Get outside ‘Habitat Park’

Kids won’t even know they’re learning as they play

 As if opening a new $18 million facility last fall were not enough, Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago now has opened a beautiful new outdoor exhibit, "Habitat Park." Children can explore two acres of land covered in indigenous grasses, plants, trees and interactive sculptures, all while staying safe within a set of fences.

While the open grass and fresh air are nice, the nine interactive sculptures are what turn this space from a park into an exhibit. The sculptures—open to visitors from all sides—are stone, wood, granite and fiberglass. Unlike most museums, Kohl encourages kids to climb, feel and explore art.

One of the first sculptures my family encountered was a round stone piece, beautifully smooth and pink, something I would consider abstract. My 5-year-old son ran right past, deeming it too girly. But my 4-year-old son climbed on and declared it his pony.

While I appreciated the nine sculptures for their artistic beauty and creativity, my sons appreciated the opportunity to explore. "Hidden Deer" is especially fun. What appears from afar to be just a bunch of logs and sticks turns out to be a deer at rest. This bronze optical illusion then offers more animal discoveries camouflaged in its nooks and crannies.

I was impressed by the park’s layout which made it possible to keep an eye on all three of my kids even as they explored different areas. Admittedly, we were not there with large crowds, but the hills and paths afford good lookout points. Although there are some trees for shade, I highly recommend sunscreen.

The outdoor exhibit will be open year-round with such seasonal programming as bug hunts, water painting, autumn leaf matching and fun in the snow. The new exhibit fits perfectly with the museum’s mission to inspire children with a life-long love of learning. Without a set path and with no restrictions on their ability to run, touch or climb, children can explore and play, not realizing they’re learning about nature and art.

Kohl Children’s Museum is located at 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview. Summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6.50 for children and adults and $5.50 for senior citizens. Children under 1 and members are free. Visit or call (847) 832-6600 for more information.

Alena Murguia

Kids Eat Chicago

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