When it comes to the little ones, it can be challenging to find activities that are both intellectually stimulating and fun. If you’re looking for something your children will love, Indiana is home to an abundance of excellent educational excitement. From interactive exhibits at museums to discovery centers to zoos, here are the nine best educational activities for children in the state.
Indiana’s first Smithsonian affiliate, Conner Prairie brings the past back to life in Fishers by recreating history. This beautiful and scenic place sits on 200 wooded acres, and once you arrive, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. Journey through 1863 during the Civil War at the Lenape Indian Camp and Prairietown. In 1859, take a balloon voyage and fly 350 feet above the area. Has your little one ever wanted to build a windmill or learn how things work? Check out the Create. Connect. Explore center of Conner Prairie to learn about physics and how one thing leads to another. You can also visit the Craft Corner and create new and exciting works of art! At Conner Prairie, there is something for everyone. And the best part? It makes history fun!
Pet therapy is becoming more and more popular in today’s society, particularly with children and helping them read. The Paws to Read Program is a national program, and is gaining ground in libraries and schools across the U.S. In Kokomo, children can visit the downtown library on Saturday mornings and read to one of the trained Paws to Read therapy dogs. The benefits of pet therapy are overwhelming and beneficial to children, especially when it comes to reading. Sometimes reading aloud can be uncomfortable, especially if the child has a speaking disability or is shy. By reading to an animal, someone who doesn’t judge or make fun of them, it helps them to feel more comfortable and grows their confidence.
Located in southern Indiana, the Indiana Caverns (also known as the Binkley Cave System) is the 11th longest cave in the nation, and the longest in Indiana at just over 43 miles-long. Here, children can explore the underground caverns and have their own modern day mining experience by sifting through various types of gemstone bags in search of treasure. Little ones can also explore the Cavern of the Sabertooth and pretend to be cave explorers for the day! Be sure to visit the gift shop before you leave!
Located just a few miles from Louisville in southern Lanesville, Indiana, is Farm Life (formerly known as Deere Farms). Some of the main attractions here is the 12-acre pumpkin patch and the 14-acre corn maze, but there is also plenty else to see and do here at Farm Life. Check out their educational programs in which children can tour a 105-year-old farmstead and learn where their food actually comes from. Take a walk through Mother Nature and get up close and personal as children discover and identify different types of trees while catching glimpses of deer, turkey, and coyotes along the way.
The Indianapolis Children’s Museum was established in 1925, and has been attracting visitors of all ages for the last 92 years. The museum itself is over 470,000 square foot and features more than 120,000 artifacts. It’s become one of the top ranked, most respected children’s museums in the nation, and it’s not a wonder as to why. Let your children explore the various exhibits throughout the museum as they dance their way through various styles and genres through time, or visit the American POP exhibit and learn about pop culture in today’s society. For the little ones who are crazy about Hot Wheels, tour the Hot Wheels: Race to Win exhibit. For a little inspiration, take your children to see the Power of Children exhibit where they can hear and see stories of courageous children much like themselves. There is so much to see and do for children of all ages! The adults seem to like it too!
The Indianapolis Zoo is another great educational place for children to visit here in Indiana. Open since 1964, the Indianapolis Zoo has been attracting more than a million visitors annually. Animal lovers, nature enthusiasts, and conservationists alike will love the Indianapolis Zoo. There are five different areas for children to visit their animals of choice: Oceans, Forests, Deserts, Encounters, and Plains. Ever wonder what it’s like to swim with a dolphin? Check out the zoo’s Dolphin In-Water Adventure and take a swim with these amazing animals. Ever wonder what it’s like to stay overnight at the zoo? Be sure to check out the zoo’s Family Overnight Adventure to find out!
Imagination Station in Lafayette, Indiana, is Tippecanoe County’s premiere STEM learning center. Imagination Station gives children the opportunity to learn about the world around them in terms of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a fun, hands on learning centered environment outside of school. The building is two stories, and features exhibits such as butterflies, DNA extractions, Robotics, a kinetic sand exhibit, and your child can even learn the basics of coding and take a tour of the gardens!
Head down to southern Indiana and see the WonderLab Museum in Bloomington. Another STEM focused exhibit, the WonderLab Museum is indeed a wondrous place for children of all ages to come and see. Two stories tall, the WonderLab features a grapevine climbing maze, close encounters with LIVE animals, science adventures for the very young, and a Bubble-Airium for all the bubble lovers out there! Be sure to check out the beautiful Lester P. Bushnell Wonder Garden while you are there as well!
Come to the Holliday Park Nature Center this summer and find yourself in awe of this huge, 94-acre city park located on Indianapolis’s north side. Explore the nature center, hike the beautiful trails and see the White River, and play on the best playgrounds there are! The Nature Center is 13,000 square-feet and educates children on the environment by featuring hands on, discovery based activities. Check out Holliday Park’s newest exhibit, The Ruins, and see beautiful architectural sculptures and modern day replicas of old, historical ruins. Climb the beautiful trails and keep your eyes open for fox, beaver, rabbits, and many other wild creatures!