There is such a place like this, only a short drive up the foothills. Up in the heart of Oakhurst, there is this little museum called Children’s Museum of the Sierra. When you first pull up it doesn’t look like a traditional museum. In fact, they take pride in being different. The idea of the Children’s Museum of the Sierra is to allow the children to explore and discover the world around them through play and expression. The museum was started in 1995, aiming to provide a learning place for the children in the area. Over the years it’s grown to what it is today, a place where children can be an actor, bank teller, pirate, doctor, scientist, artist, firefighter, explorer of life.
Children learn through play, and the museum caters to this. The whole space is broken down into little spaces/rooms. There is a different theme to each room or section. In one corner of the museum there is a pirate ship for children to climb on. If you go under the pirate ship it looks like the ocean.
There is a doctor’s office available for the kids. In the room there are doctor coats to wear, crutches for patients, all sorts of medical equipment and posters. However, most kids love the light box where they can put up real x-ray films, and then examine them.
The main part of the museum it is broken off into little small sections. There is a stage for children to put on a show (along with costumes); A bank filled with lots of old phones, calculators and adding machines; A section for little babies to explore; An art area; A table for (once) real animals that are on loan from the Fresno State Biology Department and and area for lots and lots of rocks.
In the next part of the museum there are 3 rooms. One filled with a small dino dig, one for parties (costing very little to rent), and one for emergency medical services. The children love that room. Inside there is a kid’s size fire truck and firefighter pole to slide down.
The Children’s Museum of the Sierra also offers programs throughout the year. They have a Spanish emersion program for homeschoolers, a preschool Spanish class, as well as art and music classes. Educational groups can also be prearranged, and would be a wonderful experience.
Admission is $6, over 60 years old is $4 and children under 2 are free. The hours vary by what time of year it is, so double check their site before heading out. But do head out. Go and experience the fun with you child(ren). Some people may think this is just a place for children to play. However, it is more than just that. This is a safe environment for children to discover how things work. To touch things they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed to touch. To explore a different world. To have fun while learning, and that is what it’s all about.