There are many resources for finding activities for children. Often, you will find that one event or outing can lead to the next. Join a Mom/Dad 'n Me music class, and you're bound to meet other parents of same-aged children, which often leads to future playtime together.
To begin your search for activities, you may look in a number of places. Activities with a dollar sign ($) tend to be a bit more expensive, but usually worth the fee; those without a dollar sign are relatively inexpensive or free:
- Local newspapers. Just about every newspaper contains a "Things to do" section, often in the Friday edition. Look for the children's/kids' activity section, as well as for more general activities sections, which may include local points of interest/activities such as museums, family-oriented concerts, etc.
On-line sources, including the local yellow pages. Search general categories, such as children's music class, art class, gymnastics, etc. to find locations, phone numbers and links to websites. You may need to try a few keywords to find what you're looking for (ie: to find a ballet class, you may search under ballet, dance studio or dance instruction).
Some child-oriented businesses are part of larger national or international groups or chains, with local chapters. You may find them in the yellow pages, or search their websites to find locations (including fees and schedules) in your area. Some popular organizations are listed below:
- International Mom's Club-chapters can be joined for a small annual fee (approximately $20). Generally for mothers of infants-preschoolers. This club sends out monthly/bi-monthly newsletters with lists and contacts for other group members, as well as a list of activities for the upcoming months. It usually offers a wide range of activities, at different times of day to accommodate different schedules (ie: nap times). You'll find everything from meetings in the park to all-day outings and holiday parties. Playgroups often form through these groups. www.momsclub.org
- MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) offers support and activities for parents and their preschool-aged children nationwide; a small annual fee is usually required. www.mops.org
- Gymboree offers gymnastics, music and art classes for infants-5 years. $ www.playandmusic.com
- My Gym offers gym classes for children ages 3-months-12 years. www.my-gym.com. $
- The Little Gym offers gymnastics, sports development, karate-focused gym programs, and some cheerleading for ages 4 months-12 years. www.thelittlegym.com. $
- Kindermusik offers music classes nationwide, and in more than 35 countries. www.kindermusik.com $
- Music Together-offers music classes for infants-Kindergarteners. www.musictogether.com $
Local libraries. Libraries usually offer story times and other activities for children. Many have newsletters listing these events, available at the front desk or the children's desk (larger libraries tend to have their own children's librarians). These activities are generally offered free of charge to the community and many are drop-in programs.
YMCA. The YMCA is a nationwide organization that usually offers a variety of children's classes at reasonable prices. You'll find everything from Mom/Dad & Me to swimming, sports clinics, dance, arts & crafts, cooking, summer camp programs and more. Go to www.YMCA.net to find locations.
Local/city township building &/or website. This can be a great place to find activities. Special events (such as free concerts in the park during warmer weather) may be featured on or near the front page, while nature-related, sports, crafts and other activities are usually found in the Parks and Recreation section. If you're not sure how to find your township building, look for the phone number in the blue pages, in the front section of your local phone book.
Retail locations. Borders and Barnes& Noble bookstores, as well as others, usually offer story times (often with milk and cookies at the end). Michael's Arts & Crafts and A.C. Moore usually offer drop-in arts & crafts activities and even arts & crafts camp in the summer.
Some final tips:
- Check bulletin boards at local supermarkets, libraries, and similar places for postings of children's and family activities.
- Often, just spending time at kid-friendly places, such as playgrounds and even McDonalds' play areas (or similar play places), lead to connections and friendships between kids and their parents. You will likely meet other parents with tips on things to do, especially if you choose to be friendly.