Cité des Enfants at Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris is the perfect place to learn and experience. With two exhibitions – one for the 2-7 years old, and one for the 5-12 years old – children discover the world surrounding them using their five senses.
The fire that devastated the 4th section of the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie during the construction work of the Vill’Up shopping mall also reached a part of the Cité des Enfants. After several months of work, the concerned areas finally open their doors to the public and even offer new activities.
In early January 2017, accompanied by my two Einstein to be, aged of 4 and 6 years old, we visited the 2-7 exhibition. Playful and instructive, this interactive visit evolves around 5 thematic parts, each made of various areas:
To develop learning capabilities, young children have to explore and discover themselves; they have to build their physical, mental and social identity.
The theme “I discover myself” is made of the 5 following areas:
1. My body
“My body” allows to discover one’s own image. Here, you children can examine themselves from every angle, in fragments or as a whole, from behind or from the side, on a screen or in 3 dimensions. They can also hear the sound of their voice as they’ve never heard it before.
2. My capabilities
“My capabilities” takes part in developing their sensory capabilities and realize the difficulties that face those who are deprived of the use of one or more senses. Here, children we develop their senses and test their flexibility.
3. My emotions
“My emotions” lead children to recognize emotions and identify what other people feel. The huts they visit correspond to one of the popular emotions: joy, fear, anger and sadness…
4. Growing up
“Growing up” allow them to understand that they are growing and realize how big they are in relation to everyday objects or others. Like in the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” tale, your children can measure themselves and choose from a series of objects of different sizes, the ones that fit them.
5. My surroundings
“My surroundings” accompanies your children building their identity and personality. Using a computer, each child creates a virtual character and watches the figure live and grow amidst family and friends.
It’s by manipulating objects, words and symbols that children gradually develop their ability to understand their surroundings. These fames stimulate and foster cognitive skills.
The “I can do” theme includes 6 areas:
Playing with these ball games, your children develop their ability to establish relationships between actions and their consequences: if a ball is placed here at the start, it comes out there in the end.
2. The ship (new in December 2017)
In this area, children work hard around a big “special ship”, they repair it, fix it, decorate it and make some of its components works. Here, they have to do everything by themselves, using their capabilities, inventiveness while co-working with others when they have to.
- Building and repairing
At the back of the structure, children add or remove decorative pieces by using tools (screws, screwdrivers, wrench). At the front, they open or close spaces with various types of buttonholes to fix the chassis of the ship.
They can decorate the wheels of the special ship with two digital drawing stations, they can draw freely or select patterns, colors. Once they made up their choice, their realization is monumentally screened on the wheel. The screen is interactive and react with children’s come and go.
- Acting on machines
A machine room set inside the special ship encourages children to interact with the wheels, pulleys and gears as follow:
On the deck of the engine, a wheel and two spyglasses invite children to be come the captains of the special ship. In the cabin set under, they handle the switches of a large dashboard by adapting their movements to the shape of the switch. A part of the dashboard lights up when a child closes the right electric circuit. A periscope allows them to watch what’s happening on the deck.
- Imagining – Drawing
Set all around the special ship, workbenches offer activities related to the construction steps. By discovering the engineering process and the construction steps of an object, children get familiar with planning and logical thinking:
For young children, exploring and integrating space is inseparable from developing motor skills, language skills, and a notion of time. All these skills are part of the child’s intellectual development.
The “I locate myself” theme includes 5 areas:
1. Motor circuits – for little kids
To acquire good motor function, your children explore space with their bodies: crawling, weaving in and out, moving forward and backward…
2. Motor circuits – for big kids
With the same goal, the circuit is harder and filled with funny obstacles, children gladly overcome.
In this maze with walls low enough to ensure that children are not afraid, they have to find their bearings and their way out.
4. Giant foldouts
Here, children manipulate simple geometric shapes to create small spaces their own size in which they can hide.
5. Giant pawns
This game makes children find the right position to see the shape on an animal appear according to the principle of anamorphosis.
Children build their individual and social identity by observing others, copying them or standing up to them. This is why, very early in their development, children need contact and exchanges with other children of their own age.
The “All together” theme includes 3 major areas:
1. Work sites – for little kids
Dedicated to the 2-3 years, this work site encourages the youngest to interact to build a house. Wearing hard hats and vests, children will communicate with others, imitate them, confront them and work with them.
2. Work sites – for big kids
Dedicated to the 4-7 years, this bigger work site allows children to transport bricks in carts, putting them up thanks to a crane and get organized to build a house.
With this very beautiful display, children set circus acts in motion (tightrope walker, trapeze artists, shadow theater…) and cooperate with one another to create a poetic circus show that can be watched by adults sitting on benches.
Children never tire of asking questions. Curious, they want to know what things are called and to understand the phenomena they observe.
The “I experiment” theme features 3 big areas:
Here you children discover some properties of water through play: how it flows; how it makes mechanisms move; and how it changes states from solid to liquid to gaseous.
Your children can discover this impalpable element thanks to experiments arousing their curiosity: the air can be felt but not seen, and it makes objects move.
Your children get familiar with some proprieties of the shadow and the light by using objects: they create black or colored shadows, they can extend them or shrink them.
So, among other things, children could develop their smell sense, admire themselves in distorting mirrors, put themselves in Goldilocks’ shoes by testing chairs, coats and bikes of all sizes, create their characters on touchscreens and put them in the playground.
From puppeteer to mechanic without forgetting construction worker, every hat was good. Water games experimenting flood barriers and transfer enjoyed them a lot.
We even got a funny little show explaining how snow is made.
The exhibition is carried out by stages from an hour and a half to fixed times and I must say it’s very short when we gave fun. So, we touched on the part about the wind and light to rush to the maze and leave at the very last minute. A very pleasing place for our explorers and we’re already planning to go back to finish the work.
Official website: Cité des Enfants
Rates: €12 regular and €9 reduced
Free for children under 2
Booking is strongly advised
Opening hours: open from Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday, sessions from 1h30 to 1h15 at:
- 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. in the weekend
- 10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. in the week
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17/01/18 Read the article
16/01/18 Read the article
16/01/18 Read the article
16/01/18 Read the article