Kids these days, I tell ya -- they've got it so easy, and they don't even know it. Why, when I was in school, not only did we have to walk uphill both ways, but we also had to watch boring, poorly produced science programming. Nowadays, youngsters have all kinds of interesting shows to watch on television, not to mention on those newfangled CD-ROMs, DVDs, and what-have-you: Bill Nye the Science Guy, for example, and The Magic School Bus.
For the grade-school set, the "Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm" exhibit uses the program's kooky characters -- Ms. Frizzle, Ralphie, Keesha, and their pals -- to explain the ideas behind meteorology and the basic principles of weather. Experience Tim's Hot Backyard and Dorothy Ann's Ring Around the Seasons, build a snowflake, create your own weather instruments, and be sure to get to the weather observatory, where young'uns can see a re-creation of a thunderstorm. We never got good stuff like this when I was a whippersnapper (grumble, grumble). The exhibit continues through Sept. 7 at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds (at Fort Baker), Sausalito. Admission is $7; call 487-4398 or visit www.baykidsmuseum.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser
Altfamily Love makes a picnic
There's nothing more traditionally American than a family picnic on the Fourth of July, and there's nothing more traditionally San Franciscan than doing something completely untraditional.
The Fourth of July Alternative Family Picnic is certainly not traditional: Families with two dads or two moms, or made up of a bunch of friends or even those surly people you met on Muni last month -- all can pack a picnic lunch and celebrate the kinds of kinship that make San Francisco, and America, such a diverse place. Take part in kids' games, enjoy puppet shows, and get down to the sounds of the world's first openly gay musical group, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. It's a great way to celebrate the nation's independence, and an even better way to remind ourselves that America's colors include more than just red, white, and blue. Picnicgoers can dig in at 11 a.m. at the Yerba Buena Center's Esplanade Gardens at Third and Mission streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 543-1718 or visit www.ybae.org. -- Jack Karp
Let the not-too-wild rumpus start! Gen X-ers probably know Weston Woods best for transforming Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are from a children's picture book to an animated film. But there's more to love about the Connecticut film company, which has been producing family-friendly book-to-film adaptations (and, more recently, books on audiocassettes, videos, and DVDs) since the 1950s. The Rafael Film Center celebrates Weston Woods' 50th Anniversary with a compilation of classics like Make Way for Ducklings along with titles today's tiny ones will recognize: Space Case and Chrysanthemum. Screenings start at 1 p.m. at 1118 Fourth St. (at A), San Rafael. Admission is $5.75-6; call 454-1222 or visit cafilm.org/rafael_calendar.html. -- Joyce Slaton
"It will be," reads a famously cranky bumper sticker, "a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." A very funny friend once suggested razoring off everything after the word "money." It's not a great day when communities have to hold bake sales to help kids eat, but on the other hand, think of the fresh Rice Krispies Treats! The Great American Bake Sale starts at 10 a.m. at Fort Mason, Building A, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free; call (650) 344-0878 or visit www.greatamericanbakesale.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser