Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Muncie, IN Children's Museum Review

The Muncie Children’s Museum packs a lot into a medium sized space. While there are both larger and smaller Children’s Museums in the state, this one reminds me of the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, it’s “just right!”

Again and again over the course of the afternoon, both of our girls remarked “I wish you knew about this when we were little Mom!” Although they’re now 11 & 13, and almost as tall as me, they both had fun for 3 solid hours at the MCM. I would say that most areas are geared for ages 4-10, but there are easier and more complicated activities in many of the areas, so it can appeal to kids of all ages.
If you’ve got toddlers, the Tot spot is for you. With a treehouse (complete with a tire swing,) a boat, a farm stand, and 2 slides, your little ones may never want to leave. Thankfully, there are plenty of restrooms just around the corner in the museum hallway, complete with a changing table, just in case.

Older children will not soon get bored. There is a town, that includes lots of interactive activities to keep everyone busy. The Middletown Post Office, Marsh supermarket, Little Bell Creek School, Career Corner, or Munseetown Station should keep even your active kids entertained for quite a while. Emily (age 13) really enjoyed the Post Office. Besides having laminated “mail" to sort and deliver to the other buildings in town, it also has shirts to dress up in, and a mail bag to ease your deliveries. 
Did I mention that this is the MUNCIE children’s Museum? Thus, it has a HUGE area devoted to local native, Garfield the cat. I call this the “all things Garfield” area. There are displays showing how Garfield merchandise is made, and an area where you can try your own hand at drawing Indiana’s favorite cat.
So your kids like to climb? Maybe they want to be ants in the climbing wall (Arlene’s favorite part,) or go upstairs and learn about the 5 senses. When it’s warm outside, there is a great outdoor area complete with a treehouse to climb. Thanks to the high wall around the outside garden area, it was comfortable for a short while when it was only 50 outside with just a coat and hat.

It seems like animals are everywhere at the MCM. When we arrived and checked in, Laura (one of the friendly staff,) showed us the coat closets (painted like a Garfield mural,) told us where to find the restrooms, pointed out that there were animals on both levels, and encouraged us to enjoy ourselves (and come back to the desk if we had any questions.) The range of animals at the MCM are quite impressive: cockatiels, turtles, a tree frog, a tarantula, 2 rat snakes, an American alligator, and a bunny. My girls asked why we couldn’t get some hissing cockroaches like they had. I simply said “no!”
If you think this might not be enough to keep your children entertained, I haven’t even mentioned: the antique car, the train cab, the Semi cab, the tractor, the dinosaur area OR the water table yet!
The gift shop/ snack bar is a pleasant surprise. The gifts are reasonably priced, with many at or under $4, and some under $1. The snacks are chips, pretzels, & drinks, at the same price you’d pay at the gas station (much more reasonable than I was expecting.)
You might be wondering, what does all this cost, it sounds like fun!? General admission is $6 a person, ages 1-100. A family membership is available at the reasonable cost of $70/year or $120/2 years. 
If you’d like to try it out first, the museum is FREE on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Check out the details here:
One of the best things about their memberships, besides the obvious fun of going again and again, is that they participate in the ASTC Passport Program. We are big fans of this program. You can look up all the details at:  
Minnetrista (also in Muncie) is another member of the ASTC program. With our family memebership from Minnetrista, we have visited (for free) the Carnegie Science Museum (Pittsburgh, PA,) and the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago, IL.) If your family travels more than 90 miles from home frequently, I highly recommend joining a local ASTC member museum. It is a good investment.

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