Friday, October 16, 2009

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum Review

As the weather grows colder, we have to switch gears and find indoor family activities on the weekends. Sometimes we'll take the kids to the community center pool or something like that. Well, recently, we discovered the joy of visiting children's museums, and I am HOOKED!

A few weeks ago, we visited the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing. You can see how that went here.

After reading that, the people at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum were so kind and sent us some passes so we could visit their facility.

So we did!

Last Sunday (yep, they're open on Sundays!), we decided to take our niece along for the ride so Logan would have someone to run around with and to get her out of the house for a while since her new baby brother had just come home the day before.

We made the drive down to Ann Arbor and entered the museum. It's fun right away, because when you walk in, the staircase that leads you up to the fun is musical! Each step plays a different note. I could have danced up and down the stairs all day, but I didn't want the people at the desk to laugh at me.

One thing I have to tell you about the museum is this: There is no way to see and do it all in one day. There is SO MUCH to do here! There are four floors of activities plus the mezzanine Preschool Gallery, which is a large room with plenty to do for kids age 4 and under.

We actually spent quite a bit of time in the Preschool Gallery. First I went in there with Jordan while Hubby took Logan and Alisha around to explore other parts of the museum. Jordan had a lot of fun playing in the padded infant area, where he practiced his standing-up skills and checked out some new toys. Later, I took him over to a part where there were a bunch of geometric blocks, and he had fun playing with those, too.

Later, Hubby, Logan and Alisha joined us in there, and they had a lot of fun with the play house, water play table and other stuff.

One of my favorite parts of the Preschool Gallery is this little fire truck, where the kids can dress in firefighter gear. It is a perfect photo spot. Of course, getting all three kids to look at the camera was a challenge we didn't meet!

We explored the rest of the museum and there were just so many things to see. Alisha played a memory game with one of the employees (and did very well) while Logan found the trains he loves so much.

Then the kids discovered the real ambulance in the All About You gallery. I think this was both their favorite spot in the museum. They took turns "driving" over and over and checked out what it looks inside the back, too.

The very best thing about children's museums is that there is NO NEED to say "NO!" or "DON'T TOUCH THAT!" because the kids are supposed to, and encouraged to, touch EVERYTHING. I love it! It's a yell-free zone! Touch it, climb on it, test it out. Learn. Do. Explore.

This is a harp with no strings! It has beams running through it and when you touch a beam, the sound is made. I thought it was a lot of fun, and so did Alisha.

The kids climbed a rock wall, put themselves in a giant bubble, played in the Lyons' Country Store Exhibit with Hubby, made shadow pictures of themselves on a wall (so, so cool!) and more. Like I said, there's way more than one day's worth of exhibits.

If I lived within 40 minutes or so of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, I would definitely have a membership there. Since it takes more than an hour to get there, I don't think I would use it enough, but I do plan to take the kids back there next chance I get. It's a fantastic place for children and it's engaging enough to keep adults interested too. I can't tell you how many times I saw Hubby lose himself in an exhibit, checking it out, and he even used to cut-away toilet exhibit to figure out how to fix something in our bathroom! Bonus!

If you live in Michigan and have kids, I would recommend taking at least a day trip to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. It's a perfect activity for a bad-weather day when you don't want to just be stuck in your house all day. Give it a try. You just might learn something!

Find out more about the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum HERE.