Celebrate Summer Together

The end of Hopkins ECFE classes is a bittersweet time for most families. The excitement for some parents as they look forward to kindergarten or preschool is offset by the fact that they will be saying goodbye to friendships that have grown strong. Some groups of parents have been together for years. It can be very powerful to share parenting experiences—the wonderful and the challenging—with a group of supportive peers. This is one of the great values of early childhood family education—the sense of community that comes from providing a supportive atmosphere for all families.

One way to keep this sense of community alive is to continue to meet in playgroups throughout the “off” season of ECFE.  In addition, having lost the weekly structure of classes, many parents are looking for places to go and let their children work off all that summer-time energy!  The parents in our ECFE classes have compiled a list of parks and places that are toddler friendly. Use the list to inspire new gathering spots for your summer time play-dates, or to encourage your family to explore new places in the Twin Cities.

Parks that work well for toddlers:
Brookview, on 55 and Winnetka
Lions Park on Glenwood Avenue (this park has the “Puppet Wagon” puppet shows)
Junction Park on Excelsior Blvd
Hidden Valley on Boone and 32nd in New Hope
Three Rivers Park System has lots of parks with lots of great amenities

Toddler friendly wading pools and water fun:
Oak Hill Splash Pad on Rhode Island Avenue in St. Louis Park
Linden Hills Park with wading pool
Elm Creek Park has a chlorinated lake
Shady Oak Lake
Manor Park in Robbinsdale
North Mississippi Regional Park
St. Louis Park Recreation Center water park—has a toddler only morning option.
Crystal Community Pool—has Little Splashers toddler only time
Parker Lake in Plymouth

More places that are fun to visit:
Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park (has Nature for the Very Young program)
Richardson Nature Center—has a naturescape (natural playground)
Arboretum-has a naturescape
Golden Valley Library—with Vehicle Wednesdays
Hopkins Library has a play area designed by the Children’s Museum
Wild Rumpus Bookstore in Minneapolis
Kiddiewumpus Art Store in St. Louis Park
MN Zoo
Como Zoo
Children’s museum—has toddler Tuesdays (not all Tuesdays)

Farmer’s Markets: Lots to look at, great food and often free entertainment:
Mill City Market in Minneapolis
Near the Basilica—Minneapolis
Hopkins—very small and toddler friendly
Minnetonka—music in the park afterwards
New Hope
Golden Valley
St. Louis Park Recreation Center

Other Events to Look Forward to:
Harley Family Center Summer Fun
Harley Family Center Vehicle Fair
Harley Family Center / Hopkins Police Department Daddy and Me Reading Event
Crystal Community Center Vehicle Fair
Fire Station Open Houses-each city hosts one
Puppet Wagon Puppet Shows—this travels to various parks in the area

If you are interested in learning more about any of the places, parks or events on this list, feel free to Google them to get more information. Or call up one of your neighbors or ECFE friends and ask them if they have ever heard of it. Then make a date for your families to do something together.  Celebrate the joy of building your community in the Minnesota sunshine!