Grand Rapids Children's Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, a Fun, Interactive Learning Museum for Children

The Grand Rapids Children's Musuem - or GRCM, as it's called - provides children with an interactive learning environment that allows them to direct their own activities. The founders of the museum, Georgia Woodrick Gietzen, Alyce Greeson, Carla Morris, and Aleicia Woodrick, created the museum based upon the belief that children learn best when they're at play and can direct their own learning.

Located just off Monroe Center at 11 Sheldon Avenue NE in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the "Museum Without Walls'' is a great place for children and parents to spend a day. The museum features an array of both permanent and changing exhibits where children can explore, learn, and play in a hands-on environment that celebrates both childhood and education.

Some of the permanent exhibits include:

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles, where children can play with shape, forms and light in a somewhat slippery, sparkling world of bubbles.

Buzzy Beeshive is one of the most popular exhibits at the museum. It's a live beehive where children can listen in on the buzzing of bees, while smelling the sweet scent of honey. A thick plexi-glass casing allows visitors to observe the daily activities and the lifecycle of honeybees - from creating beeswax and honey, to feeding their larvae, and, perhaps even seeing the larvae hatch. There's even a Queen Bee, and children are encouraged to try to identify her.

Mirror Magic allows children to explore the magical world of reflections, prisms, distorted mirrors and kaleidoscopes.

Mercantile Wee Bank allows children to experience the monetary world of their parents. In this interactive exhibit, children can withdraw money from an ATM, or make a deposit in the drive-through (complete with car).

Mom and Pop Store is an interactive grocery store that once again allows children to experience their parents' world. Here, children can go to the store, shop for groceries, use the conveyor belt, and then bag up their purchases. Or, they can even experience life as a grocery store cashier.

Other permanent exhibits include: Funstruction, where children can get creative with Legos, building blocks and dominos; Spin Table, where it's a challenge to see how long visitors can get the discs to spin; and Rainbow Run, where children can create their very own rainbows.

And for younger children, five and under, there's Wee Discover. Here, the wee ones can experience cooking something yummy in the kitchen, playing with soft blocks, or, for children not ready to walk, venturing into Crawler's Corner.

In addition to the permanent exhibits, the GRCM offers special events and concerts, such as

the kid-friendly music of Jeff Kagan. Jeff's creative, hip, silly, "mountain-inspired nature music'' has been a hit with children since his album "Rocky Mountain Tunes for Rocky Mountain Kids'' was released in April 2008. In addition to some good-old-fashioned concert-style singing and dancing, children also learn about animals and nature in the process.

Thanks to such creative exhibits and events, the GRCM has entertained and educated more than 1,500,000 children and adults from all over the world. In 2006, the Grand Rapids Children's Museum celebrated record-breaking attendance, serving more than 180,000 visitors. The museum has also received the Art Serve Michigan's Governor's Award and has been recognized by the Association of Children's Museum as one of the most innovative Children's Museums in the country.

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