Parents often wonder what to do to keep their children’s brains from turning into video mush from an overload of cartoons, video games, and more. The good news is Michigan has plenty of educational children’s activities, all year-round. Here are just 10 educational activities for children to enjoy and gain a new perspective on the world!
Head out to Saginaw to check out the Mid-Michigan Children's Museum, a place where playing and learning go together surprisingly well. Featuring special events like the tooth-friendly Easter egg hunt—with gift bags focuses on preventing tooth decay—as well as standard fare like programs around music, space and other matters, there will be a wide array of ways for children to get in some hands-on learning, and do so while playing and having fun.
Ann Arbor's home to this children's museum that features a variety of hands-on activities to teach children certain scientific concepts while doing so in a playful fashion. Look for tools like whisper dishes and make-your-own-tornado stations to get a better handle on science. The DTE Energy Foundation's Light and Optics Exhibit will deliver thrills of its own, and there's plenty more where that came from here!
For anyone who's ever wondered what a tiny version of Grand Rapids might look like, just go to the bigger version of Grand Rapids and then the Grand Rapids Children's Museum. Little Grand Rapids offers “big city fun in a kid size way,” and a look at several businesses geared toward a kid's perspective. It doesn't stop there, of course, as there will be a wide variety of other activities on hand, including an entire section devoted to fort building out of chairs, cushions, blankets, broom handles and more.
No, it's not a revival of the 90s-era playhouse known as Discovery Zone. Rather, it's a kind of extremely hands-on museum of sorts in St. Joseph. An offshoot of the Curious Kids' Museum not far away, the Curious Kids' Discovery Zone includes things like a climbing tower, a model of Lake Michigan's water table, water cannons, and an array of other noteworthy things to see and do. Throw in the museum it's based on and the fun only gets more pronounced from there.
While we've been pretty heavy on the museums so far, there are other options for educational children's fun, and one can be found in Ann Arbor with the Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum. Featuring kid-specific attractions like a digging pit where getting dirty is encouraged, an oversized mockup of a bird's nest and even a huge maze, learning opportunities fit for a child abound.
Do your kids like pancakes? The answer to that question is almost certainly yes, and there's an easy corollary involved that, chances are, they love maple syrup too. If that's the case, then for about three weekends a year in Michigan—depending on where you are—you'll be able to get in on a variety of educational events all around the creation of maple syrup. Seasonal to the extreme—these events only run when the maple sap does, after all—you'll be able to show the kids first-hand how that breakfast treat is made.
An apple orchard like the one found in Fenton may not seem like much of an educational activity, but when it gets close to cider season, it can be a landmark. Spicer Orchards in Fenton features a slate of education for most younger ages—what a pony looks like and how it can be ridden—but also a tour of a working winery and a good look at just how donuts are made. Throw in a variety of fun activities like a corn maze and the like, and Spicer Orchards will generate plenty of educational if seasonal fun.
Geared mainly toward children six and younger, Tiny Town in Northville offers a wide variety of learning experiences by placing children in the middle of a small simulated town. From there, a variety of attractions teach lessons on problem solving, language and more, with even special areas devoted to crawling children. The whole area is a no-shoes area, so be sure to wear socks to this bizarre attraction. And grownups, don't worry: A host of snacks and drinks are on hand while you spectate the spectacle of Tiny Town.
Are your kids into dinosaurs? For those who fall into this category, consider a trip to Rochester for the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve. Formerly a chunk of unusable land in a subdivision, the property great until it could offer a complete nature center, a “little log cabin” for exhibition and more. Just to round it out, the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve can even come to potential visitors with its Discovery Dome, an inflatable dome system that offers planetarium-style presentations in a convenient package that can come right to the user.
Finally, Traverse City once again steps up to provide an entry, and does it with the Old Town Playhouse Young Company. A theater troupe of young people, the theater not only offers acting classes for the younger set, the classes are strictly seasonal—summer season, generally—so as not to interfere with school. There's a lot going on herein, and with workshops and full productions afoot including a recent performance of Aladdin Kids, no shortage of educational opportunities.