Lots of places claim to be "child friendly". Museums and amusement parks, monuments and gardens. But how many really are? How many places go out of their way to cater to little kids? Even Disney's Magic Kingdom is geared to children over 3. (How can you tell? Just look at the ticket prices. If your kid is free, they're not counting on them using any of the services. In the case of Disney, be careful. It's not really age, but height that will limit you. Most rides require you to be at least 3 feet tall). In the past two years, we've realized that most places are just not all that fun for the stroller set. Most stuff requires them to be out of the stroller to see or enjoy (have you noticed that most hand rails are conveniently exactly the height of a kid in a stroller?).
But that's not what this post is about. Down in Columbus, Ohio we found an amazing place that truly does cater to even the littlest ones. If you can sit by yourself, you are guaranteed to have fun at COSI (the Center Of Science and Industry).
COSI has something for everyone. Right now their large exhibit is Titanic. Facts about the ship, as well as many artifacts recovered from the wreck are all on display. Rumor has it that it's an hour of entertainment. For older kids there is a bike on a tightrope that you can ride over the main exhibit hall. For budding scientists, there are hands on exhibits all over the place. These reach out to anyone who can walk- really.
This is LG at a weather experiment. He aimed his "gun" at different objects on the display and hopped up and down on the pad to make the "wind" blow. I thought it would go over his head, but he completely got that he was turning the windmill and moving the clouds.
The full frontal of this display. The different guns were all powered differently (see the steering wheel on the right and the stick thing in the middle) and each one had a different force wind. Pretty cool, huh?
What impressed me most was the room for "smallest scientists", though. They call it the "Little Kid Space". It was heaven, I tell you. The age range is 6 months to 6 years (though I think the low limit is arbitrary, if you can sit, you can play. The top range is set, though. No one who is above Kindergarten is allowed to play.) This prevents the littlest ones from getting trampled.
There is a wide variety of "stuff" in the exhibit. Some things geared toward toddlers, a lot geared towards babies.
Little o chilling on a bouncy pod thing. There were a bunch of soft balls with him. At every "infant" station there were two volunteers that sat with the kids and offered them activities.
I didn't think o would be able to ride the toys, but a volunteer put him on and set up the course for him. Until LG came over and tackled him, he did great.
LG liked dressing up in the "power company" suit and inspecting the wiring in this little house. You can see the doorbell in the upper right. The wires that make it work, as well as the innards are all on display inside. There were tools for them to "fix" the lights and such.
Just like the wind display, this water display had a bunch of opportunities for toddlers to experiment with water. Even though this was directed at toddlers, a staff member is there to assist them in putting on a rain coat (provided) and to make sure no one does anything dangerous. Once or twice he gathered the kids around to show them how part of the table worked. Mostly he stood back and let them do their own thing.
Babies had a completely separate water table that they could sit in. Another staff member is here to put their coats on and help them out (and keep them from drinking the water). The little black things are water jets. I wish I had gotten a better shot of this one, it really was quite amazing.
All the boys loved this thing. It was a dome with air jets on it. You put a ball on the jet and watch it "float". Pb had to be pulled away.
I have a million more shots of all the things the boys did (LG standing under the giraffe who tells you how tall you are- I have no idea how, LG in the "ambulance" learning about his blood pressure, watching rat basketball) but I did not get the best shot of the day. Two high school aged girls spent at least 20 minutes sitting on a pod with little o with different kinds of shakers. Bells, cymbals, clackers, maracas, beads. He climbed into each of their laps separately, and they just kept showing him stuff. It was great. He giggled non-stop.
I think the part I liked most was that you were expected to just let your kids roam free. The space is not so big that they could get "lost" and there are chairs lined up against the walls. Staff assisted them in almost every "experiment", and you were really just there to snap pictures.
If you are ever in Columbus, stop in to COSI. It will be worth the trip, I promise.