“It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.” -Dr. Seuss
One of the best things we can do for our kids is to simply let them be kids and play. And there’s plenty of research to back this belief. This concept has lovingly been dubbed, “a prescription to play.”
Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin “Play” at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
Play springs up naturally in children and grows organically out of their imaginations. How many times has your toddler shown more interest in the box a shiny new toy came in than in the toy itself?
Play cannot be forced or coerced. The best way to let kids enter into the “work of play” is to give them a few options and let them figure out what to do from there. A place like Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a wonderland of play.
GRCM’s two floors are loaded with every sensory, hands-on experience you could imagine.
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a Powerful Resource for the Work of Play
As much as I would love to stock my house with vast quantities of legos, train tracks, dress-up costumes, sensory bins, gallons of bubbles, art supplies, and beyond, that would be a reality I could not manage. However, I am more than happy to oblige any requests to play at GRCM.
GR Children’s Museum houses several permanent exhibits like Bubbles, Little GR, and the Ranger Station, along with several rotating exhibits. Past favorites have been Just Fort Fun, Boxes and Kidstruction Zone. (Don’t miss the new Little Lake Michigan exhibit coming this summer!)
Within each of these areas the museum and their facilitators are ready to play, from dressing up to building, and from experimenting to sensory play, there is sure to be something your child will find themselves totally engrossed in.
My seven year old son still can spend a good chunk of his play time at the Spinning Table or managing the bank at LittleGR, while my three year-old daughter loves to dress-up as her favorite dino or take my blood pressure as a medic.
The best part is that all this play is so much more than entertainment. Play is learning. As our kids pursue these delights, they are establishing strong foundations for the motor skills– balancing and climbing builds gross motor skills, while deftly building with legos, and painting help to refine fine motor skills.
Dressing up as a favorite animal or occupation as well was pretending to run a restaurant, manage a post office, or shop at a mini-Meijer enriches a child’s imagination. They develop language skills, foster empathy, and become ace problem-solvers.
GRCM’s Community Resources Help Make Play a Priority Beyond the Museum
GRCM wants to equip all parents, grandparents, and any sort of caretaker with resources to help engage the kids in their lives with meaningful play. Even if you can’t make it to the Children’s Museum downtown, you can browse their site for ideas for games and simple crafts and projects.
Keep your eyes peeled for their new museum-on-wheels that will start touring soon, bringing play to communities all over Michigan.
It Isn’t Just Child’s Play – Even Grown-Ups Benefit with a Prescription to Play
Play is shown to help reduce stress and invigorate mental agility in all ages. Play doesn’t require kids to perform or earn grades and in turn can help them engage with and better manage stress when confronted with it again in the future. In fact, adults could also stand to play more.
Throughout the year GRCM hosts two to three events geared specifically to adults. These events have ranged from murder mysteries to 90’s dance parties, and coming in February, a Carnival.
GRCM gives you space to engage with the theme as well with some of the typical exhibits they have (not going to lie, I love being able to build something and not have it immediately knocked down by an exhuberant 2 year old).
No matter your age, play should be a part of your life. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum offers hours of it almost every day of the week!
The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is located at 11 Sheldon Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM, with special late hours on Thursday (5:00 – 8:00 PM), when admission is highly discounted. Memberships are also available, and would delight the children in your family! (And probably you, too!)