Hi friends! This blog is for teachers and families- all for the sheer joy of literacy. When we are enthusiastic about reading and writing our students and our own kids become excited to read and write. I hope that we all can be models for those in our care- how did you show your passion for reading, writing, learning, language, or words today?? It's in those small, daily moments that we teach kids to love literacy.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oakland Locals: Fairyland is a Must See!

I can't resist sharing about my family's recent trip to Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California. I live nearby and have known about Fairyland for a long while, but just visited for the first time last week; I instantly became smitten. Fairyland is directly off of Lake Merritt, near downtown Oakland.

The park opened about 60 years ago- and everything at the park does harken back to that era. But it is simply a wonderful place for toddlers and preschoolers to come and interact with storybook scenes and characters. I loved the idea of it so much that I bought a membership before I set foot into the park. My toddler loved as well (everything is her size!), and I look forward to many mornings exploring the different attractions.

Those of you looking for thrills and chills- stay away! Your 2-7 year old will enjoy Fairyland. It's simplistic- with play and stories at the forefront. As you may has guessed, I love that Fairyland has a focus on childhood literacy, in addition to play and creativity. Isn't that what being a kid is supposed to be about?

Children’s Fairyland is much more than amusement park. Since our beginnings, we’ve been a place where stories come to life, where reading is celebrated, and where childhood literacy for the whole community is our goal.
Stroll through Fairyland and you’ll see the ways in which we put our commitment into action:
  • Our Reading Room is a cozy storybook hut filled with books for readers of all ages—from colorful picture books to children’s magazines to chapter books.
  • The Marilynn O’Hare Art Center, open on weekends, invites children to express themselves with crayons, clay, paint, and other art materials. 
  • A field trip to Fairyland can enhance your teaching curriculum while giving kids a memorable day away from the classroom, in a beautiful park on the shores of Lake Merritt.
Favorite childhood stories come to life in the nearly 40 storybook sets throughout Fairyland. The Three Little Pigs’ three little houses, Humpty Dumpty’s wall, Pinocchio’s castle—stroll through our park (or run through, if you’re a child) and discover them all.

The original storybook sets were designed by local architect William Russell Everitt, whose whimsical creations featured wildly off-kilter walls, bright colors, and—most important—child-size proportions. In the more than 55 years since we opened, we’ve gradually added and remodeled many sets, but always in the original spirit.
Puppets have been used to tell stories to children and adults for thousands of years. Fairyland’s Storybook Puppet Theater isn’t quite that old, but we’re proud that it’s the oldest continuously operating puppet theater in the United States.

Since we first parted the curtains in 1956, we’ve presented hundreds of delightful and wondrous tales through the magic of puppetry. Some of the Bay Area’s—and the country’s—most gifted puppeteers have worked backstage at the puppet theater: Luman Coad, Frank and Dorothy Hayward, Tony Urbano, and Mike and Frances Oznowicz. As a teenager, Frank Oznowicz—later and better known as Frank Oz—helped his parents prepare puppet shows after school and on weekends; later, he built on that experience to help create the Muppets and to direct feature films.
And so our morning begins:

Entrance to Fairyland (The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe):

There are a few animals. But they are not for petting. However, my daughter did spend 15+ minutes sitting on a rail, watching the donkeys (at the Pinocchio attraction):

Pinocchio's House:

Jolly Trolley:

Just-right doorways for toddlers (mine pictured):

There are story book boxes throughout the park. You put in a Fairyland Key (one time fee of $2) to listen to the story that corresponds to the attraction. Surprise, surprise I LOVE that they have this! What a great way to promote literacy! BTW- this "big girl" (a total stranger to us), was not to thrilled to have a toddler pecking at her heels.

Alice and Wonderland's Maze of Cards:

Wild West Junction. Kids (only) can climb inside of these structures. Great for preschoolers on up:

Aesop's Playhouse for Children's Theater:

Willie the Whale. Kids (best for kids 3+) can climb inside the Whale's mouth:

The park is trying to bring things somewhat up to date by adding attractions such as, The Woman Who Outshone the Sun:

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary:

I'm getting excited just writing this post! There is so much we didn't get to explore on our first trip: the puppet theater, the Alice and Wonderland tunnel, the musical tunnel, the reading room, the chapel, etc... Good thing we got a membership! I look forward to reading these stories with my daughter, and helping her  make connections with what she read and what she's experiencing when she visits the park.

Be Well! Read On! And if you're local, and have a young child around, go visit Fairyland!


  1. I want to take our girls there together! I think my dad said he took us when we were little but I have no recollection of it. It sounds/looks like so much fun!!

  2. Your little one would LOVE it!


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