Teaching children to make healthy eating choices can benefit them later in life. The “Eat Sleep Play Exhibit” at the Children’s Museum delivers that message to young people with a great deal of humor while respecting their intelligence and their ability to grasp concepts and make sound decisions once they are given the right information.
The sculpture “Welcome To The Brain” rolls out the red carpet or, in this case, a giant red tongue that emerges from a photograph of an open-mouthed, grinning child. Children (adults, too) can pull switches to reveal less-than-complete information on food labels. Once educated, children can become better informed consumers.
The exhibit displays in graphic detail some of the consequences that can result from poor eating and lifestyle habits. A colored building block sculpture of a heart shows one side healthy, one diseased. On the healthy side, the valves have steady red lights. On the ailing side, flickering red lights indicate the heart’s struggle to beat when hampered by poor circulation and fatty buildup brought on by lack of exercise and low-quality food.
A series of thick red tubes that represent the intestines provide both an educational and interactive experience. Children can crawl through the digestive tunnels themselves.
Some of the exhibits will startle even the adults. Portion sizes, for example, have increased dramatically from 20 years ago increasing caloric intake. For example, in two decades, the calories in a serving of French fries have soared from 201 to 610 (a 300 percent increase! ) The calories in an average deli sandwich have soared from 320 to 820.
Cute bug-eyed green windsock puppets show how sleep may be disrupted by caffeine, a television in the bedroom, or an unhealthy breakfast. (Ironically, the machine for children to test their balance looked remarkably like one from a McDonald’s playground). In a simulated greenmarket, children can collect produce shot out of a clear chute and gather up plastic peppers, carrots, bananas and more with little yellow carts.
Most parents know that a child’s diet that is heavy in over-processed, mass-produced food may contribute to obesity and future health problems. Helping a child learn how to make healthy food choices can be a challenge. The Children’s Museum’s “Eat Sleep Play Exhibit” delivers that lesson in a fun manner that will stay with children for a long time afterwards.
Eat Sleep Play
The Children’s Museum
The Tisch Building
212 West 83rd Street