The Delaware Children's Museum is full of practical play. And by practical, we don't mean boring (this place could never be boring!). Instead we're talking about a place that is filled with hands on, interactive fun that also teaches kids (and their caregivers) about important topics and basic life skills. Pretty much every nook and cranny of the Delaware Children's Museum is another chance to learn how to thrive when dealing with real world experiences, problems, and opportunities (except for maybe the new Pirate Ship - that thing is just pure swashbuckling fun).
With all the interesting sounds coming from it, the first place you'll be drawn to (after climbing around in the amazing Stratosphere of course) is The Power of Me. Here you can test yourself to see your reaction time, agility, and flexibility and see the different parts of your body and how they all work. The Power of Me teaches kids (and adults) how to best take care of their bodies while encouraging activity and healthy eating in a fun way (our heart rate was certainly going after a turn on the rowboats and playing some games on the rock wall!). We noticed that the Food-o-Matic Diner (nutrition), the bluescreen theater area (fun movement), and the tall slide in the center were big hits with the kids running around in this area.
Right next door to the Power of Me, it's time to don the hardhats in the innovative world of Structures. Here you can role play every single job of a construction process from designing and testing to building completion. While this area looks sparse at first, you quickly discover that there is a type of block/construction toy for almost any interest level. For even very young kids, the tower near the entrance helps them pick out various shapes in their everyday world. Some of our favorites of this area were tracing the different structures at the architect drafting board, testing our block buildings against earthquakes, and creating an actual arch with big blocks.
Structures flows naturally into ECOnnect with a walk through the Eco House, a sustainable house that's big enough to play in and small enough for kids to feel right at home. ECOennect was definitely our personal favorite zone. The camping/woods area reminded us of all the times we'd pretend to camp out as kids (but so much better). On a practical level, this area teaches kids about the animals who can be found in this region as well as camping safety tips while also giving them an appreciation for the intricacies and beauty of nature. Located just next to the woods is the fun water area. Put on a plastic smock and learn about the flow of water through rainstorms, dams, locks, and floating ships (or just splash your hand around to enjoy the feel of water - there was quite a lot of that going on).
ECOnnect has recently expanded its fun to include a pirate ship (with a great slide for littler kids), as well as the museum's fantastic Touch Tank Aquarium. The Aquarium is the home for cartilaginous fish, bony fish, and invertebrates, so you'll have a chance to see rays, Hippo Tang fish ("Dory" from Finding Nemo, star fish and so much more. We particularly enjoyed seeing the horseshoe crabs and sea urchins. And don't forget to go up and around the Aquarium for some bird watching.
Bank on It, directly across from ECOnnect, was probably one of the most practical exhibits we've ever seen at a children's museum. This area takes you through every aspect of money from earning it and spending it to investing it and saving it. Kids who like thinking games will love setting up their own lemonade stand and attempting to make it profitable. Other favorites we saw for kids in this area included playing with an ATM and using a pneumatic tube just like at a real bank. Bank on It takes the confusion and unrealistic "magic" out of currency and demonstrates the real life work to attain money and the different ways of putting it to good personal use. This is especially a great place to visit with older kids who are beginning to handle their own money.
Next door in Training Wheels, the youngest visitors (0-preschool) get a fun and safe place to run around all their own. Explore a world of all things transportation from a trip on the train, to working in the car shop, to learning about gears and wheels. The littlest of visitors will enjoy exploring or just relaxing in the soft padded boat in this area. (Caregivers of very little ones will also appreciate the little carpeted reading nook in ECOnnect as well as the nursing room in Training Wheels - with a chair and toys for older siblings).
Make sure to stop in at Studio D for some downtime and art exploration. Paint a picture, sculpt with clay, or do any of the other fun crafts the museum may have depending on the day. We loved that there was also a little area with soft seating for reading books and doing puzzles for the kids that aren't quite old enough for paint and clay. We were also thrilled that you could leave your kids' painted masterpiece on the drying rack until you were ready to leave.
The Delaware Children's Museum often hosts special exhibits (like the current Block Party that we explored and loved last year too) and has a calendar full of special events including their Junior Engineers series and Grand Adventures for grandparents and their grandchildren. Once a month the museum offers $2 admission on a Wednesday night from 5pm to 8pm. And their new late Friday and Saturday evening hours gives more time for play, learning, and enjoying special activities (like their Sea Life Scavenger Hunt).
We had a wonderful time at the Delaware Children's Museum and especially recommend it for caregivers with older children. While they still have the hands on play that younger kids love so much, there are a lot of concepts and areas of fun that will intrigue kids who would normally be "too old" for a children's museum (they also have an admission price that can't be beat as well as FREE parking!). Whether it's matching colors at a pop up activity station, learning the power of a dollar at Bank on It, or braving the elevated maze of the Stratosphere, the Delaware Children's Museum inspires and teaches kids about themselves and their surroundings in a way that helps prepare them to grow up in confidence.
(Closed on Mondays)
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