During the winter, especially places with colder climates, museums are the top destinations for indoor entertainment. We, as an example, visited, at least, one museum every week during this past month.
Children’s museums aside, I find museums here in the US quite kid-friendly. Even for younger children, they offer many areas where kids can play, touch, interact instead of merely gawking at the exhibitions. Therefore, visiting museums become family activities that are fun for both adults and kids alike.
The ones that are hardest to visit with kids are the art museums. Kids are too young to appreciate paintings that are hung high above their eye level and cannot touch or doodle on.
Here are 5 games we play to make our museum visits easier for parents and interesting and fun for kids.
- Bingo: For this game, need to prep for your visit. Make a list of all the spots you want to see. Download pictures from the internet and paste them into a word document in a grid format. Print it out. Attach a sheet of price stickers you can get from a dollar store. You might want to offer a small souvenir from the museum shop or visit a favorite spot after the museum upon the completion of the Bingo sheet.
- Scavenger hunt: Scavenger hunt requires less preparation compared to Bingo game. Make a list of generic items that you think you can spot in the museum, like shapes, animals, characters etc. As you stroll through the museum, this will keep them focused on finding the items. Again a reward for completing the list might be appropriate.
- Sketchbook: For kids who can hold a crayon and older, definitely bring a sketchbook and sketching / coloring material with you. They can draw their favorite piece or whatever they are inspired to draw. This is my favorite activity to engage the children in the spirit of arts and creativity.
- Companion: Let your child pick a companion, such as a favorite car, a doll, stroller and a doll, animal friend, to bring along and enjoy the museum with. They can be the tour guide and tell them about what they see, what they enjoy, and what they don’t like so much. Make sure, whatever they bring is small and light enough for you to carry, if they get tired or bored.
- “It looks like” game: For a reason I don’t know, I don’t quite like the game “I spy”. (If you like it, it’s another option) But I like to look at things and figure out what else they look like. Does that woman in the portrait look like Aunt Jenny? Doesn’t the flower look like a cupcake? Oh look, the guy in the painting looks like that famous artist ( of course, consider whether your child would know that artist or not). Anyway, let them tell you what else they see in the paintings or sculptures?
Other practical considerations for your visit are:
- Buy your tickets in advance if you can
- Consider lunch and nap times planning for your visit
- Always carry enough snacks
- Watch your children’s signals for exhaustion and boredom closely
- Keep your expectations low.
As a parent, I accept that the goal of a museum visit for us is to have fun as a family and not to see every gallery and every piece. Knowing that, I stay flexible and allow my children to take their time before moving on if they like something, or move quickly if they are not as interested.
We are lucky to be living in a city with so many amazing options and be able to visit over and over again. Here are our favorite museums in Chicago:
Nature and animal related: