The world teems with booming sounds, bustling crowds and bright lights. These things might be mildly troubling, but for kids with unique sensory needs, they can be overwhelming to say the least. If your child experiences any sensory-processing challenges, you’ll be comforted to know that he or she can enjoy a children’s museum, too, in an environment with their needs in mind.
Wisconsin is full of delightful children’s museums, and many of them hold special sensory-friendly days and offer other resources tailored to your family. Here are four museums that provide enriching, sensory-friendly experiences for kids.
At the Madison Children’s Museum, your family will soak up the hands-on exhibits, from the colorful art studio to the rooftop garden featuring a greenhouse-treehouse and chickens.
There are multiple resources at the museum for kids and families affected by sensory challenges. Check out helpful sensory tools — like sunglasses, noise-reducing ear mufflers and gloves — from the front desk. If anyone’s in need of a break from the stimulation, ask the front desk to use a cool-down space.
The Building for Kids Children’s Museum in Appleton is complete with exhibits like a real-live jet where kids can pretend to be pilots, a 10-foot slide that looks like the human heart and animals like birds and fish.
Every third Sunday of the month, the museum caters to sensory-sensitive kiddos with a lower-sensory experience and special programming. The museum offers resources all the time as well, not just the third Sunday every month, including a quiet room to take breaks and a play script that takes kids through their visit ahead of time.
The Children’s Museum of Green Bay also hosts specific days with sensory needs in mind. On the third Thursday of every month, your family can attend Sensory Friendly Day. The museum, which includes a pretend farmers’ market, construction site, vet clinic and fire station, is closed to the general public on these days to prevent large, overtaxing crowds. Lights and sounds are lowered as well, and there are a variety of sensory activities to take part of amid their 13 interactive galleries.
Learn your way through the dinosaur maze, build with giant blocks in the imagination playground, operate the kids’ crane and more at the Children’s Museum of La Crosse.
With unique sensory needs in mind, the museum teamed up with the La Crosse Austism Foundation and the Chileda Institute to offer Adventure Backpacks to museum-goers, just ask for one at the front desk. Inside the pack, you’ll find ear mufflers, fidgets, timers and more. The museum also hosts occasional Inclusion Nights for kids who may need quieter times or additional resources while exploring the museum.
Find more kid-friendly fun on these Wisconsin family getaways!