Friday, September 28, 2012

Chicago Children's Museum

It isn’t hard to stay busy in Chicago. In addition to the multitudes of relatives and friends that stopped by to meet Mikus for the first time and catch up with Lauris and me, we also took advantage of some of the family fun the city has to offer. Although Lauris is happy with a big cardboard box and some matchbox cars, his favorite place might have been the Children’s Museum. There are several locations in the Chicago area but as we were meeting an old friend of mine with her children, convenience dictated we meet at the Navy Pier location.

The Museum is very well-thought out, and  really has activities for every age. It is split into many rooms, each with a different theme, and most rooms have a play area within for smaller children. It was a relief to be able to put Mikus down and know he hasn’t crawled off somewhere while I’m playing with Lauris, and I even got in some chat-time with Cathy.

 
Our first stop was the fire truck area, complete with fire boots and coats for the kids to put on, hoses to hook up, fire poles to slide down and a command center to operate. As a former firefighter I can vouch for the authenticity of the set up: I was surprised at the detail, and how much to do was packed into very little space. We also spent some time in the building area, which had only boards, nuts, bolts and washers and depended solely on the child’s imagination. Or the parent’s patience, whichever runs out first….

 
The “little town” room was great, and Cathy’s oldest had just as fun a time as the two two-year olds. With a gas station, general store and post office, the kids were pushing around shopping carts, practicing paying for groceries and doing their own thing for over an hour. The dinosaur excavation was not as age appropriate. I helped Lauris “find” some bones but he wanted to pull them out and look at them, and since each bone is a part of a larger picture and therefore remains in place he quickly lost interest.  Mikus wanted to eat the sand.

 
I believe the greatest asset of the children’s museum is their water room. The kids don little rain jackets before entering the room filled with all sorts of water-related activities. One wall is for “water art”, another has jets squirting into the air that can be redirected, split and capped with various pipes and tubing. The centerpiece is a long river with flowing water that allows children to learn about lock mechanisms, water pressure and the power of flowing water through pulleys, gears, spinning wheels and the placement of barriers. While the older children experimented with diverting water flow and pumping stations, Lauris had just as much fun floating boats down river, carrying buckets  of water from one place to the next and getting soaked down to the diaper in no time despite the waterproof gear.

 
Every empty spot is filled with some sort of activity or learning station: giant dominoes, a bowling alley, catapaults… We drifted into the bug room with its shadowplay butterfly area, costumes and video-games. Then into the gravity/flight room where self-constructed flying objects can be hoisted up high into the air and then dropped to test the qualities needed for longer flight time. Somewhere in between we took the kids out for a bite to eat, with promises that we would be back inside before they know it. And they ran around, they played and they enjoyed the hands-on activities and games that guaranteed that they also learned something. I caught up with my college friend, so it really was a win-win situation. Especially that evening when they both slept like rocks!

 

 

3 comments:

  1. What an amazing and fun place. I keep hearing such good things about Chicago - there seems to be something for everyone!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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  2. We love Children Museums! We always seem to find one everywhere we go.

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  3. As an older art collector since my wife passed away, I must admit to being very partial to collecting nudes in art, as original paintings or as good prints, that I have displayed all over the house. (I like to see the surprised faces of my new visitors).
    This one,
    http://en.wahooart.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LHTDD, by Emile Munier, is hanging in one corner of my bedroom and was printed by wahooart.com, where I am a very good customer.

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