afternoon, as the animals are put to bed very early. Lesson: If going to bed early is good for farm animals, it's probably good for our kids too!
At The Little Farm your children can hone their goat feeding skills with celery and lettuce (only) that you bring from home. Very good skills to have as an adult as apparently this left a big impression on one of my brothers and he now owns some goats (and now my children and I want some too, yikes!) Lesson: If you don't want your kids to own farm animals when they grow up, so don't expose them to the joys of goat feeding.
After you've had your fill of farm animals, so why not take a fairly short nature hike to Jewel Lake, just down the road from The Little Farm. While you can walk down the road to the lake with a stroller, the more scenic hike around the lake is great for little kids, but not stroller friendly. I don't think I ever really knew why this little lake was called Jewel Lake until we paused here— look at those amazing reflections! My kids almost didn't understand what they were seeing it was so beautiful. I remember saying "doesn't it look just like a painting? Lesson: Take the time to point out to your children how nature often reflects art!
The next logical stop might be a trip to the Tilden Park Historical Merry Go Round. I grew up hearing the faint music from this merry go round on clear summer days.....The merry go round was built in 1911, and all the animals are original and restored beautifully. There's a fantastic selection of horses, a zebra, a frog, a dog, a lion, a stork and more. I do miss the original organ which has sadly been replaced by taped music, nonetheless, it's still wonderful. And yes, I don't usually show photos of my kids, but this one of my daughter was taken 6 years ago at the merry go round, and I just couldn't resist. Lesson: Teach your kids that if they take care of something it will last—these animals are nearly 100 years old, and because they were treasured, and well cared for, we can still enjoy them today! And just in case you hadn't thought of this, if you're going to treat your kids to more than one ride (and why not?) have them take a break between rides and just enjoy watching the merry go round while trying to decide which animal they'd like to ride next.
When they kick you out of the museum at closing time (5pm, too early for us!) your kids can have fun climbing on the giant DNA model/play structure in front. There's also a nice fountain and a breathtaking view of the city of Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay. If you sit for a while you may witness the interesting phenomena of watching "the fog roll in" until there's no view left to see! Lesson: Bone up on your own basic science knowledge before taking your kids to a science museum. That way when they ask you "What's DNA?" you may have a chance at explaining it to them!