Thankfully, I'm just standing in the middle of the great hall at Fernbank with giant bones over my head, but I love playing these pretend games as I walk with the kids through a museum. Fernbank Musuem lends itself to many make-believe moments. We used to visit almost monthly when the kids were little and I wasn't teaching fulltime so it had to be one of our first sabbatical field trips. I'm pleased to write that it still holds many treasures close to my heart, but has undergone a facelift, too, which made it even more enjoyable.
|When they were little, the kids were on my time. I strolled my captive audience to exhibits I wanted to see and then ended our trip in the children's area. Traveling with a twelve, ten and eight year old doesn't work that way. Now it was the parents turn to be drug about willy-nilly. My girls made a beeline to the traveling exhibit, Mythic Creatures. Perfect for fans of Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean, Mythic Creatures explores the origins of dragons, unicorns, mermaids and even the Kraken. The exhibit also traces how these creatures still exist in our culture through art, dance, and (thanks greatly to J.K. Rowling) literature. We were entralled with the artifacts from around the world, but as a teacher, I appreciated the video explanations to help capture my kids' attention and get them to stop, listen and learn. As most parents know when visiting a museum with kids, rarely do they ever stop and read the information about a display. I think that is why the movie, Night at the Museum, was such an interesting idea. Everyone, young and old, would love to experience a living museum. If the unicorn and mermaid had come to life on our visit to Fernbank, my girls would have died happy.|
Next, we went straight to the new children's area, NatureQuest. Boy, were we impressed! When we last visited, the children's area consisted of two separate rooms, one for toddlers to preschoolers and one for school age children. Kids could move a few things like building blocks and fake worms to feed baby birds and there was a tree to climb inside. That was basically it. NatureQuest takes up almost half of the top floor and enables kids of all ages to interact with many of Earth's habitats. There was the ocean ecosystem where you feel like you are really underwater thanks to lighting effects and a docked boat "floating" above you. Emma loved the underwater hunt game where she successfully identified several ocean creatures. Anabel went straight to the tree walk and discoverd a hidden microscope station to explore insects living in the tree. There was even a secret reading room nearby for older kids to escape the scampering of smaller feet. Wyatt got lost in the riverbed ecosystem. (Literally, he couldn't find us after he finished exploring the river creatures' homes.) Greg and I enjoyed exploring ourselves. I loved splashing in the creek made of light. Yes! It moved and splashed as I walked through it! While Anabel and Wyatt let curiosity lead their ways, Greg and Emma explored the hands-on activities together with Greg explaining the hows and whys each time she asked. Again, as a teacher, I was impressed with the engaging activities set up in NatureQuest that allow for kids personal discoveries. The exhibit explores lifecycles of animals, plants and rocks and how all cometogether to create a habitat and separate ecosystems. Parents need to just relax and let kids take their time. Hopefully, kids won't "run through" this exhibit.
The best thing about Fernbank is that it is always changeing. Mythic Creatures ends August 14 and the new exhibit Darwin opens September 24. We'll definitely be back for that.
I recommend becoming members of Fernbank especially if you have children. Regular admission is $17.50 for adults and $15.50 for kids ages 3-12. Regular IMAX admission is $13 and $11. For our family of five one day admission would have been $81.50. We joined as a family for $95 and can go as often as we like for one year and go to any IMAX movies for $8 each additionally. Membership also includes admission to Fernbank Science Center with free admission to the planetarium. We will be going there soon. The kids and I can learn about the cosmos and Greg can catch up on his sleep.