2 MORE Great Metro Park Nature Centers for Columbus Kids

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Here are two more Metro Park Nature Centers that offer a great space for kids! (If you missed it, I shared the first two here!) Both of these centers have a huge focus on bird watching, so Spring will be a great time to visit these locations!

Blacklick Woods Metro Park

6975 E Livingston Ave, Reynoldsburg OH 43068
Nature Center: 614-861-8759

A reader tipped me off to the Nature Center at Blacklick Woods Metro Park in Reynoldsburg! We had a fun morning there a few weeks ago!

Of course, my kids headed straight for the tee pee upon entering!

Interesting things to touch!

There’s a “tree house,” an area for puppet shows, a kid microscope for viewing insects up close, puzzles, coloring and more!

My kids LOVED the kid-friendly binoculars and spent a lot of time watching birds and squirrels at feeders just outside these large windows! Mayson was obsessed with the “carnivals” (cardinals) and Jaden loved the blue jays (because blue is his favorite color)!

There is an occasional story time at the center, check the upcoming program list here.


Grange Insurance Audubon CenterScioto Audubon Metro Park,

505 W Whittier St. Columbus OH 43215, 614-545-5475

The Grange Insurance Audubon Center within Scioto Audubon Metro Park is an amazing place for kids!

There is a library area where they have story time and this tee pee!

And the views of Columbus are stunning!

 

Lots of opportunities for touching here, too!

There is a kid’s play area with a “cave” of sorts, puppets and a climbing gym!

Inside the cave:

The climbing gym:

Dress up:

There is a preschool story time on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 AM in the library! Now that the weather is getting warmer, make sure to check out 9 Things to Do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon for things to do inside AND out!

These are two great Nature Centers for kids to explore! What are your favorite?

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ICYMI: Two Fun Libraries for Columbus Kids


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North, South, East and West: Great Libraries for Reading AND Playing! Part 2

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Welcome to Part 2 of a post featuring some of our great area libraries!  (Read Part 1 here!)  The concept of libraries is, of course, fantastic, but we in the Columbus area, specifically, are lucky to have one of the greatest library systems in the nation!  If you’re looking for something to do with young kids, most area libraries have story times for various age groups.  (Check out the Columbus Metropolitan Library Event schedule here.)  And in case you’re wondering, most story times I have been to welcome your children who do not fit into the stated age group.  I think this is worth noting because there have been times I thought maybe I couldn’t go to something because it was for my 15 month old, but my 4 year old would have to come along (and vice versa).  My other child has always been welcomed, beyond a doubt!

As I mentioned in Part 1, as parents we can fall into a rut of going to the same (often closest) library all the time.  My goal with these posts is to help you break out of the routine and make a plan to visit a new library!

Okay, onto the details!

Southeast Branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library

I guess the whole point of this post is that I can say this about all of the libraries I’m writing about, but I’ll go ahead and say it:  This branch really is a GREAT library for reading AND playing!  The Ready for Kindergarten area here is wonderful for young kids!

There is a magnetic wall for making words:

 

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Puzzles on the wall:

A large touchscreen for educational games:

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Learning-to-read toys, games and puzzles:

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A flannel board with letters, numbers and shapes:

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And of course, a lot of great books!

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During the month of March, there was a Brain-Building Class for children up through age 2 and their parents.  When we went the theme was balls, which is Mayson’s favorite!  In April there are ongoing story times for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and families.  These take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Check out the event schedule here.

Check out these cool “letter bean bags” (I’m sure that’s the technical term. 😉 ) with objects inside starting with a specific letter of the alphabet:

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You’ll have a lot of fun at the Southeast Branch, I guarantee it!

Location: 3980 S. Hamilton Road, Groveport, OH 43125
Phone:  614-645-2275

Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday and Saturday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Whitehall Branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library

One of the newest (and most modern) branches of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is the Whitehall Branch.  I love the open and bright feeling in this library.  Another Ready for Kindergarten site, this library is full of activities to inspire kids to learn to read.  The children’s area here is pretty much as separate as you can get from the other areas of the library without being its own building – which means you don’t have to worry so much about how much noise your kids make when they play excitedly here, which they will!

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Your kids are going to love the bus.  That’s a given.  My kids pretended to drive to school – which is exactly the point.  The bus also provides a great opportunity for your kids to learn to take turns.  😉

From circular nooks in the bookshelves to modern shaped seats, this children’s area is perfect for kids to grab a book and make themselves comfortable.

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There are toys for imaginitive play and building vocabulary.

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While we were here we attended a Play to Learn story time.  It was very interactive and fun for the kids.  There was singing, dancing, puppets, stamps and stickers – all with the goal of learning about the letter M – which was also great for Mayson!  He really hit the jackpot on these two library trips!  😉

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I think the Whitehall Branch does a good job of incorporating technology without making it the focal point of the kid’s area.  It’s definitely available and relevant, but there are also so many opportunities for learning through play.

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This library is also a lot of fun for picture taking!  If you want to see more, I added the pictures here because I took so many of them! 🙂

Location: 4445 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43213
Phone: 614-645-2275

Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday and Saturday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

If you haven’t yet been and are looking for somewhere new, these libraries will be an exciting change of pace for the kids.  I’d love to hear your libary recommendations, so leave me a comment below and I’ll put them on my list to check out!

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ICYMI: 5 Go-To Places to Take Your Kids in Columbus


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Watching Planes – another in-car activity!

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A few weeks ago both of my boys (and myself) were sick with colds. I’ve mentioned before that I can only stay in the house for about 1.5 days without going berserk so after about 3 or 4 “sick days” (meaning I let both of my kids, including my 17 month old, watch a lot of TV!) I needed to get out. Now don’t worry, I do not believe in or support infecting other kids with our diseases (or common viruses) so I was ISO an option that would get us out of the house but not necessarily out of the car!

A friend of mine had once given me some tips on the best places to watch airplanes take off at Port Columbus International Airport. (I felt like I had to call it by its proper name for the first mention, but will be, from here on out, called “the airport”). So, I packed us all into the car and took a trip to the airport. I was somewhat of a novice at this – I didn’t do much research, just a quick text to my friend in which she recommended “the hotel across from the McDonald’s” for watching planes. I ended up driving around a bit when I should have just stayed put, as she told me, but let me pass on what I learned.

If you’ve been to the airport, you probably know the McDonald’s I am talking about. If you eat McDonald’s food, an added bonus would be to go through the drive through for a snack to eat while you watch. (Or you could just pack one. And I am all about packing snacks. And drinks. Jaden freaks out if I forget to bring him water for some reason and he begs me, “next time will you remember to pack me a wateeeeeerrrrr?!”) But I digress.

The hotel across from McDonald’s is the Hilton Garden Inn – 4250 International Gateway, Columbus, OH 43219. If you park in the back (or what I would consider the back), you face the runway for take offs. And just stay there. Don’t get impatient like me and drive around looking for greener pastures. This is the place to be, trust me. (Though if you do drive around you may get to drive underneath a plane on a runway – which is pretty cool, but I don’t even know how to tell you to time that, so….).

IMG_3085If you really want to be prepared – and I do recommend this – check out flycolumbus.com for arrival and departure times. This will give you a good sense of when the most planes will be coming and going. If you’ve ever sat on a runway, you know that planes don’t just take off every 5 seconds, so if you have kids with short attention spans, this might not be the thing for you to do. But as I’ve mentioned, if you’re desperate and stir crazy, sometimes you just need to be out of the house with your kids safely contained in the back seat.

The day we went, it was not exactly warm so we pretty much stayed in the car. However, if you are not self conscious about who is seeing you do what, you could get out and have a little picnic on the grass next to the parking lot. Or if your kids are in, say, rear facing car seats, and can’t actually see anything you and anyone else in your car is watching, consider this: Pizzuro Park.* We did go here and I did let my kids out of the car. There were no other kids around so I am fairly confident we did not infect anyone with the cold virus. We stayed for approximately 10 minutes before everyone got cold and we got back in the car. BUT if it were warmer and you have kids who aren’t entertained by just sitting in the car waiting for a plane to take off, you could bring them here and let them play. If they like planes, they will be excited by the planes that fly over the park to come in to land. I am definitely doing this again when it’s warm and we have a picnic. There’s also the most elaborate dog run I’ve ever seen – I’ve never owned a dog, so be aware that my experience is limited – but if you have a dog, it could be entertained as well!

I’m editing this post to add that we also have had good luck watching from Columbus Recreations and Parks’ Airport Golf Course. From there we could see planes take off, but it was a really great spot for planes that were coming in for landing!

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I actually let them out of their seats . . . 😉

This post prompted me to make a list of things you can do in the car with your kids. Check it out here.

*One note about Pizzuro Park. The address is Gahanna. If you do not specify this in Google maps, it’s possible that you may end up in Whitehall. Ahem.

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ICYMI: Aquarium Adventure


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