I am always on the lookout for places where my kids will be entertained for longer than 5 minutes but also educational at the same time. The Smead Discovery Center on the lower level of the Cleveland Natural History Museum ticks all the boxes. The room is wide open so you can see exactly where your child is at all times without you having to follow them around acting like helicopter parent. And there is only one exit door at the very end so you aren’t paranoid if you have a wild child or runner (ahem VIOLET).
I will detail a couple of my favorite features in the room below!
First, I love that they have these microscopes with different slides for the kids to look at. They are very easy to use and they have a great collection of interesting slides (plants, skin cells, etc).
This fossil dig table is always a big hit with my kids. Especially after you explore the dinosaur exhibits upstairs first and then they get to play paleontologist themselves and dig up fossils.
This Discovery Market is hands down my oldest daughters favorite thing to play with. Each item of food has a barcode that they can scan. Healthy items give them more points and unhealthy foods (like French fries, soda and sugary cereal) take points away. Grace has so much fun searching through the foods to see which ones are the healthiest and will give her the most points to “win”. I love the message that sends kids!
This little keyboard is connected to the plush animals above and each key makes the sound of the corresponding animal. Hours of owl hooting fun.
The rest of the room is filled with amazing little stations for different aspects of science. They have a small collection of lizards, geckos, spiders and cockroaches. A table all about rocks and elements. A space and planet section with corresponding books. A smaller circle area with a gliding chair (perfect to breastfeed in if you have a little one with you) and baskets full of blocks, puzzles and books.
If you haven’t ventured down to the Smead Discovery Center yet I highly recommend it! It is a perfect spot to spend a long afternoon, especially during the Cleveland winter! Weekends tend to be busy but I went on a Tuesday afternoon at 1:00pm and there was only one other person in the room and it was amazing.