A Day with the Kids in SoMa

December 28, 2016

San Francisco Kid Activities

181 Fremont Residences’ location in sophisticated SoMa is a boon for adults who love the arts and culture. But the littlest residents of these luxury condos in San Francisco have their very own local treasure to explore, where they can stretch their imaginations, skills, and technical know-how, all while having fun. The Children’s Creativity Museum (CCM) is located on Fourth and Howard Streets inside the lovely Yerba Buena Gardens. Formerly known as “Zeum” when it first opened in 1998, CCM takes an innovative approach to museum education that bypasses the passive absorption of dusty displays and dioramas and, instead, invites kids and families to create their own multimedia experiences in one of the museum’s many hands-on “labs.”

According to their mission statement, CCM has worked to “move the conventional approach of play to one of invention” and to “shift the focus from media consumption to media production.” So, no snapping photos on smartphones or checking Facebook while strolling through an exhibit: here, kids from ages 2 to12 make their own projects with educators who are excited to pass along their skills to young innovators. Visitors can take part in Design Challenges, Robot Coding, Music Video Production, Stop Motion Animation for an afternoon or even for weeks at a time during the summer.

Younger kids adore the Animation Studio, where they can learn about an essential filmmaking technique and get their hands dirty in clay. Kids can mold characters from soft clay using colors they choose and then work with museum educators to create a storyboard and produce a stop-motion short film. The museum’s stop-motion animation stations allow kids to choose different backdrops to set the scene and complete their films, which can then be emailed to parents.

At the Tech Lab, older kids learn how to program a robot to navigate mazes and play games using basic coding skills—a birthright in San Francisco. Creative problem-solving is the name of the game, and kids are encouraged to think through obstacles and puzzles in the pursuit of the solution. Their reward is the fun of watching their creation make its way through a maze, avoiding obstacles and responding to sensory information. Similarly, the Innovation Lab gives kids a tough puzzle to solve in the form of the Mystery Box, which contains basic materials that families can use to solve a problem. There are no fancy gadgets or tools to deploy here, just simple supplies and brainstorming. In the Music Studio, kids create their own music videos by performing Karaoke-style with costumes and applying custom backgrounds with green-screen technology.

Summer vacations can be artistic adventures too, with programs like this summer’s Musical Theater Camp, which is co-organized at CCM with the Bay Area Children’s Theatre, or Art Lab, where kids aged 3-5 can get a rich experience that includes songs, games, sensory-based play, and storytelling. And 5- to 6-year-olds can join the Play-Well Jedi Engineering camp, making refinements on the structure of LEGO® X-Wings and R2-units —all in a day’s work for a budding designer.

Undoubtedly, many of the grown-up residents of the luxury condos at 181 Fremont are accomplished professionals whose problem-solving skills and creativity are fueling the Bay Area’s thriving tech industry. With regular visits to the Children’s Creativity Museum, followed by a stroll through the Yerba Buena Gardens or a build-your-own-lunch at the nearby Vietnamese sandwich shop Freshroll, chances are the future will be in good (inventive) hands.

Image courtesy of ©iStock.com/Nadezhda1906