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14 Aug, Sunday
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Montreal Families

Guided Tour: Laval Children's Museum

We revisited the Children’s Museum in Laval recently, having not been there in about two years. It was great to see that some exhibits had been refreshed during that time, and there was lots to keep the kids happy and busy for around an hour.

The Children’s Museum looks and feels nothing like a traditional museum. Located in a large, office-y building on Curé Labelle Blvd. in Laval, it’s a two-storey setup of different environments designed to let kids try out various professions.

What’ll it be: police officer, astronaut, or cook?
The minute they walk in, kids will zoom for the real police car and probably jump at the chance to wear an officer’s hat and coat. In the “police headquarters”, there’s a jail cell, where they can put siblings. Or mom and dad (bring a coffee, you could be in there for a while!). There’s a real ambulance truck, with flashing lights and paramedics’ coats to wear. Other setups on the main floor include a boat, where kids can practise fishing, and an auto body shop, with a cute little Fiat and real tires to roll around.

Upstairs, there is a fire truck, space shuttle, a veterinarian’s office (where kids can treat stuffed animals), a classroom (kids can pretend to be teachers and write on a blackboard), cafeteria-style restaurant (make plastic meals to serve parents), a construction area (manipulate a digger and play with foam bricks) and a theatre stage (try out a real microphone).

The best part
The hit area with our kids – and many others – was the pretend grocery store, located on the first floor. There are shelves stocked with plastic food and empty food boxes. Kids can pretend they’re doing the shopping, using a miniature cart. There are checkout counters, and some of the food boxes have UPC symbols that prompt the scanner to “beep” and the price to come up on a computer screen – just like the real thing.

Aside from the grocery store, kids seem to love the opportunity to get behind so many steering wheels (police car, ambulance, fiat, fire truck) and control panels (space shuttle, digger). C’mon parents – we all know how much kids love to press buttons :-). It’s also a nice touch that authentic uniforms are provided with so many of the environments – most kids love to dress up.

A Children’s Museum visit provides an educational and imaginative experience – a great destination on rainy or cold days. And it’s open at 9 a.m. EVERY DAY – a godsend for those weekend mornings that start at 5:30 a.m. For mom and dad, it’s a nice alternative to a play centre because you don’t have to worry which tunnel your child has disappeared into. For parents on their own with more than one child, it’s a fairly compact area, and since there’s a gate at the front, the kids can’t go too far. You have to walk up two flights of stairs to the second floor, so parents with strollers may need help hoisting babies up. There are bathrooms with changing tables on both levels.

Good to know:
The Laval Children’s Museum doesn’t serve food, so you may want to bring your own food and eat it at tables set up in the front. You can buy drinks on-site, but there is no obvious place to eat within walking distance.
In the same strip as the Children’s Museum is Funtropolis play centre and Coup Sûr, a baseball practice centre.

Laval Children’s Museum
Address: 3805 Curé Labelle Blvd., Laval (view map)
Cost: Siblings 17 months and under, free; children $13.29, adults $7.10.
Hours: Mon. to Thurs. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fri. to Sun. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Telephone: 450-681-4333
Website: http://www.museepourenfants.com/

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