Friday, January 29, 2016

{Bay Area Kids Fun}: Habitot

Today I'm back with the second review for my Bay Area Kids Fun series. I will probably do about two of these a month, but this time it just worked out that I am posting two in a row. But rest assured, I do have some other more personal posts planned in the next coming weeks. So stick with me here and some good stuff is coming :)

Habitot
This was another place I had bookmarked on Yelp for quite sometime. Many of the places in this series are ones that I had intentions on going to for a year or more, but since most of them are about an hour or so away from us, a full, plan-free day is needed for a worth while visit. And that is pretty rare around here ever since Myles started school last August. It is sad that we have lived in the Bay Area for 2 1/2 years now and still have so many places we've never been. So in this new year, I have made it a point to keep one weekend day open (most weeks) for us to explore some new places with Myles. 

Going into Habitot, I had no expectations, but I had high hopes because it is located in downtown Berkley. I would consider this place a children's museum focused on sensory and imaginative play. Habitot’s mission is to help the broad community of parents and caregivers raise curious, creative and confident children. All of their exhibits are centered around children's play, but with mindful and intentional learning through caregiver's provocation. Every exhibit has a sign like this one with prompts for questions to ask, things to say, and how you can play together:
 
Resources like this one are what set this place apart from any other children's museum we've ever been to. They even have a parenting resource library on location and online with tons of helpful information on everyday issues like managing anger, easing into transitions, and learning to share, and also some really tough topics like loss, divorce, and incarceration. They also provide FREE parenting workshops onsite. 


I could go on and on about all the resources they have available; it is definitely worth taking the time to explore their website.
 
 Now on to the actual museum. I have to be honest, my initial thoughts upon entering this place were not very positive. It's very small and at the time we went (10:30a on a Saturday) super crowded. My anxiety was creeping up and I was really uncomfortable squeezing around every child and exhibit trying to keep an eye on Myles. Myles, of course, didn't bat an eye though. The first 30 minutes were rough for me, but I just tried to stay back and let him play. Eventually it cleared out significantly (it was a birthday party) and the rest of our visit was much more enjoyable. They do give times that are best to go here and they also have intentions on moving to a bigger, stand-alone facility in the future, so that will help with the crowdedness as well. Other than that, we all had a really great time and Myles had no intention on ever leaving!

 Here is their wiggle wall:
Kids climb up through this wall to get an idea of how worms navigate through their underground tunnels.

The featured exhibit at this time is the medical center. The first thing you see is the ambulance. Myles loved 'driving' this around and bringing all the babies and animals for a ride in the back.

Apparently, it was a pretty scary emergency:

The next part of the medical center is the veterinarian clinic. Myles learned how to give pets a check up and wrap up an injured dog.

My favorite part was this x-ray reader. I love to see things at children's museums that are real or mock-ups of equipment that is used in professional careers, i.e. doctor, dentist, construction, bakery, IT, etc.




 The last part of the medical center is the baby nursery area (that I didn't get any pictures of) where kids can bathe, dress, and feed 'newborns'.


In the back of the medical center is a DIY face-painting table. Myles played around with the colors a little bit, and then I made him into Ironman. I even tried the paints out on my face!


This is the sweet little set-up for their grocery store and cafe; carts/baskets to pick out food, a cash register to pay for the food, and a mini kitchen to make their favorite meals.

They also have a cute area just for the infants/younger toddlers that is fenced in. At 3, Myles is probably in the upper range of ages that should use this area, but he really wanted to pick the carrots in the garden, and well, how could I say no! There is also a small, foam jungle gym, and other soft baby toys for the littles to enjoy.

The older Myles gets the more he gets into art, which I love. Watching him be creative with his hands is such a pleasure of mine. It is so rewarding seeing his imagination manifest itself through his creations. I thought the art studio there had a lot to offer. You could tell by all they had available that art is a big focus there. That day Myles checked out the play-doh and then he made a water-color and salt painting. He is quite obsessed with painting; he chooses to do it almost everyday at school.
Here is another one of the guides they have posted at each exhibit:


Next up was WATER!
This is what the whole water works set-up looks like:

Of all the water features we've played with, this is one of the best. It has areas for all heights and ages with lots of different toys to engage all senses!

Lastly, in the back, they have a wind tunnel. This changes with the seasons and right now it is winter themed with snow to sweep up and penguin helpers.

And in the very back, they have a toy lending library. This is such an awesome idea!

The areas I didn't get pictures of were the train tables and reading tent. 

Cost:
Child: $10.00 (FREE under 12 mo.)
Adult: $10.00 

Pros: The resources here are unrivaled among Bay Area children centers. 
There is definitely enough activities to keep the kids busy for a couple hours with a pretty good  variety of exhibits.
When your child cries because they don't want to leave, that is a good sign!

Cons: The small size and crowdedness at certain times. It would also be nice to have a bit of an outside area when they move.

Overall review: 8/10 Myles really enjoyed all the exhibits and the emphasis/resources provided for caregiver interaction and education is incredible. 

Bay Area Kids Fun Posts:
Children's Creativity Museum
 Habitot
Children's Natural History Museum
Children's Fairyland
 Lawrence Hall of Science
Sonoma County Children's Museum
Exploratorium 



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