BANANAS Celebrates Black History Month

This February, we observe Black History Month, an opportunity to teach young children the importance of peace, diversity, and acceptance. For parents and child care providers, this month provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss race, civil rights, and the importance of love and tolerance with children. Educate your children about the many achievements of African Americans and involve them in celebrating Black History Month.

BANANAS has been long-serving African American families and child care providers. We offer support, education, and professional development opportunities to help child care providers better care for children.

This Black History Month, we are highlighting one of our very passionate and hard working child care providers – Linda Faye Johnson.

Linda understands that education is at the heart of professional achievement and she credits BANANAS’ staff and our free workshops as the foundation for her successful family child care business – Umoja House. In April 2018, with support from BANANAS staff member Soyla Madrigal, Linda was enrolled in the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) On-The-Job Training Project for Family Child Care Providers. This program allows her to earn a CA Child Development Associate Teacher’s Permit through the four college courses provided by Berkeley City College. In addition, Linda receives monthly on-site coaching through BANANAS and a stipend of $2,200. “I feel blessed to be a part of this program because it strengthens my skills and increases my knowledge and understanding in providing early care and education to children in my program,” says Linda.

The Training Project helps child care providers like Linda with professional development opportunities. It also provides tips and techniques on how to improve interactions with children, supplemental training materials, and one-on-one guidance.

Linda continues to attend BANANAS child care provider workshops in order to increase her knowledge of child development and improve her skills as a caregiver. She says that she is thankful to the BANANAS staff for recognizing her professional needs and supporting her step-by-step while encouraging her to be the best provider she could be. “I love BANANAS,” she says. “Teaching is my passion and the more I know, the more I can do to help children build their future.”

BANANAS has been extremely grateful to serve African American families for many years. Our community of children, families, and child care providers visits our office for numerous reasons. These include looking for a child care provider, assistance paying for care, educational resources, workshops, support groups, playgroups, and items in the free children’s boutique.

We consider it a privilege to offer support to all of our communities, especially when we know it is going to change lives. Learn more about our programs and how we help our children, families, and child care providers in Alameda County!

Holiday Events & Activities in the East Bay

Young woman with children in the playground.

Ho-ho-ho! Holiday time is here! Make the most of it and enjoy family-friendly events and activities in Alameda County. Whether you enjoy a holiday concert or a Christmas carol performance, a festive parade or a light show, East Bay offers something for everyone. Here are some of our favorite holiday and Christmas events for you and your family.

Fairy Winterland at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland
Children’s Fairyland celebrates the winter holidays for 11 exciting days. Enjoy crafts, lights, costume parade, shows, and a visit from Santa. Your children will love it!

Oakland ZooLights
Celebrate the holidays at Oakland Zoo amidst a million glowing lights! As part of the ZooLights festivities, riding the train at night is certainly a real highlight. Hop on the illuminated train and warm up with hot cocoa and dinner at the Landing Café with a scenic view for miles!

Little Ice Rink in Alameda
Chill out at the East Bay’s annual seasonal ice rink at Alameda’s South Shore Center shopping plaza because there’s so much to do. The Little Ice Rink is open every day until 10 pm through mid-January. Skate and sip cocoa, meet Santa, and have pictures taken at the Santa House. 

WinterFest at Tilden Park Steam Trains in Berkeley
Take your family to the winterfest at the Tilden Park Steam Train. The trains and tracks are lit up for the holidays. During special holiday hours, the area around the Merry-Go-Round will be decorated in twinkle lights. Above all, your children will have a chance to get their pictures taken with Santa Claus for free.

Niles Canyon Train of Lights in Fremont
The Train of Lights has been an annual tradition for Bay Area families for more than a decade. Make it yours too! This will be a rare opportunity for your family to experience a train ride through Niles Canyon at night. The Train of Lights begins at Niles Canyon Fremont or at Sunol, and provides an hour-long round trip ride filled with music and lights. Be sure to bundle up because the train cars are vintage and open-air.

Breakfast with Santa in Dublin
Santa Claus is coming to Dublin! Enjoy a delicious hot pancake breakfast with Santa. Children will also get a chance to get holiday photos clicked with Santa. Each year, the city of Dublin organizes the Warm Wishes Gift Drive that helps to bring a little joy to those less fortunate in our community. You can be a part of the drive and make holidays special for your neighbors. Pick up a gift tag at City Hall or choose a wish online and return your wrapped gift to City Hall, Shannon Community Center, or the Senior Center by December 10 at 5 pm.

Livermore Shakespeare Festival Holiday Celebration
Celebrate the season with friends and family at Livermore Shakespeare Festival while listening to classic holiday stories. Don’t forget to enjoy delicious wine and tapas from Swirl on the Square.

Elf Workshop With Crafts in Danville
Children will love this holiday craft workshop. Enjoy holiday treats, create hands-on holiday crafts, and get a chance to visit Santa and take a photo with him, all in one stop!

We hope you have an amazing holiday season with your family. Don’t forget to make a little time to kick back and relax. You deserve it!

Happy Holidays, from the Bunch!


Best Pumpkin Patches & Farms in Alameda County

pumpkin patch guide

Looking to pick out the perfect pumpkin? You’re in the right place. If you’re looking for a patch where you can pick up a pumpkin to whip up some tasty desserts, this guide tells you all about the best pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and fall fun in Alameda County. Take your family to a farm featuring family games, tractor rides, petting zoos, and so much more.

Alameda Point Pumpkin Patch
The Alameda Point Pumpkin Patch (formerly in Emeryville) has a rock climbing wall, extreme air jumpers, a 40-foot ship slide, and a 200-foot zip line for thrill seekers. Above all, a petting zoo and bouncy houses for children. And yes, they have a ton of local, valley-grown pumpkins too!

Location: 2153 Ferry Pt, Alameda, CA
Hours: Mon – Sun | 10 am – 10 pm

Perry Family Farms
This spot offers the family a chance to see the whole process of growing veggies and pumpkins. Located on the grounds of Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, Perry’s is a real working organic farm. Kids can learn about the pumpkin growing process and burn off some steam at the kid’s maze. There are also character cut out photo ops, a hay pyramid, and hayrides for everyone to enjoy even more.

Location: 34600 Ardenwood Blvd, Fremont, CA
Hours: Mon – Fri | 12 pm – 7 pm
Sat – Sun | 9 am – 7 pm

G&M Farms
Getting lost is half the fun of visiting this Livermore farm. They boast a 6-acre corn maze full of twists and turns. Once you find your way out, check out some of the other attractions like the pony rides and a cow train. And don’t forget the pumpkins! You can certainly pick your own in the field, or pick one up at the farm stand.

Location: 487 East Airway Blvd, Livermore, CA
Hours: Mon – Fri | 2 pm – 6 pm
Sat – Sun | 10 am – 6 pm

Piedmont Avenue Pumpkin Patch
This patch carries over 15 varieties of pumpkins, from tiny Muskins up to Atlantic Giants, with vibrant colors such as orange, red, white, green, and multi-colored. Above all, they have two haunted houses experiences—a scary one (for big kids and adults) and a not-so-scary version (for the little ones).

Location: 4414 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA
Hours: Mon – Sun | 9 am – 8 pm

Moore’s Pumpkin Patch  
Getting your Halloween pumpkin is more fun at Moore Farm because they have large pumpkin patches with hundreds of beautiful pumpkins for you to choose from. Children use red wagons, commonly called as “Pumpkin Patch Travelers” to transport pumpkins. At Moore’s Pumpkin Patch, your visit includes more than just pumpkins for the reason that this is a family fun park complete with rides and attractions. Let your children enjoy the popular “super slide”, the pony rides, the bounce house, and so much more.

Location: 9711 Dublin Canyon Rd, Castro Valley, CA
Hours: Mon – Sun | 10 am – 8 pm

ABC Tree Farms 
This new pumpkin patch offers tons of “jumper” inflatable fun houses to jump around for children ages 2-12. You will find different varieties of pumpkins and don’t forget to take pictures with your family at the wonderfully decorated “memory zone” that has corn and pumpkin barrel boards and cut outs. Your children will certainly love to look through these cut outs.

Location: 2200 Hilltop Mall Rd, Richmond, CA
Hours: Mon – Sun | 10 am – 9 pm

Whether your children want big pumpkins that will take hours to carve, or a teeny-tiny one, these pumpkin patches have them all. Get ready to get carving!

“The Raising of America” Film Screening & Discussion

Join Oakland Literacy Coalition and BANANAS for Building Stronger Futures: “The Raising of America” Film Screening and Discussion.

We are thrilled to invite our community to this free event where we will show part one of the film “The Raising of America” and host a panel discussion about the state of child care and the early education crisis in Alameda County.

The panel discussion will feature parent advocates and child care providers who will brainstorm on “How quality child care can build a stronger future for our children and families.”

Event Details:
Thu, Oct 11 | 6 pm – 8 pm
Location: The Octopus Literary Salon, 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, 94612

Getting There:

The Octopus Literary Salon is accessible by the 19th street BART station. Street parking is free after 6 pm.

Please Note:
Food and beverage, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase. The film screening will begin promptly at 6 pm. Please arrive early to get a seat.

About Oakland Literacy Coalition:
Oakland Literacy Coalition is committed to seeing Oakland become a city of readers and learners. The Coalition brings together a dynamic network of organizations, agencies, educators, and stakeholders to learn, collaborate, and champion literacy. Learn more here.

Please help us share this event by clicking the social media sharing buttons below.

For a preview of the show, watch the trailer here. We hope to see you there!

Thank You for Making UnPeeled a Success

BANANAS UnPeeled Children’s Carnival held on April 14, 2018 at Urban Adamah was a one-of-a-kind family event. Yes, it was a huge success! We owe it to no one else but our community that includes YOU. More than 750 people attended the event. What a great sense of community— parents, caregivers, and children all added to the fun. As a result, the event turned out to be a lively one that made parents excited and left kids smiling and asking for more.

The highlights of the event were live shows and games. Our performers Risa Lenore, Grampa Clyde, Mariela’s music time, Chad Norris, and Kirah Caminos entertained the crowd and created a joyful experience for all the little learners. Children moved and grooved to the much loved rhymes and songs. They sang, played with drums, clapped, laughed, and jumped. In addition, the live shows kept the children engaged as they explored their creativity through pretend play.

Children had the opportunity to enjoy many fun-filled games like the penny toss, ring toss, tic-tac-toe, buried treasure, bean bag toss, duck matching, and many more. There were terrific prizes for the children to take home. They created excitement among the kids as they could trade in their tickets to win more from the prize booth. Face painting was a popular choice for all! Our talented volunteers patiently painted beautiful designs and kept the long line moving along at a fast pace. Children and adults got a range of pictures on their face, from animals, flowers, butterflies to hearts and stars.

Kids were excited to see the fire truck when it arrived. They sat in it like a real firefighter and had the opportunity to pose for photos. The officers made their presence even more special by giving out favors. The snack shack was a crowd pleaser for who does not love hot dogs and nachos. The Italian food truck La Cosa Nostra sold delicious pasta and arancini, perfect for a carnival.

Parents loved being at the carnival, socializing with other families while their kids explored on their own in a safe environment. Each child left with memories of a great day. A huge thank you to all of you for attending the carnival and making it a success. We could only have made this carnival a memorable one because of you. The goal of the event was to provide family fun for all, especially to children. In addition, raise money so that we can invest in kids and make every child’s dream come true.

We would love to hear from you about your experiences on what a great day you had. Please share your comments below!

It’s Week of the Young Child!

Week of the Young Child

Welcome to Week of the Young Child! Today is the beginning of a week-long celebration of children, teachers, families, and early learning started by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Each day has its own theme to inspire learning through a range of fun, educational activities. At BANANAS, we are joining in on the excitement by having daily events at our office for kids, parents, and caregivers to enjoy. Here’s what we have coming up:

Music Monday – Stop by to join in movement and dance while we play a variety of international music in our lobby. Program Director Judy Kriege will drop in with her guitar for a few impromptu singalongs too! Music is a great way to encourage language and literacy as well as math skills. Click here for some great ideas on how to incorporate songs and music into children’s daily lives.

Tasty Tuesday – We’ll be going bananas for delicious recipes on this cooking-focused day. Teaching young children about making healthy food and lifestyle choices can’t start early enough. Plus, cooking is a fun activity that can promote science and math skills! When you come in, we’ll give you recipe cards to try at home together. You can also click to find them here. There are more super ideas on our Cooking with Kids Pinterest board.

Work Together Wednesday – Come to our office to create art that will become part of a beautiful collage. When we work as a team, we get to celebrate our diversity and learn from one another. Kids get to practice social skills and problem solving. Want more ideas? Click here for a whole list of activities for building and working together.

Artsy Thursday – This will be a day when we continue to create artwork to take home and add to our collaborative collage. Doing hands-on projects can help children develop fine motor skills and inspire creativity. Check out more art ideas here.

Family Friday – BANANAS will be closed on Friday for staff development, but we’ll be celebrating the families we serve and our work together as the BANANAS Bunch family. We encourage you to spend time with the people in your life who make up your family too! Here are some ways to bond and build deeper connections.

We hope you will join us in this five-day celebration of children and early education. You will find lots more ideas for Week of the Young Child on our Pinterest board!

Talk, Read, Sing, & Play at Oakland’s New Literacy Playground!

Oakland's New Literacy Playground

EXCITING NEWS! We just learned that former Golden State Warriors player and current Warriors Community Ambassador, Adonal Foyle, will be at this event!

Calling all children, parents, child care providers, grandparents, aunts, siblings, and friends who care for little ones! September 20th marks the debut of Oakland’s newest literacy playground. As part of the national Talking Is Teaching campaign, this fun-filled day will include a book giveaway, story time, music, snacks, family-friendly activities, and lots of playground play. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff will be in attendance to promote the importance of talking, reading, and singing to young children to inspire language and brain development. When you speak, children learn! So don’t miss this fun community event to celebrate Oakland’s New Literacy Playground and learn how you can encourage healthy child development!

WHEN: Tuesday, September 20 at 11:00 am

WHERE: Officer Willie Wilkins Park – 9700 C Street, Oakland (in the Elmhurst neighborhood)

This wonderful event is brought to you by: Too Small to Fail, First 5 Alameda County, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital

CCIP Appreciation Brunch!

We’re all about appreciation! On Saturday, May 21, CCIP staff members Eva Chou, Soyla Madrigal, and Yu Fong Wang put together an amazing event for our hard-working CCIP providers. The Child Care Initiative Project (CCIP) gives individuals the professional training and support needed to open a successful family child care business. It is an honor for our CCIP team to counsel participants through the process of becoming a licensed family child care owner. At every step, our staff works one-on-one with aspiring business owners to complete the forms, safety measures, and educational hours that are required. Once these entrepreneurs are ready to open their doors (or expand their program), we assist with how to connect with parents and market the family child care.

So, we held an Appreciation Brunch! The event was focused on relaxing, soothing activities, including Tai Chi and massage.

You can check out all of the food, fun, and fabulous activities in this SLIDE SHOW.

Thank you, CCIP providers, for all you do!

香蕉中心 提供免費練習說英語的課程。

English Practice Available at BANANAS

自2016年1月25日起,香蕉中心 (BANANAS) 將在每星期一至星期四下午1:30pm – 4:00pm,提供免費練習說英語的課程。這課裎的主要目標是讓家長, 褓姆, 和托兒工作者,除了學習用英語與孩子溝通交談, 唸故事書, 唱歌, 户外學習, 和玩遊戲外,並對英語有更進一步的了解。 由於這個課程是免費的,所以不需要先登記和註册,只要是在課程時間隨時可加入。此外, 這課程以實用英語為主題,所以歡迎帶Babies一起來學習.


  • 第一期: 2016年1月25日 – 2月11日, 每星期一至星期四, 下午1:30 – 4:00。(1/25 – 1/28, 2/1 – 2/4, 2/8 – 2/11)
  • 第二期到2016年底的最後一期, 將會再安排。

BANANAS Pronto ofrecerá Tutoria en Inglés

English Tutoring Sessions

A partir del 25 de Enero, BANANAS ofrecerá tutoría en Inglés para cualquier persona interesada en prácticar sus conocimientos del idioma Inglés. Se invita a los padres y proveedores de cuidado infantil a recibir tutoría que se centrará en el uso del Inglés en el contexto de la crianza de niños. Vamos a utilizar los libros ilustrados, juegos, canciones, paseos, conversación, y más para permitir a los participantes a desarrollar una mejor comprensión del Inglés. Este es un servicio gratuito que no requiere registro o compromiso a largo plazo. Los participantes pueden simplemente venir a BANANAS en cualquier momento durante las horas disponibles para recibir tutoria de un voluntario. Los bebés son bienvenidos!

Horas de Tutoria

Lunes a Jueves de 1:30pm to 4pm

Primera session de tutoria sera el 25 de Enero y el 11 de Febrero.

Sesiones adicionales se programaran durante todo 2016.