Kids love to investigate tide pools, like this one at Potts Point Preserve. (ROBIN CASEY PHOTO)
Well, having all three of our grandkids here in July was certainly a good reminder that we need to plan rainy day activities and outings, not just outdoor ones!
Indoor activities: For our toddler granddaughter, Ella, we spent a lot of time with crayons and various “cooking” utensils. I’d found a secondhand toddler shopping cart, with plastic food, which she played with repeatedly. Facebook Marketplace and resale stores selling gently used toys are great sources, including Sweet Repeats in Freeport (sweetrepeatsmaine.com), Lots for Tots in Falmouth (lotsfortotsne.com) and Buy Low Baby in Bath (207-442-9555).
Our 6- and 9-year-old grandkids loved the in-house scavenger hunt their aunt and uncle made for them, with clues put in numbered envelopes and hidden in various locations throughout the house. Their reward was a scoop of ice cream.
Another favorite activity is making slime and/or play dough. Both are easy and fun. Lots of different recipes are available online, including at thebestideasforkids.com. This site also has free, printable cards for various bingo games, including “summer bingo” and “camping bingo.”
Outside activities: The Harpswell Heritage Land Trust has, with the help of many volunteers, created a children’s Forest Playground. Made as a portable pop-up, the Forest Playground rotates to different sites each summer. This summer it is located, until late September, at Skolfield Shores Preserve.
The playground is designed to encourage young people to move, explore and use their senses to observe the natural world around them. The playground provides prompts, activities and tools to aid children in their discoveries. You can learn more about and see pictures of the Forest Playground at hhltmaine.org/forest-playground. Directions to the preserve can be found at hhltmaine.org/get-outdoors/skolfield-shores-preserve.
Tennis anyone? Playing tennis or pickleball is a fun activity for most children. According to the town, the only public courts in Harpswell are located just north of the Kellogg Church in Harpswell Center. They are first come, first served. The courts are not in top condition, but I’ve heard there is a move afoot to improve them.
Who doesn’t have a sweet tooth? No child’s visit is complete without a “field trip” to get ice cream or other sweets. Island Candy Store, on Orr’s Island, offers ice cream, delicious homemade chocolates and other treats, as well as gifts made by local residents. It also has a lovely, gated flower garden outside. It’s a delight to visit: orrsislandcandy.com.
On the Neck, don’t miss Pammy’s Ice Cream Parlor, a treat for all, located at the entry to Mitchell Field. Pammy’s, where almost everything from her car to the outdoor furniture is pink, offers a wide variety of Round Top Ice Cream treats for all ages and delightful homemade gifts. Sometimes you’ll even encounter a musician or local craftsperson there. Find Pammy’s Ice Cream Parlor on Facebook.
In Cundy’s Harbor, Holbrooks General Store has ice cream (scooped) and candies to satisfy every sweet tooth. Enjoy while walking around the wharf and watching the lobster and fishing boats bringing in their catch. It doesn’t get any more “Maine” than this! See facebook.com/holbrooksgeneralstore.
Last but not least, no search for sweets is complete without a trip to Land’s End Gift Shop (facebook.com/landsendgiftshop) at the end of Bailey Island, where their famous homemade fudge comes in a variety of flavors. Other candies and lots of Maine souvenirs are available. Don’t miss a walk outside to see the lobsterman memorial statue and one of the prettiest water scenes in the state.
Let’s get wet! What is better than swimming on a hot summer’s day? Harpswell and Brunswick offer many wonderful places to swim! In Harpswell, public beaches include those at Mitchell Field, Bailey Island Beach (next to Land’s End), Stover’s Point, Cedar Beach, and Potts Point Preserve. Be careful to observe parking and other signs at any beach so as not to disturb local residents.
In Brunswick, Coffin Pond offers a sandy beach and chlorinated freshwater pond with a 55-foot water slide. There’s a small fee but it has restrooms, parking, lifeguards and a playground. It’s open from mid-June to mid-August: brunswickme.org/193/coffin-pond. Also in Brunswick, you can swim and play in the lovely tidal water off the beautiful sandy beach that overlooks Thomas Bay. There’s plenty of parking, a playground area and a small entry fee: thomaspointbeach.com.
Children enjoy other water activities available in Harpswell. Fishing and crabbing off the town dock on the Neck (or any dock or wharf near you) is very popular with kids. We borrowed, then bought, an inexpensive crab trap (email me if you want details) that our grandkids loved using during their visit.
Beach fun also includes hunts for sea glass and heart stones, as well as investigating tide pools, such as those at Potts Point Preserve.
I hope to start receiving readers’ suggestions about the things they’ve particularly enjoyed doing with the children in their lives, regardless of the season, so I can include them in this column. I can’t do this alone! Send me your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.