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childrens museum, kids museum
AP Photo/The Indianapolis Project
The atrium of The
Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

Visiting Children's Museums: Online and In Real Life

November 12, 2009
by findingDulcinea Staff
Children's museums are places of learning and wonder, often with plenty of hands-on activities for the kids. In this feature we profile some of the outstanding children's museums that you can visit with your kids in person, or virtually explore online.

Locating A Nearby Children's Museum

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If you're already looking to get out of the house and see a couple museums in person; when you go, why not bring the kids along?

Don't know where your nearest children's museum is? The Association of Children's Museums has an index of U.S. children's museums by state. If you'd rather make your day trip an extended vacation you can find children's museums around the world here as well. This site also has a calendar of the children's museum events happening around the country.  

Once you've gotten a chance to stretch your legs, reconnect to the Net and begin exploring some of the great kid's museum Web sites.

Children's Museum Web Sites: Online Exploration for Kids

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis has plenty of educational online games for kids in pre-k to those in grade 8.

For example, your pre-schooler can learn her ABCs with the Dinosphere ABC book, elementary school kids can learn all about their bones in an interactive series of games, and middle schoolers can design their own space station, just to name a few of the many games available.

You'll also be able to see photos of and read about many of the current exhibits at the museum.  Or take a look at a few pieces of the permanent collection.

Don't let the chicken dance intro to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum Web site distract you from actually entering the site. Divided into categories for kids, parents, teachers, or museum enthusiasts, this site will appeal to everyone's audio and visual senses. The kids' section has some fun do-it-yourself projects such as making a boat that can hold penny passengers or learning how to emboss different designs on paper. Kids can explore the exhibits online and find links to additional Web resources where they can learn more about a topic of interest.

Try the Virtual Activities section of the Brooklyn Children's Museum Web site, here you'll be able to view the collection of the museum, look into the history of Brooklyn through a timeline and videos, explore different kinds of patterns with Pattern Wizardry!, and a few other activities. Just in case you go through this entire site and still want more, the Brooklyn Children's Museum site provide links to some interactive resources from other Web sites (for example, a link to the site Try Science where kids can explore virtual field trips and learn to do science experiments at home).

Kid-Friendly Features of Other Museum Web Sites

Lots of the museum sites that are geared more toward an adult audience have areas designated to fun and educational features for kids. In fact, many of the museums mentioned earlier this week haven't forgotten about the kids.

NASA has a fantastic kids site. Explore the solar system, read stories written by other kids, and play games. You'll find instructions for lots of at-home science projects such as making a solar oven out of a pizza box or making a robot out of gingerbread. In the NASA Kid's Club you can paint pictures to print out, see photos and read biographies of the astronauts currently in space, and play games according to your age or skill (levels 1-5, with one being games like matching shapes and five being solving tricky logic puzzles with few clues).

Check out the "fun and games" section of the Newseum - you can test your knowledge of the latest headlines in "Newsmania" (which is a bit more difficult than you might expect) or take a virtual 3-D tour of the Newseum.

If you are looking for a not so subtle way to learn about reducing CO2 emissions or to teach your young ones about renewable energy, try the games section of London's Science Museum. Along with "Energy Ninjas" and "Hungry Mice" (dealing with the aforementioned topics) you can try to crack codes with "Cracker" or check your memory skills with "ID Fit" (both games that deal with an exhibit about spying).

Online Museum Fun for the Whole Family

There is plenty to do at the Exploratorium. It's the online version of the museum in San Francisco, California. Find instructions for more than 500 simple experiments on the site, visit virtual exhibits, listen to audio or watch video from the museum. The Exploratorium Web site is sure to be fun for kids and parents alike.
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