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Our Birthday Adventure at SC State Museum & a Preview of Winterfest

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Spoiler Alert – This was declared the “Best Birthday Ever in Her Whole Entire Life!!”

In August, my youngest daughter (4) fell in love with the planetarium at the South Carolina State Museum when she went with her grandmother and brother. So I wasn’t surprised when she said she wanted to go to the “planet-matarium” for her birthday this month. I told her we could do one better. We could go to the planetarium, go see the dinosaurs again AND see “Polar Express”! The squealing was deafening. Score one for mom! IMG_1391

This was the second dinosaur visit for the kid and I. She enjoyed being the expert and tour guide, showing the big kids around and explaining that they are robots. The details are quite impressive on each dinosaur. Her favorite is the T Rex! After showing everyone each and every dinosaur and detail, she showed them the “dinosaur robot skeleton” and how to make it go. I think this may have been the teen boys favorite thing of the day. You can make it move in all sorts of ways. We wrapped up the dino visit with a puppet show. I have to give the big kids huge kudos! They were fabulous sports about playing puppets with the birthday girl. 20141218_124742

Our next stop was a quick trip up to the 4th floor for the telescope gallery and observatory. I will admit this did not hold the kid’s attention much. The big kids and I will make this our first stop on our next trip. The telescope gallery holds an amazing collection of historical telescopes. The history and beauty of the instruments really struck me. We snuck in to the observatory for a few minutes. We learned about how the telescopes work and sun spots and some time/light/space stuff that was hard to wrap my brain around.20141218_133545

Off to what we thought would be the highlight of the kid’s day – the planetarium! This was my first visit, and everyone’s first time seeing “Star of Bethlehem”. (The kids saw the one about the Seven Wonders of the World last time.) This show talks about the astronomical event that lead the Magi to Baby Jesus. The youngest thought it was so cool to see a show about the star and Baby Jesus! I was fascinated by how they explained how the calendar was researched and decided, the events in the years surrounding and the entire experience of how it is to “see” a movie in the planetarium. I will say that my oldest doesn’t have the strongest stomach and got a little queasy. She did survive.

The kids pretending to fly outside the planetarium

The kids pretending to fly outside the planetarium

While I was fairly certain that “Polar Express” in 4D would be cool, I was totally unprepared for how cool! I’m trying to explain this without giving away all the surprises. Here’s what I can tell you. It’s in 4D. (“The movie is in 3D and you feel stuff, too!”) You get cold when it’s cold. It’s windy when it’s windy. You can smell the hot chocolate. The snow in the movie comes at you in 3D from the screen visually … and more. You shake on the train. And I really want to tell you the things that made us jump, squeal and laugh the most … but I won’t. I think the surprise is part of the coolness. Yes, it is only about 15-20 minutes. But it is totally worth it!! The kid typically has some (more than some) issues with sensory stuff. I kept one hand on her the entire time, because I knew it was a crap shoot if she would freak or bolt at any minute. She did really well and LOVED IT!! All five of us left giggling 🙂IMG_1405

We had a FABULOUS adventure this week at the museum! We will be going back sooner rather than later. Actually, we already have plans to go back on Tuesday.

Winterfest kicks off on Saturday, December 20th and runs through Jan 4th. In addition to the exhibits and holiday shows in the planetarium and 4D theatre, there will be holiday crafts and special hands on activities throughout the museum for two weeks! On Saturday the 20th to celebrate Winterfest Kick off, there’s a special book sale, book signings and Columbia Marionette Theatre will have a free show at 1:30. Dec 20th thru 23rd, Santa Clause will also be making appearances. Bring your camera, and you can take your own pictures for free. Click here for daily schedules of events and holiday shows. Regular admission and exhibit prices apply. No extra charge for the crafts and hands on activities. Go see “Star of Bethlehem”, “Polar Express” or the Holiday Laser Light show! They come highly recommended 🙂

It will be a fabulous way to get the kids out of the house, entertain family and makes memories this Christmas season!

Side note – I am ridiculously frugal. I would have splurged for a birthday treat, but I didn’t have to. Homeschool students and one teacher get free admission to the museum Tues thru Friday. The big kids and I had free admission and only $3 per special feature. So we will be going back often.

More pictures from our day …20141218_123456

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