If you are living in or visiting Minnesota right now you are likely looking for something new to do indoors. This is around the time of year when we were living in the Twin Cities that I started to pray for any sign of Spring. Unfortunately, in February Spring is still a long ways off. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun things to do inside in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
(guest post from Rebecca Nutter)
The Bell Museum of Natural History is a quaint museum on the University of Minnesota campus that hosts a collection of animals on display and other natural wonders. It’s a great place to go if you are visiting, have lived here your whole life, or need a jumping off place for your child’s interests. It’s a great place for kids of all ages and I guarantee you’ll leave learning something new about the animals native to Minnesota!
My preschooler and I spent about 45 minutes exploring the animal dioramas. The displays showed the animal’s habitat and sometimes what they eat, through a well thought out natural scene.
In the Jaques Gallery upstairs, they feature an artist who works with the natural world as their focus. We’ve only been up there one time. I’m not sure how often it changes, but it’s not static. My preschooler finds the dioramas and discovery room more interesting. The other gallery, the West Gallery has changing exhibits as well. When we were there it featured the Peregrine Falcon and how people are working to save their species.
By far the best part of the museum for kids is the “Touch and See” room. It’s a room where children are free to learn about nature by engaging all of their senses! There are furs to touch, turtles to see, a mini biosphere to smell the freshly watered plants, and videos to hear bees buzzing in a hive. The staff on hand is very knowledgeable and can answer your questions. They will also take out a snake to touch if you want!
They also offer tools for visitors with developmental and sensory sensitivities. On their website they list the tools, which include noise cancelling headphones, weighted lap pads, and visual timers. They also offer Sensory-Friendly Saturdays. (Advanced registration is required, but no additional fee is needed) During this time they lower the lights and sounds in certain locations.
We love, love, love this room and spend most of our time here. There are also restrooms IN this room! A bonus for when I had to change my babe’s diaper but didn’t want to interrupt my preschooler’s play.
What I love about the Bell Museum is how it seems to spark a different interest each time we visit. This is why we visit often!
*Our curiosity about skeletons in the Touch and See room led us into learning about bones in our body.
*Take a nature walk and see what kinds of animals live in your neighborhood.
More Twin Cities Family-Friendly Indoor Ideas:
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