An Afternoon at the Museum

Posted: September 25, 2014

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Museum at PrairiefireWill all of my kids be engaged? Is this worth the money? These are questions that most parents are asking themselves as they plan family outings. As a mom to four active and inquisitive kids, ranging from the age of 1 to 7, I am no different. I had read about the Museum at Prairiefire’s unique partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, which has brought in the Mythic Creatures exhibit, as well as what appeared to be an awesome educational exploration through 6 areas of science in the Discovery Room.  But, honestly, these questions were the litmus test with which I observed my children as we embarked on our family outing to The Museum at Prairiefire.

Can I just say, they were enthralled from the moment we walked through the door. Never mind that to our left was a huge replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, which just happens to be their favorite dinosaur. On the right was ALIVE where people were interacting with dinosaurs and dragons, as they moved across the screen. However, we chose to begin our day at the Discovery Room; so, we pulled them away to get started.

Prestosuchus Puzzle at Museum at PrairiefireOnce we entered the Discovery Room, my kids were immediately drawn to the Prestosuchus Puzzle. I mean, who doesn’t want to put a dinosaur together!?! My 5 and 7 year olds could probably have spent our entire 45 minutes there had it not been for me prodding them on to the next area. My children were so involved with trying on masks, checking out the differences between moths and butterflies, searching the sycamore tree, and roaming Mars in the astronomy section that our time seemed to fly by. Thankfully, when it is time for your session to exit, you can get your hand stamped and if the next session is not sold out you can come back in.  So come back we did! This time my oldest explored on the microscope while the youngest enjoyed the play area. Then we all had a little fun trying to find animals in their cages, petting a snake, and my brave daughter held a hissing cockroach (although her brothers would have none of it).  The greatest thing was that each of my children had a terrific time. The oldest were just as engaged as the youngest.  I can definitely see how the Discovery Room would grow with them to the age of 12. There were many things to read and delve deeper into that we didn’t spend much time with because of the age of our kids.

 

Young Kids Play Area at Musuem at Prairiefire Exploration Tree at Museum at Prairiefire

Mythic Creatures Exhibit at Museum at PrairiefireNext we ventured into the Mythic Creatures exhibit. The exhibit is probably geared to an age range above that of my children, as there is a lot of reading. In fact, my husband and I really enjoyed learning about the history of where many of these myths evolved. However, the kids enjoyed looking at all of the artifacts and learning a few fun facts as well. While most of the exhibit is obviously hands off, someone, very wise, knew to include few items throughout that you are encouraged to touch, such as the narwhal tusk. My kids also thoroughly enjoyed the activity at the end where they got to design their own dragons.

ALIVE at Museum at PrairiefireWe ended our visit in the Great Hall. We checked out the T-Rex as well as the interactive table where they could learn facts about fossils found in different areas of the globe. But, by far the highlight of the Great Hall for my children was ALIVE. They really enjoyed doing a simulated dig and then building their own dinosaur or dragon. Watching it come to life on the big screen was very exciting for them.

The Great Hall also has a Science Theatre where you can view what scientists are currently discovering.  A Gift Store that offers anything you might want to remember your time at the museum. And, the Fresh Market Café, if you want to have a bite to eat.

My family really enjoyed our afternoon at the Museum. Not once did my children ask, “Can we go yet?” So, naturally it passed the first part of my litmus test. In regards to price, I felt like it was pretty competitive with other attractions around the area. However, I would absolutely recommend getting a membership. Because, from one mom to another, if you take your kids to The Museum at Prairiefire, they are going to want to go back!

~Sara

Sara Reimer is a former elementary educator, wife and mom. She’s always looking for great activities that pass the mommy litmus test. Where should she go next?

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Live Like a Kid in Kansas City (and the Reasons to Do So)

Posted: May 14, 2013

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As a mother of a toddler, I am constantly amazed at how much I learn from my child. These are not difficult life lessons, but maybe that is the point. Adults can over complicate life and many important lessons are found in the simplistic acts of childhood. Here are the top five ways I’ve relearned to live like a kid, and the reasons everyone should take a lesson from childhood. I have also found some great ways to “live like a kid in KC” and provide insider tips on ways to bring out the kid in you.

 

1. Enjoy the arts
Children have an amazing passion for arts – from puppetry to parade bands, from finger paints to play dough. Art includes everything from visual art to performing arts and music. Art is healing. Research has shown that art can be therapeutic. It has benefits for patients experiencing anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, cancer, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, and other serious health conditions. Furthermore, research has shown the benefits of art on brain function and the significant benefits to Alzheimer’s patients through offering new ways to communicate and connect in a non-verbal manner, express emotions, promote relaxation and improve moods. Enjoying the arts should be a life-long hobby and has a proven track record from young to old.

Live Like a Kid in KC: Learn to decorate a cake or create the perfect dish at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. Engage in a discussion of the unique works of art at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and sign-up for an art class of your own. Take in a performance at the New Theatre Restaurant, featuring Broadway-style musicals and comedies.

2. Let it Go
Children do not hold grudges. They may be furious one second and your best friend the next. We may joke about these mode swings, but kids understand the power of forgiveness and know how to let it go. The dictionary defines forgive as granting pardon for an offense; to cease to feel resentment against. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the hurt you felt and allows you to focus on more positive aspects of your life. It doesn’t mean you deny the other person’s responsibility in hurting you, it just allows you to move forward and no longer be gripped by the anger and hurt you felt. Research has shown that forgiveness can lead to healthier relationships, greater spiritual and psychological well-being, less anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure, fewer symptoms of depression and lower the risk of substance abuse.

Live Like a Kid in KC: Visit the National WWI Museum to discover the global implications of hurt . . . and how the world can move forward after destruction.

Photo Credit: American Museum of Natural History

3. Curious George
Kids are curious about the world around them. As we age, we become less curious – almost complacent about life. But, curiosity brings meaning to life and with it comes a host of health benefits. Curious people live longer. Curiosity decreases the likelihood of developing hypertension and diabetes, has a positive correlation with intelligence and neurological health, increases problem-solving skills and analytical abilities, and allows relationships to develop more easily. In fact, curious people report more satisfying relationships and marriages. Happy couples describe their partners as interested and responsive. So live long and prosper, my little Curious George. I think John Holt said it best, “Children do not need to be made to learn” since they are already born with what Einstein called “the holy curiosity of inquiry”.

Live Like a Kid in KC: Unlock the secrets of the world at The Museum at Prairiefire, the only satellite location for the American Museum of Natural History. Exhibits are deeply engaging and entertaining for all ages! World’s Largest Dinosaurs opens in fall 2013. Escape to another world of mystery and intrigue as you delve into a good book from Mysterscape in Downtown Overland Park.

4. Active Play
Children love to play. But play is more than just about having fun. Active play may involve games with rules and can be social or solitary, but the distinguishing features are a playful context, combined with activity that is significantly above resting metabolic rate. Adults have a way of making working out less fun and more work. Active play brings back the fun in excising, which brings a lifetime of healthy benefits. Benefits include building strong hearts, muscles and bones; developing and maintaining motor skills, improved movement, balance, coordination and reaction time; increased mental awareness; improved self-esteem; healthy weight management; and, prevention of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer and other health conditions. As George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Live Like a Kid in KC: Splish, splash and slide at Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark, open May through September. Skim, spin and swirl along the ice at the Park Place Ice Terrace, open November through February.

5. Simple Pleasures
Kids understand that some of the best things in life don’t come in packages at all, sometimes it is the packaging. Life is filled with simple please, the gifts of life that bring us much happiness. Everything from making a yellow light to finding money you didn’t know you had, from putting on clothes straight from the dryer to making someone smile or laugh. Finding happiness and pleasure in life leads to an increased life span, better immune system, more energy and better mental health. It is now claimed that happiness could be more important than smoking in determining your health. Remember, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness, you have to catch it in the moments that come your way.

 

Live Like a Kid in KC: Take a nature walk at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. This 300-acre arboretum is a serene and tranquil place to enjoy nature with miles of trails and multiple gardens, including an International Sculpture Garden.

What lessons have you learned from a kid that will last you a lifetime?