Dupage Children's Museum in Naperville, Illinois
One of my favorite place to visit in Illinois is the Dupage Children's Museum in Naperville, Illinois. (http://www.dupagechildrensmuseum.org)
I was babysitting four children this past summer, and it was too hot to do anything outside, so we piled into the van to go play at this interactive fun house. Each one of the sections had something interesting and engaging to do for all ages of the children I was watching (ages 3-9).
The first section was dedicated to lights, sound, and color patterns. The children were able to make their own music, make a lighted mural with glow in the dark neon-colored sticks, put on a shadow puppet play, and take still shots of themselves in the dark room.
The next section was dedicated to building, architecture, and engineering. Here the children could manipulate obstacle courses to make a ball roll slower or faster, climb up and down tunnels and ladders, build a fort with child-sized Legos, and build their own toy from wooden pieces and other findings. This was by far the favorite stop, as each child was able to bring home their own toy that they made all by themselves, with real tools. (The safety of the children is at all times considered, for they each had safety glasses, and many adults supervising the construction process.)
The third room was focused on the use do wind and water. Children could make their own sailboats and then send them down the water slide. They were able to investigate how different sail shapes and wind directions affected their boat's performance. They also discovered the use of wind to direct the course of a parachute and glider that they were able to build themselves.
We stayed there for four hours, until the children couldn't deny their hunger pangs any longer. Whereas they are usually requested a snack 80 times a day, while engaged in all of these activities, the children didn't think twice about their stomachs until I mentioned McDonald's at 2 o'clock.
There is so much to do, that next time we will go when everyone has been well fed so that we can spend more time there. What was at first a diversion from the heat, turned out to be a favorite place to visit, and we will be returning as many times as we can for a fun, educational experience.