New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published July 19th 2015
Update April 17th 2018
Paint and Play is now run by the ACT Playgroups Association - see their Facebook for details.
Get crafty with your kids - during school terms only
When you have a baby you soon realise that it is comforting to talk to other parents with children - to swap stories, give each other tips and make you feel like you are not alone.
A great place for Mums and Dads (and grandparents) to meet other people caring for little ones, is to join the many activities and programs around Canberra suited to under 5's. As children start to grow older it is also beneficial for them to learn social skills and make their own friends, and also great for us too.
Paint and Play (run by the ACT Community Services) is a great morning out with your young one to obviously paint and play but also do crafts, pretend play, do puzzles, hear stories, sing songs and play in the playground, with the comfort of having you there too.
These have been popular programs all over the ACT, with libraries at Gungahlin,Dickson, Tuggeranong, Belconnen, Erindale, Woden and Kippax.
When we first moved to Canberra we went to Giggle and Wiggle at Woden Library, and we were surprised by the popularity - a designated staff member to direct people, an area for "Pram Parking" and dozens of chairs around the outside of the children's area. Our daughter loved the half an hour of songs, dancing and nursery rhymes. We also tried it at Erindale Library at Wanniassa - any Library you visit will be enjoyable for both adults and kids, especially in Winter. It starts at 10:30am, different days for each library.
Storytime is another favourite each week for ACT families, also starting at 10:30am on different days at different libraries (check the website for the library nearest you).
Childrens area at Tuggeranong Library for storytime....
Storytime can also include special guest readers who come in to read their books or do a show for the kids. Last year a costumed Mr McGee from the touring show came to read his story to the group and the Christmas Elf came in December to perform a Christmas show with bubble foam sprayed over the kids at the end...yes, in a library! Storytime lasts for half an hour and then there is a craft to make at the end which relates to the story.
With engaging Library staff and guest readers at each library, it is different experience each week. As a Mum, I enjoy it just as much - hearing stories that I remember reading as a child. With technology such a big part of our lives now, Storytime is a great way to spend some quality time with your child enjoying the magic of books.
Mainly Music is organised by various church groups in the ACT and depending on the location, it is usually about $5 for 2 hours including morning tea for both kids and adults. It is a fun-filled two hours starting with playtime for the kids with toys, morning tea and then singing and dancing to songs following the words on a big screen.
Tuggeranong Salvos Mainly Music, photo courtesy of the Salvos website.
Mainly Music is a popular program so some locations may have a waiting list to get in, whilst others you can just turn up on the day. I would recommend calling the contact number first on their website. There are Mainly Music classes at Reid, Dickson, Kaleen, Belconnen,Charnwood, Tuggeranong and Calwell.
ACT Playgroups (a not-for-profit organisation run by parents) is a relaxed environment where parents, carers, babies and children aged 0 to school age come together to play. Great for kids and equally as good for parents, it is the ideal place to meet other families in your community and make friends before your children start school together.
At the time of writing, there are 25 playgoups in Belconnen, 19 in Gungahlin 14 in the Inner North, 13 in the Inner South, 20 in Tuggeranong, 11 in Weston Creek and 13 in Woden.
Cook Playgroup, photo courtesy of ACT Playgroups Association.
Each playgroup is different, you may need to fill out an online form and pay a fee for personal insurance, however others are just gold coin donation if they are already covered, so call your local Playgroup to find out.
With so much to explore and experience in this city, we are spoilt for choice in toddler and Under 5's programs.
It is a great way to get involved in your local community and meet other like-minded Mums, Dads, Carers and Grandparents who are looking after children daily all across the city.