Summer Ideas: Brownsville Children’s Museum and Morgan’s Wonderland

Every year, the parents with children in Room 622 ask for ideas on how to keep their children busy during the summer. Years ago, schools had an extended service year, ESY for many special needs children.

The summer program was great and helped the children move forward in their academic and social skills.

Unfortunately, today it is very difficult to qualify for that program. To participate in ESY, a child must show regression over an eight week period. Typically, the children in Room 622 caught on quickly once back into their school routine.

Every year, the teacher tried to give a list of ideas for children to do during the summer.

Those included local activities such as the zoo, movies, bowling, swimming and the park.

Two of her favorite activities also included the Brownsville Children’s Museum and Morgan’s Wonderland located in San Antonio, Texas, www.morganswonderland.com.

Local museums often have family activity days. The Brownsville Children’s Museum always has fabulous activities for children.

There are so many different play areas in the museum.

Children, such as Cathy and her brother Carl often favored the make believe grocery store.

The little girl would pull her grocery cart up and fill it with all kinds of “foods” that she found on the grocery shelves. Then, she would walk over and scan each item on the cash register.

Carl was always there to help his big sister. When Cathy became bored with that area, she ran off to play doctor in the other side of the museum with Carl tagging behind. Sometimes Cathy’s brother pretended to be a weather reporter. Carl loved to talk about tornadoes or the hot weather that never seemed to leave.

The museum staff go out of their way to accommodate special needs children. They even have a specific day that caters to special needs kids. Summer always seems to include arts and crafts projects that even the youngest can do. After a visit to the museum, if there is any energy left, the children can play at the park right next to the museum. It is a wonderful location for a family picnic.

Another great place to visit for families with special needs is always Morgan’s Wonderland. This unique theme park caters to the disabled and still remains a bit of a secret. It surprises the teacher when she mentions it to families and they have never heard of the site. The park was the brain child of Mr. Gordon Hartman. He named it after his oldest daughter who has cognitive disabilities.

Imagine a theme park without long lines. They actually limit the number of guests allowed in. This way, these very special visitors can enjoy a quiet relaxed adventure during the day. The park sits in an old quarry on a 25-acre site in San Antonio.

Morgan’s Wonderland has continued to attract visitors from all over the United States and 16 countries including several families from Room 622. The park has a variety of attractions that appeal to children with special needs. Plus, it is not expensive, especially compared to the many theme parks that people go to during summer time.

Morgan’s Wonderland is free for any person with special needs. Adults pay $17.00 for general admission, $11.00 for children 3 to 11 and for seniors too. The little ones go in for free.

Morgan’s Wonderland is simply FUN! They have playgrounds full of musical instruments. Near-bye is a huge grocery store with plastic foods. A favorite site in the park is where the children can drive jeeps. The children love to go to the lake filled with fish to catch and release.

After that, on to Pirate Island where more creative play is awaiting. Other exciting areas at Morgan’s Wonderland include the sensory village and butterfly playground. The park even boasts a carousel which allows children of all different abilities the full experience of going on a merry-go-round.

Right near the merry-go-round are special swings for wheel chairs. There is plenty of other areas including a water play site and a gym filled with therapy balls. Fortunately, the park has plenty of different sensory activities involving lights, sounds and tactile features for the children.

The teacher always wished she could take her class up there for a day at this magnificent park!

Pamela Gross Downing, a special education teacher, can be contacted at downpamg@aol.com.