We were recently invited to visit the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum in Mansfield. My brother and his family happened to be visiting my parents in Wooster from out of state, so we turned our trip into a family outing, complete with Grandma and Grandpa!  The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is 2 floors of imaginative play for young children.  We spent about 3 hours here and we still had to drag our kids away!  The museum is geared toward children up to 12 years of age and has been in downtown Mansfield since April, 2011.  The museum is about an hour drive from downtown Columbus.  I don’t think you’ll regret the drive, the museum is tons of fun for kids!  The 5 kids in our group ranged from age 1 to age 8 (all boys!) and they were all entertained 100% of the time!

It just so happens that this Friday night (May 6, 2016), Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is celebrating their 5th anniversary during Mansfield’s First Friday Shop Hop!  During this Birthday Party there will be crafts, games, cupcakes, prizes and more!  Find out more information here.  Sounds like a fun time!

When you walk through the door, you enter into a bright and cheerful front lobby.  There is a seating area and table top games for kids.  Food and snacks are limited to this area, and it would be great for a snack break or a packed lunch.  The museum has snacks like Goldfish crackers, trail mix, and Oreos for sale as well as water, juice boxes and a Keurig machine for coffee and cappuccinos.

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I will walk you through the two floors of the museum.  There is so much to do here and I took WAY too many pictures! 😉 Hopefully all the pictures will help you see how much fun there is to be had!  My 4 year old ran around saying, “This place is awesome!” so that should give you an idea of the level of fun we’re talking about!

The first floor begins with a baby play area,  a play house with a slide, and an area to dig for dinosaur bones.  If your kids are like mine and would rather dig through mulch than play on playground equipment, they are going to love digging through the rubber “mulch” for dinosaur bones!

1stfllittlebuckeyeCollagelittlebuckeyediggingcollageOn down the hallway, the museum is set up like a little town.  There’s a veterinarian’s office, grocery store, bank and hair salon.  My oldest particularly liked playing in the grocery store: filling up his cart, checking out and then restocking the shelves!  And I thought he wasn’t paying attention during those frightful trips to the grocery store with two young children (serenity now)!littlebuckeyestoreCollagelittlebuckeyestore2CollageOpposite the shops is a water play area.  Smocks are provided to keep your little ones from taking an extra bath for the day!

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Towards the end of the hall is a farm and garden themed area, as well as a treasure trove of costumes and musical instruments for use in your very own production on the stage at the very end of the building.  I love the idea of this stage!  The costumes and instruments are great inspiration for any kind of show your child dreams of putting on!  There are theater seats for the audience, a soundboard and keyboard at the back, and a TV where your little performers can watch themselves put on a show.  My normally reserved 4 year old really came alive on this stage.  (He gets that acting bug from my husband, NOT me, in case you were wondering.)  littlebuckeyeperformCollageThe second floor of the museum begins with a transportation theme.  There is a large model train set and a few small train tables for hands on playing.  There is also an airplane and airport related decor.  My almost-2-year-old is really into trains right now and he could have stayed here all day!  I almost feel guilty that we’ve made it nearly 5 years with two boys and we still don’t own a train table . . . littlebuckeyetransportationcollagelittlebuckeyetransportation2CollageOn down the hall on the second floor, you will find an area for studying insects, a deconstruction zone for technical building, an auto repair shop and a dentist’s chair.littlebuckeyeautoCollageContinuing our way down the hall, your kids will enjoy playing in a play house and school house.  The road painted on the floor is fun for kids to scoot around on, on one of the many vehicles provided by the museum, as they make way about town.  littlebuckeyehouseCollagelittlebuckeyestreetcollageI love how this museum is set up for play.  All around the museum are quotes about how kids learn from play.  For example, “It is a happy talent to know how to play,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I am always a big fan of free play and this museum is just full of ways kids can use their imagination to act out the tasks we adults take for granted in everyday life.  One of my favorite memories was of my nephew, dressed in a pilot’s uniform, carrying his suitcase, running down this road saying, “I’m off to work!”  (Meanwhile us adults are sitting there wishing we could have the freedom to play all day like these kids!)  Ahhhh . . . I never truly understood the phrase “youth is wasted on the young” until I had kids!

At the end of the second floor is a McDonald’s-themed play area where kids can be cashiers or customers.  This area is also set up to host birthday parties at the museum.  It happened to be the day before my nephew Luke’s birthday!  (Happy Birthday, Luke!)

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More information about birthday parties can be found here.  The museum also offers special events throughout the week such as music and story times, crafts and seasonal parties. Information about these special events can best be found through their Facebook page.

I wanted to devote a lot of space to show you all that is here at Little Buckeye!  Check back in the next couple of weeks because I’ll be showing you how we spent the rest of our day in downtown Mansfield!  We had a really great day and I know that we will be coming back to do it all again!

Know Before You Go:

Little Buckeye Children’s Museum
Address: 44 West Fourth St., Mansfield, OH, 44902
Phone: 419-522-2332

Hours: Wednesday-Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
These are the winter hours through Memorial Day

Cost: $7 per person over the age of 2 (including adults). Membership packages are available and an Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Membership card (with ACM LOGO) will get you half-priced admission for up to 6 people in the family.

Parking: Parking is available in a public lot at the corner of Main St. and Fourth St.  Street parking is free on the weekends.

The museum has an ongoing campaign to replace the elevators in the building, but at this point in time they do not function and you must use the steps to get from the first floor to the second floor.  Something to keep in mind if you rely on a stroller or a wheelchair.

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This is the face of a little boy who thinks “this place is awesome!”

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Written by Julie Miller