We have a lot of museums, galleries, exhibit halls, art centers, etc. here in Central Iowa. In the short time I’ve been writing about fun family outings here on dsm4kids, I’ve already highlighted a good number of them. Not only are these institutions educational and broaden our horizons, most of them are also FREE. Making them a budget friendly family outing option.
But let’s be honest. It’s not always easy navigating these places with kids in tow. It seems like kids either race through the museum as fast as they can or dawdle and move so slow you think they may become part of one of the exhibits. They may also constantly ask “when can we go?” or “when can we go to the gift shop?”
So, I thought, why not do some research and come up with some suggestions and tips on how to make museum visits fun for kids and less stressful for their chaperones. Here are 10 Tips for Making Visits More Fun 4 Kids:
- Check out the museum’s website before heading out to find out hours and admissions and to also learn about any special program or exhibit that you just can’t miss. Look to see if the museum provides any educational materials or interactive games on their website that can enhance your trip.
- Let your kids take a look at the website to pick the art or exhibit they would like to see during your visit. This helps to get them excited for the trip and gives them a reason to be a little more patient while they’re wandering through other parts of the gallery.
- Build excitement by talking or reading stories and books about dinosaurs, planets, and other things your kids will see on your museum visit. Call your outing an “Edventure!”
- Make sure everyone is well rested and tummies are full to have a better chance at your children acting like well-behaved angels or at least not like little devils. A lot of galleries do not allow food in their exhibit areas and having fun at a museum requires a lot of energy.
- Make the gift shop your first stop. I know, I know, but the kids are going to ask about it so, you might as well get it over with. Give them a limit on purchases or the old “we’re just going to look” line. It’s also a great excuse to head straight to the car at the end of the visit.
- Let your kids take photos and videos. They can take selfies, pose like the artwork or act like they’re part of the exhibit. They could make a video and pretend like they’re a tour guide giving a tour of the museum. Just make sure to check museum rules about camera and video recording beforehand.
- Try to come up with some games the kids can do while at the museum. You can play “Eye Spy”, “Secret Painting” (One player chooses an object in an exhibit but does not tell the other players which one it is and the others have to guess), “I’ll Take That One” (Each player chooses one piece of art they pretend they are going to buy from the museum) or “Build a Rainbow” (This is essentially a color hunt. In each gallery see if you and your kids can find every color of the rainbow) are just a few examples. Having some fun games to play will make your visit more interactive and fun.
- Take frequent breaks. Sit down relax, take a potty break, take a ride on the elevator, visit the gift shop, see an IMAX film or stroll through the museums gardens or grounds to get a bit of fresh air.
- Help your kids draw connections with the new things that they are seeing and feeling to what they already know or have experienced in their short lives. Ask them questions about the exhibits and what their interpretations of it are.
- Know your limits. When the kids are done, find the nearest exit. Don’t pass go. Don’t try to see just one more thing. If you see the signs of a meltdown just GO!
Do you have any cool ideas for making a visit to a museum fun for kids? What are some of your favorite museums to explore in Des Moines? We’d love to hear!