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Seeking Inexpensive Places to Take My Toddler Aged Children

We just moved to az from nm and I have been looking for inexpensive places to take my kids. They love the library and the play places in the mall and mcdonalds but I am wanting to know if any of you mom's know of any cool places the kids would enjoy! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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My 21 month old son loves the zoo! It is really expensive to go once but if you get a one year pass it really makes it worth it. They have splash pads there, too, when it's hot. There is also a cool tree house/play area. Of course, the animals are a hit, too. We like to take lunch with us and have a picnic. I think you can check out pricing online. With the weather cooling off a little, it's a great time to be outdoors!

Another suggestion... Check out the city websites and look up the parks. There are some awesome ones around. It would be fun to visit a new one (or two) each week! Tumbleweed in Chandler is great.

Good luck!

Bounce U and Pump it Up usually have preschool playdates for kids under 5. They are fun, and generaly inexpensive. Check out their website for further details and times. Hope you enjoy AZ

Hi K.,

Another mamasource mom also asked a similar question today. What do to with her young children now that they are not in preschool? So rather than re-typing my long response, I just copied it for you.

Your question came at the right time. I just returned from a documentary film and discussion about how play -basic good old fashioned play - is disappering in our culture, and it's literally sucking the joy, creativity, and life skills out of our kids. It's great that you want your children to have play dates, and teach them things, and make sure they are busy. So I'm going to suggest something that has absolutely nothing to do with McDonalds, and organized playdates, or indoor ANYTHING. Go to the park. It's free. Scottsdale has really nice parks, some with lakes so you can feed the ducks. Take a short drive and explore the woods or the desert. Let your kids have unstructured discovering nature play. Kids learn SO MUCH through play and basic curiosity. I know it's not easy to get to the park everyday, but do you have some basic wooden blocks? Some kids tempura paints and paper? Let them go out in the backyard, set up the play stuff and just let them go. It will take so much stres off when you just sit back and watch their little minds work. They need movement, touchy feely, right brained play. No need to always make sure they are "busy" and learning their abc's and counting to 100. They WILL learn that. You are SOOO FORTUNATE to be able to stay at home with your young children and encourage that yummy unstructured, figure it out myself, cooperative, emotionally heathly play....and able to just run around outside discovering leaves and flowers, and bugs, and rocks!
And while you are at it....just play with them. Follow THIER lead. I PROMISE you that if you just let go of the belief system that we have to keep our kids busy, and go here and do this do that, and McDonalds and structured time is the only way to have fun and socialize - Your children will THRIVE even more because you are encouraging self motivation, appreciation of our world and nature, a greater understanding of themselves, and they will have a high emotional intelligence - which is WAY more important than a high IQ. I HIGHLY recommend the book "LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS" by Robert Louve. It will inspire you to just let your children play the way they want to play. And you really will find that everyone is much much happier.
If you or any moms reading this want more information on the Documentary film "WHERE DO CHILDREN PLAY", feel free to contact me at ____@____.com. I can give you info on how you can see it and be part of a community movement. You probably can google it as well. The producer is Elizabeth Goodenough (SP?) There is also another great read..."RAISING HUMANE BEINGS" by local Jane Fendelman.
We all want to create a closer, safe,community and raise brilliant children. We all do the best we can with the resources we know and have. It's going to take us, the moms and dads, to stop the insanity of what society is doing to our children and to our families. I apologize if I went off on a rant. And I'm certainly not aiming my overzealousness at you. But in my heart I have always believed that the way we have become a culture of go, go, go and be the smartest, prettiest, strongest, fastest, person is stressing our kids out. Just slow down, go outside, and let our children play.
What belief systems do you have for yourself? How do you "think" a parent "should" raise their children? How do you FEEEL that you want to raise your children- REALLY want to raise your children - in your instinctual inner wise woman truth? Are you willing to move out of the ordinary comfort zones of conformed parenting, socializing, and learning? I am not asking these questions because I think I know more than you, or because I think you are a lousy mom for taking your kids to MCD's. I really don't care that you take them there or anywhere else. Please don't be offended. I ask these questions to you, and all moms, so you can listen with your belly heart to your children and to yourself - "How can I raise truly amazing, emotionally healthy, inner peaceful, self sufficient, self confident and respectul children, who value creativity, and love, and nature, and interdependence? Children who will change our world for the better?"
It doesn't happen in a conformed, stressed out, busy bee, high tech toy, chicken mcnugget eating society.

PS. The libray really is a great place for kids too. We love going to the Scottsdale Civic Libray....and when you are done, go outside to their great grassy areas to run around, touch the water in the water fountains and feed the ducks in the pond.

I wish you lots of energy for many joyful and peaceful play DAYS with your children.

In Peace,
mamma of 4, Birth and Parenting Mentor

Hi K.,

Have you thought about joining a moms' group? Check out www.meetup.com and you can search mom's groups in your area. I organize one and we're always looking for free places to go, or get deals for groups and have lots of playdates that cost $0. There are tons of groups out there so just search for ones in your area and read up on the different requirements/guidelines. Having gone from teaching full time to staying home was a big adjustment for me and I would go crazy if not for our group. My daughter and I love it. I have found out about all sorts of things/places I didn't know about before and I've lived here for 13 years!

Just an idea!

Go to the chandler ibrary and pick up the active moms magazine it comes out every month it has a lot of things to do that are free or very inexpensive. Good luck

Hi! The Arizona Youth museum on Robson between Main and University in Mesa is really fun. There's a special area for children 4 and under. My 18 month old loves it and I know the bigger kids we go with enjoy it as well. It's $5 per person over 1 years old. So, not free but cheaper than a lot of other places.

check out some of the programs that different cities offer. I know the city of tempe offers many free programs and some inexpensive programs for younger children. I haven't done any of these programs, as my daughter is still young, but some people in my mom's group have. Check out this site: www.pkreconline.tempe.gov

Welcome to AZ!! Although the season is past one our favorite places in the summer is the splash ground in Tempe. You don't have to be a city resident and it's free. Another fun place http://www.tempe.gov/lake/recreation/splashplayground.htm. But there is a play fountain at Desert Ridge Mall in Scottsdale that i'm pretty sure is on year round. The brand new Children's Museum downtown phoenix has occasional free days, holidays etc. Cerreta Candy Co gives free tours but you might feel obligated to buy chocolate at the end but it's not required;). Lakeshore Learning stores Phoenix has classes every saturday for kids over 3. They do crafts for a few hours. I live in Phoenix so all of these are in around the city. As someone mentioned lots of hiking, i used to go hiking up south mountain and camelback with my 3 yr old nephew when he lived here. Good Luck on your adventures!!!!

A grant from Target will allow Mesa Contemporary Arts (MCA), the Arizona Museum of Natural History, and Arizona Museum for Youth to offer free admission from noon until 5 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month for the next year.

There are some great hikes nearby. Depending on what side of the valley you live in. The kids can stroll and enjoy the greener desert. Superstitions out east, Estrella Mnt Regional Park.

In the east valley - Apache Junction there is the Lost Dutchman Goldmine Museum. Everything costs money to do but I went with my boyfriend and just bought some great salsa and a chocolate covered banana. It is fun to look around and go in the different stores/shops. They can marvel at the train which also costs money but it was more fun to take picts of it and look at it. It was one of the best times we've had without spending money.

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