Friday, July 9, 2010

Two for One: The Science Museum and Discovery Museum in Acton

I always had ambivalent feelings about the Discovery Children's Museum in Acton. On the one hand it can be chaotic, exhausting and expensive. But it can also be a fabulous activity for a few hours with wonderful fun and educational opportunities for toddlers. The irony: in all my visits, we never made our way next door to their Science Museum because I always thought it was for older kids. But on the recommendation of Dadventures, and on a rainy Sunday, we headed there. And it just rocks!
The Science Museum entrances from the moment you walk in the door. It is the perfect size to navigate with little children and is well lit. Throughout are activities to explore air, water, light, nature, geology and more. There is an "inventor's center" that is full of craft potential (without the home mess) and teaches ways to use recycled materials. Best of all, the place is simply FUN. And despite it being a rainy day, it never felt crowded.
As for the Children's Museum (located just next door), my boys still love it and now that they are 4 and 2, I am enjoying it more, too. The first room is a must for any train loving kid as there is a model train and loads of train tracks. The second room is where we get stuck as my boys could spend hours dropping balls into the different ramps. Upstairs is a fantastic model cafe with booths and a kitchen, and another room with musical instruments. The last room on the second floor has a mini-jungle with animals and books.
Finally, the third floor is nautical with a model boat, lobster traps and fish. Outside are picnic tables, a huge sandbox and a model of a dinosaur.In terms of price, be forewarned that it is well worth reserving library passes as the museum can add up. But teachers get in free with an MTA card and they give discounts with WGBH cards, too. Finally, you get to go to both museums for one price.

I recommend going to the Children's Museum at off times-at the moment it opens, on sunny days, or, if you aren't a working parent, during non-vacation weeks-as it can get quite crowded. On a practical sense, it can be chaotic and almost impossible, at times, to play with the food in the kitchen or the ramps and balls. Finally, and most importantly, be cautious if you are taking a young walker. This museum is in a Victorian house and for some reason, there are no gates on the second floor. What this means is without very careful supervision, your little one can easily end up falling down a flight of stairs! In a practical sense, when my kids were younger, I always went with another adult so both kids had someone with them at all times.

So, in addition to the Providence Children's Museum, we now have a great alternative for rainy and snowy days.

The Discovery Museums (The Child's Part and the Science Museum), 177 Main St, Route 27, Acton. 978-264-4200

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