In the Dirt 

Gardening for kids

SAT 1/24

Gardening is certainly one of the most pleasurable activities to engage small children: they can plunge their little hands into the earth and feel directly where our food comes from. At the Nature Center in Tilden Park, near the Little Farm, the Kids Garden Club meets every Saturday to help develop green thumbs on kids aged four to six. Kate Scott and Nadia Stanis codirect the club, and among their achievements is a new garden (with a ten-foot fence to keep out deer) full of seasonal vegetables and flowers, with raised bed planters built by the kids themselves. You can sign up your child for one class, or make it a regular date on Saturdays from 2 to 4 p.m. On January 24, the theme is water: how it sustains a garden, and how it travels (since the Nature Center stands on the watershed for Wildcat Creek, the kids will get to see how the creek's flow connects with geology and other forces of nature). On February 7, the club will build a cob greenhouse to protect plants against the chilly weather. For February 21's meeting, participants are invited to bring any kind of container from home that can be recycled into a planter to be used in the club's garden. Registration is required, and there is a small fee. Call 510-525-2233 to sign up or for more information. -- Sarah Cahill


Say "Ahhh"

It's a Fairy January

The weather may be chilly and drizzly, but that doesn't mean Children's Fairyland is hibernating for the winter. This weekend, kids and their families can enjoy three (count 'em) styles of nonelectronic entertainment at the venerable young persons' theme park by the side of Oakland's Lake Merritt. Blake Maxam, known in these parts as "The Wizard of Ahhhhs," performs amazing magic tricks from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. At Fairyland's internationally known Open Storybook Puppet Theatre, the production of Rapunzel continues at 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. Then there's a bit of hands-on artsy-craftsiness for junior creative types and their folks at the Marilynn O'Hare Arts & Crafts Center -- from 12 noon to 3 p.m. The shows are included in the price of admission: $6 per person. Info: -- Kelly Vance


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