This is part of our Wednesday Activity Review series.
Today’s Activity Review changes things up and focuses on activities just for preschoolers and toddlers where they can have a break from the big kids who are home for the summer. As a toddler, my daughter was very intimidated by the crowds of big kids and the noise and activity level that they brought to her favorite places. I was always on the lookout for places that I could take her that would be filled just with kids her own age.
Note: This article was originally published in 2016 and updated for 2019.
Below is a list of my Top 7 Big-Kid Free Summer Activities in the Ann Arbor area that are reserved for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
1 – Tot Splash
The City of Ann Arbor offers Tot Splash at both Buhr Park Pool and Veterans Memorial Park Pool during the summer. Tot Splash is just for kids age 7 and under. In my experience it is mostly babies through preschoolers as the 5-7 age is usually more interested in swimming in the big pool. Veterans Memorial Pool and Buhr Park Pool both offer Tot Splash.
2 – Baby Playgroup and Preschool Story Times
Ann Arbor District Library offers both Baby Playgroup and Preschool Story Time throughout the week. Baby Playgroup is a one hour program just for kids under the age of 2 and a parent/caregiver, several times during the week. We were regulars at the Baby Playgroup when my daughter was between 6 and 20 months. Preschool Story Time offers a 30 minutes storytime geared towards preschoolers. While there may be some younger elementary students there, the story is designed with a preschool audience in mind.
The last couple of days I have been working at the library while my daughter has been at an activity. While there, I have seen both the Baby Playgroup and Preschool Storytime meeting. They both brought back memories, particularly the mom giving her daughter a snack after playgroup in case she fell asleep on the way home. I used to do the same thing since she would take a long nap if she had eaten but only a short nap if she hadn’t and would then refuse to nap later.
Other local libraries, bookstores, and others also offer story time just for toddlers and preschoolers, so be sure to check their schedules as well.
3 – Preschool Gallery at Hands-On Museum
The Preschool Gallery at Hands-On Museum was always a favorite spot of my daughter’s. Since she has aged out of the Preschool Gallery (ages 4 and under), it has continued to improve. My daughter has always been disappointed that “Engineers on a Roll” opened about a year after she was too old for the Preschool Gallery. She was thrilled to introduce her cousin to the Preschool Gallery.
AAHOM’s Little Scientist Club is held in the Preschool Gallery every Tuesday at 9:30a and Saturdays at 10:30a.
4 – Kidopolis
With the hot temperatures we have been experience this summer, it is always nice to have some indoor options for play – Kidopolis is a great choice. Preschoolers and Toddlers are the perfect age to explore Kidopolis. While there are some activities that will appeal to younger elementary students, older toddlers and preschoolers are the perfect age!
This summer they are open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
5 – Fit 4 Mom
Fit4Mom offers Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre classes this summer. They’re just for moms and kids in strollers, so they are almost guaranteed to be big-kid free.
6 – Other Classes and Support Groups
With some preplanning, you can register your child for classes geared towards their age. Check out First Steps Ann Arbor and various Music Classes for their summer schedule.
There are also several support groups designed for the parent and child like Breastfeeding Cafe and MomShare Group. There are a few of these on our calendar, but if you know of other drop-in options let us know and we can add them.
7 – Briarwood Mall Play Area
The play area at Briarwood Mall is a perfect spot for toddlers and preschoolers. The play area is sized perfectly for toddlers and preschoolers. It is also fairly contained making it more difficult for kids to escape (especially compared to the former play area). However, I have heard reports of big kids in the play area. As the parent of a big kid when it opened, there is nothing there to entice her into the play area. I wish the mall would open a second larger area for big kids.