40 Winter Outings in Columbus – With a Toddler in Tow

The first 3 months of the year are generally the longest for me, as I’m sure they are for everyone else.  Below, I have listed 40 great ways to beat the winter blues in Columbus. These outings are perfect for children of all ages, but especially geared for those toddlers in your life to play, explore, and learn. You will find us out and about somewhere on this list, blowing off some of that extra energy!

Music/Theater Activities:

  • PBJ & Jazz Concert Series: PBJ & Jazz concerts are “1-hour long interactive concerts designed to introduce jazz and American music to young children and their families.” Concerts are held in the ballroom at the Lincoln Theatre (769 E. Long St, Columbus, Ohio). Admission is $5 per person, with a family max of $20 at the door, and each child receives a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, juice, and a cookie upon arrival. This winter, concerts are January 13, February 3, and March 24, with two performances at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

  • The Shazzbots: The Shazzbots are Central Ohio’s premier kid-music band. Formed in 2008, the rock- and blues-influenced quintet now performs regularly at music festivals, libraries, parties and family-friendly events throughout the area. Click the link for performance dates and times.
  • WeJoySing Drop in Classes: I have heard great things about WeJoySing classes, but I have never been able to commit to a series. Luckily, Coffee Connections of Hilliard knows planning life with kids can be a challenge. That’s why they have partnered with WeJoySing to host cost effective drop in music classes at the shop. For $5 a child, and $3 for a sibling; you and your littles can learn to love and appreciate music! Click the link for dates and times and how to sign up.
  • Toddler Theater: Join Miss Marlene for a music party with a special costumed character on select Wednesdays at 10 a.m. during the school year at the Abbey Theater of Dublin. Shows are from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in the Abbey Theater, Dublin Community Recreation Center: 5600 Post Rd. Admission for children is $2. (Parents and babies are free.)
  • Music & Movement: Offered at the Grandview Heights Public Library on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Recommended for children ages 2 to 5 and admission is free.

Gym Time:

  • Dublin Preschool Open Gym: The parks and recreation department in Dublin offers open gym for young children, ages 6 months to 6 years for $3 per child/per visit. “The gym is set up with age appropriate toys and equipment for you and your child to play and have a safe, fun time. This is a drop-in program, with no registration necessary.” The program is offered on Mondays and Fridays, January 5 – May 25, with some days off for holidays (Click this link to find the days NOT in session). Open gym is located at Dublin’s Parks and Recreation Department (5600 Post Rd, Dublin, Ohio 43017).

  • Worthington Preschool Open Gym: Worthington Parks and Recreation offers preschool open gym on Fridays from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. January 5 through March 2. A wide variety of large and fine motor equipment is available for your child to have fun, play, and interact. This program is recommended for children age 1 to 6 years. Admission is $2/day, payable at the Customer Service Desk.
  • Get Air Toddler Time: Toddler Time is offered on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    This is a designated time when the facility is open to little kids (under 46″). Little Air jumpers and their parents are the only ones allowed during this time. Parents cannot share a trampoline with a child, but can jump near them.

Process Art Classes

  • Art with Anna: Baby & Art is offered on the second Sunday of the month from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for children age 9+ months to 3 years. Grown-Up & Me Art is offered on the second Saturday of the month from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Click the link for more details.
  • Toddler Art Play Group at Party Like it’s Your Birthday: Art Play group is an hour free form art class where walking toddlers can investigate and learn through inspired art and sensory experiences. Classes are $12/class and are offered on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Recommended for walking toddlers through age 5.
  • Messy Art at Piccadilly: You and your child will explore textures, colors, creating amazing masterpieces and the best part: YOU DON’T HAVE TO CLEAN IT UP! Click the link for class times and admission.
  • Young Child Studios at the Columbus Museum of Art: Recommended for children age 18 months to 5 years. This program is a hands-on workshop for families with young children and provides an opportunity for children talk, play, and think creatively together. This is a drop-in program on January 16 & 27 and February 6 & 24 the cost of the program is $8 per child plus adult admission for nonmembers and $8 per child for members. Click the link for more information.
  • Marcy’s Clayground: Toddler Tuesdays. Any child 6 years and younger is welcome to paint in the studio with no studio fee.

Library Storytimes:

You will find us at baby/toddler story times often this winter. Story time is a wonderful way to promote early literacy skills through short books, rhymes, and movement. Each library system in Central Ohio offers a variety of story times for different age groups. Be sure to click the link below to find the best story time that fits your schedule.

Play Cafes:

  • Firefly: Located in Clintonville, Firefly is a “modern, indoor play space geared towards young children. Enjoy custom designed play areas, (along with some familiar favorites) while drinking coffee or tea, reading a magazine or chatting with friends.” Click the link for hours and admission.
  • Peabod Play Cafe: Located on the northeast side of Columbus, Peapod Play Cafe, offers something fun for everyone. Designed for walkers to age 7, “kids will love the unique, interactive toys and ultramodern play space, and adults will feel right at home relaxing or surfing the Web in the coffee and snack bar.” Click the link for hours and admission.
  • Piccadilly Modern Play and Creative CafeIn addition to the traditional indoor play space, Piccadilly offers in-house babysitting, weekly classes, and a café. The messy art class is currently my daughter’s favorite class. We always end up staying for some extra playtime after class and to eat the café’s pizza bagels for lunch.

Columbus MetroParks Nature Centers:

Even though it is cold outside, we are still taking advantage of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. Check out these 5 Nature Centers for indoor entertainment.

  • Scioto Audubon Nature Center:  The Grange Insurance Audubon Center is a beautiful facility located in the Scioto Audubon Metro Park. A few of the features include bird viewing windows, a small library, and a children’s playroom. The playroom offers both climbing opportunities, dress up clothes, and interactive activities on local birds and bugs. The center also offers Pre-K story time on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

  • Battelle Darby Creek Nature Center: The Battelle Darby Creek Nature Center is a beautiful facility located in the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park near Galloway and completely free to the public. The Nature Center offers a “living stream” with toads and fish that can be explored from above, below, and beside. In addition, the nature center has interactive exhibits and a variety of animal pelts for children to explore. Outside, there is a heard of bison that roam freely within two enclosed pastures. If you are lucky, they will be in the pasture near the parking lot when you arrive! Finding your way there can be a bit tricky, so be sure to follow the signs off of Darby Creek Drive in Galloway.
  • Highbanks Metro Park: We haven’t been yet, but want to go based on this review.
  • Blacklick Woods Metro Park: This nature center is smaller in size, but offers an interactive tent area, drawing station, magnet boards, and viewing stations.
  • The Discovery Center at Dawes Arboretum: Located in the lower level of the Visitors Center, the Discovery Center offers a variety of hands-on nature activities. The center also offers an opportunity to view a live fox snake, a spotted turtle and get an inside look at a working bee hive.

Children’s Museums:

  • AHA! Children’s Museum: While technically not in Columbus, this Children’s Museum is an easy 45-minute drive southeast in Lancaster, Ohio. It’s my favorite children’s museum to take my daughter, because it is located in a building with a smaller footprint. This makes it easier for my toddler to navigate (and for me to keep an eye on her), but it’s still packed full of a ton of hands-on, interactive activities. My daughter’s favorites include the water table and the hands-on firetruck. It’s a bargain with admission only $6 per person and children six months-old and younger are free.

  • Little Buckeye Children’s Museum: Another opportunity for a road trip! Located in Mansfield, this museum is approximately an hour and 15-minute drive north of Columbus and admission is only $8 (for 2 and up). The museum’s mission statement is “To Provide Children and Families Opportunities to Learn and Discover Through The Power of Play” and is an ideal location for visits by children ages 2-12 years.
  • The Works: Located in Newark, this museum is a 45-minute drive from Columbus. Admission is $6 for children age 2 to 17 years and $10 for adults.
  • SPI Science Place: We haven’t been yet, but we have heard good things. This science place is located in Mt. Vernon and offers areas of play for children that foster scientific ways of understanding of the natural world and technology that are appropriate for their age. Daily individual admission for all ages is $3. Click the link for hours and more information.
  • Mighty Children’s MuseumAnother children’s museum that is on our list! This one is located in Chillicothe. Admission is $6/person and children age 6 months and younger are free.

Family Indoor Swim:

  • City of Dublin – Indoor Pools: An indoor family swim opportunity. Click this link for more information.
  • Family Swim – Goldfish Swim School:  Family swim events are scheduled for select Fridays at the Dublin, Westerville, and soon to be Lewis Center Goldfish Locations. $5/person with a max of $15/family. Click the link for more information on dates and times.
  • Watering Hole – Westerville Parks & Recreation: Enjoy a Leisure Pool, Competition Pool and Whirlpool. In the Leisure Pool alone there’s a fun body slide, tube slide, fountains, shallow play area, water playground, lazy river and both lap lanes, and an open area for swimming. Preschool swim for 6 & under is scheduled Mon-Fri from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Aquatics – Worthington: The natatorium features a four lane fitness pool, a 12 person hot tub and a zero entry leisure pool area equipped with a kiddie slide and play features extending to a three and half foot play area attached to a lazy river, vortex area and 110 foot slide. Click this link for times and admission.

Winter Memberships:

  • Franklin Park Conservatory: The Conservatory offers a balmy oasis when the winter weather is getting you down. You can take your coat off and explore three biomes (Himalayan Mountain/Rainforest/Desert), the Pacific Island Water Garden, the Showhouse, and the Palmhouse, to see the more than 400 species of plants on display. We enjoy taking the time to wander and often find something new each time we visit. If you are looking for something a little more structured, the conservatory also offers great family programming. Personally, I think the membership is worth the investment!

  • COSI offers a variety of hands-on activities for children and adults of all ages and a perfect way to spend a gloomy winter day. With the high cost of admission, a membership practically pays for itself after a couple visits.
  • Columbus Museum of Art: A membership to the art museum gives you free admission all week long and access to the Wonderlab and young child studio days. Admission is free every Sunday if you want to avoid the cost of the membership.
  • Ohio History Connection: I haven’t been in years and have yet to take my daughter, but I have heard good things from others that it might be worth looking into.

There you have it! 40 ways we are going to beat the winter blues this year. I can’t wait to hear from you about your favorite winter outings are in Columbus. I’ll add them at the bottom of this list as a bonus, so write them up in the comments!

Bonus Outings From Readers:

  • Central Park Playland at the Westerville Christian Church. Central Park is open to the general public during open play hours and available on Friday and Saturday for private parties. Socks are required to play in the play land. Admission is FREE! For Health and Safety reasons, there is no outside food allowed during open play hours. Open play is Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • We Rock the Spectrum – Columbus: “We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together. As the only kid’s gym that offers an all-inclusive philosophy we have found all children can benefit from our uniquely designed sensory equipment that is specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders.” Recommended for children age infant to 13 years old. Open play time is offered daily at $12 per child and siblings discounted to $10.

 

 

Know Her Name. Learn Her Story. Give Her Hope.

This holiday season, the YMCA of Central Ohio is working together with community volunteers to help raise money for the Give Her Hope campaign. This campaign focuses on raising funds to help support and rebuild the lives of the women and children who are experiencing homelessness and living in the Van Buren Shelter House.

The Van Buren House is located in Central Ohio and has been in existence since 2014. The first night the shelter opened its doors, employees were expecting 60 women to arrive in need of a place to stay, but instead, they took in 300 women who were in need of help. On average, 250 women, including 30 expectant mothers, and 227 children are currently spending the night in shelter at the Van Buren Center each day. The number one reason these women are in a housing crisis is due to domestic violence.

One hundred percent of the funds raised by this campaign will be used to purchase bus tickets, security deposits, and rental assistance. Sometimes only $20 can be the difference between affording a months rent or making a security deposit for an apartment. Studies show that even a short stay in a shelter can impact a child mentally and emotionally for the rest of their lives, so the goal for this campaign is to raise the funds to help drastically change the future for these women and their children experiencing homelessness.

How to Help: Monetary donations can be made online at the Give Her Hope homepage. Any monetary donation, even as small as $5, can make a difference for these women and children. Those who give a donation of $10 or more will receive their own Bracelet of Hope – a reminder of the hope we share and a reminder of the difference you are making for her.

The Gift of Experience – 2017 Edition

Providing your child with new experiences naturally exposes her to new vocabulary. These experiences can capture your child’s attention and provide an opportunity for you to model new vocabulary in the appropriate setting. These experiences can happen anywhere, whether it be heading out around town to visit a new place, participate in a class, or having a fun activity delivered straight to your door. In addition to promoting language development, these experiences support your child’s cognition, sensory, fine motor, and creativity. Christmas is a great time to give the gift of experiences, many of which will last well beyond the holiday season.

Below are some suggestions on how to give the gift of experience.

Art With Anna: This art studio “strives to create an artistic space where you and your child feel safe and free to be just exactly who you are.” Art with Anna offers a variety of classes for children, adults, and families which will in turn foster creativity to help develop mental, social, and emotional abilities. Gift certificates in all amounts and art supplies are for sale in-studio. Be sure to mention Say-n-Play when checking out to receive a 10% discount off your entire in-studio purchase.

Goldfish Swim School: Give the gift of swimming lessons with Goldfish Swim School. Your child will benefit from weekly opportunities to learn the basics of swimming, water safety, and expand her vocabulary and ability to follow directions. Children as young as 4 months of age can begin swimming lessons. Early exposure can reduce your child’s fear of water while also providing the foundation for a safe relationship with water from an early age.

This year the Goldfish Swim School Holiday Baskets are available at the Dublin and Westerville locations while supplies last. The basket includes $193 in family credit at GSS as well as array of free family experiences from local businesses, including:
 
$193 Family Credit at Goldfish Swim School 
2 Family Swim Passes at Goldfish Swim School 
Bundlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes 
2 Kids Meals from Texas Roadhouse – Polaris 
2 Child Admission Passes to ZipZone Outdoor Adventures Kids Park 
1 Large One-Topping Pizza from Jets Pizza 
1 Jar of Pure Peanut Butter from Crazy Richard’s 
1 Preview Class at Gymboree Play & Music 
1Half Dozen Donuts from Duck Donuts 
1- 5 oz cup from Menchie’s 
2- 30 Minute Passes to Sky Zone 
1 Child’s Nail Polish from Sweet & Sassy 
1 Philly Sandwich from Charleys Philly Steaks 
2 Ice Skate Rentals from The Chiller 
1 Kids Meal from Matt The Miller’s Tavern 
1 $50 Gift Certificate from Aaron Taylor Photography 
3- Two Hour Play Passes to Recreations Outlet 
2 Adult Admission Tickets to the Arnold SportsWorld Expo for Kids & Teens 
1 Class at Barre3 in Powell 
1 Attraction Pass to Magic Mountain Fun Center 
The baskets retail for $205 and the value is well over $500.

Piccadilly Play Cafe: In addition to the traditional indoor play space, Piccadilly sets itself apart from other play cafes by offering in-house babysitting, weekly classes, and a café. The classes offered are some of my favorites and include messy art experiences, cooking class for young children, mommy and me workout classes (yoga/squats & tots), and language classes. Gift cards can be purchased here (or in person at the play cafe) and the recipient can decide how she would like to use the monetary value (play passes/classes/toys/etc).

Franklin Park Conservatory: A membership to the Conservatory provides your family with unlimited access to the beautifully designed indoor and outdoor gardens. Each season brings with it a redesign of the park that includes “multi-faceted, art- and nature-based exhibitions.” In addition, there are weekly activities for families that are free with admission, including performances, cooking, and arts and crafts. Be on the lookout for the multi-sensory children’s garden that will be opening May 2018.

AHA! Children’s Museum: This Children’s Museum is an easy 45-minute drive southeast in Lancaster, Ohio. The mission of the museum is “Educating children in a world of discovery, curiosity and imagination through hands-on play.” It’s my favorite children’s museum to take my daughter, because it is located in a building with a smaller footprint, which makes it easier for my toddler to navigate (and for me to keep an eye on her), but it’s still packed full of a ton of hands-on, interactive activities. Memberships are extremely affordable, and will carryover to the new building that will open in January 2018.

Have you given the gift of experience before? Please share in the comment section below your favorite experience to give.

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt Pt. 2

The holiday season has begun and Christmas lights are everywhere. I have updated our Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt from a few years ago to make it more user friendly for those pre-readers. If you are interested in the written list click here. To take part in the holiday fun, simply print out the list shown below and load up your bundled kiddos in the car to drive around to check out neighborhood lights or to head to one of the many light displays around town. See how many of the items you can cross of the list.

Click here for the printable Christmas light scavenger hunt.

Before you set off for your evening journey, prepare for the scavenger hunt ahead of time by going over the items on the list. Talk with your child about the location of the lights in the scavenger hunt and where they should be looking. Some items on the list are located in windows or on doors and some items could be in ornament form and will be hanging on trees.  

As you complete your scavenger hunt, help your child express what items she sees and where she sees those items. This activity will help develop your child’s expressive and spacial language skills using words that describe location (e.g. on, in, over, under) as well as characteristics (e.g. big, small, blinking, hanging).

Check out one of the below light displays around Columbus where you could possibly check off the items on the scavenger hunt:

Holiday Lights at the Columbus Commons:

The holiday lights run from November 20, 2017 – January 2, 2018 from dusk until 11 p.m.

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Wildlights runs from November 17, 2017 – January 1, 2018 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays-Thursdays and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday & Saturday.

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights (previously known as Alum Creek’s Fantasy of Lights) is a drive thru light show from November 17, 2017 – January 1, 2018 from 5:30 to 9:30 on Sunday-Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday & Saturday.

Neighborhood Lights:

For an interactive map of holiday light displays in Columbus, check out columbuslights.com.

In addition to checking off items on the list, I always like to take pictures of the found items so we can review our hunt with a round of hot cocoa when we get home. I hope this Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt becomes a fun holiday tradition for you and yours, as well. Happy Holidays!

6 Ways to Shop for Kids on Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is fast approaching! Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. So, this Small Business Saturday, consider shopping close to home and supporting those neighborhood small businesses. If you are in the Columbus area be sure to stop into one of the following shops to stock up on some goodies for those tiny humans in your life.

Helen Winnemore’s

In operation since 1938, Helen Winnemore’s is one of the oldest craft shops in America, located in German Village. It was the destination for my first outing when I was an infant, one of my first jobs, and now one of my daughter’s favorite places to shop. While the downstairs caters mainly to adults, there is a wonderful children’s section tucked away on the second floor. In the children’s room you will find a variety of toys, dress up clothes, and accessories.

Look how sweet this little outfit is that can be pieced together in the children’s room. You might spend a good amount of time finding the perfect combination!

Cubshrub

I get in trouble whenever I step foot into one of the two locations of Cubshrub (Grandview & Short North). The shop offers the cutest clothes, stuffed animals, games, books, and accessories for children ages 0-6.  There are quite a few deals going on the entire weekend after Thanksgiving: On Friday expect 25% off storewide from 9 am – 11 am and on Friday through Sunday expect an additional 25% off sale items, books BOGO, retro inflateables for $10, and logo tees/onesies for $5 or free with a $50 purchase.

The Sunroom

The Sunroom is a boutique that opened in the Clintonville neighborhood this past summer.  The shop specializes in ethically made goods for all walks of life. While the majority of the items in the shop are perfect for that special adult in your life, the shop does carry the local children’s clothing line, mrly. For Small Bussiness Saturday, the shop is offering 15% off your purchase.

James Robert John

This small shop is owned and operated by a mom boss. She developed a nail polish line that is 5-free, which means it is free of: Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor. My daughter recently became obsessed with having her nails painted and I have to say this nail line is the only polish I feel safe using on her little nails. The shop will be running a little deal for a few hours on Black Friday: $10 polish and $20 candles. There will also be an online promotion going on Friday while the shop is open. Find the shop on Instagram at @jrjpics for more details on when it will be open.

Gramercy Books

Gramercy Books is a “locally-owned, independently-minded neighborhood bookstore located in the heart of Bexley, Ohio.” The bookstore opened in December 2016 and was the first independent bookstore to open in Columbus in 12 years. The children’s section is impressive. Bring a canned food donation in on Small Business Saturday and receive 15% off your entire purchase.

Naturally Curious Kids

Natural Curious Kids is an independent toy store located in uptown Westerville that offers a variety of toys for all ages.  The shop promotes that a “toy store should be a play store. It should be a place that inspires wonder and learning at every turn.” There will be a special promotion running on Small Business Saturday, but it hasn’t been announced yet. Follow them on social media for updates!

A November Filled With Kindness – Toddler Edition

Children learn by observing adults, even when those adults aren’t intentionally trying to teach them anything. Have you seen your child pretend to talk on the phone, pretend to do their makeup, or pretend to wash dishes in the play kitchen? I have many times and I am always shocked by my daughter coming up with these ideas when I haven’t explicitly taught them to her. Recently, I feel there has been so much negativity in the world. From the news to  the Facebook community discussion board. This negativity is affecting me and in turn my daughter. With that, I have decided to combat the negativity by making a conscious effort to be a model for my daughter by being positive and kind. Below is the list I have made to guide us on our quest to focus on doing good for the month of November. Will you join us in our efforts to spread kindness?

  1. Build your library with books that promote kindness. Check out this list from The Imagination Tree for inspiration.
  2. Collect canned food and donate to a Little Free Pantry in your community.

  3. Paint Kindness Rocks and scatter them throughout the community.
  4. Participate in the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department Empty Bowls project. As part of an international fight against hunger, the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department invites you to  purchase a bowl of soup to support the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Click the link for dates and locations.
  5. Write a Thank you Note or paint a picture for the mailman.
  6. Put together blessing bags to store in your car. Have you ever driven past a person in need and wondered what you could do to help?  Keep one or two of these in your car to have on hand!The best part is, your children can be involved in creating the bags and will most likely be present when handing them out as well.  And it’s a great way to utilize coupons and freebies!
  7. Election Day! Donate treats to the volunteers at the polling station.
  8. Sign up for an event with Seeds of Caring.
  9. Sign up for the Holiday Wish Program and provide a child under the care of Franklin County Children Services to request a special toy or gift.

  10. Hold the door for a stranger.
  11. Bake Cookies for the local fire department/police department as a “Thank You” for their service.
  12. Put together an Operation Christmas Child Box. National collection week is November 13 – November 20.
  13. Celebrate World Kindness Day by completing 1 random act of kindness.
  14. Take a walk through the neighborhood and pick up trash along the way.
  15. Donate to a Little Free Library.
  16. Leave a happy note or picture in a library book.
  17. Send a postcard to a friend just because.
  18. Write inspirational sidewalk messages around the neighborhood.

  19. Paint Pictures for a special person.
  20. Feed the birds.
  21. Leave bubbles in the park for friends to find.
  22. Donate diapers to the local diaper coalition.
  23. Send art to Color a Smile.
  24. Put extra money in expiring parking meters.

  25. Celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends and list at least 1 thing for which you are thankful.
  26. Collect Pop Tabs for the local Ronald McDonald House.

  27. Return someone’s cart at the store.
  28. Pass out stickers to unsuspecting friends.
  29. Call a relative just to say hi.
  30. Make a special treat for the neighbors.

A Nature Walk through Inniswoods

Inniswood Metro Gardens is located within a scenic nature preserve in Westerville, Ohio. There are trails and paths that lead you through woods and several theme gardens, past streams and ever changing flowers. We love making the trip to Inniswoods periodically throughout the seasons to see how the scenery is changing.

My daughter recently began to notice the changes that take place in the fall – she has especially been interested in picking up the leaves and acorns that have been falling from the trees. With her increased interest in the changing seasons, I thought it would be the perfect time to print off this toddler scavenger hunt for fall from Raising Seraphin and head out on a nature walk through Inniswoods.

We labeled each picture on our scavenger hunt sheet and then went in search of real life matches. Our walk through Inniswoods did not disappoint. The gardens and surrounding woods were showing off for fall with a variety of colored leaves, bushes filled with brightly colored berries, and acorns and other seeds spread across the paths.

Our scavenger hunt took us through both the wooded trails…

… and  paths through the curated gardens that Inniswoods offers.

We ended our nature walk in the Sisters’ Garden – A tribute garden “designed to celebrate the complexity of nature and the inquisitiveness of childhood, The Sisters’ Garden aspires “to nurture the nature of the child in everyone”.” We spent time searching for the mystical tree house nestled in the woods and in the playhouse. My daughter’s favorite part in this section is the interactive water feature pictured below.

After we finished our nature walk, we brought our scavenger hunt finds home to do some more sorting and matching. I cut apart the pictures from our scavenger hunt and taped them to a larger piece of paper. Each item my daughter pulled out of her basket we labeled and then matched to the picture. She had such a great time with this activity we had to head to our yard to collect more materials to sort.

Inniswoods offers something for everyone no matter the season. The details are as follows if you are planning a visit:

Directions: 940 S. Hempstead Road in Westerville, Ohio. From I-270, take exit 29, the State Route 3/Westerville exit.  Drive south on State Route 3 to Dempsey Road and turn left. Continue on Dempsey to Hempstead Road (second traffic light) and turn left.  Continue on Hempstead approximately one-quarter mile – stay on Hempstead Road as it turns right just past the Blendon Township Community Complex. The entrance is approximately one-tenth mile on the right-hand side.

Hours: Inniswood Metro Gardens is FREE and open daily throughout the year from 7 a.m. to dark.

Some additional tips:

  • Restrooms are located to the right of the main entrance and again next to the Sisters’ Garden
  • A stroller is manageable if you stick to the path through the gardens, not so much if you venture into the woods
  • Food and picnics are not permitted in the formal gardens
  • Be sure to check the events page for upcoming events for the whole family

 

What is Doughberry?

Recently, we received a special delivery from Doughberry and I am now excited to share our experience through a product review. Doughberry was created by a Seattle mama who set out to make the softest, silkiest and most imaginative playdough in all the land. And because she’s a child of the 80’s and her favorite toys were Strawberry Shortcake dolls and scratch n’ sniff stickers, it’s only natural that she make a scented dough. From vibrant Strawberry and Tangerine to mellow Vanilla and Lavender, there’s a variety for every child (and every parent too)!

We received four colors in four yummy scents: pink (grapefruit), orange (scented tangerine), green (scented lime), and purple (scented lavender). Each color was packaged separately in a 4 oz. airtight container and the bottom was marked with the corresponding scent.

Doughberry is made with all natural materials and scented with essential oils, which makes this dough safe for those tiny humans who might want to sneak a taste. Ingredients include: Flour, water, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, baking flavors, essential oils, and food coloring gel. If left sitting out, this dough does dry out. But, unlike other dough, Doughberry can be brought back to life with a few drops of oil or water. Trust me, I left some out and experimented!

Play Experience

I love using dough to promote language development. In the time we spent exploring this jar of Doughberry, I modeled the action words: roll/pull/push/give, described the texture of the dough, and created faces. My daughter loved giving me the directions to create a “happy face/sad face” and then laughed when I followed through with her commands.  The scents are delicious and provides an opportunity to discuss how we smell and how each jar smells different. The scents incorporate a whole new set of vocabulary words and experiences and is something she doesn’t experience from other unscented dough.

A Few More Thoughts

The first impression of this dough is that the texture is smoother than other dough we have experienced and the added scent makes opening each jar exciting. I limited my daughter’s play to one jar at a time initially, because I hate when the colors become mixed together. When they inevitably do mix together, I will be buying a new set and look forward to experiencing the new smells.

If you are interested in your own set of this dough, check out Doughberry on Etsy. It is sold in sets of 4, seasonal packs, and party favors, and any order is fully customizeable.

Disclaimer: We were provided with our own Doughberry in exchange for a product review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Peanut Butter and Little Free Pantries

Have you seen the Little Free Pantries popping up around town?  At first glance, the Little Free Pantry looks like a Little Free Library. Upon closer inspection it’s really quite different. For those in need, Little Free Pantries are used to meet everyday food and personal needs of people in need throughout Columbus. Regardless of location, the Little Free Pantry is stocked organically by the local community with non-perishable food and toiletries. Those who wish to contribute do so at their own discretion and convenience. Likewise, those in need are welcome to take items from the pantry for free.

Recently, Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter Co. posted about the need for peanut butter in food pantries. When it comes to food drives, five cans of vegetables or soups are donated for each jar of peanut butter. “Peanut butter is a shelf-stable source of protein that food banks love and need. But oftentimes, the amount of peanut butter on the shelves runs out long before the expiration date on the labels.” Just check out the stats below to see why peanut butter makes such a good contribution to the local food banks.

Photo from www.nationalpeanutboard.org

With these two things in mind, I reached out to Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter Co. about a collaboration. Crazy Richard’s obliged and donated a generous amount of peanut butter. The donation provided an opportunity for me and my daughter to stock the pantries around town. The donation also provided me with the opportunity to write this post in order to raise awareness for the Little Free Pantries in our community and the importance of stocking those miniature shelves with peanut butter. What better peanut butter to stock the shelves with than Crazy Richard’s, a local company who didn’t think twice about agreeing to collaborate for the good of the community?

I have located 5 pantries in the Central Ohio area:

The corner of Ann & Sycamore St, Columbus, Ohio

686 S. Kellner Rd, Eastmoor, Ohio

2517 E. Livingston Ave, Columbus, Ohio

Alum Creek Dr. outside of LifePoint Church, Columbus, Ohio

4th Street Farms, Weinland Park, Ohio

If you are aware of another Little Free Pantry in the area that isn’t listed, please share in the comments.

Our Fall Bucketlist

I look back fondly on Fall 2016. My daughter just started walking, she started to imitate sounds and words, and we went on a ton of new adventures. This year I want to be sure to do our favorites again, so I decided to write them down all in one place. I am sharing our Fall Bucket List in hopes that you will find some inspiration, new ideas, or new places to explore. My hope is that your child will experience new vocabulary and opportunities for language growth along the way.

Our Fall Bucket List

Spend a Fall Day on US-68. We can spend a whole day on US-68 right outside the town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. Pass the time by walking through a sunflower field at Tecumpseh Land Trust, picking out some fall treats at Peifer Orchards, or exploring Young’s Dairy.

Pick Apples. We have visited quite a few orchards in the Columbus area, but our favorite to date is Legend Hills Orchard, located in Utica, Ohio. The setting is tranquil and the rolling hills can separate you from the other apple pickers.

Play/Explore/Create with Apples. Need some inspiration? Check out our All About Apples post.

Visit a pumpkin patch. If you are looking for a pumpkin patch with all the bells and whistles, check out the Columbus Moms Blog’s pumpkin patch guide. We prefer to pick our pumpkins at Schacht Farm Market in Canal Winchester. It’s a simple set up with a U-pick pumpkin patch, corn maze, and a market.

Play/Explore/Create with Pumpkins.

Spend a Day at the Zoo. I think fall is the perfect time for a zoo day. The temperatures are cooler, the animals are still out, and Boo at the Zoo begins October 20th at the Columbus Zoo.

Paint a Pumpkin Teal. Join the Teal Pumpkin Project to provide children with food allergies a fun and safe evening of Treat-or-Treating with their peers. Homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project offer non-edible treats (stickers, temporary tattoos, etc.) to children with food allergies as alternatives to traditional candy.

Visit a Fall Festival. Columbus offers a variety of festivals around town. A start is the Harvest Fair at the Columbus Commons and the Independents’ Day Festival in Franklinton.

Make a Fall Themed Sensory Box.

Go on a Mini Fall Getaway. Last year we spent a long weekend in Traverse City, MI. This year we are heading to Denver, CO. Next year?

Join a Team and Participate in the Buddy Walk. The Buddy Walk was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The Buddy Walk will be in Columbus, Ohio on October 1, 2017, at Mapfre Stadium.

Go on a Nature Walk

Jump in a Pile of Leaves

Pick out a Halloween Costume

Go Trick-or-Treating

Printable Fall Bucket List