Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Preschooler's Staycation

Last week was Spring Break in our area and it seems everyone read the same "Staycations are Fun!" memo. All local attractions resembled madhouses, with the zoos and aquariums reporting record-breaking visitor numbers (17,000 anyone??).

We stayed far away from such places, because crowds and curious preschoolers are not generally my cup of tea. We also stayed away because our schedule is still quite flexible due to the fact "school" only occurs two days a week here at casa de phillips.

In light of the Staycation's new-found popularity, I thought I would provide a list of potential free/cheap activities one might find in their area that would be entertaining to the preschool crowd.

*Local library.
Storytime at the local library is a big draw for the preschool and parents crowd. It provides a engaging and educational scene for one’s little tike and a chance for mom or dad to socialize with fellow parents. However, the library also holds great possibilities during its quieter hours. Hours when the aisles are free of other patrons, when computers are vacant, and when all the best plush seats are itching for someone to come and read a book there.

*Local Farmers Market
As Spring has come upon us, I cannot wait for the Farmers' Markets to begin opening their doors (stalls? Tents?) in a few weeks. Visiting a farmers' market is a great way to introduce your children to new and exciting produce and to also teach them about the man/woman behind such delicious treats.

*Museums on Discount days
Museums are great ways to entertain one's brood, but they can start to become quite costly when having to pay for four or five family members. Check their websites for discount or half-price days at local museums. Also, consider purchasing memberships if planning on frequenting a particular museum on a regular basis.

*Free Children’s Workshops
Lowe's, Home Depot, and Michaels all hold free workshops for children. Most of these are designed for children ages three and up. This is a great way to spend some quality time with one's child on a Saturday morning learning a new skill.

*Free first time class passes
Several local kiddie gyms, such as Gymboree or My Gym, allow parents to bring their children in for a free class. Because joining one of these gyms can be pricey, it is nice to have the option of trying them on for size before buying a package of classes

*Off-Hours Attractions
Try to visit "hot" kiddie spots, such as kid themed restaurants or indoor play areas, during off-hours times. We have found that hitting up the mall play area at 9am is a great way to enjoy all the fun slides and attractions without the 11am crowds. Do your kids love visiting Chuck E. Cheese or similar eating establishments? Some of these restaurants open early (again...9am) and can be enjoyed without having to fork over the money for entertainment and food.

What places do you love to visit that are fun for kids and friendly to your wallet?


Paige said...

THanks for my surprise! We can definitely use changes in our home. You are such a great blogger Lynley! I love to see what you are going to write about next!

Jennifer Reinsch said...

Lakeshore Learning also has free crafts every Saturday.

Jennifer Reinsch said...

Also, do you know when G&G are heading towards Dallas again?

The Binkley Family said...

Unfortunately, we have very little for kids in the "small town". We tend to just do playdates or meet at the park.

I miss all of those luxuries of the city!!!!

Robin said...

Thanks for some great ideas!

We love us some Dallas Arboretum...I get a membership as my Mother's Day gift each year. Similar ideas would be state parks or local hiking/biking trails where kids can be outside and can explore nature beyond their own backyards (esp. nice since our own backyard is extremely small!).


kate m. said...

We go to the park a lot as well as the beach in the summer. Otherwise, we also follow a lot of your suggestions here. Also, we have found that places we tend to frequent such as our local aquarium and our zoo offer year-long memberships for reasonable prices, so we pay the yearly fee and go as often as we like!