Tag Archives: toddler

Bancroft Street Tot Lot

With the warmer weather here, we’re on the prowl for nice playgrounds in the area.

“We” consist of a high-energy 3 1/2-year-old Alex, Jen, who at 21 months is a bit too fearless and strong, and mama (e.g. me).

We’ve been checking out local playgrounds for a couple of years in the hope that I can convince my children to run around lots, burn lots of energy and have nice long naps.

In reality, I think I have now trained them to be super toddler athletes because my kids seem to have tremendous stamina. Oooof. Apparently the ability to keep on going and going and going is a downside to having kids with better coordination, balance and muscle strength.

On Tuesday we tried out the Bancroft Street Tot Lot in Reading. This playground is for the under five set. It is a new construction with lots of infant swings, a bucket swing and two big kid swings. There are two climbing structures with four slides total – one for each comfort level. Oh, and the monkey bars are super friendly and low, which is perfect for a three year old.

The biggest hit for Alex and Jen was the faux rock climbing that takes you to the top of the slides. They did that about 20 times.

Bancroft is completely fenced, has a couple of nice shade trees and some benches. It is near the Reading Community Tennis Courts at Birch Meadows and there are plenty of parking spaces available. I didn’t see a restroom though, so bladders beware.

This playground was apparently built through a community project. There’s a nice plaque thanking all the donors and volunteers. If anyone has the contact information of the people who organized this project, please let me know.

This blog entry first appeared on Stoneham Patch.

Hunt Park

Last time I drove by Hunt Park, huge snowbanks blocked EVERYTHING. But Jen and I got to have a good play last week. This is a nice playground almost near downtown Reading, on a quiet street with plenty of off-street parking – grin! It’s a playground for toddlers, totally fenced, wood chip surface and nice wooden climbing structures.

There’s a structure for the under-two-year-old set, and one for the two-to-five set. There’s an excellent fire truck, a three-way wobbly/bouncy sit-on, and four swings (two infant, two normal).

And dang, it was good to get out in the sun for a bit and play!

Imajine That

We went to Imajine That about a month ago and we’re all itching to head back there. Both Alex and Jen had a great time, and I got to enjoy a loooong nap afterwards. Awesome. Imajine That is an indoor play space in Lawrence, about 25 minutes north from Stoneham. There is lots of free parking and a huge variety of things to do for the kids. There is a huge climbing structure, a play supermarket, a bouncy house, a music room, an art room, a train table (<3), a postoffice, a reading/writing center, a stage with lots of costumes and props, a pirate ship with sails, and a very nice infant/toddler space. Oh, and a huge pretend supermarket.

I’ve never seen a place so lovingly put together. Is it odd that my favorite thing at this place are the columns wrapped and dressed up as trees?  Anyhow, Alex’s favorite thing was the -um- everything. Jen liked the books. We even got to check out one of the events that are going on all the time. We made our own pizza

Make your very own pizza every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Imajine That! First, each child gets dressed in their chef hat and coat. Then, each child will make their very own kid sized cheese pizza with authentic ingedients provided by Salvatore’s. Cost: $5.00 per child. Price includes juice box and pizza making materials.

There are multiple events each day – everything from “Between the Lions” story time, face painting, and a “Peep and the Big Wide World” science workshops.

In partnership with WGBH, we have created the Peep and the Big Wide World Science Imajinators! Come explore everyday science concepts in a new and FUN way! Your child will love our exciting workshops which include: – “Bug hunt” – “Water Explorers” – “Color Mixers” – “The Air out There” – “Music Makers” – “Shadow Explorers” – “”Peep Feet” -” Animal Homes” And so much more! Admission to this event is FREE with admission to Imajine That!

I tried to convince Alex to join in a snow-globe making event, but at that point he was having “a moment”. Now I’m trying to figure out how to make those at home. We’ll also have to go back to try out the big bouncy house and playground. They look excellent, but Alex kept on being distracted by the train table…

You are not allowed to bring in outside food, but there is a well stocked cafe with everything from organic milk to pizza at very reasonable prices.

Here are some photos I took, and some from their website, because my iPhone died while we were there.

Between the Lions library

Arts and Crafts area

Grocery Shop

Gibbs Gym

Gibbs Gym in the Arlington Center for the Arts is open for Toddlers and Two Drop-In Play every Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 to 11:30(ish). This is an old gymnasium that gets transformed into a huge play area for 12 month to 36 month old children. There are lots of ride-on toys, a train table, a little slide, a bouncy house, a tumbling mat, a play kitchen, lots of books to read, balls, and blocks. Bonus for parents: Tanya the coordinator makes free coffee. We love Tanya <3.

Toddlers & Twos – Drop in   —   Cost:   $45/10 visits or $5/day drop-in PER CHILD

This is an indoor, unstructured play program for tots and parents. The program is geared towards developing gross and fine motor skills. Parent and child will have the opportunity to play and learn together with others. (Please do not bring food to program containing nuts, all food must be consumed in the designated area). 10 session punch cards are available.

Here are some photos of our visit last week – it was excellent fun!

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…

Inside Playground

We went to an awesome birthday party at Inside Playground in Watertown on Friday – you can see the location here on the Playground Hunt Map.  Thought I’d share how much fun Jen and Alex had, since this place might become a staple during the next few months.

Simply put, this place has every imaginable way to keep wee ones busy, and is spacious, clean, and safe. Let me start with the latter. I spent a lot of time in close proximity to the floor, and even on a Friday, did not see ANY DIRT on the carpet. I’m thinking it’s magic carpet. I also saw staff tidying up the toys continuously and very carefully go through a huge stash of Mega Blocks with antiseptic wipes. So there’s a lot of magic elbow grease being put into the place.

And trying to write about all the toys gives me writer’s block – there is just so much.

In the big room going anticlockwise I remember: big bouncy house, kiddie trampolines, rocking chairs for adults, super big bouncy train, rollercoaster (which I absolutely NEEEEEED), lots of ride on toys, a big airplane for climbing in, a climbing dome, two train tables, kid treadmills, fishing pond, a round-about, a road track, a little playground structure,…

The little room around the corner has a ball pit, several computers for games, including one of those ones you use a bike to control, a couple of play kitchens, play furniture, books, infant mobiles, infant bouncers, several tables with puzzles, and lots and lots of trucks/cars/boats/airplanes…

That’s all I can remember now. I recommend it, and Alex has asked several times to go back. It’s a bit expensive, so we’ll have to figure out how and when we’re going to go. Here are some photos telling a few thousand more words. And please, if someone finds one of the roller coasters at a yard sale… let me know 😀

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.

Trucks, Playground, Forest

Yesterday was a full day. Within four hours we saw trucks, played on a playground, and went for a walk in the Fells, but still no nap from Alex – pffft.
We went to the (apparently) annual Touch-a-Truck event in Burlington. This was by far the biggest and loudest truck event we have ever been to. It was held on the Burlington Common, just in front of the firestation. Parking was across the road on the Simonds Park parking lot. Note to self that going cross country with the stroller can leave you a couple of feet above the footpath at the wrong side of a wall. And we could see and hear the trucks the whole time, so Alex was pretty much frothing at the mouth by the time we got to touch our first truck. There were lots of cranes, lots of fuel trucks, lots of police and fire trucks, lots of diggers, and generally lots of truck. Two highlights for us were visiting the fire station and the landscaping company that was letting kids lay bricks with real mortar.  Personally what I found most amusing was the REALLY large truck with the really tiny, little horn sound. That made me grin, and probably made whoever was driving it quite embarrassed.

Alex lasted almost an hour with all horns going. Mind you, he had his hands over his ears for much of that. But I thought it was time to leave when it looked like he was getting close to tears. We went to the playground where we parked and hung out there for a while. Simonds Park Playground is very nice. There is a large shaded picnic area outside the fenced playground and a wading pool in summer. I’m assuming in summer the concession stand and restrooms are open, and that the lit tennis courts, baseball fields, basketball courts, the skate park, the half pipe, and the street hockey are well used.

The playground is large and has three sections. One is for ages up to two years old, one for the two to five year old set, and one for ages five to twelve. Alex liked all three structures , but was particularly taken with the digger and the roller slide. Check out the photos below, because this playground has everything and it really would take a thousand words to describe the fun to be had.

After the playground we went to join Bay State Kids Outdoors for a hike in the Middlesex Fells. This didn’t go so well since Alex wanted to be carried, as did Jen. Ooof! We’ll try another walk with them soon though. They seemed like really nice people. This is a picture from another hike, but this is what we looked like. I also have to get another map for the Fells. For some reason my car eats them.

Thanks for reading 🙂 It was a long day and a long post.

New England Aquarium

Friday morning we ventured to the New England Aquarium. I had taken Alex a few times before his first birthday, with very mixed results. Then he had a pretty short attention span and even the super colorful tropical fish didn’t hold his interest for long. What a difference a couple of years make. This time Alex was hooked (pun intended). He loved the seals outside, although he thought they were dolphins. He LOVED the penguins. He super loved the turtles. He super double loved the pool where he could touch starfish and shells. The superlatives continued for a good hour and a half, when the lure of a snack was suddenly greater than more fish. JenJen also loved everything and spent a good bit of time splishing the water in the touch pool and pointing at everything – both index fingers were in action…

We had a snack in the very friendly cafeteria – one woman who was cleaning up checked in with us several times and brought more high chairs. Then it was a race against the parking meter to check out the very large, very deep tank that is literally the centerpiece of the aquarium. Personally I could watch the sharks and turtles and divers and every other possible water creature for hours, but we had to get back to the car.

Parking is a huge problem in the area, but that day we found 2hr on-street parking for $2 total just around the corner. On the Aquarium website is a link to nearby parking options, which is well worth the visit since the closest parking garage is insanely expensive at $35 a day or $25 when members get their ticket validated. Public transportation is an excellent option to visit the aquarium

Apologies for the quality of the photos. I forgot the Aquarium is dark and my camera phone is sans flash.