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Little Buckeye Children’s Museum

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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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ICYMI: Day Trip: The Farm at Walnut Creek

 


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North, South, East and West: Great Libraries for Reading AND Playing! Part 2

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Welcome to Part 2 of a post featuring some of our great area libraries!  (Read Part 1 here!)  The concept of libraries is, of course, fantastic, but we in the Columbus area, specifically, are lucky to have one of the greatest library systems in the nation!  If you’re looking for something to do with young kids, most area libraries have story times for various age groups.  (Check out the Columbus Metropolitan Library Event schedule here.)  And in case you’re wondering, most story times I have been to welcome your children who do not fit into the stated age group.  I think this is worth noting because there have been times I thought maybe I couldn’t go to something because it was for my 15 month old, but my 4 year old would have to come along (and vice versa).  My other child has always been welcomed, beyond a doubt!

As I mentioned in Part 1, as parents we can fall into a rut of going to the same (often closest) library all the time.  My goal with these posts is to help you break out of the routine and make a plan to visit a new library!

Okay, onto the details!

Southeast Branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library

I guess the whole point of this post is that I can say this about all of the libraries I’m writing about, but I’ll go ahead and say it:  This branch really is a GREAT library for reading AND playing!  The Ready for Kindergarten area here is wonderful for young kids!

There is a magnetic wall for making words:

 

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Puzzles on the wall:

A large touchscreen for educational games:

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Learning-to-read toys, games and puzzles:

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A flannel board with letters, numbers and shapes:

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And of course, a lot of great books!

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During the month of March, there was a Brain-Building Class for children up through age 2 and their parents.  When we went the theme was balls, which is Mayson’s favorite!  In April there are ongoing story times for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and families.  These take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Check out the event schedule here.

Check out these cool “letter bean bags” (I’m sure that’s the technical term. 😉 ) with objects inside starting with a specific letter of the alphabet:

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You’ll have a lot of fun at the Southeast Branch, I guarantee it!

Location: 3980 S. Hamilton Road, Groveport, OH 43125
Phone:  614-645-2275

Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday and Saturday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Whitehall Branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library

One of the newest (and most modern) branches of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is the Whitehall Branch.  I love the open and bright feeling in this library.  Another Ready for Kindergarten site, this library is full of activities to inspire kids to learn to read.  The children’s area here is pretty much as separate as you can get from the other areas of the library without being its own building – which means you don’t have to worry so much about how much noise your kids make when they play excitedly here, which they will!

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Your kids are going to love the bus.  That’s a given.  My kids pretended to drive to school – which is exactly the point.  The bus also provides a great opportunity for your kids to learn to take turns.  😉

From circular nooks in the bookshelves to modern shaped seats, this children’s area is perfect for kids to grab a book and make themselves comfortable.

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There are toys for imaginitive play and building vocabulary.

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While we were here we attended a Play to Learn story time.  It was very interactive and fun for the kids.  There was singing, dancing, puppets, stamps and stickers – all with the goal of learning about the letter M – which was also great for Mayson!  He really hit the jackpot on these two library trips!  😉

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I think the Whitehall Branch does a good job of incorporating technology without making it the focal point of the kid’s area.  It’s definitely available and relevant, but there are also so many opportunities for learning through play.

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This library is also a lot of fun for picture taking!  If you want to see more, I added the pictures here because I took so many of them! 🙂

Location: 4445 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43213
Phone: 614-645-2275

Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday and Saturday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

If you haven’t yet been and are looking for somewhere new, these libraries will be an exciting change of pace for the kids.  I’d love to hear your libary recommendations, so leave me a comment below and I’ll put them on my list to check out!

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ICYMI: 5 Go-To Places to Take Your Kids in Columbus


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North, South, East and West: Great Libraries for Reading AND Playing! Part 1

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We all have our favorite, local library, but what about branching out for something new?  Today I’m featuring libraries with great children’s areas!  These are libraries where not only can you come home with a bag full of books, but you can easily pass a morning with all the other things they have to offer!  Today’s post features libraries on the North side and the West side.

Hilliard Branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library

EDITED July 11, 2018: The Hilliard Branch has relocated to a renovated location at 4500 Hickory Chase Way, Hilliard, OH 43026

A few years ago – yes, years – a friend of mine told me this was a great library.  But it took me a long time to get here.  I was so pleasantly surprised when we finally did visit, that I wished we had come sooner!  The children’s area here has a nice, natural separation from the rest of the library, which means that your little wanders won’t easily escape!

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This is also one of the few libraries I can think of with a train table – always a plus in my boys’ book!

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There is a puppet stand, interactive toys for toddlers and a lot of nice seating for reading together.  On this visit, we arrived too late for story time, but they do offer it frequently for all ages.  See here.  This library opens at 9AM, too, which might be especially good for early risers!  (Though my kids wake up WAY too early and I still can’t seem to get out of the house before 10AM!)IMG_8931

Location: 4500 Hickory Chase Way, Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-645-2275

Hours:
Mon-Thur: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Karl Road Branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library

This is a great library for Pre-Kindergarten activities!  The children’s area is especially geared toward Kindergarten readiness.  There are special activities designed around letters, numbers, writing, and obviously, learning to read.

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There are cubbies filled with games , toys, puzzles and coloring activities designed to help your child learn to read.
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There are story times for different ages on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Their weekly schedule is always listed here.  On this visit, we coincided with baby lap time for ages 0-18 months. I squeaked in with my 19 month old!  🙂  After a series of songs, rhymes and books there was an interactive playtime at the end.  (Jaden, though he tried to play it “too cool for the babies,” couldn’t resist free play!)

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One of my favorite things about this library is the bus:

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Inside the bus are seats for reading together.  I know one addition to this bus that my kids would love would be a steering wheel.  But I suppose that might cause too many fights!  😉

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There’s a lot of great seating here, too, and this is another place where there is a good separation between the children’s area and the rest of the library.  As Jaden has gotten older, he has wanted to sit and read books at the library (imagine that!).  But it is really nice to be able to keep an eye on my little 19-month-old wanderer when he wants to play.

Location: 5590 Karl Rd., Columbus, OH 43229
Phone: 614-645-2275

Hours:
Mon-Thur: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Feel free to comment below to tell me about another library you love, and stay tuned for Part 2 featuring more fun libraries great for reading AND playing!


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