According to a 2014 Forbes article, Omaha has quickly become one of the best places to raise children. Coming in at number four, Omaha not only boasts a steady economy, but a myriad of family friendly activities. One of our favorite venues is the Omaha Children's Museum which is located downtown, just two miles from the Henry Doorly Zoo.
The museum features a selection of regular exhibits such as an incredible ball room, a large art center, and lots of thematic stations like the automotive shop, grocery shopping center, and water play area. What's unique about Omaha's museum, however, is that the entire upper floor is devoted to a rotating exhibit. Previously a farming display had been set up, but it was not one of my kids favorite places to play. So, we were very excited when we heard that a LEGO play area was in the works.
LEGO is one of those special toys that captures the minds and hearts of children and adults alike! The tiny, plastic bricks can become anything, and the museum had several historic scenes displayed with facts printed out about the event. I noticed a lot of the older children really taking in the grand displays. The displays had questions taped to the glass, such as "Can you find four methods of transportation?" or "How many LEGO people do you see in this scene?" I really appreciated how interactive even the untouchable LEGO exhibits were.
My kids did glance at the fancy displays for about two seconds, but were then immediately swept up in building their own creations! Grayson was quite taken with the car construction center. From the giant Duplo ride-in race car to the multitrack racing station, he was in little boy heaven!
If you'll notice his face (above) you'll practically be able to hear the vroom vrooming sound that he made all afternoon!
Both my five and three year old had a blast engineering their own creations. For the younger crowd, there are large foam LEGO blocks inside of a walled play area. My friend's one year old thinks they are quite tasty! It was nice to see a baby proofed area for the littlest ones who might otherwise try to eat the smaller LEGO bricks.
With several construction stations set up throughout the large room, there were plenty of LEGO bricks for everyone. And, with summer in full swing and an increased crowd at the museum, that's saying a lot! Despite the numerous families visiting, I still felt like there was room to do the activities we wanted to do.
Aurora's favorite activity was participating in the building challenge. An OCM employee organized a tower building test. The kids were asked to construct a building that was at least as tall as their hand and could survive an earthquake (tray shaking!). Lots of kids in the 5-10 year old bracket were really engaged at this center. I watched several succeed and others fail on their first attempt. The employee gave suggestions about how to make their towers stronger such as building a wider base or cross hatching the bricks, and then the kids could try again.
Upon successful completion of the challenge, the children were given a building license. If the kids complete ten different challenges and get their card stamped each time, they will receive a prize! This totally appealed to Aurora; she excitedly waved her card around and told me that we would have to come back tomorrow, because she needed to fill up the WHOLE card!
Besides the large LEGO exhibit, several of the other stations were new downstairs as well. A woodworking area in the art center held our attention for quite awhile, and I noticed a new gold panning trough set up in the foyer. So, there's plenty to do and see this month at Nebraska's premiere Children's Museum.
Go for LEGO, stay for the laughs as you inwardly chuckle at the blessed fact that you don't have to clean up all of those little pieces at the end of the day!