Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adventure Time - "Who would cross the Bridge of Death"...

Apparently there's a name for what I've been doing with my kids, "playground hopping".  I like it! There's definitely hopping involved.  Every time we get bored, we just google up a new playground.  I have been bad about posting our excursions, so I thought I'd start playing a little catch-up.

This morning, when we got in the car to go to our neighborhood playground Doc Princess said, "Mommy, you have to take us to the new playground, okay?  The brand new one I never seed before."  (She's still working on past tense.)  So, I acquiesced, and we tried this place:

The Children's Adventure Playspace (CAPP) at Halloran Park, Stoughton, MA

The playground at Halloran park has been renovated recently.  In fact, they're still adding sprinklers and reseeding, but already it seems like a popular place.  When we were there, the parking lot was nearly full of minivans and SUVs bearing those vinyl stick figure families.  Herds of toddlers and preschoolers were clambering over the equipment.  The area has that soft, cork-y surface (I'm not sure what its called), which is good for Buster, who trips over his own legs all the time.  There is a big slide off to one side of the playground.  Somehow, my kids never noticed it, which was a relief for me because there's a big sign on the structure that reads "AGE 5+".  Doc Princess uses the potty now, so as far as she's concerned she should be able to drive, start her doctorate, and become a fighter pilot.  No one's going to tell her she can't use a big slide.

Age 5+?  To my 3-year-old, that's a dare.

Halloran Park also features a carousel-type structure, something like what we had as kids but designed to be a lot safer.  The designers made a bit of a blunder, however; the sun makes the black rubber floor scalding hot, like a griddle - great for cooking children.  Whenever it's sunny this summer, the carousel will be pretty much unusable to any kid who can't cling to its exterior while it's spinning.  And doesn't that sound super safe?

Empty, because this carousel is actually a child-cooker.

Child-cooker aside, this is a wonderful place to play.  Again, the surface is fantastic, the structures are new, and the playground is within a grassy park, complete with paved paths for strollers and trikes.  I know several other moms and dads who like to take their kids there.

I should also note, the timing of our trip was fortuitous.  We happened to walk into the middle of a fun event - a STEAM StoryWalk.  Carol Carver of the "Self Help Coordinated Family and Community Engagement" Program teamed up with the Stoughton Public Library for the walk.  We were able to read a story, play with sensory tables, and complete a fun craft.  We also received a hardcover children's book (about bugs!) once we finished the walk.  

Digging in the dirt during our STEAM StoryWalk

Self Help facilitates a wide range of events and programs for families in Plymouth, Bristol, and Norfolk counties.  As far as I can tell, all of them are free and open to the public (although some require pre-registration).  I check out their calendar every so often, because - free, educational fun!  Here's the website:

I'll leave you with a glimpse at my favorite structure at the CAPP, a "bridge of death"!

"Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see." 
"WHAT... is your name?!"
"WHAT... is your quest?!"
"WHAT... is your favourite colour?!"

Oh yes, we played that game.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What time is it? Adventure Time!

First, let me just start by saying I deserve a little plaque.  It should read: "Survivor Mommy: Winter with Two Toddlers".  It wasn't pretty, but we all made it through relatively unharmed and (hopefully) untraumatized.  Now, we enjoy the sweet, sweet reward...

Playgrounds, parks, nature trails - all of them, free and open all day!

There is a wealth of wonderful resources on the internet listing attractions for kids in our area, including playgrounds, but I thought I'd add my two cents, anyway.  Doc Princess loves playgrounds more than doctors or princesses, so I figure we can become adventurers - explore strange new playgrounds.  Boldly go.  Something like that.

Before our first expedition, however, I wanted to start with our go-to spot, the Walter Griffin Playground (AKA Ames Street Playground) in Sharon, MA.  We spent an hour-and-a-half there today, and the kids went wild.  It's spacious, and it sits alongside four baseball diamonds.  Like many playgrounds, one side is geared towards younger children, and the other side has larger equipment for the older (or more adventurous) kids.  There are a few structures designed specifically for toddlers, including a train-tunnel and slide.  There is a jungle gym shaped like a pirate ship, a sea serpent (no, it is not a dragon), swings, slides, a couple of music stations, and an unsettling set of sea-saws designed to confuse children.

Wait, why isn't this working?

There is a strange, creepy box in the middle of the playground.  It has a dial, and if you wind it up and have your child say something, the box records it.  Then, it plays your child's message back at you, except it is no longer in your love-bug's sweet, high-pitched voice.  The box twists the tone so that your baby sounds like the killer in a slasher film.  Isn't that fun?

Creepy box.  It looks colorful and fun, but don't let it fool you.

Also, and this is a reason I have a love-hate relationship with the Ames Street Playground, there is sand.  Everywhere.  It is a playground inside a gigantic sandbox.  That isn't to say there is no sandbox in the playground.  There is, and ironically, there isn't much sand in the sandbox.  It's more of a dirtbox... in the playground... in the sand pit.

Sandbox, more box than sand

To be fair, there is a part of the playground that isn't sandy.  The section around the sea serpent (again, not a dragon) is filled with wood chips, instead - perfectly sized for Buster to shove into his mouth.

Not a dragon

Also to be fair, Doc Princess and Buster enjoy the sand immensely.  Whenever they feel a creative urge, they just drop to the ground and cover each other with it.

Aside from the obvious mess-source, the playground is kept pretty clean.  Families occasionally "donate" things like sand toys, dump trucks, and Cozy Coupes.  The place is littered with used items, and the children appreciate them.  The only problem with the donations is that they break quickly, and you can sometimes find plastic bits strewn about.  

As with most playgrounds, you're usually out of luck if your little one "NEEDS THE POTTY NOW!"  There is a concession stand next to the playground that has public restrooms, but as far as I can tell, those are only unlocked during baseball games.

All of my criticisms aside, my children adore the Ames Street Playground.  That's what matters, and that's what keeps us coming back.

Just stay away from the creepy box.