Best of the East Bay - Kids
Where to celebrate a birthday, buy a party dress, or get your kids science fair help.
Photograph by Joe Budd
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+ As part of Monte Vista High's Science Alliance, Drew Bell was one of more than 200 volunteer mentors helping some 245 San Ramon Valley District fifth-graders prepare for an annual April science fair.
With the Monte Vista senior's help, Bell's two buddies from Danville’s Green Valley Elementary, Tucker Busboom and Kyle Widman, won first place in their division. Their experiment involved studying which liquids encouraged the most mold growth on sliced bread over 36 days.
Science Alliance was started at Monte Vista in 2004 and may soon expand to other local high schools. Bell loved sharing his science excitement with younger kids. "I wish I’d had someone showing me what I needed to do for the science fair when I was younger.”
mvsciencealliance.org. —Martha Ross
+ At All Star Academy of Danville, infants as young as six months learn how to survive falling into a swimming pool, and four-year-olds learn to do the backstroke so they're fast enough to qualify for their neighborhood swim teams. The husband-and-wife team of Brian and Jennifer Oas offer private lessons in a pool they built on their rural property east of Danville.
Brian participated in swim teams as a youth and, after graduating from college, decided to become a professional swim teacher, specializing in kids. Jennifer is a former schoolteacher. They are the only teachers in the Bay Area certified to teach Infant Swimming Resource, in which babies learn to roll over in a body of water and float until an adult can reach them.
5800 Camino Tassajara, Pleasanton, (925) 967-0900, allstarswimschool.com. —M.R.
+ Knowing that they can’t shield their daughters from Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, three East Bay moms have launched an interactive, safety-conscious website, Girl Ambition, specifically for tween girls.
“We started talking to other parents and realized that every single person knows someone where something scary has happened online to their kids,” says CEO Hilary DeCesare of Danville, a former Oracle manager and mother of an 11-year-old girl.
But, Girl Ambition isn’t just a cyber-safety primer for kids and their parents. It is also designed to boost girls' self-esteem through games, videos, and a TV show—starring DeCesare’s spirited daughter, Dani. Ten-year-old Samantha Bell of Lafayette likes the TV episodes where Dani tries working as an elephant trainer and swims with dolphins: “A lot of the things she does are really cool.”
girlambition.com. —Martha Ross
+ I asked my 10-year-old son to test Chartreuse’s new organic bath products for kids. All he cared about was using the wooden scoop that comes in the gift pack to mix the bath soak, body wash, and lotion into a “super cleansing potion.” I just like that the products don't contain parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, or artificial colors, fragrances, or petrochemicals.
chartreuseproducts.com/kidsset.html. —Susan Safipour
+ Looking for an alternative to the tired, animatronic rodent–related party spot? Try Super Franks, a 34,000-square-foot family fun center in Pleasanton. Yes, it features a loud arcade filled with the latest video games for kids, ages two to 12. But it also boasts a mini gym, a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course, and three private party rooms. The food at Super Franks is pretty good, and the center has a separate space for moms and dads, furnished with a coffee bar and big-screen HDTVs.
5341 Owens Ct., Pleasanton, (925) 271-5880, superfranks.com. —Sam Craig