If your toddler thinks playing in good old Maine mud during “mud season” is the highlight of his day, it’s no wonder you’re looking for suitable alternatives. Although there’s no guarantee that he’ll find them quite as enticing as oozing mud between his toes, chances are you’ll welcome a break from scrubbing him clean. Although play centers and parks offer new experiences for toddlers, don’t overlook resources you might find closer to home.
Playhouses and Museums
Depending on where you live or visit in Maine, there are several play areas suitable for toddlers within a few hours drive. The Rumpus Room in Brunswick, Maine (rumpus-room.com) is specially designed with young children in mind, featuring plenty of room for jumping and tumbling, while the Children’s Discovery Museum in Bangor, Maine (mainediscoverymuseum.org) provides a host of activities for children of all ages. It includes fairy tale rooms, musical exhibits and an area for water play appropriate for toddlers. The Peek-a-Boo Children’s Center in Westbrook, Maine (peekaboocenter.com) offers an array of activities your little one will love. Activities include dress-up areas, a pirate ship, a train set, a play construction zone, an art center, dolls, as well as areas to rest and relax with books and other quiet activities.
If traveling to a far-away play center is more than you want to tackle with your fidgety toddler, head out to the beach. Maine boast more than 6,000 lakes and an impressive shoreline, making it easy to find a beach near you. Take along buckets, pails and spoons — and let your toddler go to town digging in the sand, instead of mud. She’ll have a blast exploring the water’s edge — which makes for easy cleanup, too.
If your little one is big on fairy tales, a walk in the forest is sure to bring giggles as you retell the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” or “Little Red Riding Hood” — as long as you assure him that bears and wolves don’t live in your part of the woods. Taking your child on a carefully planned trip into the forest helps him connect fairy tales to real life — and gives him a step up when it comes to literacy skills, too.
For those rainy days when heading out to the beach or exploring the forest simply isn’t an option, roll out the crayons and have a coloring party at home. Expand it to cutting and pasting — if you dare — and join your toddler in a day of fun. Other activities include dancing to Mother Goose, cuddling up for story time or watching her favorite video together. Throw in a healthy snack and enjoy your time together.