- Family and Parenting»
Fun Activites That Even Your Toddler Will Enjoy - And Yes, They're Free!
Being a stay-at-home unemployed (in the sense that I don't receive a weekly paycheck - and only in that sense) mother to two busy toddlers, I don't have to tell you the sacrifices that have been made to survive off of a single income.
My husband works two jobs just to make ends meet, and under these circumstances there's very little money left over to fund outside entertainment for our children. So what's a mother to do?
Well, I took matters in my own hands and with the use of the Internet, my local newspaper, my local television news stations, and the advice from other stay-at-home mommies, I found an abundance of fun activities for my busy toddlers - and yes, they're all free!
Here are twelve toddler tested, mommy approved picks:
* Toddler Story-Time At Your Local Library.
At several of our local libraries, special days are set aside for toddler story-time.
This thirty minute, weekly morning program doesn't just consists of a librarian assistant reading two or three short stories to the tots, they also get the kids up and moving with music and accompanying instruments.
Each week features a new theme such as trees, frogs, or friendship. And at the conclusion of each program, all are encouraged to check out reading material to read at home. Honestly, I believe we parents have just as much fun as (if not more) the kids do.
Check with your local library to see if they offer any such programs.
* Barnes and Nobles Story-time.
Another great place that provides story-time for toddlers is Barnes and Nobles bookstore.
Every Wednesday at 11:00 A.M., the sales associate responsible for the children's book section, reads at least two stories to the little ones.
After each reading session, activities such as coloring or age appropriate crafts are introduced.
For thirty minutes your toddler is entertained and educated alongside others of their own age.
On occasion, popular children's book/television characters such as Curious George, Winnie the Pooh and the like, make special appearances and give the kids the thrill of their lives.
Check with your local Barnes and Nobles (or other retail book store chain) book store to see if they offer this program.
* Free Museum Days.
Every first Saturday of each month, one of our local museums offers a hands on program for toddlers that include a free museum tour, followed by great arts and crafts activities.
Each month features a different theme corresponding to the month or special holidays going on at that time. In addition to helping toddlers express their creativity and artistic side, this program helps mom and dad engender a love of the arts in their little ones.
* Book Festivals.
Annual book festivals are held locally in our town every November. This exciting book festival is free to the public, and brings out some of the most renown authors of children's book.
Last year Marc Brown, creator and author of PBS Kids Arthur, Mo Willems, author of Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, as well as Miss Rosa of the weekday mornings on PBS Kids were special guests.
Finger and face painting, author readings and signings, games, kids characters, programs that involve kids participation, petting zoos, and lots of cool freebies are also provided.
An annual book festival truly provides hours and hours of great fun and educational activities for the kiddies.
* Fire Stations And Cookie Factory Tours.
A simple call to your local fire station or cookie/bread factory, will put you on the path to giving your toddlers a thrill of a lifetime.
Not only will they be dazzled by the bright fire engines, or the long cookie conveyor belt, they'll also get a crash course on the inner and outer workings of a fire-station and cookie or bread factory.
If they are so fortunate, they may get to climb on and sit in the firetruck, or savor free cookie or bread samples. The only drawback with these tours is, that they only provide group tours.
So if you know other moms with toddlers, why not get them together and take a tour you won't soon forget.
* Local Park Activities.
Our local park offers great programs for toddlers as well. Tea-time for mommy and daughters, arts and crafts days (featuring a variety of age-appropriate crafts), yoga classes for mommy and toddlers, picnic in the park day, doggie races - just to name a few.
A great way to find out what activities your local park has to offer, involves a simple call to their branch for an up-to-date listing.
* Local State Park Activities.
Several times in the month, our local state park provides families with free activities that the whole family will enjoy.
Activities such as nighttime frog listening, reptile and amphibian lessons, arts and crafts, and guided nature trail tours are hosted by the parks representatives.
Simply call up your local state parks; request to be added to their e-mail list; and you'll get a monthly e-mail keeping you up to date concerning their activities.
* Local Interactive Water Fun Activities.
Many towns provide families and their kids with free access to interactive water fountains that are perfect for keeping kids cool during the summer months.
If you are not in the mood to go to the pool, check to see if your town or city have interactive water fountains available.
Enjoy a day in the park!
* Local Arts and Craft Store Activities.
As a norm, most major arts and craft stores such as Jo-Ann's, Micheal's, and AC-Moores request a small fee for their biweekly or monthly arts and craft programs.
However, on few occasions they will offer free programs that (if you register in time since some classes are size limited) you and your toddler can enjoy.
Simply call your local arts and craft store to see if they offer a program like this one.
* Local Pet Stores and Pet Shelters.
Kids just love animals, and taking them to your local pet store or pet shelter offers them a chance to visit with all the cute, furry little creatures at their own leisure.
* Free Movie Days and Nights.
During the summer months, our local participating movie theater offered free movie showings every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:00 A.M.
Although it was offered on a first-come-first-serve basis, if you were fortunate enough to get in, you and your toddler were presented with showings of older movies such as Charlotte's Web or Kung Fu Panda.
It was a great way to stay cool and keep your toddlers entertained for an hour or so.
Once the summer movie program was over; with library card in hand; you can check out age appropriate movies from your local library establishment.
* No-Brainier Activities.
Simple no-brainier activities such as a day in the park, visiting your local mall's soft-play, or letting your toddler play with the train-set at your local Barnes and Nobles bookstore, are great fun and money-free activities for your toddlers as well.
Realistically, with money as tight as it is, it has become extremely vital to search for ways to drastically cut cost.
Fortunately however, with this list of free activities in hand, your toddler's fun filled days will escape the financial chopping block.
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