Select to read about our current exhibits:

Amazing Blanket Forts | Let’s Play Outside! | Every Child is an Artist!

DSMCM-BlanketForts-Flyer_logo_V1We’ll bring the materials, you bring the big plans and creativity, and let’s make some Amazing Blanket Forts! We have LOTS of sheets, some furniture, and an Antsy Pants fort building kit. We’ve added loops to the sheets and knobs to the furniture to make fort building quicker and easier. Come show us your biggest, best blanket fort!!!

“Let’s Play Outside!” is the first traveling exhibit created by the Des Moines Children’s Museum. The exhibit made it’s first appearance on May 12th, 2017 at Food Truck Friday in Clive. Check our Events page to find your next opportunity to explore “Let’s Play Outside!”

The exhibit is a little different every time, since it is made of many smaller elements to allow us to be in a 10′ x 10′ vendor stall at a farmer’s market or fill up a large open area at a community festival. Some of the things you may find are:

  • The Boat. Named “Boaty McBoatBoat” by popular vote at our launch party, our 8′ wooden boat floats on a blue tarp river. Kids can put on their life jackets and go fishing for magnetic fish.
  • Stepping stones. Can you hop all the way across with out falling into the chilly tarp river below?
  • Play Campsite. A real tent and a pretend campfire give kids the opportunity for some imaginative play. The campfire even has s’mores!
  • Picnic. Have you ever been with a toddler and some play food and not been served a fantastic plastic meal? Of course not! Have a seat on the blanket and see what delicious combinations they come up with.
  • Musical Instruments. Who loves percussion?!? We have a variety of child-friendly musical instruments, many made from recycled materials. Come play a tune!
  • Garden table. This one surprised us by becoming one of our most popular attractions! It’s a sensory table with potting soil, plastic veggies and bugs, and a few shovels.
  • Water table
  • Sand table
  • Bubbles. Ask us for our bubble recipe, it’s a good one!
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Painting. Stop by and paint a square! We do a different color at each event, and make a beautiful rainbow mosaic when we have enough.
  • Paint a rock. This was not our original plan for the rocks. But the kids keep asking us if they can paint them, so why not?!?
  • Plant a seed. Plant a bean seed to take home and plant in your garden.
  • Mini Forest. We have trees, a river, a pond, and some woodland creatures in our tiny play forest.
  • Play in the baby pool. You don’t have to bring a swimsuit, this is a dry kiddie pool with a soft floor and some baby toys to keep our littlest visitors happy.

“Let’s Play Outside!” is sponsored by Des Moines Parent, a local resource that connects parents and families with events, activities and more in central Iowa.



Every Child Is An Artist is all about developing an early love of art!   We have a variety of activities for our visitors to explore:

We have lots of home made play dough and tools for little sculptors to make their own unique creations.  We also have two plastic model heads to get creative with.  Add a face, some hair, maybe even some kitty ears.  Can you make it into an alien?  A monster?  A princess?  They’re a blank slate, let’s see your best creations!

The fashion section has another model head, and a sweet little stuffed puppy.   We have a large assortment of colorful scarves, so help them look their best!

Our create your own still life station has a large variety of props available.  Dishes, flowers, fruits, even a pair of wooden shoes!  Make your masterpiece, then take a picture or try your hand at drawing it.

Last but not least is our Sensory Rainbow!  It’s a variety of sensory activities, all in beautiful rainbow colors.  We have several different kinds of sensory bottles, colorful floor tiles for hopping, sensory gel pads, rainbow hand kites, rainbow buckets with color-matching baby toys, and a set of puffs, cups, and big tweezers for little ones to work on their fine-motor control.

We wanted to make our Sensory Rainbow DIY-friendly, so visitors could make their own versions of their favorites at home.  See the links below for instructions:

Color Mixing Sensory Bottles

Glitter Sensory Bottles

Hand Kites

Sensory Gel Pads