Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum, now known as the KidZone Museum, has been serving the Tahoe Truckee community for more than 25 years. It was established in 1992 by a local group of parents, educators and public agencies seeking to create a space in which to stimulate learning in young children.
The mission is “to inspire learning through creative play and discovery.” The exhibits are designed for ages 7 and younger, but there are also school programs and camps for elementary school kids and volunteer opportunities for teens.
One day after school, my son Anikin and I along with our friends Lindsey Lewis and Scarlett and Melody Hernandez visited the KidZone Museum. The kids were excited when we told them where we were going and when we arrived, they tossed their tablets aside and rushed inside.
Once inside they quickly took their shoes off and dove right in. They made a mad dash for the indoor play structure, climbing around and lapping the slide. They spent a little time playing with large, oversized blocks that are fun to stack up and then bust apart. Lots of padding throughout the structure gave the little ones more freedom to explore and discover.
After playing with the air tubes that suck up and then shoot out small items, they moved on to the mock pirate ship and castle, dressing up in costumes and pretending. It was fun to watch their imaginations run wild with different scenarios and characters.
Anikin and Melody continued to pretend play while Lindsey followed Scarlett around as she revisited the indoor play structure and the interactive mini-town table. As it approached closing time, we managed to convince the kids to check out the outdoor play area.
Outside, there are several fun and messy water features and some excavation activities that are perfect for kids who love to get dirty. It was cold and snowing a little on the day we went so the water was not on. That didn’t stop the kids from getting their hands dirty as they sifted, sorted and moved dirt and rocks around.
At closing time, we had a tough time getting the kids to leave, but we promised to return when it is warmer and spend more time in the outdoor area. They agreed and left giggling and smiling.
I smiled to myself knowing that these experiences are rare and valuable especially in this digital age. Not once did any of them ask for or think about their tablets. Thank you, KidZone for providing a space to stimulate learning in science, math, engineering and art through creative play. We will be back soon.
In addition to the exhibits, the KidZone Museum has many fun events including Family Fun Fridays with themed art projects, workshops and bilingual sing-alongs.
There are exciting changes coming soon to the KidZone Museum. The new science room was not open when we were there, but it is open now. This was a project developed and implemented by Truckee High School students to introduce and stimulate scientific learning.
In September, the pirate ship and castle exhibit will be replaced with a new one. This large exhibit will feature a pioneer era theme and will be modeled after historic downtown Truckee.
The most exciting change to come is the plan to move to a new facility by 2023. The project is still in the planning phase, but this new space will be much larger and house a wider variety of interactive exhibits.
Over the years, the KidZone Museum has sparked interest in learning in thousands of children and continues to do this by providing a fun and unique educational experience. With continued support from community partnerships, volunteers and doners, it will continue to do the same for many generations to come.
KidZone Museum is located on Donner Pass Road in Truckee next to the high school. It is closed on Mondays. | kidzonemuseum.org