Tag Archives: sandbox

Camping in Maine

We (Alex, Jen, Mama Angelika, and Bella the dog) went for a 7 day camping trip to Maine. This post is a cross between telling the stories, writing down the suggestions for making it work as a resource, and memos to myself for what to do different for the next time.

Driving

Google said it would take just under 4 hours to get from our house to the campground. It took 5 1/2 with pee stop, snack stop, pee stop, ice-cream stop, pee stop. That’s a long time for two active kids to sit, so I had prepped heavily with a lap table, picture books, coloring books, treasure hunt, and audio books.

The car tables I got were the Star Kids Snack and Play Travel Tray – which just sits on their lap and buckles around the back of the car seat. I loaded up the pockets on either side with drink bottle, snacks, crayons, and small coloring book.

The audio books I had with me were Bad Jelly The WitchandMagic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8on CD on loan from the Library. Alex in particular was very interested by the Tree House books and listened to the whole lot over the week.

Hint: I also found lots of audio books that could be borrowed for 2 weeks through the online loan system that lets you download files to your media player.

The drive went really quite well. The trickiest part was getting everyone to agree they had everything packed. Bella the dog had the front passenger seat and tried to lie down – often pushing the gear stick from D to N. I initiated a pit-stop every time they got restless, which is a change from other travels where I tried to make it to a certain place before stopping. Here I just figured that the main goal was to keep everyone happy – even if it took us an hour longer.

Campground

Several friends had recommended Searsport Shores Ocean Campground as a child-friendly, fun place to take young children. The more I read on their website, the more excited I got – they were writing about their goats, organic gardens, resident artists, and activities on the beach.

Wobbly bridges at the playground

Wobbly bridges at the playground

And it was even better than I had hoped for. There was a huge playground they had built themselves, and which was therefore interesting. There was a really nice play room with a cozy book corner (if you can call that many shelves a corner) with good books, a fireplace, and a shop for ice-cream (and various fiber arts and camping supplies).

The bathrooms were spotless, there were free hot showers, and even a handicapped stall, which is good for wrestling kids into the shower. There are also lots of washing machines and dryers. Turns out this is very useful if your theoretically potty-trained 3 year old has an accident and pees in her sleeping bag. Sigh.

The campground also has lots of gardens full of interesting plants for eating and dyeing. There are lots of sculptures, wood carvings, and little treasures to discover in the forests. And an amazing art studio occupied by a rotating cast of artists-in-residence.

Campsite

I chose a campsite where we could also park. The campground has sites where you have to walk a couple of hundred feet from car to campsite, but this seemed like a lot of hassle with little kids. Our campsite was shaded and all round really lovely. It had several trees where we built Fairy Houses, a fire pit (wood for sale at office), and a water faucet 10 yards away. The toilets ended up being a little bit too far for us. Next time we’ll get a closer site, and with electricity so I can recharge my phone.

Good things I brought for the campsite:

  • potty – even though both Alex and Jen are totally potty trained, sometimes we still get the “I have to go potty NOOOOWWWWWW!” and then it was good to have only a couple of feet to go. I have the Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus, Blue with disposable inserts.
  • 10 different flashlights – variety is the spice of life here, apparently
  • 100 glow sticks – each kid got 4-6 glow sticks each night as a night light
  • wet wipes for when the kids refused to get washed in the shower
  • bikes – Alex tore up the campground riding back and forth and we managed to get to places (bathroom) without spending 30 minutes trying to drag dragging feet.

Arts

Turns out the Searsport Shores Ocean Campground has artists that stay there for a whole week and provide activities for the whole family in the custom Studio.

Check out the schedule for this year:

Week of: Artist in Residence Activities
June 23-29 Tom Cote Wood carving and whittling
June 30-July 6 TBA Ocean learning adventures
July 7-13 Barbara Andrus Weaving a Shorefront structure from twigs and driftwood
July 14-20 Blake Henderickson Wood Block Buffet
July 21-27 Susan Tobey White & Jeannie Painting, drawing and seeing
July 28- Aug 3 Ellen Mason Playing with Dyes and Yarn and Fabric
Aug 4-10 Steven Scheurer Chain Maille, Macramé & Caricatures
Aug 11-17 Maryly Mathewman Seaside Quilting and Color play for all ages
Aug 18-24 TBA
Aug 25-31 TBA
September 1-8 Fiber College 4 days of amazing fiber classes, demos, vendors and happiness

Pretty awesome!!!

Dyeing with EllenWe got there halfway through Ellen Mason‘s week, but she had us promptly dyeing, stitching, cutting, etc, although she also does a lot of knitting and designs patterns. She was super fun and engaging and both kids looked forward to going back to the studio – sometimes we went twice a day 🙂

Next artist-in-residence was Steven Scheurer, a.k.a. Santa. He looks like Santa, and does a lot of volunteer work and charity stuff as Santa, and as an all-round nice guy taught us how to make survival bracelets and chain mail. This was a bit above Alex and Jen, but I (and all the older kids) had a great time making bracelets and dog collars.

Beach

The campground has it’s own private beach, and they ran several activities during our time there: seining – catching little fish with a net for the kids to look at and crab hunting  (for an invasive species) were the ones we made it to. They put a lot of emphasis on conservation and the ecology of the beach and made it fun and education for all.

Tide pools

Tide pools

It’s a rocky beach with a pretty big tide difference. That meant that at low tide we could find lots of different shells, look at the rock pools, wade around looking for green crabs, and chase the occasional little fish in clear cold water. It’s not a sandy swimming beach and Alex and Jen asked for one of those a couple of times before they got used to the rocks and being interested in the animals there.

Another blog post will follow about what the camping experience meant to us personally, but meanwhile here are some pictures:

Greenwood Park

We went to Greenwood Park opposite the Stone Zoo recently to burn off energy pre-doom-and-gloom-it’s-the-end-of-the-world because Hurricane-Irene is headed this way. It was lovely.

Alex and Jen are finally getting to the age where they can play on a playground without constant help, so I actually had some time to take pictures. And now, miracle of miracles, Jen is having a nap through Thursday afternoon’s thunderstorm. This means that I can actually do some writing.

So, Greenwood Park is probably the nicest playground in Stoneham (though we’re going to fix that, right?). It is the playground located near the zoo just on the edge of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. There is a pretty view of the Fells Reservoir and a large parking lot, but don’t forget to bring along the insect repellent.

The reason we keep on coming back to this playground is that it is designed for children under the age of five. There are two main structures: My children have been using the one designed for children under the age of two for a while. That structure is very safe, low to the ground, features a short little slide and also a wheel. The whole thing works for crawlers and cruisers.

The other structure is for the 2-to-5-year-old kids, but teeny and fearless Jen has being crawling up that for a few months now. The tunnels slide is a hit and very safe. I used to have to accompany Alex on that slide (the times when I was a bazillion months pregnant with Jen were especially fun). Now both Jen and Alex race up the stairs to slide again. That structure is pretty safe, but does have some openings for kids to fall through. I suggest caution for parents of reckless kids, but most will understand.

The playground also has the biggest sandbox ever! The sand was hard packed and had quite a few large stone in it. Nothing a good sifting and some new sand wouldn’t fix.

We didn’t make it to the swings, the circle of sit-on teeters, the large field, or the walk in the forest, but we got in a solid 2 1/2 hours of running before it started raining.

Playground win!

This post was first published by the Stoneham Patch at http://stoneham.patch.com/blog_posts/pre-hurricane-fun-at-greenwood-park

 

 

 

 

Cambridge Common Playground

This playground is at the north end of the Cambridge Common, which is just north of Harvard Square. Our last visit had been in fall, after all the water sprinklers were turned off. So we went again recently:

Livingston Street Recreational Area

Review: Large fenced and gated playground. Several large play structures for toddlers, preschoolers, and older children. Infant/toddler swings, regular swings, and sand pit with toys. You will need two adults to manage twin toddlers.

253 Livingston St
Tewksbury, MA 01876

Anonymous said…

My husband and I took our 17 month old son to this playground for the first time today. It is really a lovely park. It is very clean and there are a lot of benches including a gazebo with picnic tables where you can sit and enjoy lunch or a snack. There is plenty of parking and lots of room for toddlers and older children to run around. The only thing is that the play structures are all wood, so watch out for tiny fingers with tiny splinters. The sand box could use a little bit more sand too, but other than that it’s a nice little park. We will for sure be visiting the park more often once it starts to warm up a little bit.

Boston Childrens Museum

I’ve been saving up the Boston Children’s Museum all. summer. long.

We had a total blast there yesterday and spent almost four hours and only played with maybe a tenth of what there is to see and do. We went to the Playspace, which is only for kids three years and under.  That room alone has more toys to play with than I can remember. There’s a playhouse, a tree house, a car,  an aquarium, a kitchen, a doll house, the world’s largest train table (that’s my own hyperbole), a separate area just for crawlers, a kitchen with dining area (AND FREE COFFEE FOR ADULTS), books, resources, puzzles, …

We went to the art studio for some scissoring and gluing, to the Countdown to Kindergarten mock school room for some writing practice and dinosaur play, some of the Arthur and Friends exhibit to try out the backyard camping adventure, to Johnny’s Workbench to try out real saws, screw drivers and safety glasses, and a special new exhibit called Balancing Act.

There is enough to see at the Boston Children’s Museum to keep us busy for many more wintery or rainy days…

Some handy hints: bring a complete change of clothing for each child. One of the best room at the museum is Peep’s World, which has a lot of water and sand tables. Also, there is usually some four hour on-street parking to be had around the area, as well as lots of parking buildings. It helps to bring warm clothing to walk to and from, as the museum is in a breezy location on the harbor.

Nothing Better

There’s nothing better than a warm, sunny fall day spent with excellent friends at a playground. We had Tuft’s Tot Lot all to ourselves and everything was perfect.

Note the glow in the photos 😉

Cambridge Common Playground

Finally we got a chance today to go to the Cambridge Common Playground today. Everyone has been raving about this playground all summer. Parking has been known to be iffy, so we just haven’t ventured that deeply into Harvardland. Today Alex helped out the lovely people at the Laboratory for Developmental Studies (a.k.a. Baby Lab) at Harvard University. We spun around in a circular room with our eyes closed and had to find stickers, if you really must know. Actually, it was very cool research and a thoroughly pleasant experience. Check them out, and help out a scientist 😉

And the Cambridge Common Playground is close by,  just north of Harvard Square. I swear it took 30 minutes to drive the couple of hundred yards – boy is that area a warren of higher intellect and one-way streets. But we had no problem finding parking spots near the playground. There were plenty of two hour metered spots. Of course as your eco-friend (conscience) I recommend taking public transport…

The playground is awesome. Well designed, well made, and all understated and natural (ish). There are hills with slides and climbing options (nets, rock holds, tree branches, palisades), there are wooden playhouses, a very cool wooden sailboat, swings, a maze, picnic table and benches, shade, water features (sprinkler shower and a water race), a shaded platform with pulleys and shakers and a conveyor belt, a very nifty seesaw, a wheelchair drive-on round-a-bout, and lots and lots of large wooden blocks. The surface is mostly sand and wood chips.

Alex made a friend and together they monopolized the conveyor belt for a good half hour, moving wood onto the platform. Then they built a bridge for their cars and trains and played with that for about a microsecond. Alex then unexpectedly got all adventurous and tried out all the different climbing options (“ALL BY MYSELF” as he said when celebrating another successful ascent).

Jen freaked me out. She wanted to try out everything – gulp. She crawled up steps and hills and through tunnels and tried out the pulleys and shakers. I’m on a learning curve with her – Alex has been cautious and timid until a couple of weeks ago, so I never got all those heart-stopping moments I seem to be heading for with Jen.

Anyhow, here are my pictures. The official playground webpage has lots of good ones too…

Sandbox

I’m having a nostalgic moment at how much Alex has developed and overcome fears. For the last two summers Alex had refused to touch sand with his feet. Using his hands had been OK, but he definitely wanted to have them cleaned ASAP. Otherwise shoes were mandatory. This summer Alex positively rolled around in various sandboxes and the beach.

Clara Steele/Munchkin Park

We spent yesterday morning dodging acorns.  I coaxed Alex to the Stoneham Town Hall by bribing him with the playground just behind the offices. It’s surprising how long he’s willing to play along. I had to find one office, and probably explained my issue (starting a home-based organic baby food business) three times, but Alex was a trooper and hung on with the promise of the playground.

Munchkin Park, a.k.a. Clara Steele Park is very shady and has been a favorite over the hot summer. It has one of the death defying vintage metal structures, complete with rusted bolts (though still very safe). Some wood planks have been added to plug some of the major gaps where kids could fall through. I remember playing on those kind of structures as a wee one, and am now wondering how many head injuries I got…

It’s actually a really large playground with grass for running, four infant swings, four big kid swings, a tire swing, and a younger toddler structure connected to a larger toddler/big kid structure, depending on how willing the parents are. Alex particularly likes the sand pit, which is liberally sprinkled with donated trucks. My favorite was the roofed picnic area to avoid the tremendously large acorns falling.

I looked into the acorn thing when I got home. Turns out that acorns are masting this year (which turns out to be a cyclical variation in acorn abundance). Some other people have been getting clonked on the head too, and I found this at a local news station: Acorn News. And that’s our educational fun fact for the day.