Museums are a great way to educate children about science, history, music and art, and in fact about life in general. If these shows are even fun on top of it, the learning experience is even more impressive. A trip to the musuem can be a great adventure for the whole family and will give you stuff to talk about for days to come.
There are a few shows here in Southern California that I wanted to mention and which are definitely worth while to take your kids to. The Natural History Museum in LA has a great exhibition that opened during the summer. Age Of Mammals goes back in history and tells the story of the extinction of the dinosaurs to the evolution of the mammals. In a superbly researched exhibit one can read about and see historical mammals’ skeletons that used to live here in our neighborhood, like a Smilodon fatalis, a sabor-toothed tiger that was found in the Brea Tar Pits. The exhibition is great for kids, even though in my opinion children above the age of eight might get more out of it and value it more, since there is much to read and explore on panels and computer screens. (read more about the show in a LA Times article)
Aside from the Age of Mammals show the Natural History Museum in LA has a lot more to offer. My six-year old loves to walk through the permanent exhibits of animals of the world, standing close to elephants in the Sahara or in the big plains next to grazing Bisons. In the Discovery Center on the ground floor, kids can get hands-on experience as a paleontologist and dig for dinosaur bones. Another popular attraction is the Insect Zoo, which features anything from weird spiders to scorpions to velvet ants.
Next to the Natural History Museum is the California Science Museum, an impressive museum in and out, with mind-blowing shows, like Mummies of the World or Ecosystems . We have yet to visit the Mummies of the World show, but couldn’t hear enough good about it from other parents while visiting the Ecosystems. While Ecosystems and so many other special exhibits are all free at the California Science Center, the Mummies of the World exhibition does have a ticket fee. In fact it is advisable to buy tickets in advance, since the show is in high demand. Don’t delay and visit it soon. Mummies of the World is only open for a limited time and very popular! (Read Article below: ‘Mummies of the world welcomes 100,000 visitor’)
Ecosystems is another exhibit you want to make sure to bring your kids to. Eight zones illustrate a different ecological principle. “Explore the varied ecosystems of land and sea, and discover how the physical and living worlds are connected and shaped by the same fundamental ecological principles.” (California Science Museum website) Lots of hands-on displays make the information digestible also for little kids. Ecosystems is a show you can go back to several times and find yourself discovering new things every time you are there.
Another museum that deserves great attention is the El Muzeo in Anaheim. A small museum with only a limited exhibition space , compared to the big museums just mentioned above, this museum is putting on various shows throughout the year that are stunning as well as admirably researched in detail. The latest one is Frogs: A Chorus of Colors. The exhibition features over 100 live frogs, many interactive displays (great for younger & older kids!) and various movies on different topics of frogs’ lives but also on the topic of how frogs are an indicator of environmental changes on our planet earth. The kids station that offers several frog games as well as computers with special frog animation games and a computer with a special program for virtually dissecting a frog, is very popular with children of all ages. Great, great exhibit! Hurry to not miss this wonderful, colorful show, since it is only open until September 12th, 2010.
Another museums where kids can have a lot of fun is the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana. A great attraction among the many regularly changing shows is for sure the permanent Dino Quest, where kids can earn little token once they have mastered the Dino Quest. On our list to visit next is the Natural Science Musuem in San Diego with its Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries and The Art Shack at the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach.