February 9, 2010

The Children’s Museum in Santo Domingo: Lots of learning, less fun

The Children’s Museum in Santo Domingo is a worthwhile trip if you have small children, but don’t count on spending the whole afternoon there. The museum consists of a guided tour that does not last more than an hour. The Museo Infantil Trampolin's motto is "Where learning is fun," yet the focus is more on learning than on fun.

Last Saturday, I took my daughters – eight-year old twins and a six year old – to the Children’s Museum in the Colonial City. We found the museum to be more focused on learning than on play, but enjoyable nonetheless. Instead of being a free play museum as in other cities, it is actually more of a guided tour through a series of rooms.

The first room involves a large a large-screen film about the solar system. Each of the other rooms is similarly educational. The room about natural disasters had an earthquake simulator, which the children enjoyed. They also liked the room with the dinosaurs, especially the game where you try to fit the dinosaur fossils into the holes in the wall.

Luckily, however, the tour is less than an hour, as the children began to get a bit antsy towards the end. The last room (pictured left) is the only one where the kids can engage in free play. After about ten minutes, however, the tour guide suggested our tour was over, as the next family was coming through. I asked if we could stay while the next family came in, and he consented.

This last room has a hopscotch design on the floor, a pretend hospital, a make-believe store, a pretend school, and lots of other great things for children’s imagination. When the tour guide asked us to leave a second time, I didn’t protest, although I did think that they should let people stay in that last room as long as they wished. All those wonderful toys and little rooms go to waste if kids can’t play in them and let their minds run wild.

When we left the museum, we were not quite ready to hop in a taxi back home. Just to the left of the museum is Fort Ozama. This is a great place to take kids who like to run around. First, we explored the huge fort and imagined what it must have been like to ward off pirates approaching in the sea. Then, we came back to the ground, and the girls had fun climbing on the various cannons.

The girls made friends with other children that were there playing, and played for a long while on the grass and on the cannons. It was a good thing that they were able to run around in Fort Ozama, as it would have been a shame to go home after just an hour in the children’s museum.