Once you've plucked an apple from its tree, there's no putting it back on. Or is there?
Like hundreds of other youngsters who will pass through children's museums daily, 2-year-old Dominic discovered that almost anything is possible. From Velcro trees to makeshift recycling centers (complete with magnetic cranes for separating aluminum from tin), there are learning opportunities around every corner.
If you haven't visited a children's museum in the past, you may want to mark it on your calendar as a "don't miss" event. Open year 'round in most cases, these child-friendly environments are entertaining as well as educational.
At the Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, children can walk through the human digestive system, listen to the sounds of each process, climb through the ventricles of the heart, and experience the vacuum effect produced in the human lung. When finished there, children can call 911 and act out emergencies by following the kid-friendly guides posted near each phone, then climb aboard the ambulance, steer the wheel and flash the lights, to be sure to get their patient there in one piece!
Other exhibits include fun with learning, such as the arts and crafts area where kids can design their own puppet, or the funhouse mirrors that stretch your head and other body parts out of proportion. And who could resist playing with brightly colored clear Legos on a lighted table? Discover giant bubble makers, operate trains and blow the whistle and drive the bus full of passengers to their destination. Dress up as a nurse, a police officer or perhaps even a baker.
Learn your colors by matching the fruits and flowers to their color coordinated bins. Discover the sounds that different instruments make by beating a drum or ringing a bell. Hands-on computers will also captivate children with topics ranging from musical sounds from every instrument imaginable, to the Magic School Bus adaptation of a volcanic eruption.
Children's museums are not geared only to the preschool and toddler set, there is plenty for the elementary- and middle school-aged child as well. Learn about velocity, friction, gravity and sound decibels. Operate video cameras, be the star of the show, or play with the different sound effects heard in your favorite television programs.
Other locations, such as the Chicago Children's Museum in Chicago, Illinois, have an interactive waterway where children can learn about currents and water travel. This exhibit comes complete with raincoats!
Wherever you live, there is more than likely a children's museum within reasonable traveling distance. If you are interested in finding a children's museum near you, check out the links below, browse the web, try a site like Yelp or even consult your local yellow pages.
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