For many years, I’ve hit the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier with the various nieces and nephews to check out the interactive fun for an afternoon. We’ve dug fossils, climbed pirate ships and been soaked more times than I can count in the water exhibit. Now there’s an exhibit after my own heart – Ready, Pet, Go! – aimed at giving kids a pet's eye view of the world.
“Simply stated, children love pets,” said Jennifer Farrington, president and CEO of Chicago Children’s Museum. “We’ve seen this affection across time, geography and culture. With Ready, Pet, Go!, we’re taking that concept and creating a space that allows visitors to explore this inherent connection in a variety of fun and educational ways.”
I’ve spent countless hours on my own turf talking to the kids about how to treat cats and dogs and what to do around pets. Now, there’s a larger-than-life interactive exhibit to give them a pet's perspective.
Ready, Pet, Go! offers children the opportunity to act like pets; climb in, out and around supersized pet structures; dress up in fur, floppy ears and other pet-inspired costumes; read and tell stories about pets and their own pet experiences; and much more. It was created in partnership with The Anti-Cruelty Society, Chicago's oldest animal welfare organizations.
Here’s a peek at just a few of really awesome ways kids will be able to get a pet’s perspective.
- Kiddy Condo – Act like your favorite pet or play with a furry friend on this giant carpeted climbing structure, made specifically for kids! (So much better then the nephews climbing the cat condo at my place.)
- The Coop – Climb up the ramp, hide in the nooks, or just poke around our urban-inspired chicken coop.
- Add-A-Tag – Make a tag with your (real or pretend) pet’s name and add it to our collection.
- Sherbert–Meet CCM’s fantasy pet, named by the museum’s Facebook community. Whisper secrets into Sherbert’s ears, brush its tail, catch a ride on its back, and make Sherbert part of your storytelling adventure.
“Pets help children build empathy and self-esteem,” said Farrington. “They inspire physical play, movement and family togetherness. Children also love to act like animals. The familiar sounds and movements are a fast track to deep play and storytelling. When children make believe, they focus their thoughts, emotions, and actions—and consider the perspectives and feeling of others. We believe parents are really going to appreciate the many developmental aspects of this exhibit.”
Along with the kid’s eye view, there’s plenty of parent specific information as well. Exhibits explain what parents can expect from their children at certain ages in regard to pet care, interaction and typical emotions. Also included are things to consider – allergies, cost, environment, etc. – when deciding if a pet is appropriate for the family, and what type of pet could be the best fit.
“The relationship between children and animals begins to form at a very young age,” says Dr. Robyn Barbiers, president of The Anti-Cruelty Society. “In an effort to build a community of caring, we have made it part of our mission to teach children how to treat animals with compassion and respect. Partnering with Chicago Children’s Museum on Ready, Pet, Go! is a perfect fit combining two things that go so naturally together, pets and children.”
On Tuesdays from 1 to 2 p.m., The Anti-Cruelty Society will be on hand with a dog that has been certified as a Canine Good Citizen. They will work with kids on how to approach, touch and interact with dogs. It’s a good time for kids to learn what to do to decrease their chance of getting bitten (see article on dog bite prevention).
Ready, Pet, Go! just opened last week and will run through October 27. Learn more online about the exhibit and other programs at the Children’s Museum. Also learn about The Anti-Cruelty Society online.
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