One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to scope out some new (to us) kid friendly spots. Because D wasn't loving our beach trip (more specifically the actual ocean), he still needed a lot of other opportunities to blow off his toddler steam. We found within driving distance the Providence Children's Museum.
After checking out their website I found that they have a special Friday where they are open late and admission is free after 5pm (FYI: This looks to be every Friday through August then one Friday a month thereafter. Check their calendar). So on Friday we headed out on the 25 mile drive from Narragansett which, unfortunately due to CRAZY traffic, took us over an hour! Ugh! However, this children's museum was totally worth the drive.
The building is two floors with several different play environments on each floor. The main floor consists of a water play room and engineering type activities (building with various materials). We started by exploring the engineering activities but as this was right near the entrance there was a lot of traffic.
Upstairs are even more play environments. One area focuses on transportation with cars, tools, roads to build with, dress up clothes and more. There is a tunnel to walk through that explores the history of Rhode Island with little rooms set up like scenes. For example, when talking about the first settlers, there is a log cabin room with play food that these people would have eaten (clams!), tools they would have had, dress up clothes, etc. D didn't want to explore the entire tunnel so I didn't get to finish checking it out.
There are more block areas (with my favorites, the big wooden blocks!) and a place called Little Woods for children under 4. This was really special as it had smaller climbing toys, a slide, push toys, books, and even a baby area. I loved seeing D fill up his cart with the pretend rocks (they were squishy) and cart them around the room only to transfer them to another basket, carry them around the room and then start over (I heart the load and tote phase of toddlerhood).
After some time in Little Woods we headed back downstairs to the water tables. This room was huge with 3 long water tables and a fourth regular table an employee kept loaded with crushed ice for building. D was very intent on putting balls and toys into the whirlpool. We probably spent a good half hour exploring this last area.
Despite arriving late (I wanted to be there at 5 and our drive got us there at almost 6) and having to leave at a little after 7 (we still hadn't eaten dinner!) we had a fabulous time there. The Providence Children's Museum puts a huge emphasis on the importance of play for children. This is something I LOVE. As an educator of (technically) elementary aged children this is something I see so lacking in our kindergartens these days and it just breaks my heart. Play has a huge role in young children's development. It helps them learn to develop language, self-regulate, interact with peers, and develop critical thinking skills. Play is also a huge stress reliever for kids (imagine how you feel when you haven't had a lot of knitting time!). This museum used signs throughout the building to provide information to parents on how to interact with their children during their time there. They also had handouts on supported play, book lists for further reading, and a ton of additional info on their website.
If you are ever in Rhode Island, I highly recommend a trip tot he Providence Children's Museum. Even though we went on a special night, it is definitely worth the price of admission. I am sure we will make a visit back there the next time we are in Rhode Island.
Have you been to this children's museum? I'd love to hear about your favorite museums for kids!