A Game Where Everybody Wins

Family game night is a tradition in many homes. But as the summer wears on, the allure of paper money and rolling dice can begin to fade. So break up the routine and think outside the board game box. Plan a trip to The Children’s Museum of Atlanta for “The Big Adventure,” a fun and challenging game brought to life.
My son is just celebrating his third birthday, so we’re not ready for complicated rules or games with too many pieces. On this point, “The Big Adventure,” developed by the Children’s Museum of Houston, delivers. He was immediately drawn to Adventure Mountain and the Tunnels of Fun, the central structure that anchors the exhibit. After only a short hesitation, he was creeping through tunnels and scaling the ladder to reach the Crow’s Nest. He enjoyed looking through binoculars mounted on the railing, and I lost count of how many times he scooted down the curvy slide. He didn’t try the rock wall, but I watched several kids donning helmets and climbing for the top.
Fun props and dress-up items such as safari helmets were a hit, especially with Nashville mom Karen Stake’s daughters, ages 5 and almost 7. “They are pretending to be spies,” the mom said. “My younger daughter told me this is a secret hideout. They are very creative girls, so this [structure] has given them just the seed they need to grow their imaginations.”
Another focal point is the Virtual Flyer, a large airplane model facing an interactive screen. Children are encouraged to work together to maneuver the plane around a series of obstacles. My son was happy sitting on the wings and making airplane noises, but older kids spent great lengths of time with this video game-like experience.
Out on a Ledge is a section of the exhibit that gives children an opportunity to practice their balancing skills while pretending they are walking high above the ground, “like in gymnastics class!” my little boy exclaimed. River Crossing: Bridge Out! gave him a chance to manipulate lily pads and logs to build a bridge, and he had fun hopping like a frog across the water.
Cool ride-on vehicles appropriate for a wide age range were parked around a roadway course called The Main Drag, but by the time we made it to this element the game was about over for my tired boy. The only part of the exhibit that wasn’t getting much traffic was the Charlie’s Web structure – it was a little out of the way and how to play with it was unclear.
Combined with the permanent exhibits, including sand and water play and a giant tractor (my son’s favorite), a trip to The Children’s Museum is a great way to break up the summer and enjoy some active play. The next time your family feels the need for some friendly competition and mental challenges, avoid looking for missing game pieces or arguing over who will keep score. Instead, head out to “The Big Adventure”!
– Sherry V. Crawley

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