Playing With Preschoolers
Staying home with a toddler day after day is sure to drive any parent bonkers if they don't get out of the house once in a while. Luckily parents of preschoolers in Vermont have some great activities to choose from that will both entertain and educate your child.
Montshire Museum of Science
A science museum might seem like an odd recommendation for preschoolers, given that their minds aren't ready to grasp complex concepts quite yet. However Montshire provides the kind of tactile and visual stimulation to encourage the mental development of every toddler. Preschoolers will especially love the interactive bubble station, watching bugs crawl in the leaf-cutter ant colony and checking out the museum's collection of moths and butterflies.
Location: One Montshire Road, Norwich, VT 05055
Rates: $12 for adults, $10 for children (2–17), free for members and children under 2 years of age.
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory Tour
When's the only time you want to hear preschoolers screaming? When they're screaming for ice cream! And they're sure to holler for joy when they find out you're headed for a tour of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. The 30-minute visit to the factory is best done during the week when the factory is typically in production making ice cream, but even if the line isn't up and running, the tour is still loads of fun. The best part, of course, is the end stop in the Flavoroom where you'll receive a delicious sample of the day!
Location: 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury, VT 05676
Rates: $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, kids 12 and younger are free.
Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center
The ecological, geological, biological and cultural history of the Lake Champlain Basin comes alive through the exhibits at the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center. Preschoolers will love building dams and floating boats in the water-play space. The Atlantic tide pool touch tank gives them the opportunity to get a safe, hands-on experience with periwinkle snails, horseshoe crabs, sea stars, sea anemones and sea urchins. Other tactile experiences your preschooler will love include FrogWorld, the Beluga Whale Dig and operating a miniature lighthouse.
Location: One College Street, Burlington, VT 05401
Rates: $12.50 for adults ages 18-59, $9.50 for children ages 3-17, $10.50 for seniors (age 60+), toddlers 2 and younger are free. Annual family memberships are available for $100-150 depending on family size.
You know how hectic life gets when you're running your kids around to all their music, dance and theater classes — well now you can just make one trip to the Movement Center which houses all the arts under one roof. Preschoolers as young as 3 can get started in the arts by taking classes in tap, gymnastics, classical ballet and more!
Locations: Colchester, Williston, Georgia
Rates: $59 per month for four 45-minute dance, theater or music classes; $25-45 for private music or voice lessons. (Note: Rates reduce when signing up for multiple classes.)
Vermont Teddy Bear Factory Tour
What preschooler doesn't love a teddy bear? They'll love them even more once they see what it takes to bring their favorite stuffed friend to "life" on the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory Tour. Open seven days a week except for a few holidays, the 30-minute tour lets you see the bears being made. Then spend some time exploring the Bear Museum or pick up a Vermont Teddy for your preschooler at the fun Bear Shop.
Location: 6655 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, VT 05482
Rates: $3 for aqdults, kids 12 and under are free.
Though not specifically a children's museum, the Shelburne has plenty of exhibits to intrigue little ones, plus the fact that kids under 5 years old get in free makes this museum a great place for preschoolers. Little ones will love the display of circus figures and posters, the explorable 220-foot long steamboat, plus the display of antique toys, dolls, dollhouses and automatons circa 1760-1930. The Shelburne also offers a number of hands-on learning experiences such as the Art Safari program designed specifically for 3 to 5-year-olds.
Location: 6000 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, VT 05482
Rates: $20 for adults, $10 for children (ages 5-18), children under 5 are free.
Image courtesy of Montshire Museum of Science