HENDERSONVILLE — Families with young children who may be facing the winter blues will find a breath of fresh air at Hands-On! Children’s Museum.
The interactive “museum” feels more like giant play areas where children can learn without even knowing what’s behind the fun plan.
The grocery area, for instance, has miniature carts and low-level shelves stocked with plastic fruits, vegetables, bread and other food items that they can pay for with play money, which presents yet another learning opportunity.
In a veterinary area, children can learn to wash pets, read X-rays, listen for vital signs with a stethoscope and learn other helpful hints about caring for pets.
A giant stage, complete with curtains and plenty of costumes children can put on offers creative entertainment opportunities and there is a nearby puppet stage where children’s imagination is only limited by time and so many other competing things to do.
There’s an ice cream shop where children can pretend to be either buyers or shop owners; a baby room where children can rock, stroll or read to baby dolls, a music room where the sounds created by a dozen instruments can be heard by pushing a button, a dentist area, complete with a dental chair and microscope, giant plastic chess pieces where children can explore chess moves and a corner where oversized foam building blocks can be turned into all sorts of tunnels, forts or obstacle courses.
A heavily used area features hundreds of Legos@ and those who want to make Lego@ cars can climb stairs to a giant track where they can test their engineering skills. An art area allows children to don an apron and create a watercolor masterpiece, use various molds to create play dough pieces or experiment with kinetic sand.
There is a nature nook where children can “paint” rocks with water or use hand pumps in a pond, as well as plenty of areas focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math in ways that children won’t even know they are learning.
Hands-On! even has a party room where parents looking for the perfect birthday outing can have their own special area.
The admission charge for Hands On! is $5 a person for everyone above age 1, but the fee is good for the entire day. For first-time visitors, a return visit after lunch will be a must to see all that is available. Returning guests will certainly remember their favorite spots — the ones they just couldn’t get enough of on earlier visits.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and is located in the heart of downtown Hendersonville.