Activities & Tips

Family Activities for Fire Season

At some point, shorter days and -- unfortunately -- smoky air may keep your family inside. You're probably familiar with that! Try some of these indoor activities to change things up:

  • Stream free movies online using your library card. OPL offers feature films, animated read-alouds, documentaries, and tons of kid-friendly content on KanopyHoopla, and Overdrive. Or put some DVDs on hold to check out from your local branch. Certain librarians may have been known to host a Harry Potter marathon over a long weekend. What's your favorite multi-film series?

  • Since it's fire season: check your emergency kits and make sure you have everything you and your family might need if you have to leave home suddenly. You can find some good checklists here on the Alameda County emergency readiness page. Consider special dietary needs, batteries and device chargers, medications, footwear, and pet food/supplies. Make an evacuation plan. Talk with your kids about how everyone can get out of the house safely under different circumstances, and where you will meet each other. In general, wear a mask against the smoke and pay attention to air quality reports before you go out.

  • Exercise indoors with a minimum of space and a maximum of fun! You could start small with stretches and yoga poses, or -- if you're brave! -- set up a mini obstacle course. Dance parties are always a hit with active young ones. Practice making shapes with your bodies -- can you do the whole alphabet?

    adult in child's pose with child lying on the adult's back

    You may be missing the free events and activities usually offered by Oakland Public Library. We miss you, too! All OPL locations are back to full open hours with inside services, but the usual programs are limited. Please know that we are keeping safety in mind as we gradually plan in-person events. You can check the events calendar here to see what's coming up online or face-to-face, or visit a library branch to find out more.

Family Activities for Warm Weather

School may have started, but continue to enjoy the mild California weather as long as you can! Here are some suggestions for outdoor activities this fall:

  • The Oakland Museum of California has reopened to the public with limited hours. Their beautiful, sustainably redesigned gardens are open as well. Check out this wonderful green space next to Lake Merritt (and the Main Library). Keep an ear open for when the Friday night Off the Grid celebrations will resume.
  • Visit an urban farm (right here in Oakland!) or a plant nursery to get some ideas for what you could grow at home. City Slickers' West Oakland Farm Park has daily open hours, regular work days, and a weekend farmstand (currently on pause), as well as plenty of gardening tips online or in person. Acta Non Verba Farm at the Tassafaronga Rec Center is set up to help kids and teens learn about where food comes from -- check out their hybrid online/in-person after-school camps. Other community gardens in Oakland may be open to volunteers; be sure to contact them to find out.
    adults and children tending a raised garden bed children smiling near small clay pots child's hands holding an earthworm adults and children around a raised garden bed
  • Get the whole family involved in some active games! Remember ConcentrationDown by the Banks (SO many versions!), and Roller Coaster (Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop)? Brush up your skills and have fun teaching clapping games to the kids. You could also find a few pieces of equipment and try your hand at lawn bowling, bocce, double dutch, hooping, or a game of H-O-R-S-E.

    This is #goals!

  • Head outside for a nature walk! Look closely and you may be surprised by what you find. You could just go around the block (especially great if you catch a rare rainy day), or travel farther afield to one of the many parks in and around Oakland. National Public Lands Day is September 25th, and the national parks offer free admission. Here's a map of the East Bay Regional Parks; they're where this summer's nature journals came from. If you've filled yours up, or didn't get one during summer reading, it's fine to make your own! Or print this EBRPD activity guide. You could find your new favorite park walk/picnic spot. (One of mine is the Morcom Rose Garden.)

You may be missing the free events and activities usually offered by Oakland Public Library. We miss you, too! All OPL locations are back to full open hours with inside services, but the usual programs are limited. Please know that we are keeping safety in mind as we gradually plan in-person events. You can check the events calendar here to see what's coming up online or face-to-face, or visit a library branch to find out more.

#OPLSummer Week 8: Do-it-Yourself

Welcome to Week 8 of Summer Reading!

When kids do experiments and projects alone or with family and friends, it encourages independence and builds confidence. Join us for these fun online events, check out some books, and get your creativity flowing!



Looking for ideas and inspiration? Check out these books and fill the rest of your summer with cooking, gardening, crafts and more!



July 17th @ 10:30am

Hands On Science with Kits Cubed

Kits Cubed

Grab a science kit from any of our libraries and learn some exciting hands on science with Oakland-based youth. Kit includes experiments to make your own rock candy, a plant maze, and more!

Sign Up Here!

Thursday, July 22 @ 4:00pm

Social Justice Sewing Academy II

Sewing Academy

Learn about equity, inclusion and bias through creating a quilt block with the Social Justice Sewing Academy. This program is for people ages 8-14. Space is limited. 

Sign up here!



If you aren't able to attend the workshops, that's okay! You can still do it yourself at home! Come by any of our libraries to pick up supplies. Hey, you can't go wrong with your own customized plant maze!


#OPLSummer Week 7: Reach Out

Welcome to Week 7! We invite you to reach out to others and make connections. Consider how can we practice empathy as we engage others with the intent to learn from each other and about each other.


WATCH 10:30am Saturday, July 10



What's your favorite song about reaching out?

#OPLSummer Week 6: Wellness

Someone asked a librarian what is "wellness week" - could we just walk around the block or eat some kale? The answer is YES!  The definition of wellness varies for each individual. The focus this week is on mind, body and spirit. What make you happy? What makes you feel good? What can you do to promote a healthy lifestyle? 

These are the activities you can do to earn a star on the paper log or badge in Beanstack.

READ * (you can read whatever you want, these are just suggestions)



Other activities for your consideration:  

#OPLSummer Week 3: Art & Expression

This week we encourage self-expression through art. 



See more titles in Beanstack. 


 Shefali Shah and Aguacero Saturday at 10:30am to learn about bomba dance and music. 


Sign up to explore scribble bots.

  • SCRIBBLE BOTS example:
    See video

PBS Kids offers a variety of activities that promote creativity

Activities that will earn a badge in Beanstack or a star on the paper log this week include:

2021 King Day Celebrations

Happy Birthday to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., born January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, GA. 

The Library will be closed Monday, January 18, 2021, to honor Dr. King. The Elmhurst, Golden Gate, Piedmont Avenue, and Temescal/Tool Lending branches will also be closed Tuesday, January 19th. 

While we remain under stay at home orders, here are some options for celebrating online on Monday, January 18, 2021. 

If you’re looking for MLK books to read with your children, click here! 

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” 

― Martin Luther King Jr. 


Play Winter Bingo Through February 28!

Winter Bingo Prize Book Pick-up available February 1-28 at all Sidewalk Service locations!

Winter Bingo is a fun family literacy game recommended for kids ages 0-12.  To play Winter Bingo, visit your local sidewalk pick up location to collect a Winter Bingo card  (downloads are available below) or register on Beanstack. 

Complete any 5 activities in a row and win a FREE Book!

Watch this video created by Children's Librarian, Patí Moran, to learn more about these fun activities.

Kids can collect their prize book at any Oakland Public Library sidewalk pickup location through the month of February.

You can download Winter Bingo cards using the links below:

Happy Holidays!

Early Learning - WRITE & PLAY

This final post of the early learning series will highlight two prereading skills:  Write and Play 

Play is the work of children. They develop early writing skills by drawing and scribbling.



  • Let your child drop small items such as buttons and leaves into a glass (or bucket) of water. Observe, do they sink or float?
  • Hide objects or pictures around the house, then give your child a word and send her on a rhyming scavenger hunt.
  • Form green balls and yellow balls with play dough. Help your child make a patterned caterpillar body. Green, yellow, green...
  • Give your child bowls and a wooden spoon to “make dinner” as you’re making dinner.
  • Choose a letter. Ask your child to find as many objects as they can that start with that letter.
  • Play restaurant with your child using recycled containers and leaves for “food.”
  • Put together a puzzle together as a family.


Communty Partner Spotlight
Bananas Bunch 

BANANAS offers monthly workshops, classes, and support groups to help parents approach the child care selection process, improve their parenting skills, and learn new coping tactics for a range of issues.

Early Learning - SING

In my recent reading of Land of Cranes by local author Aida Salazar,  I came across a passage where a mother wants to teach children in a detention center. Someone commented  but they have no pen or paper!  Never mind that. They have their voices. They would learn through song just as the enslaved learned about a path to freedom by Follow[ing] the Drinking Gourd. 

Singing helps children hear the sounds that make up words.  



  • Sing the A-B-C song, nursery rhymes, funny songs or any songs you like. 
  • Clap to the rhythm. 
  • Clap to mark the number of syllables.  
    See video
  • Sing songs in any language.  
    See video
  • Singing is a powerful way to connect you and your child to the world’s cultures.



Download kid friendly music from HOOPLA


  • Sing as you do everyday things together, such as making breakfast or going to the store. 
  • Sing “If you’re happy and you know it, wash your hands” while scrubbing for the recommended 20 seconds. 

Is there a favorite song you remember from your childhood?