Tinkering around at Tinkergarten

img_8833Our adventure today was a Tinkergarten class, held at Cradle Creek Preserve in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Tinkergarten is an outdoor learning experience held at local parks, where kids 18 months – 8 years learn through play and exploring the outdoors. They have it set up in 43 states so far, so check out the website to find a class near you. They offer a free trial class, so we signed up to give it a try and ventured out on a cloudy drizzly Wednesday morning to go get our nature on.

We arrived nice and early and then discovered there were no bathrooms. As soon as I learn there are no bathrooms somewhere, I always suddenly, urgently have to pee. I wasn’t up for squatting in the woods (at least not this time) so we took a quick detour to the gas station and headed back. Our class leader Sara said she was looking into moving it to a different park with better amenities and parking. There were only maybe 4 spots in the lot, but you can park on the side of the street.

We got started with a little song and then read a story that just happened to be my favorite book from kindergarten, Stone Soup. After the story, the kids got to participate in making their own version of stone soup using dirt, sticks, leaves and whatever else they could scavenge. My favorite part was when they added the “seasonings” from a bag of lavender that smelled heavenly.

The age range for our class was about 2 – 5, so it was hectic but fun. There were wanderers and the occasional tantrum breakdown, but overall all the kids seemed to enjoy it. Keelan wasn’t sure at first, but after a few minutes he got really into making his “soup” with water and dirt and even went back for extra seasonings.

I’m waiting to hear if the class is going to be moved to a park with bathrooms before we sign up. I really did like getting to visit the nature preserve location because there weren’t any other distractions around, but I can’t be peeing in the bushes. I mean, I just met these people and it’s not exactly a kegger in the woods. 😆

Check out their website Tinkergarten.com to see if there is a class near you, and if not, you can also sign up to be a class leader in your area. I’m actually looking into that myself since I’d like to get paid to play outside with the kiddo!

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Bay and Bee Play Space

Back in April Bay and Bee offered a “buy two months get one free special,” so I thought it would be a great chance to check it out and really let us get to know it before committing to a regular monthly membership. It’s a Montessori inspired, eco-friendly indoor play space for children under 5, located in Jacksonville, FL.

img_4376They have a great play space with tons of toys, a wooden train set that you can use to build different tracks, a play kitchen area, lots of blocks and creative toys, and a little jungle gym in the middle.

I was really looking forward to trying all the classes they offer from Sway and Play Yoga to sign language. Unfortunately Keelan lasted about 30 seconds in yoga and ran out of the room, and I couldn’t get him to sit still and pay attention to any of the demonstrations. He participated a tiny bit in the art class. But as usual it was not the amazing mom and son activity time I had imagined. He mostly just wanted to run off and play with the dump truck.

It is a great place to go on a rainy day or when it’s too hot or too cold to play outside. Other than that I want to wait until Keelan is more interested in classes before getting a membership again. I feel like you need to do those to really make the most out of the cost of the membership which starts at $48/mo.

If you are interested in checking it out, your first visit is free!

Bay & Bee
13475 Atlantic Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32266
(904)221-1900

 

 

The Hands On Adventure

IMG_4084Our toddler adventure for today was at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Jacksonville, FL. I went in expecting it to be on the science-y side, but it ended up being more like a museum of real life.  There was a grocery store, bank, veterinarian, cafe, theater, etc. I’m not really sure where the “museum” part comes in… maybe because it has been there for 17 years? Lol

Everything was a little old and beat up, and it was hot and some stuff was stinky, but you know who doesn’t care about any of that? A two-year-old. So I just took a step back and let him go crazy and play with everything. We’ve got to kick that immune system into high gear for our impending date with preschool anyway!

It’s definitely worth checking out if you live in Jacksonville. We were there a couple hours and K didn’t want to leave! I think it’s odd that parents have to pay $5.50 to sit and watch their kid, so essentially that made it a $9.50 visit. But overall worth the trip since I had a tired baby afterwards!

Like a Toddler in a China Shop

In my big effort to “get out there and do stuff,” I signed us up for a handprint ornament class at one of those make it and paint it pottery places. In other words, I took a toddler to a fragile land of no-no filled with colorful animals, flowers and even tanks and video game controllers that he can’t touch! In case you are wondering how fun it is with a 19 month old, well on a scale of 1-10…it’s maybe a 3. And that’s if you just really like arts and crafts. And chasing toddlers. We spent 10% of our time on the handprint and 90% of the time it was me chasing him around going “No Touch! No Touch!”

It all sounded so lovely – a story time with snack and drink, followed by creating a pottery piece that went with the story. Unfortunately they started with the crafty part, so by the time the story time came he was WAY over it. Then the snack and drink were terribly inappropriate for his age group. Little hard gummy bear type things and juice in a small Styrofoam cup that he immediately grabbed and tried to crush in his tiny toddler hands as it sloshed all over my lap. I quickly ate all the gummy bears, took the shot of juice and then gave him a pouch from home. Oddly enough the only thing he didn’t try to crush was his handprint. I could barely make a dent. I was starting to worry I was hurting him, trying to cram his hand into the clay.

Other highlights include a kid peeing his pants in the corner and a mom who thought a loud airplane might be a tornado. I’m serious. She went outside to check the clouds.

So in just a couple weeks we will get a lovely $18 handprint turned Santa ornament to mark this occasion. I’m glad we tried it, but it will be a little while before we try it again. It is making me reconsider the $90 art class I’ve been eyeing. Maybe save that for a couple months from now…

I’m glad I didn’t stick around for the footprint (an additional $18) because I found this nifty idea online on how you can do the exact same thing at home for free:

santaornament