One of the most common questions we get from families is about how to entertain the youngest unschoolers at Un in the Sun. Families with children under the age of 5 sometimes worry about planning. We don’t blame you – we’ve been in new situations with the littlest of children ourselves, and we know what it’s like to need to do a little extra planning.
The great news is that there is plenty to do at Un in the Sun, even for our youngest unschoolers. Here is a list of fun options, including both official conference activities, and activities available at the Tradewinds Resort.
Unless otherwise noted, all resort activities listed below are FREE for families who are booked to stay at the Tradewinds. [If you are choosing NOT to book a stay at the Tradewinds while you attend the conference, you may purchase wristbands for $30 per person, good for the length of the conference, and which will allow you to use hotel amenities such as the pools and paddleboats. There are also some additional hotel activities that cost money and which can be found on the Tradewinds website.]
- Enjoy the Conference Activity Room. Just around the corner from Un in the Sun’s presentation room, and right off the veranda is our Activity Room. This big room is well-stocked with child-friendly toys and dress-up clothes. There are almost always plenty of little ones (and bigger ones, and adults, too!) to play with in here. While parents are listening to presentations from our speakers, children may be left in the Activity Room with our volunteer sitters who will be happy to call you on your cell phone if your child needs you. [As an alternative to leaving your child in the activity room, some parents take turns attending the presentations while the other parent stays with the kids. You can also bring young children into the presentations, along with some quiet toys.]
- Attend a Sunshop! The suggested age range for sunshops varies, but some will likely be options for the younger children. During Un in the Sun 2016, one Sunshop involved drawing on rocks, and children of all ages enjoyed that one!
- Take a leisurely ride on a paddleboat. Paddleboats are available all day at the resort. You can almost always find other unschooling families paddling around while you are on river that meanders through the resort. The little ones will love seeing the swans, ducks, turtles, koi, herons, and egrets that hang out in and around the water. You can even buy some fish food (low-cost, machine takes quarters) from one of the feeding stations to toss into the water for the koi.
- Play some Mini-Golf. Just make sure you tell everyone else to watch out when your little ones are swinging the clubs ;-) The little ones might not make any hole-in-ones, but they sure enjoy hitting those balls around. The 9-hole Mini-Golf Course is located right downstairs from our conference room, in the courtyard.
- Swim in a Pool! There are 4 pools to choose from: the Wading Pool (for the youngest children), the Family Pool, the Covered Pool (totally in the shade), and the Beachfront Pool. Additionally, there are several hot tubs near the Beachfront Pool. Towels are free to use and can be picked up at the Adventure Center. Feel free to bring balls, life vests, and floaties from home to use in the pool (or if you forget, you can buy them at the hotel).
- Swim at the beach. Right in front of the hotel, a short walk from your hotel room, is the fine white sand of St. Pete Beach. Average water temperature in September is 84 degrees. You can frequently see fish and stingray off the beach, along with pods of dolphins that swim by, traveling up and down the beach.
- Fun on the beach… Collect some seashells, take a walk, or play a game of corn-hole (the resort has it set up near the beach). Be sure to look sharp and duck when your toddler throws those bean-bags!
- Build a sandcastle with other Un in the Sun conference attendees. Laugh when your toddler smushes the castle you just made ;-)
- Swing on a beach-side hammock. This is something that our kids never got tired of! Be careful if you are prone to motion sickness ;-)
- Take a walk. The resort grounds are beautiful, and there is much to see. From feeding the fish and the frogs to walking along the waterway, you are sure to see some native wildlife. You might even catch one of the FREE Family Pirate Shows on Pirate Island as you walk around (check the hotel activity calendar for the times).
- More beach games! Tetherball, horseshoe, and bocce ball.
- Enjoy the KONK Center (which stands for, “Kids Only, No Kidding”). Kids can draw, paint, play board games, play video games and find fun critters in the reef tank. *Note – there are some craft activities at KONK that do require additional fees, though they are usually very reasonable (about $5-$15).
- Enjoy the fish tanks at Guy Harvey Outpost, just a short walk to the hotel nextdoor. Check out the new 33,500 gallon aquarium featured on Animal Planet’s “Tanked”. All ages will love looking at the beautiful fish.
- If all the pools and activities at Island Grand weren’t enough to entertain you, head over to Guy Harvey Outpost to enjoy their pool, adirondack chairs, and L’il Guys Activities Hut (*nominal fees for crafts*).