Monday, September 29, 2008

Playground: Doctors Run Park

Doctors Run Park
1301 S. George Mason Dr.
Arlington, Virginia 22204

This small neighborhood park is on our way to gymnastics so we gave it a try. We had a fun time and we will definitely stop by again when it is convenient for us (but wouldn't make a special trip for it). LG enjoyed the swings, ignored the sandbox, and wanted to go down the big slides (we stuck to the smaller ones).

  • Swings: bucket and handicap accessible
  • Sandbox
  • Slides: large and small
  • Chimes
  • Climbing structure
Additional information:
  • Street parking
  • Shade
  • Drinking fountains
  • Not fenced in

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Class: Tumbling for Toddlers

Arlington County Classes
Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center

LG and I attended our first Tumbling for Toddlers class on Tuesday. LG was pretty excited about it. She couldn't wait to get in the tunnel and play on the balance beam, unfortunately for her, we first had to sit and listen. She actually held up rather well to a speech that could easily been shortened by providing the relevant information to the appropriate parties rather than all the information to everyone. Luckily, we only have to do that part of the class this time.

It was then time to warm up. I think of this as circle time for gymnastics. There are 3 classes in the gym during our session: family, toddlers, and preschoolers. All the classes warm up together. This is something that I think could be reworked. Toddlers and preschoolers do have different developmental needs and abilities when it comes to following instructions and it would be nice to have a warm up that engaged toddlers more. That said, LG will benefit from a whole group activity since she is used it being just her and Mama.

After warm up, the classes were divided up and headed to one of three stations. Our first station was the trampoline. After sitting again for some instructions (which were very important for safety reasons), LG headed off to the balance beam. Right, that would not be a part of trampoline. At least this balance beam wasn't in another station though, so it was safe for her to use it while she was waiting for her turn on other things (I did ask an instructor if it was okay, she said yes). LG did eventually get around to jumping on the trampoline and swinging on the rope, which she loved.

On to the next station - floor. LG was not ready to leave the first station, she had just warmed up to it - I think this is going to be running theme for us. LG is an observer. She wants to watch before she plays. The trouble is when we only have 10 minutes at each station, she doesn't have time to watch and then play (at least not with each thing). Hopefully, as the equipment becomes more familiar to her, she will warm up faster. The floor station is in my opinion the best one for toddlers. There are tunnels to crawl under, stairs to climb up, mats to jump on, a balance beam, and places to practice rolling. I would be very happy if the entire class was organized like this obstacle course. What I really love is that there are intended activities for each piece of equipment but the instructors are fine with the children using them in any safe way. LG likes the music. LG gets very MAD when the music goes off. So MAD in fact that all she can talk about is how MAD she is that there is no MUSIC. She actually refused to do anything until the music turned back on. This is going to be a problem.

The final station of the day was Balloons. I see how this would be fun. Kids do love balloons. I can also see this as a festering pit of germs. As the last group to have balloons we had the joys of many wet balloons - ew. Balloons just seem to be one of those things that children, even those do not normally mouth things, like to put in their mouths. I should mention that both LG and I are now sick - not that it necessarily came from this exposure (we went to JW Tumbles and the grocery store earlier this week). I hope that next week there is something that is not so tasty available.

At the end of the class the children recieved a stamp (on hand or foot) and a coloring sheet. The 45 minutes went by really quickly so we must have had fun! I think this will be a great experience for LG to interact with other children.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Birthday Idea: JW Tumbles

JW Tumbles
Various locations
Click here for list of locations in VA

We recently attended a neighbor's third birthday celebration at the JW Tumbles in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center. My experience with toddler birthdays outside of homes is limited, but JW Tumbles did seem to do a great job.What made it great?
  • The staff was upbeat and full of energy to match the toddlers.
  • The parents of the birthday girl did not have to do anything except sit back and enjoy (they did provide all the food and beverages).
  • Lots of equipement for various ages.
  • Separate eating area.
  • The staff provided antibaterial gel to children as they left the play area and headed in to eat and then provided wipes for cleaning off cake before re-entering the play space.
  • Bathrooms on site.
What to watch for...
  • Know your child - this is not the birthday for the slow to warm up child (LG took a good 20 minutes to sit in my lap and observe before she would even touch anything)
  • Expense - call your local location to check prices
  • Timing - pick a time of day that works for what you will be serving (the party we attended started at 4:30, which worked well for everyone's nap time, if not their dinner time)
Personally, I don't see myself doing something this elaborate for a 3rd birthday, but I a lot can change in a year.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

StoryTime: Central Library

Central Library
1015 N. Quincy St.
Arlington, VA 22201
703-228-5990 (Main)

For the past two Fridays, I have taken LG to storytime at the Central Library. She has always been a big fan of the library and this just adds to her love.

The Facts:
  • Storytime occurs each Friday at both 10am and 11am. It lasts approximately 30 minutes.
  • There are two sessions at each time. One session (held downstairs near the children's area) is for children older than 2. The other session (held in the upstairs meeting room) is for children who are 2 and under. We attend the sessions for children 2 and under.
  • You need to check in at the desk in the children's area. It is free but they do limit the number of children admitted. On a rainy day, the 11am time slot does seem to fill up.
  • The way the storytime is conducted depends on the storyteller. The last two weeks we have had two different storytellers and two different but enjoyable experiences.
  • For the 2 and under storytime, the storytellers pick age appropriate books, sing songs, and use puppets to engage the children. Neither has minded a wandering or snacking child, which is nice.
Soon she'll be ready to try out the older storytime and we'll let you know how it goes :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back To School

Today marks the first day of school for Arlington and Fairfax County public school children. I have found that even though I do not have school aged children, back to school still affects me.

Let us count the ways.....
  1. Pools and spraygrounds are now closed (at least during the week, but most for season)
  2. The carousel at Clemyjontri Park now only operates on the weekends
  3. Parks near schools suffer from lack of parking during drop off and pick up times
  4. Parks far from schools are now empty most of the day (especially in the mornings when preschool is in session)
  5. The mall is a significantly nicer place now that the preteens and teenagers have somewhere else to be (yes, I was mallrat at this age too, and I am sure there were many mothers who were glad to see me head back to school)
  6. Grocery stores are understaffed (see now I appreciate the teenagers being out of school)
  7. Weekday babysitters are harder to find (again more teenager appreciation)
  8. The zoo, National Building Museum, Smithsonians, and other tourist attractions will be much less crowded until field trips start (usually not until the second month of school)
Now if only it felt like Fall...

Map of Parks