Museums, STEM Resources, STEM toys, TV Shows

Strong Museum of Play in Rochester New York

“…can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?”

After 30 plus years, I can FINALLY answer that question. The address is 1 Manhattan Square Dr, Rochester, NY 14607 which is the home of the Strong Museum of Play.

What a fun place! I am SO glad that we chose to make the stop on the way home to Cleveland from the Finger Lakes in New York! This place was fun for the kids and us as adults! The message from this place was clear… PLAYING is LEARNING. This is a beautiful message for all parents and children. If it’s fun, we learn more.

The highlight of this trip for the kids was taking a stroll down Sesame Street. Sesame Street is one of my all time favorite young child educational programs. Both of my children have learned so much from watching it – numbers, letters, emotional / social growth and also how fun it is to explore and learn. All important early attributes for confidence and success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects.

Another area that was really fun was Wegman’s grocery store. Each child gets to push a cart or carry a basket through a replica of Wegman’s grocery store and select a limited number of items for check out. They actually check out at the register (look at the receipt below!), then return the items to their respective locations.

The History Place was a fun place to explore. Kids can have pretend tea parties with teddy bears (make food in the old style kitchens), play in a historical looking school house and check out the type of transportation that students used to get to school ‘back in the day’.

Reading Adventureland is a giant play ground where you can step inside common childhood stories like Bernstein Bears, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Billy Goats Gruff, many princess fairy tales, wizard stories, Dr. Suess stories, pirate stories, etc. The kids could explore the Bernstein Bears home town, create their own wizards wand and crown, become a giant and play in a pirates sandpit to name just a few. Books are scattered through out for reading if your child opts to read some of the stories. This area was also easily a favorite!

This museum is HUGE! If you plan to go, be sure to block off at least one whole day to be able to check out everything. We did not get the opportunity to see everything during our trip but we saw plenty to make us want to get in a return trip someday! Ohio (CLE especially – since we live so close…), check this place out!!!!

Animals

Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York

We took a short family trip to the Finger Lakes in New York. During our visit, we had some cold, windy weather so one of the days we decided to take an adventure away from the lake. We took advantage of our Cleveland MetroParks Zoo reciprocal membership and went to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. We were so glad we made the trip!

This was a GREAT zoo. It was the perfect place to visit with small children because it isn’t too big or too small. It was also felt very clean and updated! My children enjoyed riding in the wagon that resembled a Safari jeep. It was only $7 for the whole day and it was well worth it (see image above).

There is an indoor aquarium, nocturnal exhibits, reptile exhibits, bird house and several other exhibits inside that we took advantage of. The aquarium is home to several marine life like octopus, starfish and other fish. The aquarium tanks were kept very clean which allowed us to enjoy the beautiful collection of marine life.

In the reptile area, it was fun seeing the snakes and iguana as well as other animals held in the exhibit. The bird house is a very large space, home to several large and small birds. My youngest daughter specifically loved the ducks. My kids enjoyed searching for the animals in the nocturnal exhibit – the porcupine came right up to the glass and stood up to look out as us. Other exhibits indoors held lemurs, various monkeys, otters and an absolutely beautiful leopard which was literally inches away from us.

Outdoors, the exhibits were also very clean for the animals and absolutely beautiful. It was relatively easy for my children to spot the animals without much help. The majority of the exhibits allow guests to get up close and personal with the animals so it is easy to spot them.

I personally learned quite a bit about Tigers’s at their exhibit during our visit. There are very few left in the wild and the sad reasons that they are disappearing and almost extinct. We need to do more a society to save these beautiful animals. See some the information about the tigers below.

They are currently reconstructing their elephant exhibit. Once complete, it will serve as a gigantic resort for the elephants. The zoo added several beautiful viewing balconies to allow guests to get as close as possible within a save distance from the elephants.

We ate lunch at the zoo Jungle Cafe and we felt the selections were great and prices were reasonable. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo but all prepared food is nut allergen free.

Towards the end, we were able to feed the ducks for 50 cents. My girls LOVED watching the ducks swim towards them and quack for food. When we turned in our wagon at the end of the day, I saw the staff immediately begin cleaning the wagon – what a wonderful sense that the staff take great care and pride in not only the cleanliness of the zoo but also in the items that enrich their guests experiences.

We would definitely recommend this zoo to anyone that visits this area. It was only a 40 minute drive for us from the lake house we were staying at in the Finger Lakes. Zoo’s are great places for children to learn about animals, view them up-close and appreciate them.

Have you visited this zoo? What zoo’s are your favorites? Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.