A Place for Kids to Play and Learn
Hands-on activities at 8 interactive play stations make learning more than fun; they make it irresistible!
The Children's Museum of Alamance County can be found in downtown Graham next to Alamance Arts.
Images by Micki Bare
When I think of a museum, I imagine small groups of people quietly exploring informative displays of history, science or art. What I don't picture are crowds of wide-eyed, noisy short people laughing, talking and having a blast. But when I walked into the Children's Museum of Alamance County, that is exactly what I found.
There were adults — parents, staff and volunteers — interwoven among the crowds of children. Many were having just as much fun as the kids. Some were doing their best just to keep up.
Just to the left of the information desk in the entryway, a brightly lit — thanks to the giant windows through which tons of ambient light pours — wide hallway opens up to hands-on discovery stations. Each has a theme: Building Zone, Health Center, Science Adventure and so on. In the Building Zone, two boys added ramps to a wall to make a ball roll faster through their maze. I believe Velcro was involved. Dozens of kids could be seen scampering up and down a climbing apparatus that rose to the ceiling. In the Health Center, a few baby dolls were being weighed and measured — I guess it was time for well-baby doll checkups. In one of the newer play areas, a farm with stuffed farm animals was flanked by a farmhouse to the right and a farm stand to the left. At the farm stand, one child did his best to keep up with all of his customers, who were clamoring to "buy" fresh (plastic) produce.
A couple of staff began cleaning off the interior walls of the Artist Workshop, which is a see-through enclosure where kids can paint all over the walls. In the activity rooms, a summer camp group enjoyed snack and showed off their cardboard robots and spinning tops made out of recycled CDs. Outside, children balanced on rock banks as they pushed boats down the child-sized river. There were also climbers and an outdoor garden with fresh (the real stuff) produce.
And while the kids are having so much fun exploring, discovering, creating, climbing and interacting, they are also learning. Don't tell your kids this, but each interactive play station aligns with the NC Public Schools' Common Core Standards.
Since visiting this particular venue, my image of a museum has dramatically changed. Now I know a museum — well, those designed for children, anyway — should be brightly colored and filled with sounds of giggling, talking and squeals of delight and discovery. It should inspire interaction with exhibits, staff and other visitors. It should make kids want to come back for more.
About the Museum
The Children's Museum of Alamance County opened its doors on October 6, 2012. It is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 until 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. Its mission is to encourage children to exercise their curiosity, develop their imagination and discover their world through exploration. Admission is $5. Family, Grandparent and Single Parent memberships and group and field trip discounts are available. The museum also hosts birthday parties and summer camps. For more information, call 336-228-7997 or visit childrensmuseumofalamance.org.