Thursday, January 21, 2016

{Bay Area Kids Fun}: Children's Creativity Museum

I don't often make New Years resolutions, but I do love the word 'new'. I mean who doesn't love new?!?! A fresh start and a new beginning gives a sense of freedom with no expectations. So to bring in the new year, I am bringing something new to the blog. For a while now,  I have wanted to write reviews here, but since I don't have much local readership, it seemed to be a waste. In the process of brainstorming, I reached out to the local mother's club and their newsletter editor. I asked her about any openings or interest in reviews for local kids activities. She was on-board and I will have my first review next month's issue! But because it's just a short article (only room for a half page write up with one picture), in comes the blog! I am going to write the full review with tons of pictures and specifics here. That way anyone interested in knowing more can come over here and I can have them open to general readership as well.


Children's Creativity Museum

I have had this place bookmarked on Yelp for sometime now, but I was waiting to go until Myles was old enough to participate in more of the activities there. I'm always a little nervous about going to a new place with my 'threenager'; will he be over it in two minutes or will I have to drag him out 2 hours later? Luckily for me, in this case, it was the latter! And even better, I didn't want to leave either. This place will bring out your inner child in so many ways. The museum describes itself as an innovative art and technology experience for kids of all ages, [believing] that creative expression, innovation, and critical thinking are core to fostering the next generation. I honestly felt that the museum really held up that that mission statement. I was thoroughly impressed with their ability to engage all ages in nearly all of their exhibits.

The museum is broken up into sections based on ages: 5+, 5 and under, and all ages. Most of the exhibits on the bottom floor are for age 5 and under. The Imagination Lab has lots to keep the youngins entertained. The first thing Myles went to was this open area with the foam blocks. These are very common in kid museums in the Bay Area. What I haven't seen before though, is the little cubby-hole areas that can be used to build forts (which is always the most popular thing to make)!

I loved this little area for Magformers. How smart to make magnetic walls!

Myles spent a lot of time here at the floam (little balls stuck together that are mold-able) table. There are two tables with lots of floam for all.

The Imagination Lab also has a puppet show area and a quiet, semi-closed off room for reading and taking a break.

Outside is the Play Patio. I think in the warmer months they have water features out there, but that day it was a 'south pole' sensory table with sand. Myles spent a while out here playing with the penguins.


We didn't get a chance to go into the Animation Studio. It is a 5+ exhibit, but can be for anyone with an adult to help. Essentially you can make your own claymation with stop-motion film and clay that you mold yourself.  It's very popular so on busy days you have to sign in and they will call you back when your turn is ready. We did sign up, but by the time we were done with everything upstairs, Myles was ready to go for his nap. I was actually looking forward to this the most, so now we have an excuse to come back soon!


On the way up stairs is the Community Lab, which is also a 5+ area. This one truly is for 5+ and maybe even older. Right now the exhibit is called Brain Teasers 2. It has a set of 4 tables just like this one, with each table having four brain teasers (so 16 altogether). I would have liked to take a try at them, but it was above Myles and he wasn't going to let me take my time trying them all. 

The first thing we checked out upstairs was the Tech Lab. This is where you can code robots to perform certain tasks. It is recommended 5+; an adult could help the younger ones, but I don't think it really will mean much to them if they are under 5 years. I definitely wanted to give it a try, so hopefully we will get to try it out next time we go. 
 

The next area we went to was the Innovation Lab with the Mystery Box Challenge. I have to say I was totally in love with the idea behind this activity. First kids pick out a challenge card based on their age group. Then they are given a box with random craft materials. Using only the materials in the box, they must make whatever the card tells them. Myles had to make 'a house for a mouse'. I absolutely loved watching his imagination in full force here. Of course I had to help with putting it all together, but it came from his mind. This is something I definitely want to try at home with him since I have tons of random craft stuff laying around. 


The last thing we did in the museum was the Music Studio. If your little ones love to perform, this will be the place for them; they get to be the star in their own music video. First off is wardrobe (Myles picked a batman cape), then song and background selection, and finally become a rock star! The employee sets it all up and even records a version that gets sent to your email!   https://youtu.be/b8pGRJ4pbA0

 
Before leaving, we had to take a ride on the carousal that is right outside of the museum. For some reason, Myles wanted nothing to do with the horses, so we opted to sit on the bench. With one ticket you get to ride two times in a row, so it is a good deal.

Cost:
General Admission: $12
Under 2 years of age: FREE
Carousel: $4 per person (good for 2 rides)
$3 with paid museum admission

Pros:
The museum has more than enough activities and exhibits to keep all ages entertained for hours (there is even a playground right outside of the museum)!
I love the variety of play; tactile/sensory, art, technology, innovative/imaginative
Every activity is educational, but tons of fun and very engaging. 
The staff was very kind and helpful through our whole visit. 

Cons
We went on a Saturday so some areas were a bit crowded and there was a waiting list for the animation studio.
 The drive through downtown to get to the museum was a little stressful for me, so I would recommend leaving early or even using public transportation. 
We could have stayed a lot longer, but the only parking I found was a 2-hour limit and I didn't feel like moving my car to be able to stay. 

Overall review:  
9/10
Putting my personal circumstantial issues aside, I loved everything about this place. If we lived in the city, I would definitely purchase an annual pass. Next time we will go early on a weekday, so that we will have more time to enjoy everything with a little less crowd. 



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