As an intern without any formal childcare experience, I am grateful to Habitot for teaching me so much about how to talk and play with children to cultivate a space for fun and growth. I witnessed first-hand the care and dedication Habitot puts into planning their camp curriculum and art and science activities. In both the museum and camp settings, it was clear that parents and children alike were able to engage in positive free play and interact with the exhibits in many versatile ways. For instance, at the art studio, I learned how Habitot embraces open-ended art projects, encouraging the process of a child's art, rather than the result. There was always an emphasis on facilitating imaginative play for the children, which I know had a lasting impact even after the children went home. The inclusive community Habitot has built is impressive! It was great to see staff build relationships with families through museum visits and other events, and see these families return regularly even during the short time I was an intern. I loved how Habitot had a multitude of instructional resources for parents and visitors scattered around the museum--these pamphlets, sheets were especially helpful to me as a first-time childcare worker. Without Habitot, I wouldn't have all the tools I have now to best nurture a child's development through play.
Our Early Intervention Services program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland has been fortunate to be a community partner with Habitot. As a community partner, we have been fortunate to offer our families free passes to Habitot. Many of our families have limited resources and are unable to afford to take their families to Habitot. After their visits, many parents commented about the friendliness of the staff, cleanliness of the site, informative handouts about development and having a safe place to play. Quite often, their children were not ready to leave.
We, also, work with many families who are involved in the child welfare system. I have given passes to parents who are working on reunifying with their children. Quite often during their weekly visits they go to a park, shopping mall or a fast food establishment. My families were very grateful to have a fun, safe place to take their children.
Our department, also, works with children with special needs or behavioral challenges. Many of the parents are reluctant to take their children to public places (parks, in-door play centers) because of their children's behaviors or developmental delays. I and several of my colleagues have accompanied these families to Habitot to support them during their first visit. One of my families commented that she was worried other parents or children would misinterpret her child's behavior and think he was "mean" and appreciated the positive interactions from parents and staff. In addition, to how much fun her child had and opportunities for social interaction.
Every year Habitot recognizes teachers for their wonderful work. I was fortunate to have two of my nominees selected. I attended the celebration and was quite impressed by the effort put into creating the celebratory event. Both of the teachers I nominated, had their families present and commented that it was such an honor to be recognized and appreciated for their work.
Habitot provides monthly birthday parties for families who are homeless or in transitional housing. One of my families was fortunate to benefit from this act of generosity for the child's first birthday party. This meant so much to the parent to have a beautiful and fun venue to celebrate the momentous occasion. Habitot provided a pizza lunch, birthday cake, goodie bags for the children and gift for her daughter.
Habitot is a wonderful gift for the community. It is a happy, fun and safe place with much to do and discover. They continue to give back to the community in many ways. Since sheltering in place, they have created activity bags for families. Our organization was fortunate to receive these bags on two occasions. Our families were very happy to receive them because there were activities they could do with their children and the children were excited to see what was in the bag. All supplies were included and they were easy to do without causing frustration or stress.
Habitot has always been my go to resource for families. I look forward to visiting them at their new location.
As an intern at Habitot, I was able to witness and be a part of the magic of the museum: a unique and creative way to gain hands-on learning experience. The thought and time put into each exhibit - whether it be the Art Studio or the Rocketship - caught the attention of not only the children, but the adults as well, enabling both to have open-ended yet structured play. Time and time again I saw the kids enter the doors with a spark in their eyes, their curiosity and excitement contagious to people of all ages. Learning more about child-appropriate activities has helped me understand children better, and has come into use especially now as I’m raising my own daughter. I’m beyond grateful for my experience at Habitot and hope to visit again (this time as a parent!) soon.
Habitot is a wonderful place for any and every growing and developing child. I used to take my daughter there every week and she absolutely loved the art studio. Also, the staff there is excellent and was able to foster her artistic growth from the variety of art projects and materials that are available on a weekly basis. While my 4 year old is having a blast in in the art studio, I can watch my 1 year old baby play in the infant/crawler area or explore freely in the grocery cart area and space station exhibition. There is always so much fun at Habitot and so much creativity and thought that goes into every exhibit. Ever since the pandemic, Habitot has been closed and my children and I miss it so dearly. I am so looking forward to its re-opening and will be one of the first to jump into a membership again.
Having Habitot in my children’s lives has been such a blessing. I started taking my children there since before they learned to walk. They have learned to let their imaginations and creativity run wild while painting, playing with play dough, slime, glitter, glue, watercolors and a myriad of other messy art activities that change daily. They have learned to form friendships through pretend play at the ever changing and imaginative exhibits such as the rocket ship exhibit, farm, recycling center, fire truck, car wash, veterinary clinic, pretend store and restaurant and other exhibits. My daughters have so much freedom to explore and be creative at Habitot and when they come away with faces painted like panda bears or shirts soaked from water play, I know they’ve had a good day. The staff at Habitot are warm, caring and very attentive and are eager to get to know and help each child that visits. Habitot is truly a magical place for toddlers. I cannot say enough good things about it and I hope it reopens soon!
I have an in home daycare and was hoping to liven the environment up a bit, to keep kids entertained during these crazy times and I contacted habitot about a sale they were having. I went and was able to get a bunch of new activities and games for the kids. Thanks habitot!
My now 20 year old daughter spent many happy hours at Habitot when she was a toddler and preschooler. I also brought my preschool class to Habitot several times. It really is a magical place for play and discovery. Thank you Habitot!
Habitot has been extremely proactive in making sure the children in our program at the Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center have the learning supplies and creative tools to remain engaged throughout this pandemic! We are so grateful for their continual support and are excited to foster this partnership.
Habitot serves a vital role in the East Bay community. The organization does significant outreach work for low income families, and provides access to hands-on learning for young children that many would not have access to at home. Habitot also provides other services like a toy lending library, which is great for families who can't afford to purchase new toys, and birthday parties for homeless children, which enforce the principal that all people are valued members of the community. This is one of the few organizations where children from all backgrounds learn and play together.
The organization's founder, Gina, has always found a way to help those in need, even when they are unable to pay. She's really quite amazing and inspirational. Donors help to bridge the gap between what the community needs and what people can afford to pay.
Habitot was a fantastic place for my boys to spend afternoons, particularly from ages 2-5, exploring the interactive play experiences that Habitot offers, spending time playing their grandparents, parents, and babysitters, and learning so much from that fun time. Habitot is a treasure for the Bay Area.
Habitot Children's Museum is a wonderful place for young children and their parents and other care givers to learn, explore, and be creative together. Some of my favorite visuals of my children when they were younger are pictures of their times at Habitot dressed as astronauts, firefighter or chefs, or painting on wall boards or washing cars in a town of their own size. It is a fabulous nonprofit that serves an important place in our community of families in the Greater Bay Area and beyond.
Review from Guidestar
The initial concept for starting a children's museum "Habitot" was for Gina's children. Believe me, my sister could have chosen anything to do and it would have been as great as Habitot is. We have been able to visit a few times, because we live out of state, and all the imaginative areas that were set up were always so fun, the grocery store, the doctor's office, the fire truck (especially for my son), the wind tunnel, and the amazing water world area. There is so much more that Habitot has and has done over the years. Gina has put her whole heart into building such a wonderful children's museum. Her care for the improvement of children's lives goes far beyond her museum. I am so proud of all the work she has done for her community over these past few decades.
Habitot has meant so much to our family (currently with three littles ages 3, 2, and 1). I pushed this place to the bottom of my list for a long time because of the word "museum" but then got the opportunity to attend a birthday party here and was immediately hooked and purchased a membership. For around the cost of bringing the four of us once a month I was able to purchase a membership that allows us unlimited entry, and since then we have been here 2-3 times a week. It's basically our preschool. Where do I even begin?
The space is just big enough that my toddlers can run around and have freedom without ever feeling unsafe or like they can't find me. The staff is consistent and friendly so that our girls have gotten to know them in the same way they might know teachers.
A few highlights:
The art room. Nora is the art teacher we normally see, and she is so kind and welcoming with my three girls. Kids are allowed to get as messy as they like and touch whatever they like. It's incredibly tactile, There is a giant painting wall, and once the children have filled it up Nora wipes it down (the water goes into a cleverly placed trough at the base) and they start again. My girls have learned so much by exploring the daily art projects, and my oldest is always so proud to show me which pieces on the drying rack are hers.
The water room is decorated with fabulous shimmering strips of fabric so that you feel you're in a little sea cave. Once inside kids can safely play with the very shallow water troughs and get as wet as they like with bubbles, chutes that wind through the room and make little waterfalls (and teach about gravity and uphill vs downhill), and marine life toys. Best of all, any spilled water drops to the floor which is entirely made of grates.
The wind tunnel is my baby's favorite spot. Once the yellow button is pressed the wind begins to blow and you can toss leaves or flower petals into the air and watch the wind dance with them.
There is a grocery store with child-sized carts, and a little diner where they can "cook," and sell things on the cash register, and serve food.
In the building-room they can construct surprisingly big castles with the giant foam blocks.
There is a small, and very safely contained three-level climbing wall.
There is a small infant-toddler garden room with toys for the youngest babies and a spot where fake carrots are growing and the kids can pull them up out of the ground and look at them. It's just so cleverly designed and brilliant.
There are two giant make-up mirrors with very easy-to-clean facepaint crayons where kids can do their own make-up creations.
Some sections of Habitot are occasionally updated, so I don't know how permanent these sections are, but there is currently a firetruck the kids can climb with buttons they can press to make things happen, and a whole recycling center with hand-crank conveyer-belts, and (our favorite) an animal hospital with an x-ray viewer that lights up and all kinds of (stuffed) animal creatures that can be petted, fed, and healed.
There are occasionally extra events for which there is never an extra charge. We've been shown worms from composting (and been able to take a tiny cup-composter home), and seen a dragon puppet show teaching about fire safety, just to name two. Every Wednesday (again, for no extra charge), a wonderful music teacher from Jamaroo comes and leads the kids for 30 minutes of singing, dancing, and storytelling. It's just the best.
Getting here can be tricky in terms of parking, navigating the building, dealing with trucks blocking the alleyway, or with elevators being broken, but once you are here it is just so worth it.
Above all else, I feel like Habitot staff members and leadership truly cares about families, and keeping the Habitot experience child-driven, and you can see that in everything they do, from the way that they intentionally don't offer wifi (because they want you engaging with the kids), to the way they don't reprimand kids for "mixing" the displays in creative play, to the encouraging and educational signs that are posted everywhere. The environment is so warm, and I have made one very good friend by coming and striking up conversations with other mothers. Habitot is a truly remarkable place, and for people like us (middle class—making too much to get assistance but not enough to afford preschool) it has been an irreplaceable blessing.
Habitot provides a great space for my almost two year old to explore, be creative, socialize, and play. The water area, imaginary restaurant/store, painting wall, and fire truck are his favorites. The staff is kind, helpful, and patient.
Review from Guidestar
Habitot offers a fun and educational environment for kids up to about 1st grade. They have a nice variety of activities to keep kids interested, from a climbing structure to a fire truck to a fantastic water feature to an amazing art section. They even have a toy 'library' where you can borrow activities to do at home. We were able to go on a day designated for families who have children with special needs, and it was great to be able to play without the stress of worrying about how our daughter's behaviors might be perceived. She had a great time and loved the water especially.
Review from Guidestar
Much needed opportunity for children to play as they see fit including in a very loud voice, or collecting more than one of a desired object like shopping carts. one child poured buckets of water into a filled container repeatedly to watch in all seriousness the overflow. Most other places he would have been corrected rather than allowed the experience
Review from Guidestar
They do great work for kids with special needs and their families
Review from Guidestar
Habitot is a magical place! Our toddlers love running around and experiencing all that the space has to offer. I have been bringing my daughter to Habitot since she was 1 year old and have never been disappointed. The exhibit with the fan and the fairy butterflies is wonderful for the little ones along with the closed-off area for the babies to play. Now that my daughter is 2.5 I just stand back and let her discover what she wants as she is ready! We are thrilled to have this as one of our local spots!
Review from Guidestar
Habitot Children’s Museum is a marvelous community resource. For years I have taken my grandchildren there, as toddlers and also up to five years old. They love the diversity of activities available: art, face painting, train sets, water play and much, much more. And I love how Habitot reaches out to all parts of the community.
Habitot is a wonderful museum for children. It has many interactive stations and encourages parent / child interaction. The stations change so there is always something new to foster creativity and play time. I really appreciate their foster night and homeless birthday parties. It is encouraging to see an organization focus on these under served but deserving families.
Not only does Habitot provide a fun, educational space for kids under age 5, their mission extends to a number of programs for under-served and at-risk populations including children of refugees, incarcerated parents and the like. The programming ranges from sustainability to inclusivity and is always child-focused and child led.
Habitot is an amazing place for young children to learn and play. The exhibits are engaging and fun. It’s interesting to see how children of different ages interact with the exhibits differently. Habitot also works hard to be open to all children in the community and deliberately fosters activities to bring in children from groups that may be marginalized. It is a true community resource.
Habitot Children's Museum is a wonderful organization that meets and exceeds its mission to help children thrive and grow with play-based education vital to their early childhood development. As a nonprofit, they host extraordinary events for all communities within the East Bay in order to expand their reach and allow parents/caregivers access to resources and educational information that they otherwise would not be able to access or afford. For example, they host birthday parties for homeless families, free admission days for families facing financial difficulties, and events that exclusively close down the museum for kids with special needs, to name a few. Habitot's staff is passionate about helping families and children in their community and it truly shows through their long-standing efforts and exceptional events they work so hard to provide.
Habitot is a great place for children to play. My kids love the art studio, water play area, and the changing exhibits and always seem to find a new playmate while crawling around in the wiggle wall. In addition to enjoying the museum with my family, I have been volunteering with Habitot for over two years. As an Architect, I work with board members on the museum's goals to expand its exhibit space and educational programming. Making a new space a reality will allow Habitot to continue to serve the community for many years to come.
We have an awesome story of our son with special needs being able to bond with his typically developing peer at the habitot special needs day. It really does feel like a special time that we don't need to worry about what other parents or children are thinking or even answer questions. We can just enjoy ourselves. Wish this special needs time could be more frequent!
My first experience with this children's museum was when I was told about a free event they were sponsoring for families of kids with special needs. I had heard of the museum and wanted to go and that was the perfect opportunity to do so. I was initially surprised at how small the museum is, but that actually turned out to be a blessing, because I could relax more there than in bigger children's museums where I am constantly worried about my kids getting out of my sight. Because Habitot is small, I knew my two kids were always close, even if I couldn't see them. Plus there was only one way for them to get out and there was always a staff member watching that door. My kids had a blast and we stayed all afternoon. I was happily surprised that in addition to giving us free admission for the afternoon, there were also snacks provided during this special event. That was such a nice, welcoming touch and it was good so that families could connect when they were taking a break and getting the kids snacks. There were also volunteers that engaged my kids, one who stayed colored with my son for about 30 minutes. This was nice because it game me a chance to spend quality time just with my daughter. Finally, when we were leaving, each child was allowed to pick a book to take home. The book we found for my son was a song book that he absolutely loved and has become one of our most-read books. So the experience was a very nice, complete, satisfying one that lives on each time we read that book. Since then, we have gone back a few times on another special event day and with a group.
Habitot has been incredibly welcoming to my ASD toddler. We've had fun at the museum on days reserved for special needs families (he loves the painting white board that you can squeegee) and he had so much fun at the two summer camp sessions we signed him up for. The teachers were so welcoming and friendly - he developed trust with them right away and came home every day with evidence of creative endeavors and fun (glitter in hair!). Thank you, Habitot, for being a safe and welcoming place for every toddler to explore and be creative.
Review from Guidestar
This place is so amazing. There special needs kids afternoons have been wonderful for my family. My kids get to play in a safe, enclosed environment with lots of Staff helpers around to help them engage and I get to meet and connect with other parents who really know what it’s like to raise a non nuerotyoical child.
Review from Guidestar
We have been going to Habitot a lot this summer. My 3.5 year old son loves it and asks to go almost daily. He always finds something new to do even though we go there a couple of times a week. He loves the grocery area, the trains, the water area and he loves to yell into the wind tunnel. I enjoy watching him play, the staff are incredibly nice and supportive and it’s been nice meeting other families. I appreciate habitot and their programs so much
Review from Guidestar
My little one loves Habitot, and I am deeply grateful for the special needs playdates. Having such a wonderful space with great staff at a time that's dedicated to our kiddos means they can explore without the usual tons of kids. Having that special time to gently broaden her horizons has been wonderful. Please keep it up! I also learned a ton from a workshop they held about IEPs, so thanks for that as well!
Such a wonderful place!! I was able to introduce my son to this space with only a few kids around since it was for a special event. My son takes a little time getting used to new spaces but he quickly took a liking to this place. There were so many things for him to do and explore that we weren't able to see it all in one go. The space is very clean and well kept. I would highly suggest bringing your little ones here. We will definitely be back to explore more of the spaces we didn't really get to on our first visit.
This museum is very sweet. It is quite small, but every ounce of space is used for something creative. My daughter's loved playing in the shopping area and cafe, swinging on the farm bench, and painting and playing with slime in the art room. The workers are kind and helpful. We hope to be back soon!
Review from Guidestar
Upon my first visit to Habitot, it was love at first sight both with the facilities and the staff. It is a fantastic creative, safe and unassuming place where your child can let go of their inhibitions and reach beyond. The entire space is thoughtfully designed with the children’s perspective in mind making it an even more inviting space. I am honored to be part of the board and look forward to seeing Habitot grow!
I interned at Habitot Children's Museum for a three-month period earlier this year, and throughout my internship I was constantly impressed by the staff and director's enthusiasm and dedication to supporting the museum's mission, providing resources as well as a safe, creative learning space for Bay Area families. Habitot is a unique organization in its steadfast commitment to its function as a community resource, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work directly with its staff and director.
Habitot is an organization that I donate to happily, knowing that the money will be utilized to the fullest extent and to support those most in need. Habitot has a powerful mission and does meaningful work in our community. I'm thrilled to support them!
I was fortunate to spend a full year working as a graduate intern and development consultant for Habitot Children's Museum. Habitot is an incredibly unique organization that focuses on very young children and gives them a place to play that is educational, safe, and enjoyable. Every toy, game, or activity in the museum has ties back directly to helping children grow and learn through play. Given that we now live during a time when everything is about cramming a child's schedule full of structured activities, there is something so valuable in seeing an organization that understands the inherent importance of allowing children to play, think, and explore on their own.
I love Habitot!!!
Habitot is a great play based museum for toddlers who love to explore, pretend, use their sense and becoming artists.
I wish I had a place like this as a kid I was exposed to.
I love them so much I have worked with Habitot on the past being an Assistant Teacher for their fun Summer camp and even helped out for their weekend car seat inspections in Alameda.
Now, I have a 2 year old that loves going to Habitot on,”Parents Night Out,” which is a great way for parents to have a night for themselves and for the children to enjoy the museum after hours.
And my son loves the pizza!
I’m excited to see what comes next as they grow and evolve and as my son grows and evolves with them.
Habitot is a community treasure in the Bay Area! It provides a wonderful space for young children & their caregivers to enjoy imaginative play and explorative learning. I’m a disabled grandma, yet have been able to care for my grandchildren by including Habitot as one of our “adventures” on a weekly basis for years. Now my “kiddos” feel at home there, familiar yet always surprised and entertained by their exhibits and activities. The staff are committed and caring, focused on celebrating diversity. We feel welcome. I’m truly grateful to have the joyful memories of helping my grandchildren bloom because Habitot has been so engaging with an incredible variety of things to do! Arts & crafts including a huge paint wall. Water play with tables, toys, cascading stream. Grocery store & cafe filled with foods, dishes, registers and tables to be served the latest yummy treat. Wind tunnel to delight airborne leaves & petals & snow in season. A special exhibit that changes, a full fire engine, hoses, gear & chance to learn “stop, drop & roll”... formerly a full rocket & space station, and a veterinary and hospital with animals & dolls. Face painting station. Climbing wall. Even quiet spaces for reading & relaxing. A garden for very young ones to climb, stand & play. Train tables & lunchroom. Now we have boxes of artwork and thousands of photos, and chance for them to “make a friend”. Habitot has made all the difference for me, enabling me to be the kind of “Grammy” I hoped for my loved ones. I sincerely recommend Habitot to share and enjoy with your family too!
We absolutely adore Habitot. We've been taking my son almost monthly since he was 2, and now my daughter. They both love the exhibits, and they are entertained for hours. It's our favorite rainy-day activity in the Bay Area. It certainly feels good to support the organization considering their incredible generosity towards disadvantaged groups.
Habitot is a fun and joyful place that fills a critical need in the East Bay by providing a safe and affirming place for all young children in our community to play and learn.
The Executive Director, Gina Moreland, and the great staff have focused on fostered a welcoming environment for all kids and their parents. This is reflected not just in the inviting physical space they have created, but also in the inclusive programming they have developed. Creating spaces that meet the specific needs of children experiencing homelessness, recent immigrant and refugee children, those with disabilities, and other groups of kids who can often be left out of the fun of play, are all enthusiastically welcomed at Habitot, and treated with dignity and love (as are their parents).
As a resident of Berkeley, although I'm not a parent, it's an honor to be able to support an organization so dedicated to helping all of our community's kids to learn and grow.
I run a summer camp and coming to Habitot has been great for our older campers. They spent a half-day volunteering- helping prepare the activities for the museum as well as had a tour and talked about Early Childhood Development (these are all 13/14 year-olds who are hoping to become counselors next year!). It was a fun and informative way for our oldest campers to learn some leadership and child development in a light-hearted and exciting way!
I have lived in the Bay Area for a long time and would often hear people talk about Habitot. Once I had kids I realized why it had such an amazing reputation. My two girls love visiting the museum and could play and learn for hours in end. They even had birthday parties there. As we continued to visit I learned about Habitot’s numerous inclusion programs for new parents, caregivers, and families with special needs. It’s not just a space to play, but also learn, and more importantly a safe space for the community to gather. It truly is a community resource. After meeting the founder, Gina Moreland, the mission to provide the community a safe space to help people explore their curiosity, creativity, and confidence really stood out. I happily joined the board and have been a proud supporter ever since!
I went to Habitot as a child and have so many fond memories of playing there. From playing with windmills in the wind tunnel to crawling like an earthworm in the fun crawl wall to painting my face in all sorts of ways, I always looked forward to birthday parties and outings at Habitot.
I was so happy to hear about a group of teens from a summer camp I work at going to volunteer at Habitot this summer as it brought back so many fond memories of my childhood.
Habitot is such a wonderful part of our community and I can't wait to bring my children here. Thank you so much for the wonderful memories :)
I have been taking my children to Habitot for over 10 years! Both my children have developmental disabilities and a number of challenges including anxiety and delays. Outings are extremely difficult for us and in fact there are very few places I can take both my children to together. One of our top goals is to have our kids socialize in a safe and fun environment. Habitot has been a safe haven for my family in this sense.
My son is now 12 but still loves playing at the museum. For my daughter who is 8, Habitot is the only place, I can let her play and explore freely, without worrying about her safety. Another great benefit of the museum has been connecting with other families. It can be very isolating to be a new mom. Add to that, being a mom of a special needs child! I hope to be able to take my children to the museum for more years to come. My son has even expressed interest in volunteering there when he is older, to give back.
Review from Guidestar
Hello Gina Moreland, Executive Director,
I writing to share some pictures of my daughter AnnaBella Vaca. She spent many afternoons and late Thursday time at Habitot as a young child. I firmly believe that the play spaces helped to expose her to more pretend play and creativity.
This was the first place where she could paint on the wall! She begged for years to paint the walls in our home. As you can see this wall that was painted by AnnaBella at the age of 12 makes us all so very happy!
Bella is currently an 8th grade visual artist at Oakland School for the Arts.
Thanks for showing her more ways to pretend. Thanks for all of the goop and slime. And thanks most of all for an entire wall to paint on!!
Christy & Ignacio Vaca
Pics at Habitot as well as Bella's art:
Review from Guidestar
Habitot is a wonderfully conceived educational and play-filled universe for my one year old. From the parenting handouts to the art studio to the toy lending library to the water area and rocketship, every square inch is dedicated to something enriching for children and families. We both love that he can practice interacting with other children there. It truly is a little learning laboratory. They also have parenting education programs, child classes, and outreach programs for underrserved communities. Habitot is a thoughtful community resource that is for ALL kids and families and keeps itself accessible through affordable admission and free programs. I know we will enjoy many years of learning through play at Habitot!
Habitot is amazing. The museum provides my baby with a safe, nurturing environment to learn while helping to inform me as a parent. The provide parenting articles, support groups, classes for parents and kids. A true resource for a new family.
Review from Guidestar
Habitot is truly an unique and special space for families. I have seen diverse crowds over the years share laughs, get messy and develop their outlook on the world through exploring hands-on imaginative play which ties in real world experiences. The crowd attracts families of all shapes, sizes and makes-- allowing for an everlasting family memories.
As a visitor to the museum, one may hear families speaking a number of different languages and may see people from across the world, while this is true families of all walks benefit from the space's ability to hone child development skills and lose themselves in the fun of doing what is not expected. From shopping for a basket of fruits and veggies for a Habitot cooked meal to creating baby's first wall painting using recycled materials in the art studio, Habitot allows staff expertise, cultural sensitivity and appreciation for the beauty in the simple things shape the family visit.
The museum plans events for Chinese New Year, Black History Month, Christmas and also finds time to offer free and subsidized visits for households of families who are homeless, incarcerated, or teen-parents. This is a gem to the diverse atmosphere of the Bay Area and allows a safe space for the positive growth of our kids-- or The Future as I like to call them- through play and cultural awareness. We need this place!
Habitot is the go-to for me and my daughter. She's 2 1/2 now and we've been going for close to two years. In the beginning, it was the toddler section that was her favorite but now it's ... well, everything. From playing with the water to discovering her inner van Gogh to pretending to be an astronaut (or a car driver - I'm not sure) she has so much to choose from that she is constantly discovering. Every time when it's just her and me I ask, "Do you want to go to Habitot?" and she responds with a loud "PO!" (which is 'yes' in albanian). Is Habitot one of those hidden gems in the bay area? Po!
We love Habitot! I take my granddaughter to Habitot twice a week because its a place that she can play with her peers, fully use her imagination, and explore water, wind, and make amazing art projects. The staff are friendly and really enjoy being around children. On Fridays they have pizza for the price of $1.00 and my granddaughter really looks forward to the treat. What I so appreciate is that unlike other kid friendly places it is racially diverse and they have an affordable summer rate which makes the world of difference in our ability to visit. You will not be disappointment! I was talking with a family who came all the way from Modesto (80 miles) to Habitot and they were not disappointed!
One of the first places we discovered when we moved to Berkeley. Both of my children 1 & 3 love it! The staff is extraordinary. The wonderful lady in the art studio helped my son (1yr) paint for the first time by getting him a highchair and helped me with paint and a clean brush. This place is amazing!
My son had his two year old birthday party at Habitot and he was super delighted with all the exhibits at the museum!!! His favorite included the Waterworks exhibit, the Wind Tunnel , and the Wiggle wall!!! My nine year old daughter also had great fun doing face painting!!! Habitot is a great place for the entire family!!!
Review from Guidestar
I began taking my kids to Habitot when my oldest was becoming a toddler over one; she is now 9. I have watched my girls grow with the museum and learn to explore that greater side of themselves. Whether it's through the fire truck exhibit or the water play, they joy I see in their eyes when at Habitot excites. Habitot reminds me of the importance to connect with your creativity and innovation. It has been an important part of my life as a parent and what fueled me to become more involved in the organization.
My almost 4 year old daughter and I love Habitot. We go there almost weekly. The staff is great there and they use their small space very well. Our favorite area is the art studio. My daughter can focus there for over an hour doing one creative project or another. Thank you Habitot!
My 1st visit to Habitot was in 2002 when my daughters were 2 & 3 (now 15 & 17). We fell in love with this place! They played pretend Dr. - dressed in white lab coats, partnered to exam a baby girl, and even read xrays! The pictures priceless! They then moved on to the painting area and made these poster size paintings which I still have hung up as art work! I loved the idea and the results so it became mandatory for my children to make a poster painting for my keepsake. I've returned today with my 7-year-old son who in 2010 made his 1st poster painting and had his priceless firefighter photo shoot! Today, he painted his 2nd and my almost 2-year-old (on June 19) made her 1st poster painting. I've been coming to Habitot for 14 years and this place never gets old. My Family & I will forever LOVE HABITOT!! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HABITOT for all Families! Your children will get to explore, learn, and enjoy this museum. I'm sure I'll return with my grandchildren!
I was recommended to visit Habitot from a dear friend and absolutely fell in love. As I walked in the door, I felt the joy of children exploring and playing. Gina Moreland, the Founder and CEO, toured me of all of the exhibits and shared countless stories of the positive effects Habitot has had on Bay Area communities over the past 18 years. I was most impressed by hearing how active Habitot is in engaging families of all backgrounds including multi-lingual and multi-ethnic families, foster and homeless families, as well as middle and upperclass families. Habitot offers affordable fees for all families and even hosts parent workshops to make sure everyone knows the positive effects of early literacy, socialization, and play in the growing brain. Habitot goes above and beyond to make sure that everyone feels welcome and a safe space in their discovery museum.
After my visit, I was so moved that I joined their Board of Directors and look forward to helping the museum expand their reach in serving kids and families in the Bay Area and move into their brand new building in a few years.
Habitot is one of the most unique and special children's museum. They make sure that ALL families, regardless of their income, ability, ethnicity, or background, are able to experience learning through play. I was so inspired by their campaign to give birthday parties to kids experiencing homelessness too. Habitot is raising money right now for children without a home to call their own, so that they may enjoy a private birthday party all to themselves . Please check it out and share what you can: http://igg.me/at/BirthdayPartiesforHomelessKids/x
I see families and children engaging in play, learning, discovering, and taking advantage of the free family bonding classes, and parenting education workshops too. Children with special needs, especially in the autism spectrum, are able to enjoy the entire museum with other families just like theirs in the "Special Times for Special Families program too. I really can't say enough about how incredible this place is for young children and their families.
I couldn't even believe that Habitot has been able to stay strong as a Berkeley institution for almost 18 years, having an impact on over 1,000,000 children and families.
Every time I come here with my little girl, we have such a good time, we make new friends, and we always get a treat across the street at Cafe Clem!
Thank you Berkeley for giving us such an amazing place!
Habitot is the perfect place for babies and toddlers to explore their new and changing abilities.
My grandson has a wonderful time learning about paint and colors - painting with big brushes on the big paint wall, dropping drops of paint on coffee filters and seeing the colors meld into new colors, stretching and pressing clay forms. The face painting area is a particular favorite place to make funny faces on himself and on me!
So many things that catch his attention!
The Train table with many trains to move around - being cooperative with other kids who want to play.
The ambulance with two steering wheels and a big bench seat for kids to pretend to drive fast to help the injured.
The Veterinary corner with all the dogs in cages and a pet washing area (sans water - thank goodness!)
The nursery area for babydolls to be clothed and bottle fed and examined by the pretend doctors.
The wind tunnel with flowers to toss in the air so they scatter about - plenty of brooms and dustbins to practice sweeping up.
Lots of big toys to climb into and out of and push. Police cars, fire engines, taxi cabs.
At least until recently when it changed to a big block area, our favorite area was the water play zone and car wash. Splashing encouraged! Playing with water to see which direction it runs when you pour it down tubes, into cups and pumps.
And so many toys to take home from their lending library - wow! We would never be able to buy all they toys he has check out. And his taste in toys changes so fast - the lending library is a great asset to our family.
The staff seem very well versed in the REI concepts - treating your young one like a whole person and letting them learn by "doing themselves" rather than taking away their fun and showing them "what is the right way". Ha! Like there is only one right way - not!
The hours work great for us (mornings and all day on Friday) - we try to stop soon enough to get home in time for nap...but it isn't easy leaving such a fun place.
Review from Guidestar
As a volunteer with the American Red Cross I had pleasure of hosting a table about Emergency Preparedness for five years in a row. For the last few, there were a total of six organizations. All representing an aspect of safety.
The staff were telling the parents about the information. The enthusiasm of the parents and the kids was very exciting.
Arranging for this event every year far exceeds expectations in my view.
Review from Guidestar
We've been happy visitors to Habitot for a couple of years now. It's not the most flashy of places, but my 2yo and 4yo can't get enough- they would play there every day if they could. The activities are so age-appropriate, and it's contained enough that I can manage taking both kids there by myself (a surprisingly short list of places in this category). I also feel good about supporting them knowing that they strive for equal access for homeless and low-income families, foster kids, etc. In short, I don't think it's too dramatic to say that Habitot really improves my family's quality of life.
Review from Guidestar
I'm very grateful to Habitot for organizing free events for special needs children. My son has autism and gets overwhelmed in crowded environments. In order to serve all children, Habitot has a recurring special needs day for just this reason so my son can enjoy being a little boy. Thank you!
Review from Guidestar
My four year old daughter has enjoyed hours and hours at Habitot! I have brought a lot of the great ideas home to continue her fun and learning. She isn't in preschool or day care yet so it has been a great place to interact with others. The staff is so friendly. Everything is clean! We never brought illness home with us just fond memories. Thank you for this delightful imaginative place to play. I feel like a kid again when visiting! My teens have enjoyed playing with their little sister there. Many "injuries" have been fixed playing doctor. Love the gak! Face paint crayons! wind tunnel with flower petals!! We love Habitot. Thank you!
Review from Guidestar
I picked up a groupon for an outing w/my 4yr old nephew. In sharing the experience w/friends I found myself describing this place as "a dump, w/a run down, dirty feel, & small; but my nephew seemed to enjoy the different "stations" of play & activity.
Way over priced for what you get & the condition of the place. It wasn't as painful as full price would've been w/o the Groupon.
This place really just needs a good cleaning & painting.
Review from Guidestar