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Local Treks

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Brooklyn Children's Museum

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The first weekend the new Brooklyn Children's Museum opened, we called our neighbors up (their son is just 4 weeks younger than D) and both families headed over to check it out.  From where we live, it's either a 5 minute car trip or 4 subway stops, and HOLY COW, it's great.

I'm honestly not sure how educational any of it is, because the only part really worth taking a 17-month old to is the Totally Tots area that is specifically set up for the 5 and under crowd.   There are vague obligatory nods to teaching concepts in this area, but what it really is is a super-awesome toddler gym/amusement park disguised as a museum.

There is a giant water table where kids can, um, learn about water.  (The museum  provides waterproof smocks for kids willing to wear them.  Or you can pack a spare set of clothes in your diaper bag.)  It's stocked with tons of plastic fish, boats, and cups for pouring, as well as a pump-driven fountain that kids can operate themselves.  It has multiple levels so kids of different ages and heights can play side by side.

After the water table, the most popular section of Totally Tots is Sound Around, which teaches kids how to make loud noises by banging on things.  Specifically, there are xylophones and drums and chimes and these enormous bolts with washers stacked on them so you can lift the washers up to the top and let them clang down to the bottom.  Over and over and over and over. 

There is a make believe area with costumes and puppets and a little curtained stage.  There is a book nook with deep soft rugs and big comfy chairs and lots of pillows.  (Oh, and books.)  The Baby Hub is a walled-off section in the back just for babies 18-months and under that's full of soft toys and things to chew on.  (D's favorite thing about this area is that the walls are made entirely out of velcro and almost all of the soft toys can be made to stick to it.  From the perspective of a 17-month old, this is MAGIC.)

The building zone has giant lego-like blocks that stack together as high as you can make them, and then fall over in a satisfyingly destructive way.  One wall is covered in detergent caps that have been turned into magnets so that kids can learn about sticking things to walls.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the "Parent Junction," i.e. "benches for Mom & Dad to sit down on while the kids run wild in a safe and supervised environment"?  I think D would probably pick the wall of magnets as his favorite part of the museum, but me, I like the benches.

For older kids, there are a couple of other fantastic exhibits going on right now - "Living in Space" lets kids explore what it's like to be an astronaut, and "World Brooklyn" which is a miniature tour of Brooklyn's diverse neighborhoods. 

On our first visit there, we went mostly because they'd discounted the admission fee for their first 30 days, and we wanted to check it out while it was still cheap.  We decided to become members about 5 minutes later.  (Membership means you get in free not only to the Brooklyn Children's Museum, but also to about 150 other children's museums across the country and a few in Canada. [Editor's note - we looooves memberships] )  In less than a month since that first visit, we've been back enough times that our membership has already paid for itself.
Posted in Americas : Dec.-Feb. : Infant : Sept.-Nov. : Toddler : Young Child by Jessica A at 11:50 AMPermalink

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