We love the Lutz Children’s Museum. It’s more proof that good things come in small packages. This pint-sized museum is full of fun activities for children, from a pretend (and miniaturized) Main Street to a puppet theater to a room filled with amazing animals (read Mandy’s post about her visit for the whole scoop). But did you know that this museum also offers dozens of engaging and entertaining classes for little ones?
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned off-handedly (on a Monday) that she was signed up with her son to take a class at the Lutz that Friday, and would we like to join them? Of course the answer was yes! But you have to register for classes at the Lutz, and it was such short notice. All the classes I’d ever registered for I had to do pretty far in advance. I wondered, could I get it together to get Boo registered for a class just four days away? Turns out registering for a class at the Lutz is ridiculously easy. The whole process can be done online with a credit card. It took me all of five minutes, and we were in!
The class we were taking was called “Music Makers” and it was designated for ages 2-3. After we registered, I decided to do a little more research into the various classes offered. Here’s a brief overview I found on their website that gives a general description of their teaching philosophy:
Museum teaching methods focus on self-discovery and exploration. Real museum artifacts or live animals are integrated into almost every program giving children the opportunity to experience the world first hand. Concerts and trips give young learners the chance to see arts and culture up close and to develop their own tastes and appreciation.
This sounded great. I couldn’t wait to see more of the class descriptions. The classes offered change each month, and a full listing can be found in the museum’s monthly newsletter. You can pick up a copy in the museum, or you can find it online. Go to their homepage and look for the link to the current newsletter in the right-hand sidebar.
There are classes with all different types of themes–from crafts to animals to music–and each one has a designated age-group. The fee and the time frame vary too, but all that information is presented very clearly in the newsletter. Since the classes are always changing, you need to check the current newsletter for the latest offerings.
As I mentioned before, the class we signed up for was called “Music Makers.” It was a half-hour class, and the cost was $12 for nonmembers and $10 for members. But here’s the really super news: the class fee includes complimentary museum admission for the child enrolled in the class and the parent accompanying them– so Boo and I both got into the museum for FREE that day! You can attend a class, then stay to play (or come early and play) for FREE.
I was a little worried about getting there early and letting Boo play first because he’s having some trouble with transitions lately. Everything from getting him out of his crib to coaxing him into the car (and let’s not even mention what happens when I try to put on his shoes or coat) to leaving the classrooms after our various weekly activities has become a struggle of epic proportions. So we tried to arrive promptly at 10:00 a.m. when the class started so we could just go straight into the room.
When you arrive at the museum for a class, you can just mention to the person at the front desk that you are there to take a class so they don’t try to collect admission from you. The classroom is located off the main room of the museum. You’ll see a door on your right as you walk into the play area. If the door is open, you can go ahead in and get settled. If it’s closed, it probably means they are still setting up for the class and you can let your little one play for a few minutes until the door is opened.
The room was set up with a semi-circle of chairs near the front, and a table and chairs at the back.
There were also name tags for each of the kids plus a document describing the class in more detail, including activities and objectives–a real lesson plan. As a former teacher myself, I was impressed.
For most of the toddler classes I’ve attended elsewhere, the parents and kids sit together in some approximation of a circle. But for this class, the kids sat up front in their little red chairs, and there were regular folding chairs where the adults could set up shop in the background. I liked this class already 🙂
This class was a combination of hands-on exploration and a couple of cute and easy craft projects. First, the teacher introduced the kids to the different instruments on the stage and let each of them have a turn “playing” them.
As you are probably aware, 2-year-olds are not known for their ability to sit still and pay attention, so there were definitely some little ones (Boo included) who got up from time to time and wandered around. That’s totally fine. Don’t sweat it.
Fortunately, the circle time was broken up by craft time, so that really helped to keep the kids’ attention. When it was time for our first craft project, everyone got up and headed for the back table.
For this activity, the kids were making their own flutes out of straws. It involved pre-cut straw pieces, masking tape, and stickers (the final trimming into the asymmetrical shape was done by the teacher).
Cute, right? And the teacher even demonstrated how to play them (they really work!).
Then it was time to move back to the circle for the next “lesson.” Boo made a pit stop on the way to check out the table filled with craft supplies. I wonder what we’re making next…
Back in the circle, the teacher displayed some more instruments (string instruments this time), and the kids got to participate in creating and testing out their own “string instrument” by placing rubber bands around an empty shoe box.
Then it was time for our last craft: egg shakers! I was excited. Boo loves those things when we play with them in his Music Together class. I knew he’d be thrilled to have one he could actually take home with him! The kids picked out their eggs, filled them with their choice of beads, rice, or beans (they all made different sounds), and then decorated them with stickers. Oh, and we taped them up good so the beads, rice, or beans wouldn’t go flying if the kids got a little overzealous with their egg-shaking later 🙂
After they were finished with their eggs, the kids could spend a few more minutes playing and exploring with some of the real instruments. Boo really loved this rainstick.
After the class, we stayed for a little more playtime in the museum.
As we were getting into the car to leave, I noticed this play structure out back (behind the parking lot) that I hadn’t noticed before on all my previous trips to the Lutz. It looks a little advanced for toddlers, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind for older kids. There are also several picnic tables back here, which would be a great place for a quick lunch (you know, if it ever stops snowing).
I’m so glad we got a chance to check out one of the classes at the Lutz Children’s Museum. Such a great program! The variety is exciting, registration was so easy, and the hands-on instruction style keeps kids engaged while they learn. Plus, FREE admission to the museum for those enrolled in the class makes it a bargain to boot. I can’t wait to see what’s on the schedule for next month!
The Lutz Children’s Museum
247 South Main Street, Manchester, Connecticut
Phone: (860) 643-0949
Get directions here:
Hours & Admission
Tuesday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Be sure to check the monthly newsletter for details about holiday or other special closings.
Class times vary. Check the monthly newsletter (access it through a link in the sidebar of the museum’s homepage) for details.
Admission to the museum is $6 for each adult or child (FREE for members and children under 1 year old).
Class fees vary (most seem to be in the $12-$15 per class range, with a slight discount for members). The class fee includes complimentary museum admission for the child enrolled in the class and the parent or caregiver accompanying them.
See their website for more information about membership. The Lutz Children’s Museum is a member of both the ACM and the ASTC. See our post on reciprocity for more information about these money-saving programs.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- Classes available for children ages 2-10.
- Find the latest class descriptions in the museum’s monthly newsletter.
- Quick, easy, and secure online registration with a credit card.
- You can also register by phone, by mail (there is a registration form in the newsletter), or in person.
- Payment options are credit card, checks, or cash.
- Class registration is processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Members receive a discount on class fees. Membership must be current at the time the class meets in order to receive the member discount.
- The class fee includes complimentary museum admission for the child enrolled in the class and the parent or caregiver accompanying them (regular admission will be charged for those who were not enrolled in the class).
- Cancellations with at least forty-eight hours notice will receive a credit for a future class.
- Class lengths seem to vary between 30 minutes and an hour.
- Many classes are drop-off classes, so parents are not required to stay (it will be noted beneath the class name–next to the age requirement– if a caregiver needs to stay with the child).
- Bring your lunch and enjoy a picnic behind the museum after your class.
- Follow the Lutz Children’s Museum on Facebook for updates about classes, concerts, and special promotions.
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