With the school year at an end, parents are eager to find enriching activities for kids to keep their young minds stimulated over the summer months. If you're worried about couch potato syndrome setting in too soon, consider taking your budding activist or future politician to the new feature exhibit at the U.S. Constitution Center.
Headed to the White House is a unique exhibit that takes your young ones through the entire race to become president from designing their own campaign button to deciding the first thing they would do in the oval office. Children can engage in the hands-on activities and interactive experiences while strolling through the rooms with artifacts of past elections sprinkled throughout. While children of all ages will find something to enjoy here, late elementary or middle school-aged kids will get the most out of it. My 10 and 12 year olds were actively engaged and enjoyed the activities but my 2 year old was antsy in her stroller by the end.
At the entrance, children can choose to take an activity packet and hunt for answers to their election history scavenger hunt while enjoying the exhibit. My meticulous daughter loved this but my son was more content to hop from one room to another, not necessarily in order, so the scavenger hunt wasn't for him. Once inside, kids will learn everything about the election process including landmark historical events from previous elections. The exhibit is designed for children to be actively involved and engaged. Your young office-seeker will join the race and earn the party nomination! Highlights of this section include an activity to craft your own campaign message and a design-your-own campaign button activity. Also included is historic footage from Democratic and Republican National Conventions and a "campaign worker chart," which explores the roles of everyone on a candidate's staff. Younger children might need help with some of the activities but older kids can definitely move throughout at their own pace and handle the activities on their own.
Now that your burgeoning Commander in Chief has secured the party's nomination, it's time to win the election and take the oath. A favorite activity with my children was the "Ad-o-Matic" interactive activity where they were able to make their own campaign ad! The computer will snap a photo of your child to incorporate into a campaign television commercial. Your child can choose the message and whether or not the ad is positive or negative. Finally, it's time for your child to take the oath as newly elected president. Kids can enjoy a photo opportunity behind the desk of the Oval Office and post a note on the wall telling what they would do as President.
After the exhibit, your all-inclusive ticket will give you access to the rest of the constitution center. My husband and I were eager to explore the other rooms but by then, my kids had sensory and information overload. I recommend saving the main center for another visit.
Headed to the White House is open now until November 13. Tickets are $11 for children (ages 4 and under are free) and $17.50 for adults.
All photos courtesy of the author.