Entertaining kids in this fast paced world is getting more and more difficult. The days of card board box trains and building forts in the back yard have been replaced with a consistent influx of digital media bombarding children from the house to the car. If you and your children are disillusioned with with video game and television entertainment but are struggling to find inexpensive age appropriate activities here are five hidden hotspots for family entertainment in your neighborhood.
Utilize your local community both county and city wide; local governments spend tax dollars to discover and fund ways to entertain you and your family. In efforts to ensure that local communities are thriving and to draw more families to the area, your county/city is actively planning cultural and family events. You can often find clown performances or ice cream socials at your local park; open plays at your local gymnasium or city center; and even moonlight music on your riverfront (good for a free date night)! Visit your city and county webpage to take advantage of events in your surrounding neighborhoods also. While you’re browsing be sure to check out the city’s Parks-and-Recreation webpage which will also list parades, firework shows, carnivals, and other local festivities.
If you are looking to introduce your child to the arts, get in touch with your local museum and inquire about their children’s activities. Again, in efforts to increase visitor traffic, your local museum offers a number of classes and events that are often free or of minimal cost. Art museums usually provide drawing or painting sessions for toddlers and young children – allowing your children to express their artistic tendencies without finger painting on your freshly mopped tile floor. Science museums provide interactive experiments in their classrooms. Children’s museums usually provide free passes to the schools that are made available to the parents . And most museums offer guided tours of their exhibits geared toward specific age groups. Some museums even offer summer camps!
Another great resource is your local library. Mastering literacy at an early age is not only a significant developmental milestone, it is essential for success even in mundane daily events. Today, libraries have moved beyond just story times to teaching literacy through multiple forms of age appropriate media . Although, not every activity will suit your needs as different events are geared towards different age groups, libraries have made great strides to increase their community appeal. I have found interactive puppet shows, “carnival” type festivals, and even live music shows for your babies, toddlers, and young kids. For your older children many libraries offer SAT prep classes, tutoring, even Driver’s Ed. Check out your counties library webpage for a list of age appropriate events. Events often differ at each location so you can make the “rounds” and have an activity for everyday.
If you are still searching for ideas, your local baby store is an undiscovered treasure when it comes to activities for you and your baby and toddler. As a clever marketing strategy, many baby stores offer in-store classes and events that are often times, free or of little cost. While all stores vary, you may find lactation classes, infant CPR, even pre and post natal yoga. In addition to classes, I have found many stores that offer age-appropriate story times and open plays…even “Mommy and Me” style classes. These are often ideal ways to spend the morning because they do not require a steep financial or time commitment and they are geared towards the needs of both you and your child. Ask for a calendar of events next time you stop in for binky.
Finally, investigate your area school district. Many districts offer community classes at very low rates. They range from “Mommy and Me” classes for babies and toddlers to reasonably prices tennis or ballet lessons for walking age and above. If you are looking to do something for yourself and your partner will watch the kids – look into a class for yourself. These life-long learning programs run cooking, computer, foreign language, ballroom dance, and even cake decorating curriculums.
Getting out of the house, enjoying the fresh air, and involving you and your family in your local community is a great way to build neighborhood and family morale. Take advantage of your tax dollars and enjoy wholesome education fun for the family whole tuckering out the kiddies.
Kate Cahill is the owner of Never OutGrown an upscale baby resale and consignment boutique and the Never OutGrown blog documenting the life of a new mom. She is dedicated to providing money saving tips to families to enrich their lives. She is a graduated of the University of Florida and is working on her masters in Non-Profit Public Administration. You may contact her directly at [email protected]
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