The Pirate Store / 826 Valencia(free): A cool “store” in the Mission that fronts as a pirate goods market, and functions as a reading / writing workshop for kids. The workshops are free and are generally 2 hours in the morning. The kids write a book together as a class, and then there’s a quirky pirate man that has to do with the ‘publishing’ and I think that by the time they leave that day, there’s a printed and bound copy of the book that comes with them. Contact: Raul 415.642.5905 x209
Aquarium of the Bay (free): One of the only educational things at the wharf, the aquarium does a classroom program + guided tour for public schools for FREE. The classroom sessions get booked up really quickly, but are worthwhile. It’s 1 hour in a classroom with a teacher [what I used to do] and the topic is agreed upon ahead of time when you schedule it. Some of the topics are tide pools, marine mammals, wetlands, shapes & colors [for K], etc…. The guided tour is usually with the same aquarium teacher, and is also an hour. Contact: Mayra firstname.lastname@example.org
SCRAP: In the Bayview neighborhood, this place is a huge room filled with all sorts of awesome crafting materials. When I was there last, I asked about classroom programs, and the lady said that there’s nothing officially set, but sometimes classes come in, spend ~ $5 / person on materials [that they bring from home or use from donations] and then go back to their school and make stuff with it. HOWEVER, much cooler than that is the idea of a class coming in, getting a whole bunch of materials and then working in their work area at the shop, guided by one of their creative staff. It sounded like this was a definite possibility, but would need some massaging to bring to fruition. [This is an awesome place to get supplies / materials, too! They have certain days where things are either free or very cheap for teachers / educators!
Save Nature: ecology, environmental stewardship, and HANDS-ON BUG EXPLORATION! [You will hold insects that are bigger than your hand. Seriously awesome.]
And then along the marine lines, outside the city but still free [pending transportation] and totally awesome, LOTS of tide pools to explore:
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve — “The county’s epic tidal reserve by Moss Beach doubles as an outdoor classroom. Often crowded, but it’s the best. (650) 728-3584, eparks.net.”]
Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz— They say there’s a geyser-like spot on the rocks a bit to the left of the main beach area, that you have to access from one of the streets. If that’s intriguing to you, let me know and I’ll find out more.
Pigeon Point Reef in Pescadero — These tide pools are just offshore from the lighthouse and extend a few hundred yards to the south; off the mainstream radar and only good during minus low tides. (650) 879-2120]
Pigeon Point — Along the shore at low tide, explore lots of tide pools.]
Pillar Point Headlands — Hike the beach at the northwest end of Pillar Point Harbor near Princeton to Maverick’s, then boulder-hop around the headlands to the north.]
McClure’s Beach, Point Reyes — “Spot near Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore features tide pools to the south and a great beachfront to the north.”]
Slide Ranch, Muir Beach — Access this tidal reef on the Marin County coast from Slide Ranch or on the Owl Trail from Muir Beach Overlook, where you hike down and rock hop above pockets of seawater. Often loaded with small crabs.] <<Slide Ranch is another awesome educational experience…non-ocean.