Playgroups are a fun way to meet new families. Boston has free playgroups throughout the city. We listed some below...
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Curtis Hall Play Group (0-36 months)
20 South Street, Jamaica Plain 02130
Mon, Wed, Fri | 10:00am - 12:00pm
The Curtis Hall play group offers free play with other children and their caregivers. Little ones will practice their tactile, fine, and gross motor skills. The play group takes place in the Curtis Hall Gymnasium and lasts 2 hours on most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Because the group fills up fast, there is an online registration that opens 24 hours before its scheduled time. The group is intended for ages 0 to 36 months and is limited to 30 children per session.
Roche Community Center (ages 1 to 3.5)
1716 Centre Street, West Roxbury 02132
Wed | Mornings (start times are 9:30am or 10:15am)
The Roche Community Center hosts two play times. Sticky Fingers is a 45 minute class in the Roche art room. Families get messy with paint, play doh, sand, chalk, and more. Toddler Time offers tumbling, free play, and rhythmic activities in the Roche gym. Classes fill up fast. Since there are multiple classes, the following link directs you to all the classes offered by Roche Community Center. Feel free to search their online catalog or call and inquire about the one you are specifically interested in.
Hyde Park Playgroup (ages 1-4)
215-217 Garfield Ave, Hyde Park 02136
Mon, Thur, Fri | 10:00am - 12:00pm
The Family Nurturing Center takes a hybrid approach to playgroups. In-person sessions happen Mondays and Fridays, while the virtual meetings are on Thursdays via zoom. Playgroups start in September and run through June. They feature songs, circle time, and arts-n-craft activities. You can email Nora Arara for more details.
Countdown to Kindergarten (ages 1-5)
2300 Washington St, Roxbury 02119
Countdown to Kindergarten offers two-hour playgroups once a week. The play time offers caregivers and children a fun space for sing-a-longs, story time, and circle time. The actual program doesn't have a physical home, instead play group leaders go to schools and community centers in West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Dorchester. To get the exact location and times of playgroups, families are asked to email (email@example.com) or text Ms. Cheryle at (617) 756-9650.
Leahy Holloran Community Center (ages 3-6)
1 Worrell St, Dorchester 02122
This community center offers multiple afternoon playgroups for hands-on learning. Themes include dancing, story times, cooking, and science exploration. Since there are multiple classes, the following link directs you to all the classes offered by Leahy. Feel free to search their online catalog or call and inquire about the one you are specifically interested in.
ICA Play Dates (ages 12+ under)
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston 02210
The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) offers free playdates on the last Saturday of every month from January to October. Attendees are limited to 2 adults per family and must be accompanied by children under 12 years old. Use the promo code PLAYDATE when reserving tickets online.
Peters Hill, Boston
Sun | 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Second Sundays are a monthly event at the Arnold Arboretum. There are tours, lawn games, and family-friendly activities. You can scroll through the Arnold Arboretum's events page, or visit our listing which we try to regularly update.
Boston Family Engagement Network
The Boston Engagement Network has a steady stream of free playgroups in Boston. These include local mom and dad groups, as well as bilingual groups centered around early-learning and fun.
What's The Difference Between Play Dates And Play Groups?
Play dates are often scheduled between parents. They're frequently planned in a home, at an event, or playspace with the hopes of just having fun. Playgroups tend to be led by early childhood specialists. Their goal is to make sure parents are introduced to early child development. For example, playgroup leaders often sing to help little ones transition between activities and snack times. They also designate a "clean-up time," a space where little ones learn that everything has a space to return to when play time is over. They also give helpful tips, for example helping parents recognize that their child may be naturally grouping toys by color instead of randomly picking different objects.
Play dates can last all day, while playgroups are usually two hours or less.
Please know that not all playgroups are the same. Meaning, they may have different leadership styles, practice different philosophies, and serve different types of families. Feel free to hop around until you find a group you absolutely love.
Do You Have Any Tips For Filling Out Online Forms?
Some groups require registration using online forms. We totally understand the convenience of having parents provide basic information online. This data can show how many parents are interested in a particular group and where they come from. Please know that these organizations sometimes are not tech-savvy or digitally informed. This means that they may not know how to handle personal data responsibly (for example, full names, dates of birth, and addresses). We recommend using privacy features like Apple's hide my email and using periods instead of full names (especially for your little ones).
Are There Other Toddler-Friendly Activities In Boston?
There are tons! We have a calendar that focuses on baby and toddler-friendly events in the city -- you can check it out here.
Until next time...
Love The Journey,