My youngest granddaughter, Jesslyn, and her pre-school class had a field trip to the Children’s Museum of SWLA, and I was excited to tag along! It had been over 25 years since I visited the museum with my son, Andrew, when he was a little boy.
I remembered how much fun that Andrew and I had, and the KPLC TV studio, and some scientific games, but no real details. Boy have things changed in the past 25 years!
The museum is now housed in Lake Charles’ historic district, in a 3-story brick building, just off Broad Street in the downtown area. Of course the building is probably 100 years old, if not more, so it had a few stories to tell of its own.
Jesslyn rode the bus with her classmates, and her Mama, Candi, and I met them there. It was a shivering cold day in Louisiana, and getting 35 or more preschoolers off the bus near a highway was a little iffy, but the bus driver and teachers did great.
The museum was ready for us, and had all of the parents pay our entrance fees while the children were eating their morning snack on the bus, so once they entered the building, we were directed right along by museum staff.
The young ladies working with our group were fantastic. They knew just how to talk to the children to get their attention, and how to get the rules across to them without seeming stern. I was very impressed with how they handled themselves and the children as we moved from floor to floor.
We went up a very old stairway (I don’t know why I am so scared of stairs!) and finally made it to the 3rd floor. The children were once again given the best instruction, and released to play and explore. Some of the items on the 3rd floor were a little time-worn, and a few of the gadgets did not work anymore, and a little building maintenance and cleaning would go a long way in bringing back it’s original sparkle, but I don’t think even one child noticed one thing about that, they all had a blast. (I am the wife of a carpenter-my job always entailed Quality Control and looking for things that needed to be fixed-I do not in any way want it to seem as if it was not a fun, safe and exciting place for the children, because it was. I just really think it is important for me to share all of my observations. That’s my job. LOL)
Anyway, there were restrooms on each floor, before I forget that important note, and a large open play area, with small rooms off to one side, which housed a music room, bubble room and more. We could not visit the bubble room, the bubbles were scented, and Jesslyn has allergies to artificial scents. The kids had a blast playing the drums, running through the pool noodles (I enjoyed that one, too!) and Jesslyn really enjoyed brushing the giant teeth!
At the end of our allotted time, the museum staff gathered all of the children, and we moved down through another set of stairs, to the 2nd floor. (Eek.)
The next floor was a little more interactive than the first, and the children were led into a prepared classroom to make a craft, a duck that needed coloring and gluing. They all worked intently, and came up with some pretty cool ducks, if I do say so myself! There was also a puppet area (yes, I did get on the floor and play back there, too!) and a reading room, and a little car racing track. They had the girls go first, then the boys. There is a difference in the amount of dare-devil-dom between the two, that was obvious, but fun was had by all!
I saw the museum staff watching her watch, making the switch from boys to girls on the racetrack, and preparing to move us along, down the stairway once again, to the first floor. She was so patient and kind, and the children moved along like a dream. I honestly don’t know what kind of magic she used, it was nothing short of awesome.
The first floor was AMAZING. This was the children’s museum that I remembered, only better than I ever could have imagined. There were so many interactive, corporate sponsored, I might add, things to do on the first floor. It was clean and well maintained, and the sections were all amazing.
We were there for over 2 1/2 hours, and there was no way a child could do everything in double that time. I hate that we missed some of the displays, but I think they may be geared for children who are a little more mature. There was a fire station, complete with hats and coats, a plant shower next to oil rig or plant type gauges and cylinders. Lab coats and instruments. So, so many cool things. The KPLC TV station was way more advanced than the one that Andrew played in 25 years ago, too. They had electronic boards, monitors, and sets. It was so cool.
Of course, all of the kids gravitated to the tubular slide, then the cafe and grocery store. There was a mock kitchen with a diner/tables, food, and cups, plates, etc., as well as a grocery store with a real register and play money for checking out. We had a lot of fun there.
Being in Louisiana, of course there were bridges, boats and barges, crawfishing nets and shrimp boats! The kids really enjoyed those, too.
I do think the most fun was had playing in the running water with the mini boat races. We were very thankful for the waterproof aprons!
Jesslyn and I also admired all of the hand painted tiles on the wall, we think we may borrow that idea and make some for our house!
The visit ended with the children sitting in a small lunch space, eating their sack lunches, but we did not get to partake in that part, due to Jesslyn’s allergies, and the potential for contamination of the surfaces with dairy. We bid her classmates and the museum a farewell, promising to bring Jesslyn back again, this time with her siblings, and maybe her cousin, Jackson!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy reading about our trip to the TABASCO Factory!