I think that one thing (of many) that is great about being a parent is that you sort of get to be a kid again. You get to buy Teddy Grahams and go to cartoons in the theater without people giving you funny looks. And you get to visit places like children's museums.
I was surprised that we had a really nice children's museum so close to us. I saw some friends post pictures of a field trip that their kids took to the Terre Haute Children's Museum, and decided that we needed to check it out.
Disclaimer: Terre Haute Children's Museum provided us with complimentary tickets in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Before we get into all of the fun stuff, let's go over some of the logistics. The museum is located in downtown Terre Haute, Indiana. There is free two-hour street parking right by the museum, a parking garage a block away that charges $1/hour, or if you don't care to walk a few blocks, we found free street parking with no time limit. Admission is $8 for everyone ages two and older and they are open Tuesday through Sunday. If you are going to be there around lunch or dinner there is an attached pizza cafe, Savoia's.
Ok, on to the fun stuff!
We started to have fun before we even entered the museum. In the vestibule, they have a thing that makes smoke rings when you push on it. We played with it for about five minutes before even going in! Once inside, we were greeted by a very helpful staff member. She gave us the run down of where things were and provided a map.
The first exhibit we visited inside discussed food and the different options we have as consumers. The exhibit discussed eating locally, GMOs, and what farmers do. It had a cute little "farmer's market" where kids could play with fake produce. L was too little to figure the cost of her basket of apples, but older kids could do this to incorporate math and currency if you were homeschooling or taking a field trip.
Next up was the dino dig where "fossils" were buried and kids get to be the archaeologist. The area was complete with brushes and scoops to move the tire material away from the buried fossils. L loved the dinosaur hand scoops.
In the same room as the dino dig were several hands on items like Kinex, musical instruments and a giant treehouse. But this room also housed L's favorite thing from the whole trip, a giant "beehive" where kids could climb and pretend to be bees. I keep telling my husband that we need to build one for our kids. It was so cute and L loved it.
On the second floor of the museum was the toddler play space. It was only for kids under the age of four, and had a soft floor for crawling or falling if your little one is still wobbly while walking. I loved the little bee scooters and may have to get one for our kids for Christmas or birthdays. Also on this floor were some farm items like a tractor and a cow that you could "milk" as well as a little grocery store. I loved the conveyor belt that they had made for the grocery store and that there was someone that was always there to help your child check out all of the items they wanted to buy.
L and I made a giant bubble around ourselves before moving on to the water table. Baby J loved the water table and my husband and I thought it was incredible that the museum had thought to put in baby seats so that babies could enjoy their time at the museum as well. J did end up getting pretty soaked, but who cares when you get a smile like that?
The exhibit I was most excited about seeing was the indoor beehive. I had heard that it was in a tree trunk, so I had imagined a real tree that the museum was possibly built around (There are buildings on ISU campus that have been built around trees.), but I was a bit disappointed when I found the hive was in a fake trunk. The hive was in a back corner, which also disappointed me. The hive may have also been less exciting simply because now that we have our own bees, seeing bees out isn't as big of a deal. Overall though, I loved how much the museum incorporated bees into their exhibits.
I think the things that I loved most about the museum were that it was very hands-on, I wasn't afraid to let L touch things and try things, and I also loved that a lot of the exhibits had to do with food and agriculture, things that our kids here in southern Indiana see all the time, but may not understand the science behind. The exhibits allow them to gain a deeper understanding for things that are tangible to them in their everyday life.
I can definitely say that my family and I will be going back. We had a great time, and made a lot of memories. It may even be the location for future birthday parties.
When we got home, I decided that I wanted to give you all a way to put some of what you're kids will learn into action. As I said before, I loved all of the bee stuff that was incorporated into the decor and exhibits as well as the bee hive exhibit itself, so I came up with this bee waterer craft and found a book for you and your littles to read as well.
Shortly after we bought our bees, I bought L the book, Bee & Me. It is very cute and and has a good rhythm to the words. It explains that while we humans fear bees, they are around to help us and that they do more than just make honey. I think you're little one will enjoy it!
I was inspired by this bee waterer, but I wanted something a little more fun so that L would be excited about it.
What you will need:
- a terra cotta pot
- a terra cotta plate
- yellow acrylic paint
- black acrylic paint
- yellow puff paint
- white puff paint
- a sponge brush
- an angled brush
- hot glue gun
- Paint the outside of your pot and plate with the yellow acrylic paint. I did not paint the inside of the plate because I was unsure of what chemicals could end up in the water and how that might affect the bees. I painted on three coats of yellow to get rid of most of the streaks. I wasn't worried about the tag mark since it would be hidden once I was finished.
- After the yellow paint has dried, paint a small amount of black paint on your child's thumb and let them "stamp" the pot with their thumbprints. These will become the bees.
- Use the puff paint to create the yellow stripes and wings on all of the bees that your child stamped on the waterer.
- Now, using the angled brush, add streaks of black paint behind some of the bees to show a "flight path."
- Once all of the paint is dry, place the plate right-side-up on the pot. I did not do this next step, as I did not think of it before I assembled my waterer, but I think it will help especially those of you perfectionists out there like me. Move the plate until you are happy with the placement, then use a pencil to trace around the bottom of the plate so you have a guide as to where to put the hot glue.
- Remove the plate and add hot glue around your tracemark and place the plate back on top of the pot. Let dry.
- Once the hot glue is good and dry, add the marbles to the plate. The marbles give the bees somewhere to land. Bees can easily drown in water if they don't have anywhere to land. And then fill with spring water. Tap water has chemicals like chlorine and fluoride that you don't want bees ingesting.
- Now, place your waterer in your herb or flower garden so that visiting bees can stop for a drink while they're out collecting pollen!
Disclaimer: The above post contains affiliate links.