Something I have right now is flexibility. Tons of it. We can fill our days pretty much with whatever we want, working around a small preschool schedule. Adventures are always calling and I’m frequently on the hunt for something fun to discover with the kids, however, whenever I google kids activities, I always feel empty inside. The usual kids museums or activity centers come up in the search and that’s about it. I’m always left wanting more. And frankly, a little baffled. I do love those places, and we’ve been to most of them, but that’s just one small bucket of ideas.
Kids stuff doesn’t have to be limited to “Kids only” stuff. Kids are real people that want to interact with the world and be intrigued and challenged. Their brains are literally wired for discovery and it’s my job to provide the path. Here’s three kid-friendly ways to spend a morning or afternoon. These are all local to Philadelphia/Montgomery County, PA.
This beautiful campus is super close to our house and it’s always felt a little mysterious because it’s behind large walls. We made our way one chilly February day when everyone was bouncing off the walls. They had an exhibit by Temple University students and an Art trail to walk, all for free. SOLD.
The exhibit was entitled Surface Tensions Wall Projections by Temple University Graduate Film & Media Arts and it was a feast for the eyes. When we entered the exhibit hall, the lights were out and projections of lights and videos flashed about on the walls. The looks on the kids faces were priceless. Meadow, holding her baby doll, looked up in wonder. Brady, eyes wide, said, “What the HECK is this place?” “Where areeee weeee?” asked Meadow. I told them and they were fascinated, albeit a bit confused.
We wandered about and took it in. The work was interesting and the kids reaction to it was even more fun to watch. And this is what I love about art! “Who made this?” They exclaimed in wonder? “Why?” The questions were hilarious. We had a blast. Then we wandered around the building and found the fabric workshop and were invited in where Brady asked some questions. The bright and beautiful room was even warmer with the welcoming teacher who didn’t seem bothered by curious children. The bathrooms were great too, big enough for a stroller and clean – that’s how I evaluate most places.
We made our way to the art trail where the questions continued. A field large enough for ninja turtle battles, a stage to continue our battle and little wooden houses and huts to tuck our bodies in and pretend we lived in. There was no end in sight for the fun and it was all free. Our moods shifted from being out in February winds and that was part of the goal in discovering that trail.
This place is amazing. It’s a FREE museum in Burholme Park (northeast section of Philadelphia/Fox Chase). I have very fond memories of being here while I was a kid and kinda forgot about it until recently. It’s only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so plan for that but it’s so worth the visit!
It’s both a museum and library full of family heirlooms and collections of the Ryerss Family from their travels around the world. We got a children’s coloring/activity book in the library when we were there and it says, “Visiting the Ryerss Museum is like taking a trip around the world.” I could not agree more!
The first floor has the parlor and dining room setup so you can see what it was like when they lived there. Little dolls and tea sets caught Meadow’s eye and I explained that you can not go under red ropes in museums. Just as soon as the words left my lips she looked and me and proceeded to go right under the red rope towards the Victorian tea set. Note to self: explain museum etiquette more clearly.
The back parlor was cozy and dark and explained the family’s Turkish corner. Have you heard of this? It amazed me! The exhibit rooms housed Buddhas, shoes, seashells and swords. Brady was engaged. I commented on how impressed I was that he was behaving so well and he said, rather seriously, “Well I’m busy. I’m doing the scavenger hunt.” We got a scavenger hunt worksheet in the library before we toured the house, it was great for the kids. Nothing fancy, just images of several statues that they had to look for.
We ended in the library where there are kids tables and coloring sheets. I had some questions about the dollhouses I saw as a kid but seemed to be missing from the exhibit hall. Apparently Fairmount Park claimed them as they didn’t belong to the Ryerss Family, but to a neighbor. BUMMER – they were my absolute favorites and I could not wait to see them after all these years. The library is a real library and you are welcome to borrow books if you live close by.
They also do kids activity days and flea market events at the museum. Don’t forget to walk around to the front porch and you’ll pass their pet cemetery on your way. Victorian porches steal my heart and they really help me imagine the time period when I’m on one.
They have free parking and a playground as well.
Have you ever heard of Ikea? That’s a joke. Of course you have. Well, it’s a really fun place for kids and not because they have a play area that you can leave your kids at (we’ve yet to utilize that feature but it does look fun in there). It’s literally a HUGE indoor playground. We love to go and wander, stock up on candles and pretend we live in the little fake living rooms.
The cafe can be accessed via shortcut as soon as you enter (at the Conshohocken location) and it’s right next to the children’s department. We’ll go on a Tuesday, I’ll get a veggie/hummus wrap or whatever and the kids meals are both FREE. And you get a free coffee if you have their “Family” card. Plus they just got a new cafe machine so it makes lattes! I’m not sure if this is permitted but I bring my latte to the children’s area and sip it leisurely while the kids take their shoes off and roll around in the beds. I know. I know. I told them not to but they don’t really listen sometimes so whatever.
By the time we get home, we’re all exhausted from Ikea, we relax and then I make dinner. Day planned. 🙂
Now pick one and go explore!