Elvehjem Boundless Playground

Those of you who have met Dahlia know that she’s pretty much a boundless fount of energy, in nonstop motion, and keeping an eye on her at many outdoor playgrounds can be quite an exhausting feat, especially given how pregnant I currently am.  So when my friend described the playground at Elvehjem Elementary to me, I immediately thought it would be right up Dahlia’s alley — and much more relaxing for me.

You see, the Elvehjem playground is a Boundless Playground.  Boundless Playgrounds are playgrounds designed to be inclusive of children and adults with mobility and developmental impairments.  This isn’t to say that the playground is perfectly 100 percent safe and boring — far from it!  I would have to say this is far and away the coolest playground in town.  It’s designed largely as a series of ramps, to provide access to kids and parents in wheelchairs.  But to kids who aren’t in wheelchairs, it basically amounts to a fun maze.  There were plenty of climbing surfaces and walls, but they all seemed perfectly set at angles where I didn’t worry that one misplaced sneaker would send Dahlia careening backwards through the air.  The ground surface is soft and pliable, not the gravel or shredded tires you find at most parks.  Dahlia was both well-contained and very stimulated.

The parents in Madison are luckier than most to have such a wide variety of great parks, but the Boundless Playground at Elvehjem Elementary is really a step above.  Building this playground was really a labor of love for neighborhood families, and it has paid off.  Dahlia didn’t want to leave, and I can’t wait to go back.

Elvehjem Elementary is located at 5106 Academy Drive in Madison.

Blog Catch Up

Okay, I admit it, some days the last thing I want to do during Milena’s nap time is sit in front of the computer and write blog entries. And I’m realizing it’s becoming more and more common for me to just click “share” on Facebook and post events/etc on our FB page without a single thought to our blog readers.

My apologizes!

So here’s what you may have missed recently (plus some new stuff for our devoted FB readers!):

Bellypallooza at Happy Bambino: Treat Your Girls Right! This Saturday, June 18, at 1 pm.

Adria Cannon, Happy Bambino’s fabulous Lacation Consultant, will discuss how your breasts change through pregnancy, breastfeeding, and beyond.

Alison will go through the basics of finding a great-fitting bra to give your hardest working assets the support they deserve and discuss why having a good nursing bra is so important.

Adult Swim at the Madison Children’s Museum, Friday, June 24 at 6 pm.

No kids allowed in a children’s museum? Yes, you read that right! MCM’s first Adult Swim event in March was a smashing success, with more than 400 grownups getting to be kids for the night. No, we don’t have a swimming pool, but we’ll honor the time-honored “adult swim” tradition at public pools as we kick the kids out so adults can have the museum to themselves. It’s a great event to attend with a group of friends, family, or co-workers!

The event features the disco beats of the Madison supergroup V05; favorite activities from our Retro Technology Nights, including vintage films, theremin-playing, and Pong; plus wine, beer, and Roman Candle pizza available for purchase. Climb the Hodgepodge Mahal, drive the Punch Buggy, and take in the work of more than 120 local artists who contributed pieces to the new museum!

Event schedule:
6:30–7:30: Lounge music in Possible-opolis by Dave Adler of The Gomers
6:30–8:30: Vintage cartoons, commercials, and film rarities from the collection of Biff Blumfumgagnge
6:30-8: Make a Tie-Dyed Silk Scarf ($5 materials fee)
7:30–9:30: VO5 dance party on the Rooftop Ramble
Throughout the evening: Elevator Music by MCM’s Tom Teslik

Ages 21 & up only
Tickets: $10 advance, $12 at the door; includes one free drink ticket. Tickets are on sale now at MadisonChildrensMuseum.org.

RM reader Mallory passed along this link to us today:

Wisconsin Explorer Booklet for ages 2-5. (the site says “3-5 years”, but I know my two year old will love this!)

Follow footprints, be a tree detective, watch the clouds, look at the stars, play “I Spy,” and find special places! Preschoolers will need a caring grown-up to explore with them.

Kids can pick up a free Wisconsin Explorer booklet at a participating state park, forest, trail, or recreation area OR download the booklet here.

And don’t forget to have your kids pick up a Nature Passport this summer! (Milena already has 5 stamps in hers!)

Nature Passport is an educational nature “scavenger hunt” for children and parents. Explore Nature Net nature centers, parks and museums in the Dane County area at your leisure and, using your senses, record observations in your own Nature Passport. See if you can meet Ringo Raccoon’s nature challenge this year! During your visit, stamp your Nature Passport to mark your adventures. Visit as many Nature Passport sites as you want!

Nature Passport Includes:

For Kids…
Each child receives a special Nature Passport containing pages to draw and write about their amazing journeys at various Nature Passport sites! This year’s theme also includes a “Movin’ Mission” to encourage healthy, physically-active kids.

For Parents…
Look at the online Parent’s Guide for fun facts and explanations to help spark your kids’ imagination and answer those big questions like: How do we see color?

Madison Public Library’s Summer FUN Agenda

Looking for some family fun in the downtown area this summer? We’ve got your FUN Agenda! The Madison Children’s Activity Calendar features entertainment, hands-on fun, and learning for kids and their families. A collaboration among the Madison Children’s Museum, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, the Wisconsin Historical Museum, the Madison Public Library – Central Library, UW Space Place, the Madison Mallards, and Monona Terrace, the program includes a variety of fun and educational events for the whole family.

Start off with the FUN Agenda kickoff event on Wednesday, June 15, 10-11:30 am. in the Monona Terrace Exhibition Hall (1 John Nolen Drive). The event will feature seven different activity stations for children aged 4 – 8:

Madison Public Library – Central Library
Paper Dragon Masks, in celebration of our “One World, Many Stories” summer reading club we will be making paper dragon masks. Kids can color, cut, and decorate their own mask!

Madison Children’s Museum
Plant a garden and run a market stand with our Let’s Grow mobile exhibit, which promotes nutrition education while providing an opportunity for kids to learn about cultivating healthy foods and getting them onto the table. Plant seeds in Dixie cups and visit with the chickens.

Madison Mallards
Come get your photo taken with the team mascot, Maynard the Mallard, and take a leap onto the Velcro Wall. Don’t forget to pick up your Madison Mallards pocket schedule.

Monona Terrace
Frank Lloyd Wright not only designed buildings he also designed carpeting. Come design your own carpet pattern and using crayons, markers, and colored pencils add color to your design.

UW Space Place
We will be doing the ever popular alka-seltzer rockets and making sun necklaces.

Wisconsin Historical Museum
Join staff from the Wisconsin Historical Museum as they celebrate 25 years on the Capitol Square by fabricating a celebration spiral decoration to take home.

Wisconsin Veterans Museum
Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with educational games and making bald eagle hand puppets.

In the event of inclement weather, program will be moved inside.

Remarkable Rubber Ducky River Race

The Madison Mallards Baseball Team, Madison Parks, and the Madison Parks Foundation are teaming up to host the Rubber Ducky River Race at Burr Jones Park on the Yahara River. The fun-filled event will be on May 14 from noon – 2 pm and all proceeds of the event will benefit the Goodman Pool scholarship fund.

Event Fee: $2/one duck or $10/six ducks. To Purchase Ducks on-line visit: Madison Mallards.

The grand prize for the winner of the Rubber Ducky River Race will be a party for 10 at the Duck Pond on Opening Day, June 7 including the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, 10 great seats for the game and a $100 gift card!

“Madison Parks is excited to team up with the Madison Mallards and the Madison Parks Foundation for this event,” says Kevin Briski, Madison Parks Superintendent. “Strong partnerships, such as this, make for a vibrant Madison park system.”

In addition to the Rubber Ducky Race, Maynard G. Mallard will be on hand to greet fans, and kids can test their skills with the Mallards Speed Pitch, T-Ball game.

The Madison Mallards 2011 Season Home Opener is June 7. Season tickets are now on sale.

Goodman Pool is scheduled to open for the season on Friday, June 10. Lessons are filling up quickly. To enroll, visit the Goodman Pool website.

Win $25,000 for a Madison Playground

Parents magazine, KaBOOM! and Foresters life insurance company are offering communities a chance to win a $25,000 playground upgrade. Let’s help a Madison playspace win!

Your favorite park or playground could win an innovative Imagination Playground in a Box. Earn points for your playground by taking simple actions like uploading photos. The more points, the better your playground’s chance to win!

There’s a lot of info up on the contest FAQ page, but here’s the shortened version of how to enter:

1. Go to the Parents Magazine website to find your favorite local playground, park, or community space (or add it to the list if it’s not already there).

2. Become a fan of that playspace. Clicking on the “become a fan” button automatically nominates the playspace for the contest. You can only nominate a playspace once, but you can nominate as many playspaces as you would like!

3. Help that playspace earn points (you can earn points for as many playspace as you want). Adding a photo, adding a video, and adding a comment will add to the point total of the playspace.

The top 50 playspace with the most points will be narrowed down to 10 semifinalists by the judges. Three winners will be selected by public vote on the Parents magazine website.

Both James Madison Park and the Henry Vilas Zoo Playground have already been nominated. Know of any other playspaces in Madison in need of an upgrade?

Parks – Kids Crossing Playground

Lily’s favorite park is, as she’s dubbed it, Castle Park. The large wooden play structures look like Castle towers and it is a super fantastic fun park. It has swings. It has slides. It has bridges, climbing walls, musical instruments built right in, mysterious tire lined holes you climb down into and scare your parents with. It’s any kid’s dream park.

As parents, we love that there is plenty of parking and the kids run free and play happily mostly on their own. There is lots of space and benches for picnics. We love that there are restrooms near enough when we need them. We love the separate Tot Lot area, which is designed for littles (if i recall correctly its intended for kids under 5) with its own set of swings, slides, a big wooden racecar, a little barn, and a small maze (that parents can see into, thankfully) where our little ones wont get trampled.

Things to watch out for: We’ve found it to be busiest around 5-6pm on weekdays so steer clear around then if you are looking for a quieter time.
When your kids are exploring the first few times, you may want to explore with them, especially on the “back” (away from the parking lot) there are two large gaps in the otherwise enclosed upper level where there is a fireman pole activity and a rope for climbing down that seem a bit hazardous to me, but with a little assistance Lily loved trying them from about 18 months old.

Kids Crossing Playground is located at 2930 Chapel Valley Road in Fitchburg. Check out the Mckee Farms Park website for more information.