With the big kids headed back to school, parents are deciding how to entertain and even educate the tots at home. Many stay- or work-at-home parents are choosing “tot school,” which is focused on spending time with preschool children ages 2 to 5. Tot school develops early learning through play. To support parents in these efforts, here are nine awesome educational toddler programs at some of Atlanta’s favorite destinations.
1. Alliance Theatre
Expose your little one to the performing arts with a Theatre for the Very Young (TVY) performance. Professional productions are a fun and inspiring way to engage children ages 0 to 5 years. Season ticket prices begin at $20 for two shows. TVY season ticket holders receive 15 percent off additional tickets to all Alliance Theatre productions, 10 percent off acting classes and $5 off return tickets to TVY performances during the season. Season tickets are free for children 0 to 5 years old with a paid adult admission.
- Through Sept. 6 "Blub, Blub"
- Oct. 21 - Nov. 15 "Play the Play with Cat the Cat"
2. Atlanta Botanical Garden
On Thursday mornings through the month of September, children ages 3 to 5 can search for hidden treasure in the garden. It’s free with garden admission, and no registration is required. Explorers are to meet for the Treasure Hunt in the Levy Parterre.
3. Atlanta History Center
On the second Monday of each month, toddlers and preschoolers ages 18 months to 5 years can participate in the Magic Mondays Program at the Atlanta History Center. Each Magic Monday has a unique theme and includes a guided exploration of one of the center’s award-winning exhibitions, historic houses or Goizueta Gardens, as well as demonstrations, arts and crafts, and story time. Admission is $5.50 per child and $6.50 per adult. Participation in the program is free for members, and discounted rates are available for groups with 10 or more children
- Sept. 14 "Colonial Kids"
- Oct. 12 "Historic Halloween"
- Nov. 9 "Nature Walk"
- Dec. 14 "Merry Christmas!"
4. Autrey Mill
Autrey Mill is a nature preserve and heritage center located in Johns Creek. It offers a variety of preschool camps, school field trips and classes throughout the year with engaging activities for children ages 3 to 6. Preschool mini-camps are four-day drop-off camps designed to educate and entertain 4 to 6 year olds. Registration is required.
- Aug, 18-21; 9 a.m. to noon; $100 members, $115 nonmembers
The Preschool Adventures series is based on a nationally recognized curriculum in life and physical sciences. Each adventure is different and has a theme chosen to spark a preschooler's imagination. Included is a brief nature hike and a hands-on activity or craft geared toward ages 3 to 6. Individual classes are $7 for members and $10 for nonmembers.
- Sept. 4 "Glorious Goop"
- Sept. 8 "Whale of a Tale"
- Sept. 22 "Wonderful Weavers"
- Oct. 2 "Autumn in Action"
- Oct. 6 "No Fear Here"
- Oct. 20 "Wild Things"
- Nov. 3 "Who's Out at Night"
- Nov. 17 "Let's Talk Turkey"
- Dec. 4 "Underground Habitat"
- Dec. 8 "Sounds of Nature"
5. High Museum of Art
On specified Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m, the High Museum offers Toddler Thursdays, and admission is free with museum admission. Each week features a different piece of art, with a corresponding art project and story.
- Aug. 20 "Elephant"
- Aug. 27 "Turtle"
- Sept. 3 "Sheep"
- Sept. 10 "Cat"
- Sept. 17 "Mouse"
- Sept. 24" Lion"
6. Smith Gilbert Gardens
On the third Wednesday of each month, children ages 3 to 6 can participate in the Young Sprouts - Garden Stories program at Smith Gilbert Gardens. Along with story time, accompanying activities vary monthly and may include related arts and crafts, dance or organized play. Participation in Garden Stories gives you admission to the gardens for the entire day. Pre-registration is recommended. Adults pay regular admission. Member children pay $5 and nonmember children pay $7.
- Aug. 19 "Crazy Veggies Growing in My Garden Patch"
- Sept. 16" Frog and Toad"
- Oct. 21 "Scarecrows"
7. Southeastern Railway Museum
On the second Thursday of each month, all aboard the Southeastern Railway Museum's preschool program for 2 to 4 year olds. This is an interactive educational program that allows parent and child to participate together in activities related to the "Vehicle of the Month." Each month focuses on a different vehicle and includes 15-minute stations with activities such as story/song, craft, game and, when available, even the actual "vehicle of the month" for children to see and experience. The cost is $9 per participating child. One adult free per child. Cost for additional adults is $11.
- Sept. 10 "School Bus"
- Oct. 8 "Cherry Picker"
- Nov. 12 "Fire Trucks"
- Dec. 10 "Cement Mixer Trucks"
8. The Southern Museum
The Mommy & Me Preschool Program at The Southern Museum is designed for preschool age children ages 3 to 5 and their caregivers. The museum’s history, themes and exhibits provide a fun and exciting starting point for educational activities. This program is free with museum admission; no reservations required.
- Aug. 20 "Way to Go!" – Discover lots of fun ways to travel.
- Aug. 27 "Spy Shapes" – Let's go on a shape hunt.
- Sept. 3 "Name Train" – Learn about the alphabet using the letters of your name.
- Sept. 10 "Pirate-palooza!" – Arrr, matey! Celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
- Sept. 17 "Celebrating Community" – Discover the people and places in a community.
- Sept. 24 "Wonderful World of Weather" – Sun, rain, snow, wind… all weather is wonderful.
- Oct. 1 "The Busy Barnyard" – Discover all of the animals down on the farm.
- Oct. 8 "Fire Safety" – Learn important lessons while observing Fire Safety Week (Oct. 6 – 12).
- Oct. 15 "The Little Red Caboose" – Find out what it was like to ride and work in a caboose.
- Oct. 22 "Fall Fun" – Welcome back fall with fun leaf and harvest activities.
- Oct. 29 "Pumpkin Party" – Creative pumpkin activities and projects.
9. Zoo Atlanta, Adventure Cubs are toddler-friendly programs where tots can meet a Zoo Atlanta animal ambassador up-close. All topics and activities are designed specifically for the developmental needs of 3 and 4 year olds. Advanced registration is required, and the cost includes zoo admission. The fee for each member adult/child pair is $18; $24 for nonmember adult/child pair.
- Sept. 2, 5 and 12 "Creature Quarters" – Find out where animals live.
- Oct. 7, 10 and 17 "Spectacular Scales" – Slither in to learn about what makes these amazing reptiles great.
Joleen Pete is a Southern California transplant, living and loving it in the 'burbs outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and their toddler son. On the weekends, they enjoy going into the city for family fun and exploration. Joleen is the professional photographer behind Joleen Pete Photography and lifestyle/family blogger behind Love, Joleen.