Last week, we extolled the benefits of family memberships at some of our favorite spots in the city — many of which save you money in the long run. But as all parents know, there are times when you can rock the long run, plan ahead and commit to showing up … and there are times when you just can’t. Therein lies the beauty of the drop-in class. We’re so lucky that there are a bunch of great spots in/around the city that offer activities you and your kid can just show up for*, no pre-registration necessary, no long-term commitment expected. Here’s some great options — in just about every city neighborhood — to keep in mind this winter. (PS. In all cases, caregivers are expected to stay through the class with the kiddos. It’s drop-in, not drop-off.)
* Dates and times reflect the current info at the time we post this, but it’s always smart to DOUBLE CHECK THE DATES AND TIMES on the appropriate website or by calling the location before you go!
PHILLY ART CENTER PLAYGROUP/OPEN STUDIO TIME
Where: The Philly Art Center, in Fairmount and Queen Village.
The class: From January until April 16 (that’s both winter sessions), both the Queen Village and the Fairmount outposts offer a drop-in open studio and playgroup time for kids from one month to three years. For very young ones, it’s mostly about the playing and community, but for kiddos 18 months and over, the open studio bit lets kids try out art materials and have some artsy fun. (Quoth the website: “Open studio is a great warm-up to skill-building art classes which start around age two.”)
Ages: Babies from one month to toddlers 3 years.
When: The Queen Village outpost’s drop-in is on Thursdays from 10 to noon; the Fairmount location has the same thing from 10 to noon on Fridays. The center says that 10-11 is aimed at toddlers and 11- 12 is perfect for babies not yet walking, but also says you can come any time you like within the two-hour time frame that suits you.
STORYPLAY AT BABY WORDPLAY’S LITTLE THEATER
Where: Baby Wordplay’s Little Theater is Grad Ho, and there’s a Pop-Up outpost in No Libs.
The class: BWLT is known (and loved) for its storyplays, which are sort of variety show story times replete with songs, puppets, rhyming, movement, and they offer them for infants, babies, toddlers and young children. It’s awesome. Almost all storyplays have a drop-in option, and you can also buy a multiple class card, and then drop-in whenever you want. The point is, you don’t have to enroll for a semester, and you needn’t call in advance to just show up and be engaged.
Ages: Newborns to five-year-olds
When: There are lots of drop-in options, most of them in the morning hours (with a few exceptions): Check the calendar for the best class for your age group, kiddo and schedule. Options abound: There are even some art classes for kids aged 9 months and older.
Price: Drop-ins are $10, or you can buy a 10-class card for $80. (They never expire!)
MONKEY MUSIC JUNGLE
Where: The Children’s Boutique in the Shops at Liberty Place (its new location!), Rittenhouse
The class: The boutique hosts Monkey Music Jungle, a singing, dancing, and generally just fun interactive class with instruments, music, movement and stories (and snacks!)
Ages: Any little ones, really, from babies to toddlers to young children.
When: 10:30 on Mondays through Fridays, generally speaking. Though if you are planning on going this week, be sure to call first, as word is that there might not be class Thursday or Friday.
Price: Drop-ins are $8, or you pick up a Music Monkey Jungle membership card, which is $70 for 10 classes, plus a CD. (Cards don’t expire!)
OPEN GYM TIME AT PHILLY InMOVEMENT
Where: Philly InMovement, Bella Vista
The class: The cute one-room tumble gym is filled with mats, a trampoline, a balance beam and other things kids can climb and jump and swing on, and it’s all there for “open gym” time. Open gym is first-come-first-serve; there’s no formal instruction (just play!);and there’s no sign-up necessary … but you should know there’s a 15-kid limit, so you won’t want to be late.
Ages: 10 months to five years
When: InMovement has lots of classes and after-school programs, so they fit in open gym times around those classes, Monday through Friday. You can find the current schedule (through March 28) here.
Price: $10 per kid for 45 minutes, or you can buy packages: $50 for 6, $85 for 12, $115 for 18, $140 for 24
RHYTHM BABIES MUSIC
Where: You can take these classes all over the place, happily enough, from Cloth in South Philly to My Fabulous Mama on South Street to The Nesting House in Collingswood to Villavillekula in Chestnut Hill.
The class: Rhythm Babies music classes hones skills like rhythm, melody, pitch recognition and beat by incorporating hand signs, movement, instrument play, a parachute, stories, play and–of course–music (and much more!) — all of which helps little ones learn and express their inner creativity. It’s a fun, active class.
Ages: Between four months and 5 years. Some classes are more age specific than others; check individual websites for details!
When: You can find the complete Rhythm Babies schedule here.
Price: $10 for a drop-in
PLAYDATES, FAMILY STUDIO TIME AND ART TOURS
Where: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Art Museum neighborhood
The class: There are several options for drop-in activities for different age groups, from stroller tours to family drawing sessions to circle time and games with preschoolers … and beyond.
Ages: From infants to bigger kids, depending on what drop-in you choose.
When: Several things happen during the weekend, but there are a few things during the week as well. Check the site for details.
Price: Free after admission (which may be a reason to consider membership). Regular admission for adults is $20; for kids under 12, it’s free. The first Sunday of every month is free.
MOMMY/DADDY ‘N’ ME MUSIC
Where: The Northern Liberties Community Center, No Libs
The class: The great Lara & Joe Show isn’t a class per se, but it’s a great interactive song-and-instrument time with a real (and very popular) rock duo who makes music time a blast for everyone there. You can show up, rock out, and hit the road … totally easy.
Ages: Babies, toddlers and young kids.
When: 11 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays (follow them on Facebook for the latest)
Price: $10 for the whole family
OPEN STUDIO TIME AT THE CREATIVE CLUBHOUSE
Where: Creative Clubhouse in Havertown
The class: The clubhouse offers open studios several times a week: Kids of all ages are encouraged to pick which activity suits them, like easel painting, crafts, and more. Also, your child may drop into any existing class (and those classes include painting, music, cooking, sculpture, and more!), just expect to pay more — and it’s best to call ahead to make sure there is room.
Ages: 6 months to 10 years, depending on the class.
When: Check the schedule on the site or on the Facebook page.
Price: Open studios are $12 per child; $8 for the first sibling, and $5 for every sibling thereafter. If you drop into a regular class, the cost is $18, and they advise calling first.
MUSIC CLASSES AT HATCH
Where: The cute little baby boutique Hatch, in Ambler
The class: A fun little interactive music class for littles, with songs and instruments — very inclusive and laid back.
Ages: 3 months to 4 years.
When: Most Wednesdays, some Thursdays and two Saturdays a month — always at 10:30 a.m.. Like Hatch’s Facebook page to keep up with the schedule.
Price: $5 a kid
CRAFTS AT THE PLAYHOUSE AT SMITH PLAYGROUND
Where: Smith Playground, Fairmount
The class: Craft time in the playhouse!
Ages: 5 years and younger
When: The third Friday of the month, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. (There’s also a story time every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. for kids 5 and younger.)
Price: Free, though donations are always accepted at Smith.
So here’s the deal — there are too many to list here, and we have a great list that we’ve rounded up before, only it really needs an update, so I won’t link to it. (Okay, okay! I’ll link to it — but you’re going to definitely need to double check those times and days. This list is almost a year old now — but still a good resource of PLACES you can look for story times. I promise we’ll update this soon and repost.) In the meantime, it can’t be emphasized enough you can always count on the Free Library and its branches for story times throughout the week — and we are fans of Head House Books story times on Fridays at 11:15 a.m. The new Old City toy store Momo’s Tree House also has a story time Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m.
Meets the Wee standards: