What do you look for in a children’s museum? Do you want to see your children engaged and learning through play? Do you want to see them get excited to build a parachute and launch it? Do you want to hear them laugh at the fun they are having? Check, Check, and Check. The Austin Children’s Museum will provide all of that and more for your children.
Our family has been visiting the Austin Children’s Museum for the past 4 years and we love that each time we go, we have new experiences, thanks to all the wonderful rotating exhibits they bring in. A few weeks ago, I took my youngest (3 1/2 year old) to check out the newest one, Spin & Span.
My 3 1/2 year old’s favorite place in the museum that day? The trains! He loved watching the train go around, getting to control it’s progression by being the conductor. I enjoyed learning about Austin’s Railroad History – I had no idea that Austin supported a ‘commuter rail’ to the then-suburbs in the 1920’s – did you?
The Austin Children’s Museum has a great place for those 2 and under, called the Rising Star Ranch. In this enclosed area, parents can feel comfortable letting their young ones roam freely to play with all the toys and hands on attractions built just for them. I always appreciated the area when coming with all my kids, as it was a fun place for my youngest to play while the older two were busy. Every Monday morning, from 9 am – 12 pm, the museum hosts “Baby Bloomers“, where the museum in opened ONLY to those 3 and under. It’s a much quieter, relaxed museum experience.
Older kids really enjoy the upstairs Tinker’s Workshop, where they can build and test cars, design a building, or create something completely new out of everyday recycled objects. Every station has great lessons that are easy to follow and don’t overwhelm (or stifle) the children’s imagination.
The museum offers daily events, such as Community Night and weekend events. We took advantage of “No Tour Tuesday” when we went – the museum is closed to school tours, which really lessens the amount of kids who were there – I definitely recommend this day to visit. We were also there for a fantastic story time, filled with finger play, songs, and stories. It was interactive and kept my son’s attention for just the right amount of time.
We almost missed what turned out to be one of our favorite exhibits. Ready, Set, Roll is tucked away in the back room, so make sure to go in there. We had more fun rolling golf balls around at all the various stations in the room. I know there were lessons to be learned about inertia and gravity, but for a 3 year old, it was all giggles propelling the golf balls and launching them into buckets. My older kids would have seen more of the lesson in the fun.
The Austin Children’s Museum has a variety of fun and interactive exhibits that really cater to all age groups. Though most stop taking their kids to a children’s museum once they pass a certain age, there are a lot of great exhibits here that older kids can enjoy still. You hear lots of “wows” and “that’s cool” mixed with giggles and squeals. That is the sign of a great museum.
The Austin Children’s Museum recently broke ground on a new location in the Mueller area that will be twice the size and feature all new exhibits. The expected opening date is late 2013.