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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