Wednesday, June 26, 2013

the CLE children's museum

You know those Sunday nights, right before bed, when you check the weather for the week on your phone only to discover that the times you'll be able to get your kids outside to run around are going to be few and far between because rain is forecast, in some form or another, for the entire week.  That was my Sunday night just a few weeks ago, just before what turned out to be a dreary week of on and off rain showers, thunderstorms and tornado watches and warnings.

I was in a bit of a panic Monday morning - what was I going to do with Ella for the week if we couldn't do our usual walks with the dog and playground hops?  I mean, this is the stuff of life when you are living in an unfamiliar place with a very, very short friend list.  Then I remembered my list and decided we'd visit the Cleveland Children's Museum.

To be honest, the place doesn't really look like much from the outside.  I was a bit skeptical, and at $7.00 per person for admission, I really hoped there would be something great inside.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The exhibits were fantastic - well made, and with a lot of moving parts and pieces (key when you have a toddler who wants to touch everything).  The first room Ella ran into housed the current, temporary exhibit Centuries of Childhood: An American Story.  The room was filled with toddler-sized scenes of children's bedrooms, train dining cars, houses, school rooms, woodshops, fishing boats, and kitchens all representative of different cultures and centuries, and focused specifically on some aspect of the lives of the children at a particular time.  We played all by ourselves in the room until we needed to make a  diaper change pitstop.

While heading to the bathrooms, which were located on the lower level, I was surprised to discover the rest of the museum hidden at the back of the building down a short stair and in the lower level (hello water table!).  We made a stop in the Big Red Barn themed infant and toddler room for the Toddler Team Up program.  The room was fantastic, with a chicken coop, apple trees, garden tools, climbing mats, and a large barn with an upstairs loft, but the program itself left much to be desired.

A few tips if you want to plan a visit: We arrived just before they opened the doors and played for two hours, the last of which was extremely crowded.  The museum isn't huge so if you dislike crowds and want a more low key experience, get there early!  And, maybe I was there on an off day, but I'd pass on the toddler program.  If you're willing to explore and play with your kids in the museum, than stick with them and let them lead.

Oh, and remember to bring your best camera.  I forgot mine and only had my iPhone to document the trip (this is my bad pic apology).  It's hard to catch all the action clearly unless you bring the good camera.

I think $7.00 was worth this!  She fell asleep so quickly after we left, she didn't even finish her apple slices.

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