Winter is upon us now, and our days are filled with thoughts and plans for skiing, snow mobiling, ice skating, and any number of other winter activities. But the youngest among us aren’t yet physically equipped for many of these diversions. How do they stay active and engaged during the harshest weather? Here in Tahoe, we are lucky to have a place of imagination, art, learning, and fun all in one place – Truckee’s KidZone Museum.
Children increasingly have less opportunity to think deeply and innovate creatively. Experiences that cultivate these skills are frequently absent or limited in early education, at the age when these skills are most critical. The KidZone Museum seeks to help provide these experiences through playful, open-ended exhibits and programs, which promote intentional learning, curiosity and problem solving. Through these experiences, the foundation for lifelong curiosity and development of the whole child is cultivated.
In 1992, thanks to the work of a grassroots coalition of parents, agencies and educators, the non-profit Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum (eventually dba KidZone Museum) opened its doors in Truckee, California. When it opened, families were yearning for an engaging learning place to take their children to play and to meet up and connect with other families during cold winter months.
The first SNCM was located in a tiny space where Jiffy’s Pizza currently is found, in the 7-11 Center on Donner Pass Road. Interest and use soon outgrew this area and a new facility was needed. Again, a group of dedicated locals sought grant funding and donations from many corners of the state and region, and in 2001 the current museum facility, a year-round 3000 sf tension structure was erected and renamed the KidZone.
The increase in space allowed for an indoor play structure and funding for this part of the museum came about because of studies that indicated the youngest members of our community were behind in their gross motor skills when compared to their peers around the state. Again, the long, tough winters make running, climbing and other large motor skills more difficult to develop and practice.
A child’s fine motor skills such as those in sorting, counting, art, and toy manipulation are addressed on the other side of the KidZone. Exhibits change regularly and run the gamut from a grocery store play area, to a water play area, and even outdoor sand play when the weather is good. There is dress up, travel, and exploration aspects with exhibits such as a covered wagon, and an airplane. The current exhibit highlights Egyptian art, archeology and culture.
The KidZone offers gift certificates and these would make a great holiday gift idea for someone you probably know! Gift certificates can be used to buy merchandise, which includes educational toys; and they can use it toward a birthday party at the museum, for a summer camp, or for an annual membership.
The KidZone Museum is hosting a Discovery Breakfast at the Martis Camp Barn on Dec. 3rd from 8am-9am (Check In is at 7:30am).This is a free breakfast for people to come learn more about KidZone Museum. Yes, it is a fundraiser, too. You will be asked to consider making a contribution. There is no minimum and no maximum gift requested. As much as anything, they want people to come and find out about the great programs offered at the museum. If you are interested in attending, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, when the Tahoe area weather is not cooperating for you and your younger children, there is a place of warmth, welcome, and wonder you can visit – the KidZone Museum! I’ll see you there!