Recently, my daughter and I went on a field trip to the DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville, Illinois.
Now, some may ask, “Isn’t she a bit young to enjoy a museum? She’s not even nine months old yet.”
I’m here to say, you’re never too young to benefit from a museum.
I first took my daughter there when she was three months old. Although she couldn’t even sit up yet, we were able to have fun. There were tons of things to look at, including a whole exhibit on color and light. We also hung out in the music room where she listened to older kids play percussion instruments. Even though she mainly observed, she still seemed amazed by it all.
Now that she can sit up, crawl, and play with toys, I thought she was ready to experience the museum again. I am so glad we went.
Besides the joy she got out of playing, it was nice to get out of the house for the day. I couldn’t do dishes or sort laundry or work on my writing. She had my full attention.
We didn’t have to hurry home or worry about a sibling or friend wanting to move on and play somewhere different. We explored an exhibit for as long as she wanted. The museum isn’t huge, but we still didn’t get to everything we wanted to.
Here’s a guide to what we did do that your young one might enjoy as well:
Creativity Connections: We went to an area lit by black light with various colored “glow sticks” that can be stuck into slots and pulled back out, similar to a huge Lite Bright. Although my daughter wasn’t quite ready to arrange the sticks into a pattern as may have been intended for the station, we had fun pulling the sticks out, clinking them together, and even just holding on to them. As well, it might have been fun for her to stack them in a pile and rummage through them.
Also in the Creativity Connections area was the percussion room. In addition to listening to other children drum it out, my daughter was able to hold a mallet and I helped guide her wrist to hit various sized wooden and metal xylophones.
Young Explorers: Various exhibits also have a section called Young Explorers, for children under 24 months old. We spent most of our time checking these out. They often had toys similar to those the main exhibits but for littler hands. My daughter loved the area with tons of colorful plastic balls that she could sit in, roll, and click together.
Math Connections: We really enjoyed building with wooden blocks in this exhibit. My daughter liked to hold the different shaped blocks and watch the cylindrical ones roll. Of course, she also watched me build something and then she knocked it down. We also had fun in the geometry section. There’s a huge transparent wall where you can stick colorful and varied shape window clings. She had fun peeling them off with my prompts, such as “Can you get the circle?”
WaterWays: Who can resist playing with water? Although I had to perform contortionistic moves to get my daughter’s hands positioned in the water, she had fun splashing around and watching rubber duckies traverse through the water.
Bubbles: Talk about monstrous bubbles! My daughter enjoyed watching me create the biggest bubbles ever with a large triangular wand. She wasn’t yet ready to try to pop them, but was amazed by their glorious size.
If you only have one child and are debating whether they’re really old enough to appreciate a visit to a museum, why not try it? You’d be surprised what there is they can have fun with.
Tips for the Museum:
1. Bring a stroller—it was helpful for when I needed to powder my nose, peruse the gift shop, etc.
2. Dress your child in a short-sleeved shirt—that way sleeves don’t get wet while playing in the water or bubbles. Be sure they are dressed comfortably for crawling or running around.
3. Pack a lunch for both of you. There are vending machines, but it’s easy to pack a simple lunch and eat healthily. Bring paper towels for clean up. Since my daughter is still doing the baby food thing, I also had to remember a little spoon. A handy tip I learned: store it in a toothbrush holder. I also brought a rubberized mat for eating her Cheerios on, a cloth bib and a plastic bib, and a plastic grocery bag to store all the yucky stuff to take back home (dirty bib, empty baby food jar to recycle, metal spoon from my lunch, etc.)
4. Think ahead to when naptime will be. I chose to drive out to the museum during the morning naptime (as she slept in the car) and drive home for her afternoon nap (and she was definitely ready for it!)
5. Don’t forget a camera to remember your special day.