SEBRING — It was a longer day than usual and a busy day Thursday at the Children’s Museum of the Highlands on North Ridgewood Drive with many little ones on hand for hands-on fun stuff.
It was the third Thursday of the month and every month on the third Thursday the Children’s Museum stays open until 7 p.m. instead of closing at its usual time of 4 p.m.
Also, for that 4-7 p.m. time it’s free to come play, Children’s Museum Executive Director Kelly Dressel noted.
“We had about 140 today, which is a huge number for us for all day,” she said. “Spring Break has been great for us. Race Week is always a big thing.”
Along with the general group of attendees during the evening hours, sensory families come in at 5 p.m.
“We have 10 high-needs sensory children coming in with their therapists that come and play, through a program that was developed with the Mason G. Smoak Foundation,” Dressel said.
If a child has sensory sensitivity, sometimes the light bothers them. Sometimes sound bothers them or crowds and feeling claustrophobic, she said. Every child is different. The spectrum is wide.
At the front of the museum there is a soft block area with different textures the children like to touch and feel.
“It has been fun for those children to come in with their therapists because they are helping them see the world in a different way. They don’t get to come into these kind of places because it is very overwhelming for some of our families to come in when it is so crowded and all the sirens are going,” Dressel said. So the museum alters it and makes accommodations for those families.
What is new at the museum?
The Lite-Brite table is the newest sensory item, which parents also enjoy playing with as it is similar to the Lite-Brite toys from years ago, Dressel said. It was brought in due to a Mason G. Smoak Foundation grant.
“When I was a child we used to have them at home and now they make them larger,” she said. Some kids will create something with a rainbow of colors while others will group the colors such as putting all the purple pieces together and all the blues together and then all the red pieces together.
“You never know what you are going to find when you get over here sometimes,” Dressel said.