Indiana’s only Smithsonian Affiliate, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, has just raised the bar for educational play in their newly redesigned Discovery Station and Craft Corner. Families with children ages 8 and under will enjoy the newly opened space, redesigned with learning and exploring in mind.
My family attended the members preview Friday morning, and there were audible “whoas” as the doors opened and young children clamored to see what was there. The most visually interesting area of the play center is the hideaway area. Here there are blankets, sheets, bedposts, doors and more for children to create their own special spaces. Children moved the sheets around, creating new spaces and imagining everything from their own little house to a burglars’ hideout.
The climbing structure was also immediately popular with the young guests in attendance. Children donned costumes of forest animals, and climbed through the structure, which is designed to look and feel like a forest.
The child-size barn, log cabin and country store are inviting, and before long there were store-keepers and shoppers playing together. The log cabin gives children a chance to prepare a meal, put a baby to bed, and pretend to keep house. The barn is filled with farm animals, and stick horses.
The fort that houses a selection of books claimed the attention of a lot children, as they huddled in together to hear a story. An employee joined them in the hive to share a story and conversation. Later in our visit, two employees held a story time, and many children sat on the provided cushions to hear the story.
There’s also an infant play area for children too young to safely play in the larger play space. It’s perfect for crawlers and new walkers. Off to the side, parents can sit in the infant space and still supervise children in other areas of the space.
The Craft Corner is a newly designated space that children will love. Big tables with room for many, and bins filled with craft supplies invite children to create. The current theme is yarn art, and children are presented with several ideas on how to create. Kids are welcome to make and take a craft during their visit. There’s also a chalk corner, with chalkboards, as well as a chalk table, give plenty of space for creations.
Everything about Discovery Station lives up to its name- children are truly invited to discover through educational play experiences. It’s the perfect way to start or finish a visit to Conner Prairie, or a destination unto itself on a rainy day.