Located within the Mall of America the Sea Life Aquarium is the perfect size for families with young children; there’s plenty to see without it being overwhelming, which allows children to spend more time enjoying each exhibit in full. Even the youngest babies will enjoy watching as fish dart around, following movement with interest. For toddlers, Sea Life is an opportunity for them to provide you with an on going commentary, showing off their ever- increasing vocabulary; wander around the aquarium on any given afternoon and you are bound to hear “fish! Nemo! Oooh, orange! Look, big!” For slightly older children who are able to absorb information like sponges there are often talks about the creatures natural habitats as well as fun facts to read aloud. The tunnels are great family fun, the experience of rays and turtles swimming all around you and over your head is really exhilarating!
‘The most popular museum in the Upper Midwest’ its own website proclaims and with good reason! The science museum is packed with incredible hands on learning activities that suit a wide range of ages. Each ‘experiment’ can offer different levels of engagement and learning to everyone, meaning that everyone takes something away from it. Take for example, the create a tornado activity; here little scientists are able to create a tornado from water mist by pressing buttons. For an older child with working knowledge of how tornadoes occur this solidifies their theoretical learning, a preschooler may watch this visual example and begin to grasp some of the process whilst a young toddler or baby is simply wowed by the sensory experience. For families with a mix of ages the science museum is ideal.
It is never too early to introduce your child to the Arts. Drama and theatre are especially useful learning tools for children of all ages. Research has shown that children who are exposed to and participate in drama and dramatic play have higher degrees of empathy and emotional resilience. Many parents worry about taking their children to the theatre as they fear they may be disruptive or not sit through a whole play but The Children’s Theatre company gets it! The whole set up is very child focussed with special early years and preschool productions often on and a playroom at the back of the theatre. Families can take advantage of special ticket bundles, discounting the cost, and there are plenty of seasonal specials coming up in time for Christmas including Dr Seuss’ The Grinch and Mr Popper’s penguins.
It should go without saying that a trip to the Zoo makes a great family day out, but of Minnesota Zoo this is particularly true. With the opportunity to walk amongst kangaroos, see sharks getting fed, and watch a demonstrations of cow milking in the farm area this zoo is much more hands on than many. The zoo is organized logically with animals from similar areas of the world located near each other which makes it easier for children to understand the idea of natural habitats. The focus on conservation ensures that children receive valuable input and an important take home message about our planet’s welfare. The bird show is a particular highlight and the Zoo often holds special events such as their Jack-o-lantern spectacular throughout October.
We recently took some of our Eden Prairie Montessori Children to the Children’s Museum in St. Paul and they had an absolute blast! Even if your child has been already they would benefit so much from visiting again; there is so much to see and do that even taking several trips you would discover something new each time. Children also love repetition and having the chance to repeat activities helps to consolidate their learning. The museum features the phrase “Kid Powered Play- Building brains and having fun along the way” on its website and this accurately describes their focus on the importance of learning through play. The museum offers a huge variety of play equipment with different themes, allowing children to discover why things happen and how things work with real hands on experience. Particularly popular is the car wash area!
As the weather begins to change families may want to start seeking out indoor activities to stop them going stir crazy in the Minnesota winter. Our local aquatic center is a real value for money find! Most children love to play in water and the zero depth recreational area is perfect for allowing babies, toddlers and little ones to experiment with water and build up their confidence for swimming. Swimming is second to none for children’s physical development allowing them to experiment with new ways of moving their bodies and build up muscles for walking, running and climbing. These gross motor movements also help to develop prewriting skills, keep your child fit and healthy and allow them to blow off steam when it’s getting colder outside. The aquatics center also has a swim program for children from 6 months old if you are looking for a regular structured activity.
Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in area with plenty of open space to walk and enjoy nature. We don’t always need to spend any money at all to have a great time together as a family; getting out and enjoying nature together is one of the best gifts you can give your children. Many adults list their happiest and fondest childhood memories as playing outdoors and yet many children today spend less time outside than convicted felons! At Eden Prairie Montessori we are passionate about providing children with the opportunity to play outdoors because we see the numerous benefits of it. Children who regularly play outside are healthier, smarter and less prone to anxiety. With the leaves changing colour there is plenty to observe and talk about with your little ones, and with some trails just over a mile long there really is no excuse not to get out and enjoy some free entertainment.
It’s like something out of as fairy tale riding around the city in your own horse drawn carriage! You can choose to have your driver tell you about the city as you go or talk amongst yourselves. The excitement of being pulled along by horses, the wonder at the carriage itself and the rich sensory experience of bobbing along listening to hooves on cobblestones will entrance even the youngest children and the opportunities to see new sights, or familiar sights in a different way, are sure to spark conversation in your family. This would certainly make for a magical weekend activity!
9. River Cruise
We often forget to be tourists in the town we live and in doing so we miss out on some fantastic gems right under our noses. River cruises can be on the pricey side but often companies will offer discounts as it comes towards the end of the main season, or it could be a great alternative gift to ask for to stop mountains of toys building up in your home! Little ones will be delighted to set sail on a real boat on the Mississippi river and the novel experience will be something they want to talk about with their friends, building up their recollection and recall skills as well as some epic story-telling! As you cruise along the river there is often the option to have a guide explain what you are seeing and some of the history; when you find out more about the area in which you live you will be amazed at the history you were missing out on!
The local trampoline park offers a substantial discount for toddlers. Your little ones will love bouncing around refining their balance and getting in a good aerobic workout at the same time! Trampolining encourages children to push out their physical limits, evaluating and managing risk and gaining confidence in their own abilities. Their pride at mastering jumping on the trampoline can be shared with their family, creating adorable memories of those beaming smiles. For older siblings there’s laser tag and foam pits and the opportunity for parents to sit and grab a drink. Another good indoor activity as we draw closer to winter.
Hope this gives you some ideas! If you have small children and are on the search for a Montessori-style education, don’t hesitate to schedule a tour at 952-944-8466.
To learn more about our child care center in Eden Prairie and programs, contact us at 952-944-8466. We look forward to meeting you!
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