Celebrate your Amazing Grand Rapids Kindergartener!
Kindergarteners are so much fun. They still have a child’s sensibilities, but can do things like read, go for hours without getting cranky for a nap (most of the time), and start to understand the world around them in a way that connects with adults.
There are so many things to do with your kindergartener in Grand Rapids! Whether you’ve got a special 6 year old visiting from out of town or you’ve got your own kinder kid at home, here are some exciting ways to spice up the every day with this fun age group.
What will you do with your kindergartener today?
OUTSIDE FUN for a Kindergartener
Kindergarteners seem to have limitless energy (as long as those snacks keep rolling). Anything we can do that helps harness that energy for good (“How far can we hike?”) instead of not-so-good (“How did you manage to scatter three different types of cereal across the kitchen while I was in the other room?”) is a win.
There are dozens of kindergarten activities in the great outdoors. With so many great places to go for walks, hikes, or bike rides, whether through nature or though a downtown, it’s almost a sure fire way to use up a big chunk of that energy. Added bonus for when there is a playground we encounter along the way.
Visit a Playground
Wherever you live, there’s a great playground nearby. Our map of area trails and playgrounds is a great starting point.
Millennium Park has a big playground, lots of paved trails, and in the summer, a beach and epic splash pad.
A large playground with newer equipment and bouncy turf is Cascade Township Park. Frog Hollow is a kinder parent’s dream, because it’s enclosed.
Rosewood Park, though, probably takes the cake. It has a splash pad and a 2-story slide.
Take a Hike
When we want more of a nature vibe, it’s a toss-up between Provin Trails and Grand Ravines.
For an urban adventure hike, nothing beats the walkways along the Grand at the heart of the city, or for a fun combo we travel to Rockford to stroll their downtown before hitting the White Pine Trails.
Sometimes a good long walk can be disguised as an outing. These destinations keep kids so enthralled, they don’t even realize how many steps they are taking. (How many times have you been tempted to stick a pedometer on your kinder out of curiosity?)
Visit a Zoo or Garden
My kinder will never say no to a visit to John Ball Zoo or Frederik Meijer Gardens. And if they’re really into animals, there are dozens of Petting Zoos and Farms around West Michigan.
Climb through the Trees
He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m also itching to let him try out a newly added Junior Course at TreeRunner Adventure Park over the summer.
Go Ice Skating
In the cooler months, there’s nothing he likes more than completing several laps around the ice rink at Rosa Parks Circle or the wooded trail at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex.
Take in a Sporting Event
My aspiring athlete loves all things sports so whenever we can catch a game of hockey, basketball, or especially baseball, he is as happy as can be.
Tee Up at a Golf Course
Whenever the sun is out, he also always begs to go play a round of mini-golf and now that his motor skills are even more refined we like to tackle “big golf” (as he puts it) at kid friendly courses like Maple Hill Golf in Grandville or Summer Breeze Par-3 in Fremont.
INDOOR IDEAS for a Kindergartener
When the weather turns less than ideal, we are more than able to take our explorations indoors and find other ways to play.
He’s a big fan of bowling, so during the summer months we utilize the KidsBowlFree.com program, but during the school year our favorite place to visit is Rockford Lanes.
Jump the Day Away at a Trampoline Park
For when he has lots of wiggles we like to visit a trampoline park (Sky Zone is where we end up most times, but other nearby locations include Altitude or Rebounderz).
Run and Play at an Indoor Playground
Other great places to get out wiggles where we can spend even more time are large scale indoor playgrounds like Jester’s Court, Catch Air, or one of our new favorites, Holland Playland.
Take a Dip in the Pool
To warm up on a dreary, winter day, we like to pretend we’re hitting the beach and go to an open swim at Goldfish Swim School.
Create a Masterpiece
For kinders who love creating, other popular options to visit are the drop-in art studios at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, UICA, or ACT.
Kindergartener LEARNING OPPS
What I love about my kinder is the new approach to learning. Sure, hands-on learning is still very relevant, but now they can start to understand themes and ideas.
Going to the library used to mean just story time and play areas, and now it means searching the stacks for beginning reader books. The museum takes on new meaning and they can sit for musicals and other performances. Three cheers for big kid learning! These places are so much fun to visit and play at, but they also offer a whole host of teachable moments as well.
Make Discoveries at a Museum
Our go-to spot almost anytime we are close to downtown Grand Rapids is to stop by the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. With perennial favorite exhibits like Little GR, bubbles, legos, and music exploration, as well as rotating exhibits like Kidstruction, Diagnosis Fun!, Just Fort Fun, and Aunt Daisy’s Farm, we always have hours of fun when we visit.
Continuing with the museums, he’s beginning to appreciate more of the Grand Rapids Public Museum other than going on carousel rides now too, and we are always excited to see what sort of special visiting exhibits are in town.
Soar to New Heights at the Air Zoo
If your kinder doesn’t mind a car ride, they will go gaga over the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo. My guy loves it there, and despite his obsession with riding on the ferris wheel, he’s also happy to engage in some of the hands-on learning exhibits that revolve around physics and engineering.
Find a New Favorite at the Library
We can’t get enough of our local library these days. It’s a magical place where we can play and try so many new and exciting things. Whether it’s participating in a reading program like Summer Reading or 1KB4K, sampling musical instruments, or learning a new board game, or the art of getting lost in a good book.
EATS AND TREATS that Kinders Love
Grand Rapids isn’t just for the craft beer crowd– there are plenty of tasty restaurants that know what kids like. Try one of these, or if you want a deal, use our Where Kids Eat Free guide.
Got allergies? We’ve got a list of allergy friendly restaurants for kids, too which is perfect when our older cousins go exploring with us.
My kid is pretty predictable when it comes to letting him choose where to eat out: Chick-fil-A (a Grandtastic winner for 2018). He loves their nuggets and lemonade, playing in their play area, and of course finishing off his meal with an Ice Dream cone (you can trade your unopened toy back in exchange for a cone or cup!). Several of the locations also offer kid friendly events like Touch-a-Truck, Bingo, and Family Game Night.
When we’re near Heartside, we like to stop by the Downtown Market where we can choose from all sorts of fare. Whether we want tacos or sushi or all-American favorites, we know we can find something tasty to eat while we are there. Also, who wouldn’t love an ice cream flight from Love’s?
There are also several local food trucks we like to visit and thankfully there are almost always events going on where we can stop by to grab some pizza, tacos or nachos, or even donuts!
Really, most kindergarteners are only interested in one thing: sweet treats. There are plenty of great ice cream shops and candy stores around Grand Rapids. A new favorite is Underground Cookie Club, with stores in Kentwood and Rockford. Their colorful concoctions are sure to delight the younger crowd.
Where Will You Adventure to With Your Kindergartener?
With so many possibilities, I’m sure we’ve missed something. Where do you like to explore and take your tag-a-long to? Let us know in the comments!