You always drop your kids off at class and hear all about it later, secretly wishing you could have stayed to learn right along with them. What happened to the Parent and Me classes, for kids aren’t toddlers anymore? Whether you want to be schooled on zoo animals or cupcake-decorating, here are 7 great classes where moms and dads can expand their skills and knowledge with their kids.

Duffs Cakemixphoto: Duff’s Cakemix via Yelp

Learn the Art of Cake-Decorating at Duff’s Cakemix
You can never go wrong with cake. So when it comes to academia, cake-decorating is a class in which sweet-toothed kiddos will gladly enroll. And there’s no better place to do it than at Duff’s Cakemix, a West Hollywood baking studio founded by Food Network culinary star Duff Goldman (he’s the star of the network’s “Ace of Cakes,” and “Duff ’til Dawn”).

Purchase a one-hour session at Duff’s, and you and  your little sugar artists can beautify a pre-baked batch of six cupcakes or a single three-layer round cake. You’ll get everything you need to create a yummy masterpiece, from loads of buttercream frosting and candy toppers to tools, aprons, gloves, cookie cutters, and molds—plus guidance from the Duff’s Cakemix team. For $20 more, an expert Duff decorator will come to your table and help make your creation even cooler.

Cost: $28 for a Cupcake Kit (includes 6 pre-baked unfrosted cupcakes, 3 buttercream colors, 2 fondant ball colors; and 2 goodie bar scoops); $34 for a Cake Kit (includes 1 pre-baked three-layer round cake filled with buttercream & covered with a fondant canvas; 3 buttercream colors, 2 fondant ball colors; and 2 goodie bar scoops).

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 12:30-7:30 p.m.; Friday, 12:30-8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Duff’s Cakemix
8302 Melrose Ave.
West Hollywood

skirballculturalcenter20150816tn-9817photo: Timothy Norris / Courtesy of Skirball Cultural Center

Get Artsy at the Skirball Center
Make your (and your child’s) world a little bit bigger. Drop into the Skirball Center’s Family Art Studio to create philanthropic crafts inspired by the museum’s exhibitions. All projects are designed to reinforce the Skirball’s overall values of community, collaboration and caring for the world around us. Parents are welcome to make something alongside their little ones, and everyone gets an intro lesson (and help, if needed) from the artists and helpers working at the studio. Upcoming art projects include:

—November 5-27: “Peace Prints.” Create and take home your own print, and add one to our communal “peace chain” installation.

—December 3–31: “Animals That Pop!” Create a portrait of your favorite animal using materials inspired by the colors and patterns of artist Roy Lichtenstein.


Cost: Free with museum admission ($7/children 2-12, $9/senior and $12/adult).

When: Saturdays & Sundays, except December 18; then the winter schedule changes to: Tuesday-Sunday, December 20-January 8, except December 25 and January 1.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
West LA

family-zoophoto: Jamie Pham/ Courtesy of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Go Wild With Family Classes at the Los Angeles Zoo
Sometimes our little animal lovers stump us with questions about their favorite species. Forget Google; you can learn the answers along with your Dr. Doolittle when you take a class together at Los Angeles Zoo that is taught by the zoo’s own guides. Newly introduced last year, these 90-minute classes aim to teach families a little about the zoo’s resident animals. Each class tackles a different question: How do various animals camouflage (and why?) How do different animals prepare for winter? What sorts of wildlife can we find in Southern California’s own back yards? Once your brood is schooled on the wild side, stick around and enjoy a day at the zoo; admission is included in the cost of the class.

Cost: $10 per person for zoo members; $20 per adult/$15 per child (ages 2–12), non-members; Children under 2 get in free.

When: 9:30 a.m. on select Saturdays

Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr.
Griffith Park

kitchen-kid-photo-shootphoto: Melinda Roth Photography/ Kitchen Kid

Learn to Cook with Kitchen Kid
Maybe your homemade meals are limited to grilled cheese and chicken nuggets; maybe your kid eats vegetables as often as she reads the dictionary. Whatever the case, a private cooking class with the Santa Monica-based Kitchen Kid will broaden your culinary repertoire and—if you’re lucky—make even the pickiest of eaters a little more daring.

We say all the time that kids who make food in the kitchen are much more likely to eat it,” said Kitchen Kid founder Samantha Barnes (a former Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Award winner!). “No matter what it is, once they are exposed to it and are touching it and smelling it and experiencing it in its raw state, when it comes down to the finished product, they are really excited to eat it.” 

Kids and parents will learn how to cook a predetermined main course, side, and dessert before sitting down for a very special family-made dinner. Lessons include all food, most materials (she provides the bowls, age-appropriate cutting tools, cutting boards, and aprons), set-up, and clean-up.

Cost: $300 for a 2-hour lesson in your home (price is for a family-of-four; add $50 for each additional participant). Gift certificates are available.


happy-baby-headstand-e1459785052378photo: Happy Baby

Loosen Up With Yoga Classes for Families
Let go of weekday worries and let your whole family say “Ohm” at Happy Baby‘s whole family yoga classes, offered every Saturday and Sunday at the charming El Segundo studio. Grown-ups will appreciate the peace (but maybe not quiet) as they and their little ones stretch and flow through various yoga sequences; kids will enjoy the animated breathing exercises and child-centered relaxation techniques.  Then bring the zen home with you for your own morning family practice.

Mamas with little girls can also enjoy some quality Ohm-time together at Happy Baby’s monthly Mother-Daughter Partner Yoga class, where mom-daughter pairs can learn yoga poses to relax, have fun, and stretch together.

Cost: $22 for a drop-in class; $100 for a 5-class pack; $190 for a 10-class pack; $340 for a 20-class pack; or $140 a month for unlimited classes. Class membership includes parent and child.

When: 9 a.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m. Sundays.

Happy Baby
353 Main St.
El Segundo.

sunset-walksphoto: J Lokshotz via Flickr

Learn From Rangers While You Hike
To take a hike, watch the sunset, and see the stars, all with your family in tow. Make a date to attend a Sunset Walk and Talk around the Griffith Observatory, led by park rangers and a Griffith Observatory guide. Kids over age 5 shouldn’t have a problem keeping up with this slow-paced, half-mile hike, which starts on the observatory’s West Terrace and proceeds up the Charlie Turner trail to the Berlin Forest on the hill just north of the Observatory (hello, big views). The trail is moderately steep, but hikers make several stops along the way to talk about the history of Griffith Park and any objects visible in the evening sky.

Cost: Free

When: Monthly on Tuesdays (check the observatory’s website for specific times).

The Griffith Observatory (West Terrace)
2800 East Observatory Rd.
Griffith Park

20993923886_4db59a3f3e_bphoto: TreePeople

Moonlight Hikes, Family Tours and Drought Workshops
If your kids aren’t afraid of the dark, grab your flashlights and take them on a moonlit hike through Coldwater Canyon Park, courtesy of the tree-saving folks at TreePeople. These one-hour hikes guide kids of all ages along a network of wide trails to see what the forest is like after the sun sets. Newbie hikers are welcome; plenty of stops will be made along the way while guides point out local plant life and explain TreePeople’s mission to preserve urban forests. Remember to bring layers, hiking shoes, and a flashlight; things quickly get cold and dark when the sun sets.

If you and your brood would rather hit the trails in daylight, TreePeople also offers family tours every fourth Sunday of the month. Geared toward the younger set, this tour includes a visit to the “Dirt Doctor’s Laboratory” to learn about the magic of mulch, as well as a peek inside TreePeople’s urban watershed garden for a live demonstration of how rainwater flows. Participants will also learn how to make a drought-smart garden and will plant a native tree seed to take home.  For bigger kids, on the first Saturday of the month there’s also a Drought Solutions workshop that goes into more detail about water conservation and native plants that don’t require lots of water.

Cost: Moonlit walks are $5 per person, children under 5 are free (pre-registration is required); Family Tours are $25 for a family of three, $5 per additional family member (pre-registration required); Drought Solution Workshops are free.

When: Moonlit hikes begin at 7:30 p.m. on the third Friday of every month, with live music beginning about an hour before the hike; Family Tours are at 10 a.m. on the fourth Sunday of every month; and Drought Solution Workshops are at 10 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month.

12601 Mulholland Dr.
Beverly Hills

Do you have a favorite family learning adventure?  Let us know about it in the comment section!

—Melissa Heckscher