Had an unusually smooth ride to Brooklyn on the subway, somebody offered to help carry the pushchair at every single staircase (and there are a lot), and managed not to get lost once. Good job. Have found the secret is to write down in advance exactly which line you want and its final destination, since once you’re on the platform there are no maps or lists of stops. Oh for the London Underground signage system…
The museum is easy to spot as you walk from Kingston Avenue subway station, tiled in the brightest yellow, with crimson walls. Entry tickets cost $9, babies under 1 go free, and the pushchairs can be stowed away for free too, so it’s a pretty economical day out by New York standards.
Inside, it feels like you’re in the most wonderful indoor playground. Everything is designed to be fiddled with, twisted, tried on, climbed on and touched. There were oodles of dressing up and exploring small, fun spaces, and they both had the most brilliant time.
Having started watching ‘The Missing’ on telly, was feeling hyper-vigilant about keeping track of our group in such large rooms, but it was reassuring that most areas had only one exit so it would be hard for them to get very far. Corridors are made of curved corrugated iron with fluorescent lighting inside and water flowing down the middle, at just the right height for little ones to trail their fingers and admire the water wheel. There’s even a sensory room specifically developed for kids with special needs.
The Totally Tots zone for under-5s had a large water room with canals, which we spent ages in. The girls managed to get totally soaked, even through the full length waterproof aprons provided. Note to self, next time bring spare clothes.
My two particularly enjoyed admiring the Neighbourhood Nature section, a rather eclectic selection of displays ranging from live tarantulas and terrapins, to a chicken skeleton. Confess I myself was fascinated by said chicken, having been so recently to the American Museum of Natural History. It was the first time I really saw what people meant when they say that dinosaurs evolved into birds. T was convinced she was looking at a baby dinosaur.
Was so impressed by how interactive everything was. From planting seeds in a cork chip sand pit, to controlling sounds from the neighbourhood, to playing in a model MTA bus, everything was enticing. This is a great option for a day out, especially in bad weather.
Tips if you’re visiting Brooklyn Children’s Museum with your own kids:
- Be the early bird. Doors open at 10am, and you need to be prompt if you want to store your pushchair, coats and general clobber in the free coat check. We left at 2pm and there was a long queue of parents waiting for someone to leave so they could take their pushchair spot
- Be early for lunch at the Kids Cafe too. It’s pretty big, with plenty of tables, chairs and high chairs, but as soon as it reached 12.15 the place was completely rammed. Food was slightly dry, but acceptable – $5.50 got you a kids’ box with a plain turkey ham or ‘American cheese’ (i.e. plastic) sandwich, raisins and a packet of Goldfish crackers
- Watch out for the museum shop directly beside the ticket booth. We had a lot of negotiations to get T past it
- Consider bringing a change of clothes for the under 5s. They’ll probably get v wet.
This week’s Highs & Lows:
High: T turned four today, and dressed herself this morning. She actually got out of her pyjamas, put on each item of clothing the right way round, and brushed her own hair and teeth. Life changing stuff, my friends. If she can keep this up, that will shave ten minutes off the morning school run countdown.
Low: Catching myself using v American phrases, including “Totally!”, and “a present parent” – which is what they say when they mean, get off your iPad and pay attention.