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NEW! Children’s Play Area at The Mall at Tuttle Crossing

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On May 25, 2017, The Mall at Tuttle Crossing launched a soft opening of the new Children’s Play Area, beginning with an 8 AM sneak peek for local bloggers and their kids! Your kids can play here now, too, but the official Grand Opening is this Friday, June 2, 2017 from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM! To celebrate, there will be a ribbon cutting, face painting, a balloon artist and an opening statement from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

The play area uses the theme STEAM. No, not STEM, STEAM! I’m happy to report they’ve added an “A” for Art, a movement created by the Rhode Island School of Design! Good for them!

There are 5 main activity areas, each representing a letter of the acronym STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

1. Science Scramble:

On one side of the square cards, you can put a science-themed puzzle together. With the other side, you can play tic-tac-toe with periodic elements!

2. Techno Tunes:

Make music with the power of technology! By stepping on the squares in front of the rainbow steps (which lead to a slide!) you can play a tune with the sounds of different instruments! One thing I appreciated here was that music was always playing, but it was NOT loud! 🙂

3. Wonder Wall:

At the Wonder Wall (who’s singing Oasis?) you can use levers, pulleys, wheels and other simple machines to move a ball up through the maze and back down again. This one was a hit with my kids!

4. My Art Gallery:

Tap, slide and pinch with your fingers to choose the scene of your art work, add items to it, enlarge them and then change the style. There are three “easels” to work on around the wall. When you’re done you can email the artwork to Grandma (or whomever you choose)! When you tap “Finish,” the screen says LOOK UP! and your artwork is then displayed on the screen above you! The look on my 2 year old’s face when this happened was priceless!

5. Tile Table:

The Tile Table was, by far, my 5 year old’s favorite station. This was popular with lots of the kids! I apologize to all the kids out there who wanted a literal piece of the action as he stood guarding his castle, making sure it didn’t get knocked down.

In addition to the 5 activity areas, there is an additional toddler zone, STEAM Jr., which is separated from the other areas by a soft, immovable barrier.

My kids, age 2 and 5, were engaged for 3.5 hours at this play area! Honestly, that’s the longest they’ve ever spent at a mall play area before begging me to move on! I had to pry them away because I was hungry!!

Let’s address the number one comment/question I received on social media! There are no more walls! Will this be an issue? For the majority of preschool-aged children? I don’t think so. For your 9 month old crawlers? I don’t think so. For your 18 month old runners? Yes it will be.

After the sneak peek, the mall opened and the play area got busy! There were one or two runners during that time, but most of the kids were engaged in the activities that were presented. There is definitely a shift in focus from large muscle play to fine muscle activities. This isn’t a play area for running around, climbing and sliding, though there is room for a little bit of that.

The truth is that the soft toddler barriers are not large enough to keep bigger kids out and the lack of a barrier around the general play area also allows teenagers in, which I did witness the day I was there.

These are some logistical things that we as parents will encounter, HOWEVER, in my mind, the benefits and engagement level of the activities here outweighs the negatives. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my kids back here to play. The play area was designed by designers who create a lot of children’s museums, and I think if you shift your focus from what the play area at Tuttle used to be (gross/large muscle), to thinking of this as a small section of a STEAM children’s museum, you’ll be on target with what the play area is designed to be!

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ICYMI: Exploring Ohio with Kids: Bellevue


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9 Things to Do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon

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The Scioto Audubon is a really awesome Metro Park as far as kids are concerned – you should definitely take your kids there! I had been there a few times for work events in my past life, but I had never explored the park with kids until this past spring! I was missing out!

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Here are 9 things you can do there with your kids! (I don’t necessarily recommend doing them all in one day, we did a lot of them and were pretty worn out!) We’ve since been back a few times just to play in the sandbox and have a much more relaxed morning, and that’s just as great, too!

1. Attend a Story Time

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We arrived in time for the Pre-K Storytime on a Thursday morning. These story times take place at 10:00 AM on Thursdays and Saturdays in the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The library area was full of children’s books and there was a tee pee to play in, as well as scientific equipment to investigate. The story time was laid back and fun for small kids. There was a wide age range of kids there and I felt that the volunteer was very understanding of their varying levels of concentration!

2. Visit with Live Animals

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After the story time, a volunteer took us down the hall to visit with frogs, turtles and other water creatures. I wouldn’t have known about this room if it wasn’t for our friendly story time leader!

3. Check Out the Play Room

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I had no idea that there was a play area inside the Center. I would have been coming here during the winter, that’s for sure! There are puppets in a cave-like play area and a climbing structure! There were also really cute animal costumes for dressing up. Inside the same room were animal pelts and skulls the kids could touch.

4. Play in the Sand Box

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Just outside the Audubon Center, there is a sand box to play in. My kids could have stayed here all day! There were already sand toys in the area, so we did not have to bring our own. There’s a chalkboard for drawing on and several paths for the kids to walk on in the area.

5. Walk the Boardwalk

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We took a walk out the back of the Audubon Center, down the path that leads to the rock climbing wall and playground. It’s a good hike, but still doable with small children. We didn’t actually see any animals, but we heard frogs croaking! This spot was a little scary for me with an almost 2 year old peering over the boardwalk. If you can trust your kids not to dive in, it’s worth doing! I wished I could enjoy it a little more but I was trying not to have a heart attack every time they walked close to the edge. 😉

6. Check out the River Overlook

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The park has a river overlook, out over the Scioto River. There are binoculars available for long distance viewing!

7. Play on the Playground

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You can walk down the boardwalk to the playground, or park in the parking lot right next to it. We walked down after already having a full morning playing, so the walk back up was a bit tiring. I might recommend driving down so you can leave from the park. There is a play area for older and younger kids and a mister for really hot days! There are several picnic tables with umbrellas overhead. For older kids, there is a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course nearby. I love the gorgeous views of downtown from the park!

8. Go Bird Watching

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Well, this should be obvious at an audubon center, I guess, but there are a lot of bird watching opportunities. 😉 If you can get your kids to stay still enough (definitely a challenge for me!) the birds will congregate at the feeders around the building. We saw quite a few from the windows in the library, and we were able to walk by the feeders on the outside decks (which are also on my list of places to come WITHOUT kids)! There are lots of opportunities to learn about birds inside the center, too!

9. Climb the Water Tower

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Or more accurately, climb two stories of the water tower! 😉 And this is a bonus tip because we didn’t actually do it! If I thought it wasn’t going to mean carrying a toddler up and down the steps, I would have totally done this for the awesome view, but I was pushing the limit as it was! I imagine it would be fun to eat a packed lunch up there!

Know Before You Go:

Scioto Audubon Metro Park, 400 W. Whittier St., Columbus, OH 43215, 614-202-5197
Park Hours:
6:30 AM to 10:00 PM April through September
6:30 AM to 8:00 PM October through March

Grange Insurance Audubon Center, 505 W. Whittier St., Columbus OH 43215, 614-545-5475
Spring/Summer Hours:
Closed Monday
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM

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ICYMI: Cheap Family Outings in Columbus for Every Day of the Week


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