Raving about the Tacoma Children's Museum

Have you ever experienced something so phenomenal you just had to tell your friends about it? It doesn't happen very often does it? But I had such an experience with my daughter yesterday, and I wanted to share it with you.

My local library is hosting a Play to Learn group, which was put together and is being run by the Children's Museum of Tacoma. The group is for preschoolers and their parents. The focus is learning those skills necessary for school through play. Each week has a different theme and includes stories, songs, crafts and free play time in keeping with that theme. (A take home flyer which explains what skills were being developed that day is also available for parents to take home.) For example the most recent theme was cooking. There were two stories, one about an Asian family preparing dinner and the other about Australian animals creating a wombat stew. The crafts included stamping pictures with stamps of food and creating a recipe book. Free play toys included a sensory table with different types of noodles as well as a variety of kitchen toys.

The Play to Learn group was in and of itself quite an enjoyable experience. My daughters and I have been to several. So I was finally inspired to stop by and visit the Children's Museum--since they had put this program together.

I don't know what other children's museums are like but if they are anything like the Tacoma Children's Museum I highly recommend you take your children. There was one room entirely devoted to art, which is were my daughter had to begin. It included paper, pencils, markers, scissors, glue, paint and other art supplies. There was also a wall with a variety of brightly colored magnetic shapes and a rope "loom" through which the kids could weave strips of fabric.

Another of my daughter's favorite rooms was the deli/farmer's market/farm room. There was an apple tree from which the children could pick apples and vegetable gardens were they could grow vegetables. (My daughter decided the apple tree should also grow plums.) After harvesting the vegetables the children could take them to sell at the farmer's market, which featured bins for selling the fruits and vegetables, a scale for weighing the produce and a cash register with money. After a long day shopping at the farmer's market the children can eat at the deli (or serve the food). The deli included sandwich fixings as well as plates, cups and trays. There was also another cash register, tables and chairs, a menu and waitress pads with pencils for taking orders.

There were also rooms that featured Native American myths.  There were quite a few activities associated with these rooms but I will just tell you about a couple of the items that my daughter particularly liked.  One was the coyote who was attempting to fly by holding a number of feathers.  The children could take the feathers from the bird and stick them in the coyote's arms.  Then by turning a wheel on the wall the coyote would fly into the air.  But, since the coyote was flying in a circle naturally he would drop all the feathers.  My daughter tried this several times and would have kept going if I hadn't dragged her off.

The other activity from the Native American rooms that my daughter particularly enjoyed was the fishing boat and fish.  There was a small boat with two nets and two buckets for catching fish.  The buckets could then be brought to a cooking rack over the fire where the fish could then be hung.  My daughter was delighted with the wooden fish and moved them back and forth from the buckets to the fire several times.

My daughter also loved the variety of "doors" that were just for her.  She particularly liked the little "room" which featured a number of cubbyholes in which "Indian artifacts" were stashed.  Not for the replica of a coyote skull but because you entered the room through a small hole then climbed up a ramp.  Moreover the "room" featured a small window through which she could peek at Mommy.

The museum also featured a variety of activities that would appeal to older children as well as a variety of activities and summer camps that you could register for.  Though the experience was a little wearing (what activity with young children isn't?) in all it was one my daughter and I enjoyed immensely.  It you have a children's museum in your area definitely check it out.  And if not consider starting one.

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