As you might know, I’m a big fan of Bass Pro Shops. They always have something fun and FREE going on for the kids and I always take full advantage.
My favorite is their Christmas Wonderland. They pack December full of free crafts, fun displays, games and a FREE studio-quality 4 X 6 photo with Santa. So skip the expensive mall Santa photos and head down to Bass Pro.
Crafts are Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. (while supplies last) and include:
Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 4 & 5: Snowman Suncatcher ornament
Dec. 7 – 9, 11 & 12: Wooden ornaments
Dec. 14 – 16, 18 & 19: Reindeer ornaments
Dec. 21-23: Cookie decorating
From now through Dec. 12, Santa photos are 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
From Dec. 13 to Dec. 24, photo hours are extended to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays and Christmas Eve.
All games and activities are available during store hours. These include toy trains, slot car racing, laser and soft gun arcades, remote control trucks and video games.
Also, this year, Bass Pro is giving away free “Santa Bandz” to the first 150 children on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Bandz are different each week.
For more information about Santa’s Wonderland, click here.
I recently had a birthday and you know how kids are … birthdays are the COOLEST thing since sliced bread. They don’t quite understand how adults just don’t count down the days to their next mid-30s birthday.
My 4-year-old son on Thursday morning greeted me with a “Happy Birthday, Mommy!!” and it really was the cutest thing. He even thought we were going to my “birthday party” and when he saw me pulling into the school parking lot instead, he let out the most heart-wrenching “Noooooo!” and the tears started flowing. I felt awful. What kind of mid-30s mother doesn’t throw a party for herself? So I promised him just that. A party.
So here I am, picking him up from school and ready to keep this promise. “Where should we have Mom’s party?” I should have expected his response. “Chuck E. Cheeeeeeese!!” Sigh. OK. We can do this. We invite his best friend and his friend’s mom and headed on down to see the big mouse.
To be honest, the next couple of hours were the most fun I’ve had in a while. Our “host” greeted me with a big sticker and a handful of free tokens. Score! Then we scarfed down a pizza and got ready to play some skee ball. It was great. Even Chuck E. came out to take a picture with me. I felt like I was a kid again. Which was appropriate, because if you ask my son how old I am, he’ll say “5″ with absolute certainty.
Take my advice … You’re never too old to be 5 again.
For all workshops, pre-register by calling 425-4412.
Unless otherwise noted, all sessions are for parents and caregivers of young children.
Here’s what’s in store for this summer:
Terrific Two’s: Learn about your 2-year-old. Focus is on their developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 1, Choctaw Library
June 16, Midwest City Library
June 22, Southern Oaks Library
June 19, The Village Library
Sibling Struggles: Learn methods to prepare children for the arrival of a new sibling and how to deal with sibling squabbles. Find out about sibling rivalry and what normal behavior is. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 2, Midwest City
June 30, The Village
Just for Fun: Games People Play(for children ages 8-12): Includes active games, quiet games and brain teasers. Kids will play games from the past and games from other cultures. Both are 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
June 14, Southern Oaks
June 21, The Village
Toileting Triumph: Toileting doesn’t have to be a major challenge. Focus is on signs of readiness, why it can be frustrating and much more. All are from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 16, Edmond Library
June 29, Warr Acres Library
July 20, Ralph Ellison Library
Making Your Morning Manageable: Time to eliminate chaos and come up with a routine. Focus is what parents can do to make this part of the day more calm and enjoyable.
June 25, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
Lullaby & Goodnight: Find a routine that includes reading to your child, to ease bedtime and naptime challenges. Sleep challenges will also be discussed. Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 30, Edmond
August 17, Ralph Ellison
Look Out, I’m Three!: Learn more about your 3-year-old. Focus is on developmental milestones. All are from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 7, Southern Oaks
July 8, Midwest City
July 13, The Village
July 20, Choctaw
Toddlers at the Table: Turn common concerns about toddler’s eating habits into opportunities to teach healthy habits. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 12, Midwest City
July 21, The Village
Those Playful Preschoolers:Focus is behavioral characteristics and developmental milestones of 3- and 4-year-olds. Activity ideas will be shared to keep little ones busy. Learn it’s OK for your preschooler to be “out of bounds.” Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
July 27, Warr Acres
Aug. 25, Edmond
Baby Basics: Main focus is typical concerns of parents. Colic/crying, separation anxiety, sleeping through the night and other issues will be discussed.
July 28, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Reading Readiness: Workshop will explore the necessary reading readiness building blocks and parents’ roles in helping children become readers. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 9, The Village
Fun to be Four: Learn about your fascinating 4-year-old. Workshop focuses on developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 3, Southern Oaks
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 10, The Village
Aug. 12, Choctaw
School Readiness: Facilitators will talk about support, encouragement and opportunity all children need for school success.
Aug. 10, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Warr Acres
Tripping Through Toddlerhood: Topics include, tantrums, biting, sharing and other common toddler challenges. Parents will learn how to minimize frustrations.
Aug. 11, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Teaching Children to be More Cooperative: Focus is on when to discipline or ignore unwanted behaviors. Learn guidance techniques used by experts.
Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
To see the Oklahoma City-County Health Departments newsletters, including schedules for upcoming play groups, workshops, and health and child guidance screenings, click here .
This Saturday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be tons of safety fun in the parking lot at 3800 N. MacArthur. Kids can meet members of the Warr Acres Police and Fire departments, the Bethany Fire Department, EMSA, Medi-Flight, OG&E, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department and much more.
Activities will include a moon bounce, face-painting, a dunk tank, safety demonstrations (including a really cool smoke trailer demo), car seat checks, health checks, emergency vehicle walk-through and more.
So bring the kids to Warr Acres Saturday for some great safety fun!
For more information, go to cityofwarracres.com.
Bass Pro Shops is offering Easter fun for children this year. Kids can do free crafts, such as sun catchers and Easter decorations this weekend and next (March 27-28 and April 3-4), beginning at noon, while supplies last. And from 2 to 3 p.m. (same days) there will be an Easter egg hunt at the store for kids age 8 and younger.
Also, children can get a free picture taken with the Easter bunny. Instead of dropping big bucks at the mall this year, get a free 4X6. Pictures will be taken 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays from March 27 through April 4.
For more information, click here.
Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation Department has planned some FREE summer activities for kids. Here’s some fun you and your children can get in on:
FREE Kids’ Fishing Classes
For ages 5-15, these classes teach casting, knot-tying, fish identification, angler etiquette and fishing regulations. No license or permit required and equipment is provided. Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian.
July 25 – Dolese Youth Park Pond, NW 50 and Meridian
June 20, Aug. 22 – Crystal Lake, 6625 SW 15
July 11, Aug. 8 – Metro Tech Springlake, NW 36 and Springlake Drive
July 18, Aug. 15 – Edwards Park Lake
City Pools are now open and admission is free all summer. They include:
Northeast Pool, 1300 NE 33
Woodson Pool, 3405 S. May
Carson Pool, 8301 S. Villa
Minnis Lakeview Pool, 12518 NE 36.
Swim lessons are offered for kids and adults at all area pools for $20 per session. For more information about lessons, or to get a free parks & pools guide, call 297-2211.
Play in the Park
This annual program offers FREE supervised activities such as arts, crafts, games , reading and field trips for kids age 6 and older. 26 metro-wide locations have the program. Click here for more information.
Father’s Day Downtown
On Sunday, June 21, Dad gets in free (with a paid family member) to:
Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, 301 W. Reno
OKC Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City National Memorial, 620 N. Harvey.
So take Dad out on his special day and enjoy all downtown has to offer.
For more information about OKC Parks & Recreation’s events, go to http://www.okc.gov/Parks/index.html.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
I don’t have an iPhone, but I have an iPod Touch. With both, you can buy or get free applications that allow you to simulate feeding a dog, touching a waterfall, playing a piano and so much more. You can also check calories, movie reviews, breaking news and the weather.
They’re interactive and fun.
But what was Apple thinking with its latest app?
Apple is in the news now for offering a “Baby Shaker” application that allows users to simulate shaking a crying baby until it quiets and has red Xs over its eyes.
This new “game” has angered parents, child welfare groups and organizations that work to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation has demanded an apology and e-mailed press releases, asking the public to contact Apple about their disappointment in this product.
As a result of public outcry, Apple has pulled the app.
– Linda Lynn
My daughter Kaci was squatting on the ground next to my son at homeplate. She was helping her 3-year-old brother hold onto the heavy bat and swing at the soft ball perched on a batter’s tee.
It was Cade’s first time to play baseball in a real baseball diamond. Smaller in size, with soft rubber under foot, this field was just right for Cade and his teammates’ occasional spills.
After some encouragement from another mother whose daughter had played in the Anyone Can Softball league, I signed Cade up to participate.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined Cade either grinning from ear to ear – or screaming and kicking. Luckily, on Sunday, Cade was all smiles as he ran after the ball that he and his sister had just hit. Then, with a little guidance, he was running to first base.
This was not only a new experience for Cade, but also one for our family. It was encouraging to sit in the bleachers with the rest of the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who were there to cheer on their Mustang or Rowdies teams.
This year, the Anyone Can group was unable to play at its previous field, but it has been embraced by The Miracle League of Edmond.
– Linda Lynn
My son’s birthday isn’t until April but I already feel behind the 8-ball on planning it. I know, I know … it isn’t like it’s a wedding, needing months of preparation. But I get anxious that my favorite venues will be booked and I’ll be left entertaining 15 toddlers and their parents in a 2-bedroom apartment. So I thought if there were other parents like me, they may find a ‘guide’ useful for everything from picking a place to party favors.
First up – picking a venue. I’ve been doing a bit of research on some neat places in the metro-area that parents can have great birthday parties for young kids. Here are a few:
1. The zoo. The Oklahoma City Zoo has indoor and outdoor facilities that can be reserved for parties and other functions. There are classrooms in the Education Center, an area in the Canopy Restaurant and outdoor picnic tables. If your child has a birthday in a warmer weather month, this is a great place to go. Kids can see the animals as a group and take rides on the train and tram. For more information go to www.okczoo.com and click on “Facility Rental.”
2. Indoor play gyms. We picked Gymboree last year and it was a blast. The staff basically does all the entertaining and toddlers have a great time participating in games and indoor gym equipment. And the best part? No cleanup. The kids get to eat their cake on the floor while sitting on a big parachute. Another place that offers indoor climbing fun is The Little Gym and for inflatable fun, try Pump it Up or Bouncin’ Craze.
3. The classic pizza-and-game spots. Who could forget Chuck E. Cheese? I remember spending a few great birthday parties there. And there are a few in the metro-area offering food, games and more. Although I think these may be more suitable for kids age 5 and older, anyone can have fun here. Another is Incredible Pizza on Northwest Expressway. They have a big buffet and different-themed eating rooms. They also have bowling, miniature golf and go-karts in addition to the many arcade games. Celebration Station and Andy Alligator’s also have indoor/outdoor fun and games, for older toddlers/kids.
4. Trains. Kids love trains. Just ask my son. There are a couple of really neat venues that offer real train rides as part of the party fun. The Oklahoma Railway Museum is open for parties from April to October. They have two packages – one with and one without a train ride (but really, what’s the fun without a ride?) And for the party, they can either seat kids in the waiting room at the depot or in a 1921 caboose. Also, just east of the metro-area, is L.O.C.O. which is a Locomotive Operators of Central Oklahoma. They operate miniature trains that kids can ride on at their park. They also give free rides the first Sunday of every month from 1-4 p.m. if you want to check them out.
5. Parks. There are a number of metro-area parks that have picnic facilities and playground equipment. Some in the summer have splash pads so kids can wear their swimsuits and stay cool. It’s an inexpensive fun alternative to other venues, and it keeps the mess out of your house. For a list of city parks and their amenities, go to http://www.okc.gov/Parks/. You’ll also find out about programs and other opportunities for fun they offer.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started. As I come across more between now and April, I’ll be posting them on this blog. And if you have any birthday party suggestions, please let me know! I’d love to list them so other parents can have it as a resource. Comment below or email me.