Navigating a Kids Hands On Museum
If you’ve got more than one child and your youngest is a preschooler, you need to know how to easily navigate a kids hands on museum. Regardless if the kids hands on museum is a bona fide children’s museum, a science museum, or something in between, this list will help you feel prepared. You’ll even walk away with ideas on how to save money on admission fees (we’ll talk about that later).
1. When to Visit a Kids Hands On Museum
If you have a child that naps, heed my advice: do not visit a kids hands on museum during nap time. Go before nap time or after.
If your children no longer naps, try to arrive at lunchtime. You might catch a lull when older kids are eating lunch and younger kids have transitioned into a nap.
If you can’t swing lunchtime, arrive 3 hours before the kids hands on museum closes. If you go during the week during that timeframe, the groups on a field trip would have already left. If you go on a weekend, the last hour before close should not be busy.
2. What to Bring to a Kids Hands On Museum
ALWAYS bring snacks. Once you’ve packed them, toss in a few more snacks/beverages as a kids hands on museum will always cost more than what you are accustomed to paying. I usually fill my kids’ lunchbox with fruit, veggies and a small entree, just like I would if they were going to school. The contents stay cool for hours and if they don’t eat it at the museum, it will be devoured on the ride home.
Bring a bathing suit for the kids. This is critical if you have a child that is obsessed with splashing water. If you make the water activity the last thing you do on your visit to the kids hands on museum, all you have to do is head to the nearest family restroom to change into dry clothes before heading home.
Bring a kid’s shirt that stands out in a crowd (like tye-dye or neon-hued). Or if your child wants to dress up like a superhero or a princess, let them. You will always be able to spot them in a sea of children. If you don’t have those items on hand, try a headband with moving antennae or a necklace that lights up. It’s easier for someone to find a brown haired boy in a batman costume than a brown haired boy in a blue t-shirt.
3. How to Afford Admission to a Kids Hands On Museum
Admission to a Children’s Museum is not cheap. You could easily spend upwards $60+ for a family of three. Some museums even charge admission for a 1 year old! I discussed 8 ways to save money on museum admission in a previous post: visiting a children’s museum with a baby and toddler. Take a look and see if any of those could help!
Here are a 2 more suggestions: check in with your local library. Ask if they offer tickets to local attractions for library card holders. We were able to visit to the Children’s Museum for free because we secured free tickets through the library. They also offered free tickets to the zoo, theater, and other fun places.
You might find a Children’s Museum that has free admission one day a month for the entire day! Do a quick google search and then call to confirm the dates with the museum.
4. What To Do When You Check In at the Kids Hands On Museum
Before you leave the check in counter, you want to do 4 things.
- Ask for a Sharpie. On each child’s wristband, write YOUR name and your phone number. That way if your child can’t find you, an adult will know how to contact you. If the kids hands on museum doesn’t give wristbands for children, ask for a large museum sticker. Write that same information on the sticker and place it on your child’s back.
- Take a photo of your kids while you are still at the counter. If your child can’t find you, you can share that photo with an employee who can help track them down.
- Ask the museum employee where the closest bathrooms are. Some are located in the same place on every floor; others are all over the place. It’s better to know where they are before you need them.
- Ask the museum employee where the least populated areas are in the kids hands on museum. You’ll want to start there. Sometimes they tell everybody to start on the top floor and it’s crowded; do a visual check and adjust as necessary.
5. How One Parent Can Keep Track of Multiple Children at the Kids Hands On Museum
While it is ideal if you visit exhibits as a family, there may come a time where one child wants to go to one exhibit and the other child wants to spend time in another area. If your oldest child is a preschooler, then this child is the one that you’ll check in on while they explore an exhibit, much like you may do when they are on the playground. Make sure you communicate to them WHERE you will be (ideally at the exhibit adjacent to them). SHOW them where that exhibit is. TELL them to stay in their current exhibit.
Meanwhile, you will be your younger child’s shadow. Many children’s museums have low walls or no walls between exhibits, making it easier to check in on your older child.
If this isn’t working for you, try taking a snack break. Park your stroller next to an exhibit and let your older child play. While they are playing, allow your younger child to sit and have a snack.
6. How Long to Stay at the Kids Hands On Museum
I find that 3 hours is the perfect amount of time to spend at any venue. It allows kids to get excited and explore without getting overtired. If you feel you’ve only scratched the surface at 3 hours, try a change of scenery for 15 minutes. Step outside, enjoy a cool beverage, and then go back in the children’s museum. A quick change of environment is a great way to ‘wake up’ the brain.
Final Thoughts on Navigating a Kids Hands On Museum
Let’s do a quick recap. You’ve identified an amazing kids hands on museum you’d like to check out. You’ve done your research on any available discounts you can use. You’ve asked your kids to pick out the most outlandish outfits that they can move freely in.
Now it’s day-of. You’ve packed enough snacks for the ride there/back (plus while at the museum). You’ve placed your contact info somewhere on your child (either back sticker or wristband) and you’ve started at the least populated exhibit.
All that’s left to do is have FUN!