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 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 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 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!
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