By Laura O'Brien
Sacramento Children's Museum
2701 Prospect Park
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Hours: Tues through Sat – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sun 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Mon, except holidays
Price: General admission - $7; military and ages 60+ - $6; current museum members – free
See website for Membership costs
Offering hands-on and play-based activities for infants through children age 8, the new Sacramento Children's Museum is the only of its kind in a 40-mile radius of Sacramento. The museum is located across the parking lot from City Hall in Rancho Cordova.
Kids have many opportunities for free-form play and experimentation at the museum.
"What's unique about us is we really are almost training kids to have a lifetime of playing," Executive Director Sharon Stone Smith told me.
The museum is organized into several areas - such as "Waterways and Airways" and "Raceways" – that are sure to interest your little explorer.
In Raceways, kids learn about speed and gravity by observing golf balls as them zoom down different tracks. In the new SMUD-sponsored solar-powered cars activity kids must beam rays of light onto the tops of cars in order to make them move. The activity is designed to make kids work together, Smith explained.
Children have fun role-playing in the kid-sized "World Market" and "My Neighborhood" areas, which include a farmer's market with a cash register and scale. There also is a post office. Mailboxes placed around the museum allow guests to pretend to mail their own letters.
Another spot kids won't want to miss is "Studio of the Arts," which features a different theme every month. There's a glass wall for painting. ReCreate of Roseville provides used materials such a toilet paper rolls, scraps of fabric, and bubble wrap, which kids can craft into their own unique sculptures. The museum challenges guests to use eight items or less in their creations.
Babies have a special area at Sacramento Children's Museum. "Baby Bloomers" is designed for infants through young toddlers. The fenced area features toys such as soft fruits and vegetables and textural and rattling items. There's also a playhouse and new wall murals.
The museum has begun offering a story time, called "Leo's Tales," on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and Zumba on Fridays at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. A museum store is scheduled to begin selling snack and gift items soon. Food currently is allowed inside the museum and there's a room for snack eating. Benches and picnic tables are available outside.
Until the museum's first anniversary next August, families donating $500 or more may become a museum Founding Family. A one-year museum membership, including free admission for one child and one adult, costs $65. Keep your entrance receipt and you may apply the cost to the membership fee.
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