Columbus Zoo: Little Explorers Base Camp

Last week we were meeting a friend at the Zoo and she texted me saying, “We’re at Little Explorers by the pond.” I texted back, “What is that?” And before I got a reply, we stumbled right into this fun set up by the lake, right near the entrance! I have Little Explorers Base Camp on my Tuesday page as an idea of something to do, but we had never experienced it ourselves! There are only a few weeks left in the season, but I got a lot of questions about it on social media, so I thought I’d put together a post with the details.

Exploring pond life!

Little Explorers Base Camp is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM throughout the school year. Each theme runs for two weeks and is held at a different location at the Zoo. Last week the theme was Around the Pond and all of the activities featured something related to pond life.


No registration is required for this activity – you just show up, play for as long as you like and move on when you’re ready. The stations were set up around the area and were really easy to navigate.

Learning about nests and birds!

Feeding worms to baby birds!

There were several staff members there who were really good with the kids, asking them questions about what colors they saw, what things felt like, etc. My kids were really engaged! If we didn’t prod them on to see the polar bears, they probably would have stayed forever!

Building a beaver dam!

You still have the opportunity to do this activity during the rest of May! The theme will be Pollinators and will take place at My House (the house you can walk through in the North American exhibit before you get to the petting zoo!) Little Explorer’s Base Camp will take place on these dates: May 16, 18, 23, and 25 from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM.

And just in case you haven’t heard, there are baby polar bears at the Zoo! Aurora has twins and Anana has one cub. Their names were just announced over the weekend! Anana’s cub is Amelia Gray, chosen by public vote, and Aurora’s twins are Nuniq and Neva, chosen by The Zoo and The Wilds staff.

When we visited last week the twins were nursing, so of course that meant they went right down for a nap and we only saw a head pop up once or twice! These pictures are from a few weeks ago, but I wanted to include them just for the cuteness factor! The twins and the cub alternate days of being out and can be out and about as long as they desire! The schedule is not as tight as it was for baby Nora so you have a good chance of seeing them without as long of a line! 🙂

Edited 1/4/2018:

Upcoming Dates for 2018:

Rockin’ Reptiles:  March 6, 8, 13, 15 at Reptile House
Tons O’ Fun:  March 20, 22, 27, 29 at Pachyderm Building
Barnyard Bonanza: April 3, 5, 10, 12 at My Barn
Celebrate the Sea: April 17, 19, 24, 26 at Manatee Coast
Outback Adventures: May 1, 3, 8, 10 at Australia Roadhouse
Backyard Explorers: May 15, 17, 22, 24 at North American Aviary


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ICYMI: 12 Parks to Try This Summer

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3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Jaclyn Davis

Each month I will be featuring a local parent who will tell us about three places they love to take their kids in Columbus! Thanks to Jaclyn for sharing 3 of her favorites with us this month!

1. Naturally Curious Kids 

This isn’t your average toy store. Once you walk in, your imagination and sense of wonder are fully invoked. On the first level is the sweetest little play house for your kids to play in while you are looking around. There are also other little play areas set up, ready to be played with and tested out. The store is arranged by age; starting with 0-2 on the first floor and ending with older kids/adults on the second level. Our favorite time to go is on Wednesday mornings for their Story/Craft time from 11:30 AM -12:00 PM.

2. CATCO/CATCO is Kids

Columbus is loaded with options for introducing your kids to preforming arts. Going to the theater has become one of our favorite outings. One theater specifically we frequent often is CATCO/CATCO is Kids. They perform at the Columbus Performing Arts Center. They provide shows for all ages and at different lengths. Our two favorite this year have been Cowgirls Don’t Ride Zebras and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The theater is small and intimate, which is perfect for little ones. CATCO does an amazing job not only supplying an outlet for those who want to preform but also for the children who enjoy attending.

3. Home Depot Kids Workshops

My girls love the first Saturday of the month! Home depot offers a different project monthly that is perfect for little hands, with the help of an adult. We use this opportunity as a Daddy date. At your first visit you receive a workshop apron, just like the employees wear. You’ll also receive a commemorative pin for that month’s project and a certificate of achievement. Each following workshop you attend, you collect the commemorative pins and add them to your apron.  They’ve made great projects, including picture ornaments, monster trucks, boats, picture frames and airplanes.

Hi! I’m Jaclyn over on Instagram @sew_many_stitches. I’m a full time working mama to 2 sweet little girls. I love taking adventures with my husband and our cuties. Our tastes are all quite eclectic so you will find us anywhere between the theater, enjoying a ballet to digging in the mud finding worms.  When not around town with my girls, I am sharing my passion for sewing. I enjoy teaching private and group lessons for garment sewing and quilting. I’m on facebook at Sew Many Stitches. My passion for sewing is my second obsession behind my girls. I love Columbus for all the amazing opportunities it gives so many while still being a hometown feeling city!

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Indoor Programs for Toddlers and Preschoolers in Columbus: Winter 2017

If you’re trying to survive winter with a toddler or preschooler, I’m with you! I’ve already started looking forward to summer, which is a dangerous thing to start doing at the beginning of January. But never fear, Columbus has so many indoor options for keeping toddlers busy! Here’s what’s going on this winter:

Little Adventurers at Franklin Park Conservatory – Thursdays at 10:30 AM – this is program for ages 3-5 with nature-themed stories and activities.

Pre School and Parent/Child Classes at Columbus Recreation and Parks – Registration for Winter Session opened January 3rd.  There are pages and pages of classes available for your young children and many of them are free or at an extremely low cost!

Pre School Open Gym at Dublin Rec Center – Mondays and Fridays from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM  for ages 6 months to 6 years. Check the link for several other toddler programs at the Dublin Rec Center!

Toddler Theater

Toddler Theater at Abbey Theater of Dublin – select Wednesdays from 10:00 AM – 10:45 AM – recommended for ages 2-5, this is an interactive performance by Marlene Hartzler. Kids are encouraged to join her on stage to sing and dance! Often there is a special costumed visitor who joins in the fun!

Toddler Story Time at Columbus Metropolitan Library, Main Library – Tuesdays from 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM – There are so many toddler and pre-K story times going on in the CML system. Make sure to check the link to search for your closest branch or explore a new one!


Grandview Library

Tales for Toddlers at Grandview Library – Tuesdays from 10:15 AM – 10:45 AM – story time for ages 18-36 mos. Check the link for all the other story times for young children going on this winter!

Toddler Time at Westerville Rec Center – Fridays from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM – this is a drop in program for ages Kindergarten and under and their caregivers. The time includes play and crafts!

Pee Wee Play Gym at Westerville Rec Center – Mondays from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM – this play time is a drop in program for ages 3 and under accompanied by an adult!

Little Explorers Base Camp at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – this is a free, drop in program where preschoolers and toddlers can learn and explore!

Curious Kids at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology – drop in preschool program on Tuesdays from 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM – free with admission or membership! See the link for the weekly schedule and themes!

Winter Classes at piccadilly – classes are available for babies through preschoolers in things like Messy Art, Storybook Art, Squats and Tots and more! Drop in or sign up for a series!

Toddler Thursdays at Magic Mountain – from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM kids can have unlimited KidsGym for just $2.50!

Scioto Audubon

Pre-K Storytime at Scioto Audubon – Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 AM – this time features nature stories for ages 3-5. Check the link for many other ongoing toddler and preschool programs at Columbus Metro Parks.

Mr. Eric’s Music at Firefly Cafe – 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 10:30 AM – a fun singing time with Mr. Eric is included with admission to the play cafe!

My Very First Art Class! Toddler Art at Zen Kidz Play Cafe – Thursdays – several classes are available throughout the morning for parents and children together!

Toddler Time at Get Air – this special toddler jump time is available on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM!

Toddler Time special with Get Air and Tree of Life Play Cafe – on Wednesdays and Thursdays, these neighboring businesses offer a special price to play at both locations!

Babytime and Tales for Twos and Threes at Worthington Libraries – lots of story times available for toddlers almost every day of the week!

Drop-in Preschool Storytime at Westerville Library – Monday and Thursday mornings from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM – singing, books, instruments and more for ages 3-6!

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Metro Parks Preschool Programs – at least seven of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks have regular preschool programs that are free to attend! Most are for ages 3-5. Click the link to see the upcoming schedule at any given time and drop in!

Pre-K Classes at The Little Gym of Polaris – Gymnastics, sports and music and movement classes are available to engage the little ones and keep them moving!

Toddler/Preschool Enrichment classes at Studio J: Sing Paint Play – these classes are for kids age 1-5 and include stories, songs, instruments, art projects and more!

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment with more ideas and info if you have it! 🙂

Hang in there . . . spring is coming!


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ICYMI: 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Columbus Parents

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*

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