Kids are preschoolers for such a short time, aren’t they? Before you know it, they are heading off to school and then middle school and then conquering the world.
The fall has come where I find myself finally down to one kid at home during the day. My preschooler and I are now able to see her three older sibs off at the bus stop each morning and then stroll home to spend all that quality one-on-one time she’s been waiting her whole short life for. We’re also planning to tackle the list (below) of kid-centric activities around town that I’ve kept in my back pocket since my oldest could toddle. Let me share some of my favorite places to take preschoolers — and I’ll mention where it’s absolutely appropriate to bring older siblings as well. Please note that all of the following activities take place on weekdays. For more inspiration on where to take the entire family on the weekend, visit our Family Fun Calendar.
Where: The Works Museum, Bloomington
Time: 9am – 12pm select Mondays, Oct-May.
Cost: $4.50 per child over 2 years of age (half-price), $9.00 per adult.
Details: Preschoolers who love to build and tinker will enjoy the various hands-on exhibits at The Works. This is also a great place to bring school-aged children — my own brood loves to build and race K’NEX vehicles, play in the new Sensor Zone gallery, and engineer all kinds of contraptions in the Design Lab. Read about a trip with to Pre-K Mornings here.
Where: Mall of America Rotunda
Time: Ongoing Tuesdays, 10am – noon
Details: Live entertainment and activities guaranteed to excite the stroller set. You can view upcoming event details here. Make a day of it with a special Nickelodeon Universe 5-hour ride wristband ($12.99 plus tax, select attractions only), kids eat free specials at participating restaurants and a stop at the free play tables at the LEGO Store.
Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Time: 2019 Autumn Series Runs September – November. 9:30-11am
Cost: $140.00 / 10 Sessions
Details: This program does require pre-registration and a 10-session commitment. However, if you would rather just hang out with your preschooler at the arboretum, you can always just pay the gate fee and do your own thing.
Where: Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis
Time: Ongoing Wednesdays, 10:30am – 1pm
Cost: Free; park in the adjacent Midtown Exchange Ramp up to 1.5 hrs. free with validation from any purchase at MGM.
Details: In the past, MGM has offered dance troupes, cooking lessons, and live animals to entertain kids. Stay for lunch — there are many tasty ethnic vendors to choose from, and several offer specials on Wednesdays. Read about our take on Wee Wednesdays here.
Where: Gleason’s Gymastic School – Eagan & Brooklyn Park
Time: Wednesdays & Fridays, 9:30 – 11:30am, Fridays only 12 – 2pm (September through April)
Cost: $8/child or $10/family
Details: A trip to Gleason’s open gym with your preschooler (particularly in the middle of winter) is an instant mood-lifter. The kids will love the opportunity to bounce on trampolines, scoot through obstacle courses, and play on the gym equipment to their hearts’ content. For older sibs, Gleason’s also hosts open gym for kids in first grade through age 13 ($12 non-member). See the schedule link for times and read about our visit to Gleason’s here.
Where: North Mississippi Regional Park (Other Minneapolis Parks less frequently)
Time: Wednesdays, 10:45-11:45. Sign up for 4-week sessions
Cost: $16/child/4-week session.
Details: Come with your little one to play and have fun in nature with other children and parents/guardians. During this four week series each day will be different, but will have nature themes involving plants, animals, and seasons. Enjoy the fall together! For kids up to age 5 with an adult. Search Keyword Nature Nuts.
Where: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Visitor Center
Time: Thursdays through April 2019, 10am – noon
Cost: Free; donations appreciated
Details: Designed for preschoolers, the program explores a new animal or plant theme each week through games, manipulatives, art projects, and a storytime. No registration required, just drop in and go at your own pace. Read about our outing to Como Lil Explorer Thursdays here.
Where: Simply Jane Studio, Minneapolis
Time: Thursdays, 10am-noon
Details: Junior ar-teests can paint a masterpiece (complete with a little guidance, if desired) and enjoy free play with the studio’s stock of games, puzzles, dress up attire and other toys.
Where: American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
Time: Ongoing, third Friday of the month and select Saturdays, 9-10am
Details: Before the museum opens, join ASI for visual play, storytelling, music, and movement inspired by ASI’s exhibits that will encourage creative young minds. Suggested for ages 2-5, but there’s lots for older kids to appreciate inside the castle as well.
Where: Three Rivers Park District – various sites
Time: Check the programs & events calendar for a complete listing of My Preschooler & Me classes.
Cost: $4-$6/per person, both child & adult pay.
Details: Participating Three Rivers Parks sites include Gale Woods Farm, Lowry Nature Center, Carl Kroening Interpretive Center, Eastman Nature Center, Richardson Nature Center, The Landing, and Cleary Lake Regional Park. Classes are appropriate for children ages 2 – 5 and explore the natural world through outdoor play, art, and other hands-on activities. Registration is required and can be usually be made online and always by phone (763.559.6700).
The following are just a sampling of what’s out there for you and your preschooler every day of the week. For more ideas, check out our selection of Two Weeks Worth of Preschool Storytimes in the Twin Cities. Guaranteed you’ll find a new story spot!
Monday: Wild Rumpus Tail Time | Wild Rumpus Books, Minneapolis
Tuesday: Storytime with Engineer Paul | Choo Choo Bob’s, St Paul
Wednesday: Preschool Storytime at Red Balloon | Red Balloon Bookshop, St Paul
Thursday: Lil Explorer Thursdays Storytime | Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St Paul
Friday: Barnes & Noble Storytime | Galleria, Edina
Local library storytimes
Don’t forget about the wonderful preschool (and toddler, and baby, and bilingual for that matter) storytimes hosted by your local libraries! Below you’ll find the most up-to-date links I could find for the following locations:
Libraries are also wonderful locations for free classes, special events and Play & Learn spaces that encourage literacy through the incorporation the six domains of Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (reading, playing, singing, writing and talking).
I’ll be the first to admit that it sounds cliche, but the preschool years really are over before you know it. I hope this list gave you a few new ideas on how to spend some quality time during the week with your preschooler – and, as always, if you have any favorite activities to share, please feel welcome to.