HarvardMuseumWhere can you get to by T during the dreary winter where you can hear the calls of meadow larks, the croak of a frog or the slap of a beaver’s tale on a pond? The Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge has these and dozens of other natural sounds newly added to the New England Forests exhibition in the Zofnass Family Gallery. With motion detectors and different sound tracks concealed around the gallery, visitors can shut their eyes and imagine they are in the wilds.

The multi-media exhibition, which first opened in 2011, explores the natural history and ecology of our regional forests, their responses to human activity and their environmental significance.

Beginning in February 2013, the Museum offers Look, Listen & Touch, a guide to exploring the museum’s forests exhibition with young children. Learn how to help your child experience nature in a multi-sensory way. Encourage your child to sit on the bench beneath the wolf, shut her eyes and listen. Ask if she hears the sounds of a woodpecker tapping or a frog croaking. How many different colors can she see in the feathers of one bird? Find the tadpoles in the forest pond. Do animal and insect babies look like their parents? Look, Listen, Touch is free with regular museum admission.

New England Forests engages visitors in the astounding diversity and network of complex relationships within forest communities. Museum visitors may explore the ecology of New England’s old growth communities, examine lichen cities clinging to a rock or learn about the mysterious subsurface partnerships between trees and forest mushrooms and the circle of life within and around a forest pond from tiny aquatic insects to a giant moose. The exhibition encourages visitors to contemplate the challenges and choices we face in planning our forests’ future.

Incorporating fun and education isn’t a new concept and museums often provide the perfect backdrop. Recently, LA TravelingMom Mimi shared California’s Presidential Outings and featured several museums in her round-up. Last month we took our kids to the DuPage Children’s Museum which is always fun because the exhibits are interactive, too.

Verdict? While there are so many great things for kids to do and places to explore museums like the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge provide tactile experiences kids crave.

Photo courtesy of Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge