By Sue Rodman
Play. It’s how kids learn. But is all play equal? Here is a list of five wonderful Indoor Playgrounds in Atlanta that offer not only a place for physical exertion, but a mental workout as well. Many also have guides for parents to understand just what their kids are learning as they play. All of these places target kids from toddlers to elementary age. Please note, although I am describing them as ‘playgrounds’ all of these locations require that a parent engage with their children while they play. However, the good news is there is only one way in or out, so if you are chasing multiple kids and one gets away, you’ve only got one exit to cover.
1. NatureQuest at Fernbank Museum of Natural History – This indoor playground in Atlanta boasts 100 interactive encounters including live animals. The exhibit features six diverse ecosystems : the ocean/estuary, swamp, pine flatwoods, forest, waterfall/river, and caves designed around a kids clubhouse. Parents can pick up one of the exploration cards that explain each ecosystem and offer a checklist of what you’ll find. Adults can engage children with the fun facts or question and answers from the cards. There are also “ologist cards” that provide information on the exhibition through the eyes of different scientists, such as an archaeologist, geologist, zoologist, marine biologist, and others.
2. Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta – This indoor playground in Atlanta features four permanent exhibits and a morph gallery for traveling exhibits. Permanent exhibits include: Fundamentally Food, a Crawl Space for babies, Leaping into Learning which offers water play, Get Your Creativity Flowing covers the arts and Tools for Solutions lets kids experiment with simple machines. For parents, the When I Am… cards offer information on the technical skills their children are acquiring during their play sessions.
3. Sagebrush Ranch at The Booth Western Museum – Sagebrush Ranch is a fun indoor playground in Atlanta that features hands-on activities for children and their parents to play and learn. This gallery provides children with the opportunity to touch and interact with the exhibits and allows kids to be kids. Each activity is a learning opportunity and is themed around art and the West. Rodeo Joe, the Ranch Foreman, welcomes visitors of all ages to the Ranch but reminds visitors that Sagebrush Ranch is designed for children, but parents need to stay with their children at all times. You can find a parents guidebook to the Sagebrush Ranch on the Booth Western Museum website.
4. Collins Family My Big Backyard, Tellus Science Museum – This interactive indoor playground is housed in the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Ga. Children can play with light, rainbows, mirrors and more in the greenhouse. The shed is filled with experiments and the garage is a great place to discover the properties of magnets and work with electricity. An interactive garden houses magnet games, sorting activities, raceways and more. No backyard is complete without trees and an walk in-tree features a special projection screen designed to educate visitors on weather. Here is a post I did on Tellus Science Museum back in 2009 complete with pictures.
5. Greene Family Gallery at the High Museum of Art – The Greene Family Gallery at the High Museum of Art is indoor playground in Atlanta with an art focus. The gallery is a great place for smaller children to play. They can draw; create a sculpture from trash like Howard Finster; build a museum of their own like High architect Richard Meir; create a puppet show; dress up using scarves; or play in the life-sized block mats. Discovery Backpacks offer parents a ‘lesson plan’ for the museum with manipulatives and questions to ask their kids to get them engaged with pieces in the permanent collection.