Night at the (Manitoba) museum

Family sleepover encourages kids to learn in the dark

Enjoying the museum's attractions at night gives kids more time to explore.

Supplied photo

The Manitoba Museum is hosting a public family sleepover this weekend.

Rachel Erickson, manager of the museum’s learning and engagement team, says while the museum has been running these sleepovers for big groups, such as schools and scout groups, for over a decade, they have only been open to families since May 2017.

Erickson says that compared to the more strict scheduling for big groups, public sleepovers are a bit more flexible, with stations and options for families to choose their schedules. The most popular activities include flashlight tours of the museum, storytelling, science demonstrations and a movie that gets played late at night.

The event has a catered supper and breakfast, and guests sleep in the science area.

“You don’t really get the chance to sleep beside a rocket very often, but this gives you that chance,” Erickson says.

Peter Hesse, a fifth-grade teacher from Bothwell School in New Bothwell, has been taking his classes to museum sleepovers for about a decade and says it is always a highlight for the kids.

He says the staff “keeps the kids busy and active to the point where they are quite exhausted and want to stop and sit,” and that “there is lots of learning, but there is so much excitement that the kids probably don’t realize they’re learning.”

Hesse says for many of his students they “would probably not have seen the museum except if a previous teacher has taken them, so they’ve had a few hours in the museum, maybe one day at best, for the most part, but here they get a whole evening of events at the museum.”

He says the sleepovers provide a fun opportunity for kids to “see the museum is not just a place of old things.”

While the museum is already quite interactive, Erickson says for public sleepovers, “because they’re staying overnight and coming with their family, the excitement is just that much higher.”

“It’s a nice different way to spend time with your kids,” she says.

Hesse recommends that first-timers “bring as little as (they) can, because you don’t end up sleeping a lot.”

Between a flashlight tour at midnight and a movie that ends around 2 a.m., he says “by that time, you’re so exhausted (that) you’re ready to fall asleep anyway.”

He also suggest bringing “a sense of relaxation. Once you register, you are there as a supervisor watching the museum staff take care of your group. The kids are in one structured event after another, and you can relax.”

The upcoming sleepover takes place from Jan. 12 to 13. Hopeful participants should fill out the Manitoba Museum’s sleepover registration form online or email [email protected]. Tickets are $79 for adults and $49 for children.

Published in Volume 73, Number 13 of The Uniter (January 10, 2019)

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