Sunday, December 2, 2012


Last week we spent time at the new exhibit for kids and families at the National Building Museum. It's called PLAY WORK BUILD. There are several small display boxes of tiny block structures, some of them old building blocks of cities and towns, but the bulk of the exhibit is a hands-on celebration of blocks, and building. There are the familiar Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys, but most of the blocks are made of bright blue foam in different shapes and sizes, including tubes. There is a big light table for building the smaller blocks, and a huge padded area for the bigger blocks in the exact same shapes as the small ones. You can even build into the wall itself.

The last part of the exhibit is an interactive screen. As kids move in front of sensors, their outlines are projected onto the wall. When they stop, virtual blocks form the shape that their body is in. They can also run straight at a virtual wall of blocks and their motion will knock the blocks over. It's completely amazing to me.

The boys absolutely loved the exhibit. I'm sure their tummies had to have been rumbling by the end, but they still did not want to leave, and neither did the girls we came with. Too bad my boys have a pregnant mom who has to eat something every hour or she'll pass out.

This was a big hit with my three year-olds. If you make the trip, which I highly recommend, plan to spend a couple hours there.

The only thing I wish was included in the exhibit is patterns for various structures. You can tell that there are so many possibilities out there for what can be built with these great shapes, but I think laminated patterns for bridges and stadiums and robots would add a whole new level of fun and learning. Maybe I'm just not creative enough. There were some pictures of structures people had made in the past, but it was pretty hard to tell exactly how they were built.

For more information about the concept and vision for the exhibit, read this.

PLAY WORK BUILD gets 5 SHOUTS from me!

Clark's "Nats Park"

Cal works on building his train.

The kids' "castle"  

A leaping castle guard

Clark, setting up his "football" to launch through his "goal posts"


Clark interacting with the giant screen
A block so big you can sit inside it? Yes, please!

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