Dan and I decided to take Noah to the Ontario Science Centre for Family Day. As expected, every other family in the GTA had the same idea! It seemed as though the Science Centre was prepared for the crowds, however, and the mayhem was somewhat organized.
Noah will be 2 and a half years old very soon. He doesn't yet understand many of the exhibits at this young age. Thank goodness for KidSpark! The relatively new (2003) KidSpark area of the Science Centre is perfect for his age group. Actually, it is intended for children 8 and under, but I saw kids as young as 1 year old enjoying themselves.
First off, there is a pretend grocery store, where children can load their cart or buggy with empty packages of real food, and plastic fruits and vegetables. They can weigh the food in hanging basket scales, and pretend to buy their food at the "checkout". It was a busy place, and I dare say the biggest attraction at KidSpark.
Another major attraction in this area is the water table, where kids can play with boats, fishing rods, and other toys. Older kids can experiment with how water behaves in more complex ways, by turning a hose wound around a large tube, for instance.
One very cool feature of this area is a pretend house, with an upstairs and downstairs. Children can fit rectangle foam pieces into the holes in the walls, or use them to shingle the roof.
Beside this play exhibit, there are numerous tracks for children to roll balls down. The ramps have hills and loop-de-loops. Thus, children can experiment with how to roll their ball to overcome gravity (by using height and/or speed), so that it travels over the hills and upside down.
Noah's favourite part by far (i.e. the one we finally had to drag him away from, kicking and screaming) was the rock band room. There is a stage, a drum, and a bunch of pretend guitars. The younger kids enjoy rocking out on stage (and seeing themselves on T.V.), while the older kids push buttons on a large board in front of the stage, to play the songs or change the lighting.
There are two sectioned off areas for children only 3 and under. This is great for the little ones who may feel intimidated or overstimulated by the older (read: rowdier) kids. They can find solace in these areas, which include books, climbing cushions and a pretend kitchen.
There is also a castle in which kids can look out over the play area, tables with building blocks, and many, more fun things to do, in KidSpark alone. And yes, there are nursing rooms and baby changing rooms located right in the same area. If you are thinking of visiting, you will find more information on the Ontario Science Centre's Website: http://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/.