Whether you live in Strathroy, Ontario or are just visiting, there's lots to do to keep your little one busy. Explore the region's beautiful parks and stop by Alexandra Park to take a ride on the Sleepy Hollow Railway. If the weather is cooperating, drop by one of the free indoor programs instead to sing and read with your child.
1. Ontario Early Years Centre
Ontario Early Years Centres are sponsored by the Ontario provincial government. The Strathroy Centre (nlchildcare.ca/oeyc/?page_id=262) in particular offers programs for toddlers and preschoolers. The Early Years Centre is free and open Monday through Friday. Each Centre offers scheduled classes for children and their caregivers, along with drop-in playtimes. This is an ideal place to let your child run around and play, especially when the playground gets a little too cold in the winter. Call ahead to find out when you can drop-in. Enjoy early learning opportunities, a safe environment in which to learn those skills, parenting workshops and access to a variety of community services. And when you're there, be sure to check out the schedule, including the registration dates for the Centre's programs.
2. Middlesex County Library
The Middlesex County Library has a branch in Strathroy, Ontario (middlesex.library.on.ca/branch/strathroy.asp). Meet other parents at its Young Parent & Child Drop-In, hosted by a nurse who'll answer any parenting questions while the little ones play. Your 3-year-old will enjoy the free Tales for Tots program, which helps to build literacy skills with books, songs and age-appropriate activities.
3. Sleepy Hollow Railway
If you're visiting Strathroy between May and September, be sure to take your budding engineer for a ride on the Sleepy Hollow Railway (no website; Alexandra Park, 154 Caradoc St. N., Strathroy). The locomotive and its tender car are sure to bring a smile to your child's face, especially if he's a train lover. It operates Wednesday evenings between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and on the weekends between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. As of December 2012, it's $2 per ride.
4. Ska-Nah-Doht Village and Museum
Ska-Nah-Doht Village and Museum (lowerthames-conservation.on.ca/Ska-Nah-Doht.html) recreates a Native American settlement as it would have been 1,000 years ago. Fascinate your tot with a glimpse into how the world used to be as you wander through the village's 18 outdoor exhibits on the Longwoods Road Conservation Area. Explore the palisade maze together, then pretend to grind corn for a dinner at the longhouse. To keep the grown ups interested, there are collections from previous digs on the property. The village is wheelchair accessible (weather permitting).
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