Winter Activities for Kids
By Ananda Scott
I've got to get the kid out of the house! With a newborn and the onset of winter, the TV watching has crept steadily upward. We're stir-crazy and bored. I resolve to get the 4-year-old moving her body, even if it's 35 degrees and pouring. I need inexpensive, easily accessible options. As excited as I am to head into the hills for sledding, that's not going to work every day; we need ways to get us up and out on a whim.
I start with free stuff. There's a lot to be said for the park on a winter day, and Boise's are outstanding. Pull out a Boise map – somewhere nearby is a park with fantastic playground equipment. Usually we walk to Cassia Park on the bench, although you can't beat a morning at Camel's Back Park followed by hot cocoa at Java Hyde Park. Tess loves to play monster, which is really tag, only Mom is always "it" and does more growling and pacing than running. Tess scampers gleefully up ladders and through tunnels that are too awkward for this monster to navigate wearing a baby carrier. She runs and laughs herself exhausted and silly, and thankfully in winter there are few witnesses to my monster performance. When I need a monster break, we go on fairy hunts and chase squirrels on the Greenbelt.
Planet Kid in the Wings Center also won our hearts. It's an endless floor-to-ceiling maze of rope ladders, slides, tunnels, ball pits, and play areas, all fully enclosed and safe. Too bad it's for kids; I wanted to play! Parents can assist their children in the play area, watch from the wide aisle that runs right through it, or they can sit in comfort at the café tables up front near the snack bar and see everything. Toddlers have their own space. Basic pricing for my 4-year-old was $7.75, but they've got pricing packages you can look into. The Wings Center is a whole world of kid's events and activities. This was a real find!
Next was the Discovery Center. Tess enjoyed the exhibits, but her favorites were the play grocery store (where she delightedly stocked up on groceries) and the pretend veterinary center. She could spend hours – no, days – "examining" stuffed animals. We also love the Boise Public Library children's programs. The Wednesday morning preschool program at the Hillside branch is our favorite. The librarian there really puts her heart into it, and the kids have a great time. These both prove great options for getting us out of the house, but not quite the running-around, blood-pumping theme I'm seeking.
Finally, we explore classes. Between the YMCA, the Wings Center, and dozens of other businesses, there are programs of every kind for every budget and schedule. Soccer, ballet, ice-skating, and gymnastics make our wish list. We narrow it to ballet and ice-skating. We try the Dance Arts Academy in Meridian. They have big windows to watch the cuteness (preschoolers dancing their hearts out in frilly leotards!). Tess is smitten with her teacher. We're in. Idaho Iceworld is also a hit. The first thing they teach the kids is how to fall down safely, so when we hit the ice and Tess falls, and falls, and falls, it's okay – she's proud that she's great at falling correctly! After only two lessons she's going long stretches without falling, she's starting to glide, and she can even do little hops on the ice! Afterwards we are worn out and happy, and can't wait to use our free open-skate passes later in the day.
Mission accomplished. We've only begun our search and have already found so many bad-weather get-out-of-the house options in Boise that our days are full. Spring can wait – we're busy!