Will 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. Once 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.
Next 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.
We 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 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?