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Filtering by Tag: museums

Imagination Station Toledo

Andrea Sanchez

A couple weeks ago we planned a short day trip to Toledo. And you know me, ever the sucker for a visit to a children's museum. What we found was a gem of a museum tucked into a city where many of my friends asked, "Why Toledo?"

I was really intrigued by the fact that this museum, Imagination Station, was specifically a children's science and math museum. I personally find it difficult to consistently implement engaging, hands-on science and math activities in my classroom (I teach half-day kinder!) and with D (he's all about the gross motor play these days), so I'm always up for the opportunity to learn more about possibilities in these areas. 

When we got there, I was really impressed by the size and updated look of the building. Located on the Maumee River, Imagination Station has two levels of hands-on science, math, and engineering activities for kids of all ages. Once our tickets were paid for and we entered the main exhibit area, the stand out was the balance bike you could ride across a tightrope! I have no idea how this works, but obviously it does and is safe (this was for older kids. I believe there was an age and height limit). 

A large portion of the main floor was dedicated to Little KIDSPACE, a space specifically for children ages 5 and under. Here D played on a slide and climber built to look like a tree. This tree included animal puppets, dress up clothes, and signs prompting parents to discuss certain aspects of animal habitats with their children. There were quite a few different engineering centers set up with various types of building blocks and equipment. As always, D headed straight to the water tables. These were equipped with tubes and connectors to make any variety of water spout. There was also a baby water table where little ones could sit and play, secured to the table. The Little KIDSPACE water area was partitioned off from the regular water play area which included a whirlpool and other, more in depth activities for older children (tornado maker, and something about weather).

It should also be noted that Little KIDSPACE has a nursing room for moms complete with rocking chair, footstool, changing table, and some supplies! I was really pleased by this because we all know how difficult it can be to find a little private space when you have a newborn. This nursing room was next to the play area for littles under the age of 2.

After our water play we headed downstairs to catch a science show. The (female! yay!) scientist popped balloons filled with various gasses and blew up a pumpkin! I tried volunteering to have my hand lit on fire, but thought D might freak out. The show was about 25 minutes long but managed to keep D's attention for most of that!

We had our lunch outside, purchasing semi-healthy faire from the museum restaurant (as usual, it was a bit on the pricey side). While they offered healthy choices like fruit, milk, and veggies, there were still plenty of candy, chips, and soda displays. While sitting outside, we had the great enjoyment of watching the bridge on the Maumee rise up to let a ship pass through (headed to where? I'm not sure. But it was huge.). That's high excitement for a toddler. 

There were still a number of exhibits that we had left to explore but many were for older children.  A Mythbusters exhibit, the Mind Zone (how our minds can be tricked), and the Science Studio (making all kinds of cool goop and spooky stuff - it is October after all) would be great for children with a bit more patience than D. Either way, we'd been there already for over 3 hours and it was time to head off to the football game that we'd driven to Toledo to attend.

As we were leaving we happened upon an amazing musical machine that was powered by levers, pulleys, and pool balls! 

If you are in the area, Imagination Station also has a great variety of early childhood programs available! I'd love to attend a science story time! 

Considering the amount of time one could spend there, the quality and variety of the exhibits, this place was an amazing deal. Children 3-12 are $9, 13-64 are $11, and there are discounts for teachers, military, seniors, and littles 2 and under are free. You can't beat that!

This is going on my highly recommended list if ever you're in the Toledo area and looking for something to do with the family. If you ever make the visit I hope you'll stop back here and tell me which you enjoyed the most!

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Providence Children's Museum

Andrea Sanchez

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!