Sunday, December 14, 2008

Books about multilingualism

I recently wrote a review of a book about multilingualism (bilingualism to be exact). It's the second book I read about the subject since it's of big personal interest to me.  I've also read a few articles and followed at least one online discussion about it.  Here's what I believe now about all the information that's available:

  • Do not read any books about bilingualism unless you have to.  The information is unlikely to change much about your attitudes towards multilingualism and reading them can be annoying because they read like propaganda materials.
  • If you do want to read something, the book I've just read (A Parents' & Teachers' Guide to Bilingualism) is not too bad in spite of the fact that my review contains a few criticisms.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Carol of Lights Festival in Campbell

We go to the Carol of Lights Festival in Campbell every year and really like it.  It's an opportunity to see snow in the Bay Area (the build a snow hill on one of the streets), take a picture with Santa and see many other holiday-related things.  The event used to be in the evenings but this year they decided to move it to the afternoon.  It will take place on Saturday, December 13, 2008 from 2pm to 5pm.  Immediately before the Carol of Lights, there's the Christmas in Campbell event, 11am-2pm featuring music performances.

Here's a picture of us on a pony ride in the 2007 Carol of Lights Festival.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Little Puffer

In my post about trains, I completely forgot about the Little Puffer at the San Francisco Zoo.  Our daughter and other children we know love this train.  Here's a picture from one of our visits there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trains in the Bay Area

Since ningning mentioned trains in a comment to my post about the Holiday Train, let me write a little about trains for kids in the Bay Area.  I'm sure that I don't know all of them, so if anyone knows more, please let me know.  Here are the ones that we know.

Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad

This train in the Vasona Park in Los Gatos is loved by all kids I know.  The train ride is great and there are many other attractions in the park: the carousel, playgrounds, and ducks.

Mini Train in the Central Park in San Mateo
I don't like this one too much but if your child is really into trains, it may be worth checking out.  The train goes in a small loop.  Adults cannot be on the train because it is a very small train.  The Japanese Tea Garden in the same park is very nice.

Roaring Camp Railroads
This place close to Santa Cruz has two train: the beach train that goes to Santa Cruz and the steam train that goes in a loop.  Both are very nice.  There are also some events there, like Day Out With Thomas, and Holiday Lights Train.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bay Area Holiday Train

We went to the Caltrain's Holiday Train in the past and we will surely go this year.  This year the train event will happen on December 6 and December 7, 2008 (note that different stations are served on each day).  You can get all the details on the Caltrain web site for Holiday Train 2008.

This is a very fun activity for small kids.  The train stops at the station and you can watch performers on a platform car.  Some characters (Santa etc) will get off the train and mingle with the crowds.

If you choose to watch it in Santa Clara, make sure to check out the train museum there.  The kids will love it!

The Holiday Train is also about giving.  If you can, please bring new toys and books.  Your gifts will be donated to U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Program and the Salvation Army.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Candyland was suggested by Dafna in a comment to my Zingo post.  According to the Wikipedia article, this game "has become a cultural icon in the U.S."   And according to Board Game Central: "For generations, boys and girls have enjoyed Candyland as their first board game".

I will definitely give it a try.  Amazingly, it costs only $5 on Amazon: Candy Land - Milton Bradley Board Games.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fun Pumpkin Patches in the Bay Area

It's this time of year again.  Small children love to go with their parents to pick a pumpkin, especially if there are other activities that can go along with getting a pumpkin: hay rides, train rides etc.

My favorite place to visit is Uesugi Farms (on Yelp).  They have lots of pumpkins to choose from and many activities to choose from.  This is where we went the last two years.

But this is not the only place.  Here are a few other places for pumpkins:
Here's a map of those places:
You can see a really comprehensive list here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Recently I was looking for a game for my 2 1/2 year-old daughter. I was initially thinking of a board game but I had no idea what game is appropriate for that age. I went to Cheeky Monkey (our local toy store) and spent some time looking at games. All the games were coded for age. The youngest age I saw was 3 but none of those games looked very simple, so at some point I asked someone who worked in the store for a recommendation. That person recommended to me Zingo by ThinkFun. When I first looked at the box and noticed that it is labeled for ages 4-8, so I was skeptical but after I was told that it should work for a 2 year-old, I looked at the game more carefully and agreed that it looks very age-appropriate.

I bought it and we tried it out right away since we were hungry and went for lunch to the Japanese BBQ restaurant on the same street. The game was an instant hit with my daughter. We played it later at home and we all liked it. The game is inspired by Bingo and its idea is pretty simple: each player gets a card with 9 pictures and when a tile matching one of the pictures is drawn from the deck, you try to claim it before other player who may have the same tile.

Check the game out in your local store or buy it on amazon.

Do you know of any other good games for toddlers? If so, write a comment!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fern flower tale

I was browsing DVDs in the children section of the Palo Alto library and noticed a movie based on the Fern Flower Polish folk tale. I got the DVD and really liked it: the animation style is very interesting; the story is told well and some elements of the related customs (like jumping over bonfires, floating wreaths of flowers with candles) are shown. I recommend it!

This DVD is a part of a 32-volume Animated Tales of the World Series published by Schlessinger Media. You can buy it separately or get if you're lucky, get it from a library that bought the whole 32-volume edition. If I understand OCLC correctly only six public libraries in the US have it but luckily for me one of them is the Palo Alto one.

Sand castles

The sand castle competitions start in the Bay Area next weekend. The first event is the Sand Sculpture Contest at the Capitola Begonia Festival. This will take place 8:30am-12noon on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at Capitola Beach. The following day, there will be the Annual Sand Sculpture Contest in Point Reyes National Seashore.

The third event I know of is the Sandcastle Classic that will take place on October 4, 2008 at the Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Do you know of any other sand castle events in the Bay Area? Let me know!