Here in the Austin area, we have a wonderful children’s museum called the Thinkery. It’s designed for kids of all ages and all levels of ability. I have yet to come across a parent who doesn’t love it. Children are free to explore, invent, and imagine.
For example, they have a metal wall covered with tubes, cogs, and valves, all with magnets glued to them. Children and adults alike can move and arrange the pieces to make as simple or complex a path they want, then try to roll a ball down it.
A museum doesn’t have to be designed entirely for children in order to be interesting to children. I’ve discovered a number of wonderful museums in Central Texas with a lot to offer kids of all ages. As with all things parenting, you need to be prepared to be creative and flexible when checking out a new spot, but you may be surprised by what you find.
My 10-year-old twins daughters and I recently found ourselves in the Belton area with some time to kill. We could have found the nearest ice cream spot and then headed home. Instead, I checked Google maps for any museums nearby. We discovered that the Bell County Museum wasn’t far and decided to check it out.
The museum turned out to be an absolute treasure. In one room, we learned about fossil finds in the area, as well as all about how paleontologists go about their work.
In another room, we learned about more recent history of where we stood. We all got to try our cards at carding cotton, and read through letters, ledgers, and other primary sources that gave us a view into pioneer days, the cotton industry, and ranching.
If I’d visited the Bell County Museum with much younger children, I might have stayed in the Grand Ole Opry exhibit, where there were plenty of musical instruments to pound away on. I recall taking my girls to museums as toddlers. We would find the one spot that intrigued them and stay there. With very little children, I find it easier and more fulfilling to experience a small area of a museum in great detail rather than trying to see everything.
Another day, we found ourselves at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. This sprawling expanse of local flora has a number of attractions specifically designed for young children. Toddlers won’t have much interest in leaving the water feature designed just for them.
Why not take a risk and see what out-of-the-way museum is near where you live? Maybe you’ll find that it’s a kid-friendly jewel.
Sadia is a single mom raising twin daughters. She blogs at How Do You Do It?, where she and other parents of twins and more tell it like it is.