Mammoths and Mastodons oh my!

Cost:Adult $10 | Child $5.50 | Senior $9
Event Dates:November 16th 2013 Through August 17, 2014
Hours:Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m
*Please check our calendar for exceptions.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post below are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

We were able to visit this fabulous exhibit on opening day Saturday, November 16th 2013 at the Indiana State Museum. I was a little nervous because my kids were so young but they had something for every age! We had an amazing time and learned a lot. If you haven’t heard about this exhibit I will explain (as best I can) but you should go check it out! Worth it for sure!

Building a Mastodon (2) copy

I admit that the Indiana State Museum isn’t the first place I think of when I want to take my kids some place to play and learn. They are 5 and 3 years old and the Children’s Museum is like our playground. We go every week when we can and sometimes we go to the Zoo as well. You know, typical preschool age appropriate places.

The Indiana State Museum held the Star Wars exhibit which was AWESOME! and we got to go to that earlier this year but other than that I never honestly thought to take my kids there at their ages. It was one of those places I was holding onto for when they were older. I am not sure how it was before the Star Wars exhibit but the Indiana State Museum is making their way into the “For all ages” group. This exhibit was a great starting point! I mean technically the Star Wars exhibit was but you get the idea.

As we waited for other bloggers to assemble and get passes my biggest concern was that there wouldn’t be much for my little ones to care about or interact with. They were already running around like crazy due to waiting “patiently”. If I was the easily embarrassed type I would have been bright red and hiding already, but I am not and they were amusing themselves even if it was loudly. Once everyone was there we all went up to the exhibit as a group.

It was in the same room as the Star Wars exhibit on the third floor but it wasn’t an open room like that one was. You went in on the left side and came out on the right. As we went in there was a large screen with a farmer talking about how he found a bone on his farm. In Indiana! A Mastodon bone! In Indiana! Can you believe it! I honestly couldn’t BUT it WAS the INDIANA State Museum…so it made sense.

They had fake corn stalks with bones on the “ground” as part of the exhibit and my kids liked looking at the corn but didn’t care too much for the movie. My son thought it was cool they found the bone in Indiana though since he knows that is where we live. My daughter didn’t understand how cool it was yet, but some day.

As we rounded the corner and walked up a little wooden bridge area (I LOVE the little touches!) we saw what looked like a dig site. Dirt on the ground, equipment, signs and all kinds of things were set up. At the end of the bridge facing the “dig site” was a little area for “digging up bones” for kids. Yes KIDS! My kids flew into it after first putting on their safety goggles and grabbing their brushes. Having gone digging in the Children’s Museum they were pros by now.

This was not your usual dig site though. The dirt was a small dirt like rubber material that was very loose but sort of sticky. It also got into EVERYTHING! My shoes and my kids clothes, shoes, hair, everything. We took some of it home with us, but that was ok because the guy said it was included with admission LOL. They pretended to dig for a little while and then we were able to convince them to move on.

Remains found in IN copy

After about an 8 minute get all that stuff off of you and out of your shoe session we got to look at some bones and interesting things. I didn’t get to spend too much time in the area right after the dig site though because well…they are kids and wanted to just say “Cool” at the bones and move on. They liked the map of indiana with the light up buttons though.

Those buttons showed color coded areas where dig sites were, Mastodon remains were found, Mammoth remains were found and where unidentified remains were found. All in Indiana! The Gentleman was VERY excited about that and the fact that some remains of each were found very close to our house. He now wants to dig in our bag yard. Maybe next summer we will stage a dig in our back yard for kids. We need to work on the yard anyway.

The next area had a small miniature of a Mammoth with little people hunting it. Well more likely they were making it angry to charge them and holding spears tightly for dear life. They had a large screen with a giant metal spear aimed at the screen. When you held on to the spear the screen came on and showed a giant Mammoth that charged towards you! The ground shook and you heard it trumpet as it charged towards you which made you appreciate how brave people back that time period were. That was actually a really neat experience and every kid loved it including me.

Min set copyThe last area had two displays with bones put together. One was a Mammoth and the other was Fred the Mastodon. There was a video shown in fast motion how they put Fred together piece by piece like a giant puzzle. My son LOVED that part and we would watch the video and identify on the skeleton what parts they were working on at the time. We also learned how to tell the difference between a Mammoth and a Mastodon.

Once we exited the exhibit there were activities for kids just outside. We chose to do them afterwards because they looked messy. My kids and messy don’t go well with things they can’t also make messy. I’m sure you get the idea so I’ll move on.

The first activity we did was a build a Mammoth puzzle! My kids love puzzles so this was especially fun for all. Right after that we went to the make a mold table. The mold was of the IMA logo with some shells or “fossils” I think. Now THAT was messy but only if you touched it. Rocks, dirt and something else to make what I think is concrete or cement. I am honestly not sure what it was as I got to take a pic or two and then make sure no one dumped the contents on themselves or stuck their hand in it. It was very tempting believe me.

Divas Magnet copyThe last activity was to make a magnet out of real fossils and other bits! Ok they were tiny tiny fossils called microfossils but it was still neat. They used contact paper, an orange piece of paper with a circle cut out where you put the tiny bits in. You got to select what bits you wanted as your magnet and stick them to the contact paper through the hole and then fold the contact sheet so it closed. He even got to write his name on it first.

I mentioned that I was nervous there wouldn’t be anything or at least not much for my kids but this exhibit did an amazing job at having something in it for everyone. My daughter may have only learned to play in the “dirt” and to say the word Mammoth and Mastodon but it was a GREAT start for her. My son learned so much more though and he is only 5.

I was guilty of ignoring the Indiana State Museum as a place to take preschoolers but I won’t be making that mistake anymore. I am going to keep my eye on exhibits there from now on. The museum may focus on older kids but they did an outstanding job at including ALL ages who will certainly learn from and love this exhibit.  If you involve your kids they learn and this exhibit is a great place to start them on their journey.


“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

Author: sandyz