There are so many museums in the Phoenix area that are hidden in plain sight that I often forget to check them out until an event slaps me across the face. Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix offered an archaeology class that was great for 7 year olds. Munchie has been into dinosaurs lately, so this seemed like a good fit. While Paleontology and archaeology aren’t exactly the same, they use many of the same principals. Close enough for a 7 year old who likes discovering, at least!
The Pueblo Grande Museum is built on an area that was discovered to have been a central Hohokam village in 1924. It was sold to the city of Phoenix which hired a archeaologist to maintain and preserve the area. Odd Halseth also helped the museum grow to over 14 acres of land. In 1974, the present Museum building was constructed. You can read more about the history of the museum here .
The Pueblo Grande Museum is under the Parks and Recreation Department of Phoenix and many of the programs that are offered can be found on the Parks and Rec Site. My oldest, Munchie, was signed up for the Archaeology for kids class which costs $15 and was for ages 7-12. The program lasted three hours and was mostly held outdoors. Parents were not required to stay, but were encouraged to stay (no costs for the accompanying parent).
The parking lot is a bit far out from the museum, but since this is not a museum that I would recommend for the under four crowd, I think you will be fine without a stroller. Throughout this post, I will point out why this museum is not really great for the wee ones.
Once you go down the path from the parking lot to the museum, you will see the community room to the right (because this is also owned by the City of Phoenix), and the Museum and store to the right.. I was a bit confused with Munchie’s class, so we went into the museum and we were at the right place. The class did not take place in the community room (although, there may be some classes that do). Always check in at the museum if you are not sure.
The museum building is not really all that big. There entrance has a welcome table (check in, pay and get stamps), maps for the trails and the bathrooms. The bathroom is usually my first or second stop! It was large and did have a baby changing table,
Since it was still warm, we decided to do the trails first. Munchie and hubby were off to their class that was right off of the trail.
There were only two kids in Munchie’s class, so he got a lot of personalized attention on how to learn how to properly and carefully dig. They also found real remnants (that are hidden each time! They do not get to keep them).
The museum also has loaner wheelchairs and umbrellas for people who are visiting. There are a few benches along the 1/3 of a mile path. There are some hilly areas of the trail, but they are very small hills.
Why I don’t recommend this for younger kids or kids who do not follow direction well. I know that may sound a little bit harsh, but these are real ruins that are not to be climbed on. They are the remnants of the homes of the Pueblo Grande. While they might look like fun hills to climb up and down, they are not. The two littles were pretty good with staying on the trail so I wasn’t worried. Usually when I get all three together is when things get a little crazy. My kids stayed on the trail and sort of understood what they were looking at.
Many of the signs describing what you were seeing were made of metal, which made it hard to read in the sun, unles you were standing right on top of it to shade it.
There was also reconstructed village and homes. We weren’t able to go in, but Munchie got to go in as part of his class. Hubby took a few pictures of him checking it out. If you are just walking around the paths, they may not be open. Obviously, these are not the original structures, but were made to resemble them.
Munchie also was domesticated and helped do the cleaning ! Raising him right 🙂
Munchie and his class, looking at different types of pottery!
When we went inside from our walk, the kids grabbed some water at the water fountain near the bathrooms and we headed into watch the video of the museum. It was appropriate for kids to watch, however, it wasn’t at their interest level. The room is small and has three benches with a video that is on a 10 minute (approximately) loop. Very interesting to me, however!
This room was the most kid friendly and had a magna doodle board to make your own pottery and a build your own village set. There was also information about how archaeologists can tell where and when items came from. This part of the museum was very “touch” friendly, so my kids were happy to be in this space.
We also went into the
I learned a lot in this room about their artistry, and especially the water technology in the regular, non rotating exhibit. The canal that is behind the museum is one of the original canals that the Hohokam made (amazing!!). There was a rotating exhibit that was being updated, so we weren’t able to check that out.
The museum shop was small and had breakables, so we didn’t check that out.
I highly recommend taking a class at the museum. While it is interesting to look at things, I think there is more than meets the eye. The classes are from 6/7 and up. If you are looking for an affordable class for your kiddos and want them to learn about this history of the people of Arizona, this is an amazing museum to check out. Paired with the class, Munchie was so engaged with this museum. My husband had fun too (and was tired!)
While Munchie and Hubby were at the class, we did head off to Pierce Park a few miles away.
Pueblo Grande Museum Phoenix
4619 E Washington Street, Phoenix