C’mon, Let’s Go!
Whether you live in Southwest Florida or vacation here, if you have young kids and have not visited the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (often referred to by its acronym, C’mon), then you need to plan a trip soon. This interactive museum designed to make learning fun captured my daughter’s heart and mind. C’mon is located near the North Collier Regional Park (see sidebar), so you can easily spend an entire day in this area enjoying not only the museum, but also the adjac ent playground and fossil dig site.
The museum has a number of unique hands-on sections in which children can play and learn—including the Produce Market and the World Cafe where they create pretend-play opportunities based around food.
Kids get a chance to experience the seasons and natural environments by exploring the Journey Through the Everglades, Banyan Tree, At the Beach and Mother Nature’s House exhibits. Other areas of the museum give youngsters a chance to get creative with art or building. But the fun does not stay indoors—young museum visitors can head outside to Johnsonville Backyardville for a beautiful hedge maze, green space with yard toys, a shaded amphitheater, chalk art space and a water-play area to get their hands wet.
All exhibits are included with the cost of admission ($12 for children, $10 for adults, free for teachers and museum members), and provide a full day of hands-on entertainment for the family. My four-year-old daughter boldly states that the grocery store is her favorite exhibit. She says, “I feel like a grown-up shopping with my own cart, then checking out by myself!”
The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples has an area set aside for temporary exhibits, so this space frequently changes as various traveling exhibits pass through. On a winter visit,
we experienced The Children’s China, a wonderful immersion into Chinese culture. The current traveling exhibit is Big League Fun, where kids have interactive experiences with baseball training simulations, sports trivia and hands-on activities for all those little baseball fans. Make sure to take your Little Leaguers to C’mon by May 19 as the museum is making way for its next traveling exhibit: Future Park: Art + Technology, running June 2-September 1. This exhibit is designed to encourage creative thinking, collaborative play and to build interest in technology.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY
Play is vital to a child’s health and development. When kids are having fun, they are also using their senses to explore, develop important social skills, stimulate key motor development and learn how to problem solve with physical activity. The exhibit designer for C’mon, Jack Rouse Associates, “conceived each exhibit as a model of thr ee
interrelated principles: an appreciation of children’s play behavior, knowledge of how an environment can influence play and learning, and an understanding of children’s developmental milestones.” These three core beliefs transformed the learning landscape of this museum into something that looks and feels like playtime for children.
The exhibits at C’mon were created to meet Florida’s Sunshine State curriculum standards, and all are accessible for individuals with developmental, hearing, physical, social/emotional and visual challenges.
In addition to the daily play opportunities, C’mon offers a variety of events throughout the year, from the casual Backyard Bash to the Night at the Museum gala fundraiser. The museum’s annual sand-sculpting competition will take place at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort on August 1. Annual memberships, which start at $135, also provide access to member-exclusive events such as Halloween Trick or Treat, Easter Eggstravaganza and new exhibit previews.
Clockwise from top: C’mon has plenty of outdoor play space where children can romp about; a walk through the Everglades exhibit; exploring the Can U Dig It fossil play area
Clockwise from top left: a water-play contraption at C’mon; a garden maze in Johnsonville Backyardville; enjoying the playground at North Collier Regional Park