EDITOR’S PICK: THE STRONG MUSEUM OF PLAY

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  Happy New Year, loyal followers and new readers!   Is everyone ready to start 2017 with a bang?  How about with a new adventurous road trip?

     If you ever wanted to spend an entire day playing with your children and never be bored, The Strong Museum in Rochester, NY is perfect for you.  I reconnected with my inner child during the Christmas holidays and did NOT want to leave the establishment.  In fact, I’m hoping to go back for a spring visit to see which new exhibits will be there.

     From the moment we arrived, we were enthralled with The Strong.  Baby C loved the aquarium and we could hardly tear her away.  She had to convince her that more fun activities would be inside.

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     The first section we went in housed all the classic toys from Barbie to Elmo to I Spy books.  The girls were particularly excited because these were familiar toys.  We enjoyed pressing buttons and playing with a variety of activities.  They didn’t know much about the OUIJA board so I had to explain that phenomenon.  Does anyone else remember that from the 80s?  I remember my friend said her grandmother told her that Marilyn Monroe’s ghost lived in their house for a week.

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         From there we moved onto a section geared towards toddlers and exploratory themes.  Middle A loved putting the rice through a giant circle drum and listening to the tiny tinkling sounds the grains made.  Baby C liked to bring the ball up the different ramps just to run alongside the rolling ball.  Next we discovered the LEGO monitor where moving around gave us the shape of LEGO people.

        Down the way was Sesame Street!  My girls don’t watch that show much, but for me, it was brilliant.  I had to sit on the stoop!  Middle A had a chance to chat with Abby Cadabby via the green screen, we waved to Big Bird, and saw the whole gang on a giant poster.  They role-played with a hot dog cart, cinema, and news stand.  Who doesn’t want to live on Sesame Street?  The girls even took a minute to get cozy in a little reading nook.  If this was near us, I would’ve had a season pass for sure.  Lucky people who are on maternity leave and live nearby!

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     We walked by a phone booth and the girls had a quick lesson on what that was.  Seriously, how times have changed!  Many activities on Sesame Street had the “up”, “inside”, and “under” labels which were awesome!  Not only were those educational, but I felt like the show really came to life.  Does anyone else remember learning prepositions this way?

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    After Sesame Street, we went to Wegmans, which was the girls’ favourite section.  Armed with mini shopping carts, they set out for their weekly shopping trip like Mommy.  I really liked that the girls were given instructions about their three jobs: shopper, cashier, and stock person.  They were allowed a limit of five items (it was a very busy day) and had to put everything back after they checked out.  The girls didn’t get a chance to play cashier, but they enjoyed the experience nonetheless.  The best thing is that you really get a receipt of your items so that is an awesome souvenir.  Baby C actually picked out diapers for herself.  How self-aware!

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       After a lot of exploring, we decided it was time for lunch.  The lunch room had a good selection of foods such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Subway.  The prices were very reasonable ($5 for a personal size pizza) and you can eat in that area if you were purchasing.  There were separate rooms if you brought your own food.

        After filling our bellies and regaining some energy, we headed towards the comic zone known as American Comic Book Heroes: The Battle of Good VS Evil.  This was Hip Teacher Dada’s favourite section as his love for all things Marvel is well known.  From giant models of Iron Man and Spiderman to a photo opp where it appears our children are scaling a wall, this area was brilliant.  Colourful and informative, it’s a definite must-see for comic fans.

     We ran into a couple of friends at The Berenstain Bears: Down a Sunny Dirt Road exhibit.  Here, Baby C played with the tangrams and the light table.  She sees this at her daycare so it was a familiar activity.  She had a blast climbing up the stairs to the treehouse and sliding down quickly on the baby slide.  Her sisters enjoyed exploring other parts of the exhibit particularly the learning activities involving sound.

       Now finally onto my favourite part of the museum, Reading Adventureland.  Numerous different fairy tales and stories depicted through buildings, activities, and displays.  It was a dream come true!  This was stuff that Baby C actually knew!  Reading is one of her favourite activities, but for her to see things come to life.  Amazing!

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   We were only there for about four hours and certainly not enough time to explore it all!  For the next trip, we would definitely want to spend the entire day there and hope that Baby C can fall asleep in her stroller while her sisters play.  Better yet, maybe skip nap altogether?  We made the drive from Niagara Falls and thank goodness, Mother Nature cooperated and it was a very smooth drive.  The only hiccup was the parking (it took us about 15 minutes), but we were told that we went on a very unusually busy day.  The friend we ran into gave up after looking for parking for an hour so he dropped off his family and went to the nearby Footlocker instead.  There are nearby apartments, but signs strongly warned us about illegal parking.  Unlike Toronto where Green Ps are abundant, this location didn’t have much choice so circling was our best bet.

    I’m excited to see some new spring exhibits and to explore more parts of the museum.  I’d say the target audience would be age 2 to 12.  Please check out their website for further details.  It is a great way to spend your day with your little ones.

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