Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Fun with Kids: Guest Post: Out and About

As part of the Summer Fun with Kids event I wanted to take our children to somewhere they have never been so their experiences would be completely new.  Given the intense heat, and have four young children I knew that we had to go somewhere indoors. We decided that the Chicago Children's Museum would be the perfect place; it was indoors, a place we had never been, and it is on Lake Michigan at Navy Pier (how cool is that?).
We live in Central Illinois so it was about a 3 hour drive, but I think anytime driving to Chicago is always worth the ride when you first start seeing that beautiful Chicago skyline.
The Chicago Children's Museum is located inside Navy Pier. It has three floors: two floors of entertaining and educational fun with a fabulous gift shop on the lowest level. 
There are so many features at the Chicago Children's Museum that I was so impressed with:  they have huge changing tables in the bathrooms, child-size toilets, and step stools for child-size sinks, and a nursing room equipped with books and toys to keep older siblings occupied. Also, with our double stroller with the additional seat for Keeley, we put any space to the ultimate stroller test! The Chicago Children's Museum has plenty of room for our "train", even in the various exhibits and there are elevators to get from floor to floor.  If your kids get hungry, but they are messy eaters, no worries, just stop by the "Snack Spot" and use their tables and highchairs. And even though the twins are still a little young for crawling around, I love it that the Chicago Children's Museum has several areas set up just for non-walking babies!
In the Big Backyard exhibit you can "catch" butterflies, hang out with some glow-in-the-dark bugs, and explore a really cool shoe! There also was an area just for non-walking babies! I love that the littlest visitors are thought about as well.
There was this really cool section where you got build things; Landon and Keeley were working hard on building a house! And how awesome is it that if you get tired, you can sit on the bench and watch your kids playing and then take a look out the window and see Lake Michigan?
In another exhibit your kids could drive a bus, wash a car, build a pipeline, and shop the produce section. I love the imaginative play that each exhibit encourages. 
One of my favorite exhibits featured inventions by kids. Throughout the exhibit items invented by kids were displayed. The kids, or should I say TJ, really liked the area where you get to build your own plane, send it up to the very top of the room, and then turn on the timer and see how long it takes for your plane to land. There were learning games on computers, as well as building blocks areas. And Keeley loved the slide that made music as she slid down!
In "Treehouse Trails" kids get to go fishing, rock climbing, camping and play in one of the coolest treehouses I've ever seen.  This was another area that is very baby-friendly with there section specifically for non-walking babies. This was one of Keeley's favorite areas and it was difficult getting her to leave the fishing area.
 Luckily we were heading to the "Water Works" section. Kids get to pick out raincoats and then get ready to have some water fun. They get to create their own maze for the colored balls to make it through. Landon loved being able to control which direction the water flowed.  Keeley's favorite part was the section where you get to change where the water comes out by connecting different clear pipes.
"Circus Zirkus" is where your star performer will shine! Kids get to dress up and put on a real circus show complete with tightrope and trapeze acts. This is the perfect area to let your kids clown around!
The Chicago Children's Museum has activities around every corner; the main corridor upstairs was full of games and activities to play. There was bowling, chess, dominoes, checkers, bags, and my kids favorite....real life "angry birds". Landon and Keeley loved using the catapults to fling beanbags into buckets. 
No museum would be complete without a dinosaur exhibit, and the Chicago Children's Museum did not disappoint! In "Dinosaur Expedition", kids to get to don archaeologist gear and go digging for dinosaur bones! There's a great sitting area for parents to watch their children explore the prehistoric world. Landon said that this was his favorite area. No surprise there!
The Chicago Children's Museum really does have something for everyone, including all ages and abilities. I feel that they have taken special consideration to make sure that everyone feels included. Here are just a few of the great programs and activities that you can take advantage of:
Open Playgroup
Sunday: 1-4 p.m.
Monday-Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., 5 – 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – noon & 1 – 3 p.m.
Join CCM’s open playgroup every day in the Pritzker Playspace – it’s exclusively for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, and it’s a great place to meet other families, get inspired and play!
Summer Dance Parties
Fridays and Saturdays: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
A dance party for the whole family! Enjoy a variety of music, learn popular dance moves and
boogie the night away every Friday and Saturday at Chicago Children’s Museum. We’re open
late, so come join the fun!
Kids Create: Clay Days
July 4, 11, 18 and 25: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Enjoy pounding, rolling and squeezing your fingers through beautiful, natural clay. Make
pancakes, snakes and other simple forms as you discover the qualities of clay. Then, paint with
clay and even play in clay mud!
Petite Chefs (Space limited; recommended for ages 4 and up)
Fridays in July: 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. and  Aug. 3 and 10: 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.
Our healthy food series will introduce your taste buds to new, wonderful foods. Join chefs from
the Washburne Culinary Institute as they share their delicious secrets.
Jump Up! Family Music with Dana McCarthy
Saturdays: 5:30 to 6 p.m. and 6:30 to 7 p.m.
Join us for a fun, interactive performance! All are welcome to dance and sing-a-long.
Stuffed Art
July 31, Aug. 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31, Sept. 1-3: 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m.
Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29: 2, 3 and 4 p.m.
Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
Is it a stuffed animal or is it art? Yes and yes! Come create your own comfy creature to call your
Play For All
Aug. 11: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Join in the fun as CCM welcomes children and families with disabilities for an exciting day
of multisensory activities. Please note: first hour is for Play For All visitors only. Pre-
registration is required, and the first 100 visitors to register receive free admission (limit 6 per
family). To register, or to request additional information, please call (312) 321-6551.
For more information on specific dates and times and other awesome events please visit CCM’s website calendar.
Hours and Admission
Sunday – Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Open Sunday at 9 a.m. for members)
Thursday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Open Friday at 9 a.m. for members)
Children - $12.00
Adults - $12.00
Seniors - $11.00
CCM members - Free
Children under one – Free
CCM is open every holiday except Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
Kraft Free Family Night
Thursday evenings, 5 – 8 p.m.
Free admission for everyone
Target Free First Sundays
First Sunday of every month
Free admission all day for ages 15 and under
We did take a break half-way through to get something to eat. The Chicago Children's Museum is conveniently located right by the food court inside Navy Pier. There are several dining options at Navy Pier in addition to the food court, so there is definitely something for everyone.  Since the Chicago Children's Museum is located at Navy Pier, you can make an entire day of your trip. After we finished up at the museum we did a little window shopping, and then went outside to look at all the huge boats. And of course there are the ferris wheel and swings!
And while the Chicago Children's Museum is smaller than other museums throughout Chicago, I thought that its size was a plus; you can get through and see everything in the museum and not feel like you are being rushed because you don't want to miss anything. It is the perfect size for a great day getaway, and was definitely worth the drive up! 
Mommy and 4 Peas in a Pod Disclosure:  I received free admission for myself and my family in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% mine and were not influenced in any way.  I did NOT receive any monetary compensation for this post.
This post was written by Sarah of Mommy and 4 Peas in a Pod. Sarah is a stay-at-home-mother of four children. She spends most of her time running around chasing after her kids (5, 2, and 5 month old twins), but when she gets a free moment she enjoys blogging, reading, and watching movies with her hubby. 


Brooke said...

This makes me want to travel with the kids so much more!

Jenn [ Crippled Girl ] said...

I've only been to Chicago once, but I LOVED the navy pier! I can't wait for a chance to go back :)

Meagan said...

This looks like SUCH a good time!!

Tara said...

Wow, what a great museum! I love places that are like that, fun & educational :)

Toystory said...

That reminds me of the one in St.Paul, MN. Hubby and I went solo and enjoyed watching the kids having amazing amounts of fun.

HB the Cupcake Princess said...

If I ever get to the windy city I know where to go, awesome post!

Angie said...

Very cool. The water works area in the Chicago kids museum is set up very similar to Pittsburgh Children's Museum but you also have a lot of different things too.

If I ever make it to Chicago this will have to be added to the itinerary

Nicoyle Simmons said...

Oh wow! That looks like so much fun and lots of stuff to do.

Leila Kennedy said...

That looks like a great place to go and spend a day! I should check out our local Children's museum! :)

Monique said...

What an incredible museum! I wish we had something like this out here, looks like so. much. fun!

Elizabeth Towns said...

I took my daughter to the museum a few years ago. We had the best time! We have to go back now that she is a bit older and see what her experience is now. One of her best memories is getting dressed in her Disney Princess costume and dancing with her cousin in his Disney Pirate costume for a horn player on Chicago Ave. People stopped and watched them waltz and boy did that musician make money on that afternoon. It was a great trip. Thank you for bringing that memory back to me!

Toystory said...

I love the Childrens Museum's and have been to the one in St. Louis and the one in St. Paul. Both without children. I just enjoy seeing the different things that get kids to think outside their normal box.

Jacqui Odell said...

It looks like you had a blast!! Love all the pics!


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