Fall fun with Toddlers
Ideas for places to go in the fall with toddlers that are fun for both mom and baby.
Cheap Dates with a Toddler
by Janelle Durham, PEPS Program Designer
First, I have to say that I love my children with all my heart. But… if I’m stuck at home with a toddler or preschooler all day, it makes me crazy! Out of the house, we play and laugh together. In the house, I spend all my time just thinking that if only they would entertain themselves for a little while, I could actually get “something important” done. So, I’m always looking for options for cheap and accessible entertainment. And I know I’m not the only one.
Here are some things you can do with a child from about 4 months to 4 years, mostly for $4 or less. They are all great opportunities for your child to learn about the world, and make new discoveries.
Favorite Indoor Activities
Library Story Times: They’re free. They’re available several times a week at all libraries, they build early literacy skills and school readiness, and they’re fun! I like them so much, I wrote a whole article about them for a previous PEPS newsletter, which you can find here.
Toddler Indoor Play Areas: These are held at almost all community centers, from September through May. They set out balls, hula hoops, toy cars and more big motor play options in the gym, and your kids can run around and get lots of energy out. Seattle’s Indoor Playgrounds typically cost $2 – 4.
Take a Bus, Light Rail or the Ferry: If you don’t regularly use these, you can convince your child that these rides are almost as good as Disneyland! For the bus, plan a short simple outing at non-peak travel times, and get a transfer when you board – you’ll be able to ride back out for the single fare. On light rail, you can go on a scavenger hunt for the public art at their stations.
For ferry trips, you can make a plan for your destination, or just focus on enjoying the journey – ride across the water, get off the ferry and walk for a few minutes, then get right back on for the return trip. On the boat, there’s plenty of room to walk/run, easy snacks, an ever-changing view, and jigsaw puzzles!
Car Counting:Whenever we have a few minutes of waiting for his sister to finish up at school, my toddler son LOVES to just stand at the street corner saying “Car! Car! Truck! Car! Bus!” as the vehicles pass by. I use it as a chance to teach him new words: “red car”, “big bus”, “loud motorcycle” and so on.
Washing the Car: Whether you wash it by hand, or go through a car wash, this can be a thrill.
Train Spotting: If you see a train passing by, count the cars, talk about colors, talk about what might be inside the train cars and where they might be going.
Horse Viewing: Head out to Bridle Trails State Park in Bellevue. You can walk the trails, or go to the arena area and you’re likely to see horses being put through their paces.
Farm Parks: Farrell McWhirter in Redmond, and Kelsey Creek in Bellevue are two parks that feature farm animals. Check out chickens, sheep, bunnies, cows, and goats.
Watching the Fishies: Toddlers are easily mesmerized by watching fish swim by – keep your eye out for fish tanks!
People at Work and People at Play
Construction Sites and other Big Equipment: Kids LOVE watching construction vehicles at work.
Band Practice: Listen for a school nearby that has marching band practice (or drum team) outdoors on the football field. It can be a great show to watch from the bleachers.
Sport Practices and Ball Games: Every Saturday, all year round, in parks all over Western Washington, there’s a free show called Soccer! You can drop in and watch any level of play from pee-wee soccer on up.
Places to Eat
Sushi-go-round: If you have a baby who is not-yet-mobile, try having lunch or dinner at a sushi bar with a conveyor belt that goes round and round. This can be a great mesmerizing distraction for your child, and it’s a quick meal.
Our Next Adventure
A friend recommended something we haven’t had the chance to check out yet: Cedar River Watershed Education Center outside North Bend. She said it’s best on a rainy day, because there’s a rain garden where the rain plays water drums.
About the Author
Janelle Durham consults on curriculum planning, developing PEPS topics guides, gathering educational resources for PEPS leaders and participants and implementing outcome evaluations. Her goal is to ensure every parent has the best PEPS experience possible! Janelle is a social worker, labor support doula, postpartum doula, lactation consultant, and childbirth educator. She has been involved with PEPS as a volunteer since 1993