There’s that magical spacing between kids where you just can’t quite seem to take them to the same activity. Yep, somewhere around that 3 year spread, one’s either too old or too young, but never “just right.” The plus side: those college tuition years are gonna rock. The downside: shuttling kids between activities, and entertaining one while the other plays, dances, karate chops, or tries her hand at some underwater basket weaving. If only there was a place for everyone in your brood. But wait, what’s this? Activities that actually bridge the gap between too old and too young? We’ll take two, please! Check out these faves for kids up to age five. Then grab your two (or three… or four…) and go!
Creative pre-schoolers can get their craft on during the Open Studio time at Young At Art in West Seattle. These studio walls contain three rooms bursting with arty color and flavor waiting to entice the little ones. In the main room, kidlets can always work at the bead table, or they can choose from a number of pre-designed art projects for creative little minds, like pumpkin watercolor coffee filters or a seasonal scarecrow project. The recycle room just down the hall is a builder’s dream, as budding artists use duct tape, tape and glue guns to create new art from recycled art. It’s a blast for everyone! But the most intriguing room in this studio has got to be the paint room. It’s a haven of splatters, strokes and splotches from day’s past and present. Just put on a smock and take to the walls (or ceiling or floor for that matter) with paintbrushes, trucks and even rubber balls dripping with paint. And it’s easy to keep on eye on all your charges in this smaller studio. No matter where you are, your wee one is a just a quick glance away. So you can join in the fun rather than chase after everyone!
Young At Art
Seattle, Wa 98136
Cost: $10/hr for ages 2-5; $15/hr for ages 6-10; under 2 free
When: Tuesdays – Fridays, 9:30 am – 2:30 pm
Read a “Hot” Story
It’s that time of year again! The time where the firefighters take to the libraries to spread the word about fire safety. Oh firefighter story time, how we do love you! It’s a great place to take mini me’s of all ages. One room, one book and plenty of hands-on activities are just what the doctor ordered for the 1-5 age group. This year, the firefighters will be reading the story No Dragon for Tea. A delightful tale about a dragon and an unfortunate sneeze that, you guessed it, paves the way for some fire safety fact telling that appeals to the younger set. Plus, who can resist those uniforms? The firefighters don theirs (masks, tanks and all) so that the tot lot know just who to run to in case of a fire. And they top it all off with a trip to the fire truck, parked outside. A little exploration, a little snack, and it’ll be nap time (for both of them, we hope!) before you know it. Just be sure to check the calendar to find out when firefighter story time comes to a library near you!
Firefighter Story Time
Various public libraries throughout Seattle
When: During the month of October
Sandbox Sports’ Li’l Diggers Playtime is the hangout of choice among the 5 and under crowd. And it’s quite the parent favorite too. Because with clean sand and toys you don’t have to pack yourself, it’s pretty hard to beat. The 90-minute play sessions held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are an easy way to entertain two or more kidlets, especially on a rainy fall day. Pack a snack in the diaper bag, or just grab one while you’re there (they’ve got a whole slew of munchies and drinks for sale), then find a seat for a short beach-play break. Oh, and the best part about this beach? It’s got walls. Your escape artists can’t get too far away from you, or tag team you by running in opposite directions here. Play with them in the sand or watch from the sidelines. You’ll always have a perfect view!
5955 Airport Way South
Seattle, Wa 98108
When: Mondays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, 9:30 am – 11:00 am or 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Whatever sib combo you’re towing, you’ll love the Indoor Playground at Seattle Gymnastics Academy. Their colorful, safe and open play space makes it easy to keep an eye on the kidlets as they bounce, spring and jump their way through the hour-long play session. The tumble track and the foam pit are tot lot faves, but the other equipment is open too. The kiddos will have a chance to practice balance on the bars and even hop around or play under the parachute on the tumbling mats. Comfy clothes, tied back hair and a little snack for later are all must-remembers on this journey with the wee ones. Oh, and if possible, sign the waiver online before going. Then let them roam free!
Good to know: In the spirit of giving, the price of Tuesday’s Indoor Playground at the Columbia City location is just $2 plus a non-perishable food item. Bouncing and bettering your community? Now that’s awesome!
Seattle Gymnastics Academy
Locations in Ballard, Columbia City, and Lake City
Cost: $6/ session; $4/session if registered for class with SGA
When: Daily, times dependent on location
Get in Tune
Jana Vitols has been bringing a love of music to Seattle’s mini maestros and their parents for 14 years. And her Music for Everyone classes are a great place to take sibs for a little weekly music appreciation. Through creative play, instrument and sound exploration, the tot lot learns lots about the instruments that Jana plays. She’s like a regular Steve Martin over here on the banjo, guitar and ukulele. And the Littles will soon be digging that folky music. Parents stay to play and can participate if they’d like, while younger sibs can play at their own speed (psst… tots 2 and under are free!). So if a nap in the corner is what’s needed, they’re welcome to it. Or they can sing and dance alongside big bro or big sis. Get ready for the next generation of the Jackson 5!
Music for Everyone
Various locations throughout Seattle
Cost: $125 – $160
When: 8 and 10 weeks series; September – November & October—December
Learn a New Language
When it comes to learning a language, kids are like sponges. So for the little sponges in your life, there’s Polly-Glot Tots. A language school for kiddos that’s focused on total physical response and acquisition, to teach Mandarin, French, Japanese or Spanish (but sadly no Klingon) to those 5 and under. Each class uses creative games, music, dance and stories to build language awareness and real-world language skills in their students. Before your know it, your polyglot will be counting to ten in Mandarin. Just try to keep up! And a sibling discount makes this a good one for your pair. Plus, Polly Glot Tots has locations throughout the city, so it’s easy to find a class nearby. How do you say, “that’s awesome” in Japanese anyway?
3505 NE 140th Street
Seattle, Wa 98125
When: Dates and times vary by class location; various locations throughout Seattle
Who of us could use a little more play in her life? Time with friends, sharing toys (maybe), reading books and crafting. Sounds like an awesome gal pal date, or a great playdate for the many kiddos in your life. If play’s what you need, head on over to Third Place Books on Wednesdays for just that. Sponsored by the Center for Human Services, this weekly playtime, that uses the Kaleidoscope Play and Learn model, is held on the stage, where parents will find some good conversation. And the kidlets can find each other, along with some games and crafts. They have fun, you have fun, all in one small area. So no one gets lost or ducks out of sight when you’re otherwise occupied. And the fun doesn’t have to stop when the playtime does. Stay to browse the children’s section when you’re done. Your kiddos will thank you, even if your wallet doesn’t!
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, Wa 98155
When: Wednesdays from 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Be sure to check out Play & Learn at the Neighborhood House. It’s another great playtime for sibs (ages 0-5) and parents on the south end. And it’s also free!
Do you have a favorite place to take your two or three or more? Share it with us in a comment below.
Photos thanks to: Raul Campoverde, Erin Cranston, Seattle Gymnastics Academy -Ballard Facebook page, Young at Art Facebook page, Polly Glot Tots’ Facebook page, Seattle Fire Department, Karen Stensrude Huling