10 Great Things To Do with Toddlers

Sing it with me… Roll out those lazy, hazy CRAZY days of summer. The days are longer, the sun is hotter and the kids are bouncing off the walls. Oh my, what’s a parent to do? This summer will be my first trying to keep both a toddler and a preschooler occupied and I admit I’m a little nervous.

What I need is a plan, so I compiled a list of 10 unusual things to do in and around Tulsa with little ones in tow.

In order to make it more interesting, I decided not to include the usual suspects. I can guarantee we will take advantage of those. We all love the zoo, the aquarium and our fabulous museums.

The library has an awesome schedule of summer programs, and our local parks are always a hit, but I wanted the list to be full of ideas that are a little off the beaten path, as well as be a mix things you can do at home or short trips out-and-about you can do between naps. Oh yes, and I didn’t want to spend very much money. Piece of cake, right? Luckily, Green Country is full of fun, interesting things to do.

1. Visit a local farm.

So your kids think that chickens are born in a convenient boneless nugget form? You need to get back to nature! Sustainable Tulsa’s Green Guide is a handy resource for all things natural and sustainable in the area. It lists local farms, dairies and other fun places. We get milk and cheese from a dairy near my parent’s house and my boys love seeing the cows, goats, chickens and big white dogs.

2. Take the bus.

Last summer we went on a few bus rides and the kiddos are still talking about it. You can ride to a specific destination, or you can get on close to home and ride in a big loop.

3. Plant a garden.

Kids love to watch things grow and really take ownership of their garden. Flowers and veggies are both big hits at our house. While you are out in the yard, make some small changes to make it more welcoming for birds and other critters. Add a birdfeeder and birdbath.

4. Make a fairy house (use bark, twigs and other things fairies would like).

France, Oklahoma-style. A short drive from Tulsa is Lavender Hill Farm in Stone Bluff, Oklahoma’s first commercial lavender farm. Acres and acres of this Mama’s favorite flower. June 7 is their Lavender Festival but you can visit during their regular business hours.

5. Bartlesville’s Kiddie Park.

An amusement park where all the rides are kiddie-sized, most rides are a quarter and you can get snow cones!?! Sign me up! Check out www.kiddiepark.net for directions and more information.

6. Have a messy day.

What do little kids like more than getting messy? Not much. Go outside and on a waterproof tablecloth put some flour, shaving cream, rice (make sure the kids are old enough not to put these things in their mouths). All the good stuff that kids usually can’t play with inside. When they are done creating a mess, hose them and the cloth off and you are ready to go inside.

7. Summer through their eyes.

If your kids are old enough, give them a sturdy old camera and let them take photos. Digital cameras make it easy to delete the 99 photos they will take of their shoes, but you might be surprised at some of the beautiful images they capture. Make a book and have them create the story. Write it down.

8. Hit Route 66.

If you loved the movie Cars (and who didn’t?) Grab the soundtrack, hit the road and take a trip on our own little slice of history. You can visit the sights, eat at a diner and step back in time. You might just see Lightening and Mater hanging around, too.

9. Host an art exhibit.

At our house, art time is a hit, but it usually takes longer for me to get the supplies out than it does for them to create the masterpieces. To make it more worth your while, why not host a gallery opening featuring works by your young Picassos? Hang the best pieces, serve punch and cookies and invite Grandma and Grandpa over to view and buy their favorites.

10. Take a trip without leaving home.

Pick a destination. Look at picture books about that place. Listen to music from the region. Watch age-appropriate movies that take place in your destination of choice. Go to a restaurant, or cook food from that region. A little bit of Italy, Germany or France right in your own home.

Above all, have fun. It might not seem like those days when it is 100 degrees outside in the shade, it’s not even 10 a.m. and already you have emptied your bag of creative tricks, but summer goes fast, childhood goes faster and very soon this will all be a memory. Make it a good one.