KidZone Museum fun for kids

The author’s son, Jake Rosenthal, enjoys playing at KidZone Museum. | Nicole Cheslock

As we pull into one of the members-only parking spots, I let Jake know we’ve arrived at the KidZone Museum. It’s been a few weeks since our last visit and he’s clapping. I’m reminded just how much fun he has at this expertly designed place for children.

When we enter the large yurt, it’s challenging to slow Jake down enough to remove his shoes before he’s off – running to the helm of the large swan ship, pretending to prepare tea and serve snacks in the wooden kitchen area complete with tablecloth, cups and bowls. Next, he’s crawling through a small opening and climbing up to the spiral slide in the adjoining room. My toddler, 27 months old, has run, climbed, discovered and imagined, and we’ve been at the KidZone for less than 10 minutes.

“Play is a child’s work,” says Sheila Greeno, KidZone Museum board member. “Kids love spending the day creating open-ended art in the well-stocked art studio, building two-story towers or watching butterflies hatch in the Science Lab. A day at the museum can be a two- to five-hour experience, complete with back-to-back art, play, building and socializing with new friends.”

“Kids love spending the day creating open-ended art in the well-stocked art studio, building two-story towers or watching butterflies hatch in the Science Lab.” -Sheila Greeno

The featured exhibit immerses children in imaginary play. Whimsical colorful murals by artist Susie Alexander enhance the visual experience. Children act as pirates, catch fish, ring the ship’s bell and just steps away, have tea parties, dress in costumes and collect and organize food. There is even a padded Baby Zone safe for rolling, crawling, climbing and cruising for visitors up to 18 months old. Musical instruments and soft toys are nearby.

Based on frequent visits, favorites include an air maze where children push colorful pieces of fabric into clear tubes and watch as the scarves swoosh and soar upwards before falling to the ground. Some parents tell me their children head straight to the large custom train area and spend the entire visit there. With more than 40 feet of winding train tracks, the train table has many areas for small hands and bodies to play.

A transitional kindergarten class from Truckee Elementary School enters shortly after we arrive. Children’s voices fill the space. There is joy, excitement, laughter and handfuls of children running about. Puppet shows are produced, hats and costumes are shared and interactions between the playful environment and youth are plentiful.

There is also a fenced-in outdoor play space with slides, Tonka trucks, shovels, pails and sand piles, as well as a popular water feature enhances summertime visits. We easily spend an hour outside.

Camps and programs

There are a variety of camps, including Girls In Science, throughout the summer. Camp descriptions and registration information are available online and scholarships are available.

Family Fun Fridays are play-based classes that take place weekly at 11 a.m. at no extra charge. Recent activities have included investigating objects that sink and float, creating soft and squishy paint and making tissue butterflies.

Admission is $8 for ages 1 and older, $4 for ages 70 and older, and free for infants. Half-priced locals’ day is the first Wednesday for every month. Annual memberships are available. For more information, call (530) 587-5437 or visit kidzonemuseum.org.

Summer highlights

Every Friday | Family Fun Fridays
July 8 | Truckee-Tahoe Air Show & Family Festival
July 10 to 14 | Chemistry Camp
July 17 to 21| Electricity Camp
July 24 to 27 | Avian Adventures
July 31 to Aug. 4 | Girl Powered Legos

After seeing how much fun their son had playing, sliding, building, painting and exploring, Nicole Cheslock and her husband joined the KidZone Museum.

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Nicole Cheslock
Hailing from the northeast, a love of skiing first attracted Nicole to the area. The scenic hikes along the Tahoe Rim Trail, long days of sunshine, refreshing summer dips and brilliant blue sky encouraged her to call this place home. Nicole holds a master’s degree from Stanford Graduate School of Education, specializes in action-oriented education program evaluation and supports career connections for Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee. She lives with her husband and son in Truckee.