President’s Day in New York City. To some this was a day when most parents were off from work to care for their children who were beginning a week long mid-winter break from school. Aside from my husband being home from work, I saw this as another day, another opportunity to seek out adventures for her family to enjoy together.
Today we sought to adventure into Crown Heights, Brooklyn and introduced our children and myself, to the newly renovated Brooklyn Children’s Museum. I was curious about visiting the first green building in the city and children’s museum in the world (founded in 1899), which had gone through some renovations before reopening in September of 2008 after completing an $80 Million expansion project.
The boys love visiting museums, but the 11-year-old was a bit skeptical of what he would find there. Other visits to museums focused expressly on children often leave him feeling a bit bored and left out. But because the family belief is that one never knows what a family adventure will bring, he was hesitant to stay home and potentially miss out.
We took their car for a quick ride over the Brooklyn Bridge, though commuting to the museum by train is also an easy task on the A, C or 3 trains. Parking nearby was not a hassle at all, which was nice since the museum does not offer private parking. We arrived to the museum located on a quiet neighborhood block, and entered to find a wide, colorful lobby, bustling with the sound of children at play.
Before my husband and I had removed our coats the little ones had escaped and ran into the museum’s Totally Tots play area. This amazingly fun, colorful play area caters to toddlers and their curious and playful personalities. The first stop the younger boys made in this area was at Water Wonders, where they played with handles that made water sprinkle or bubble or squirt into the large pond full of toys and water. They climbed in and out of a tunnel which led them to the middle of the pond, and watched the water as it trickled down a small waterfall which they could control by moving the various panels. The 2-year-old refused to wear the readily available smocks to protect the him from getting wet and within minutes his Spongebob shirt was drenched. He was so busy having fun and playing that it seemed the only one uncomfortable with it was me. So, I decided to ignore it and let him play.
Soon after, the boys moved on to the Sand Play area, where the kids found blue sand, a few shovels, small containers, and other tools to carry, move, and spread sand on the toddler height sand box. From there they moved towards the playful Toy Town, creative Little Theater, musically fun Sound Around, and artistically inclined Art Studio. One missed spot was the Reading Nook and the Baby Hub (for 18 months and younger).
The kids were able to participate in the Lincoln’s Log Cabin activity, in honor of President’s Day.
Another one of my favorite exhibit was World Brooklyn. Here I watched as my little ones played in the international grocery store, where they shopped for all sorts of foreign delicacies and even pretended to check things as they moved along the belt by the register. Other Brooklyn area favorites displayed here were Don Paco Lopez Panaderia and L&B Pizzeria allowing the kids to play, interact with other children, and even make their own pretend pizza.
The kids also enjoyed Neighborhood Nature, where the kids played with a pebble pond, looked for bugs through a magnifying glass, participated in one of the museum’s scheduled activities at the Touch Tank, did some imaginary gardening, crawled through a tunnel under an aquarium, and listened to the sounds of nocturnal birds and insects. Whew!
The museum has tons of other activities and exhibits that we didn’t manage to get to before the little ones started to show signs of exhaustion. The library on the 2nd floor is well stocked with books, with plenty of comfortable reading corners to relax and read to your child. Also on the 2nd floor, the permanent exhibit, Collections Central, showcases cultural artifacts and natural science specimens. The boys did look around here and also were intrigued by all they touched and saw there!
Needless to say, definitely a place where the hours can go by without notice. Even my 11-year-old son thought the museum was the coolest place ever, “even if for a children’s museum”.
We managed to get the kids out, no fits, no fuss, just plenty of promises that we would be back to play soon. A promise I will be happy to keep.