Play Power

AGES 5 TO 11

Construct contraptions that send balls rolling down ramps and through mazes, propel objects through air tubes, transform the play dome with foam blocks and noodles in an imaginative environment designed for free play.

Play is essential for children’s healthy development. Self-directed play not only helps children discover their world and strengthen physical skills, it teaches them to get along with others and builds self-reliance and problem-solving abilities. Kids need ample opportunity to create their own fantasies, work out their own conflicts, make their own rules and play just for play’s sake.

Children’s time spent in unstructured play is dwindling. Schools, concerned about kids testing well, are eliminating or reducing time for recess. To keep them safe and give them extra opportunities, children are increasingly enrolled in structured out-of-school lessons and sports. Television and computer games, with their predetermined outcomes, claim huge amounts of kids’ time. Toys marketed to kids come with a Web or movie-based tie-in. This trend has raised the concerns of pediatricians, psychologists, educators, parents and grandparents.

Play Power addresses these issues. It is an environment filled with open-ended, powerful play experiences for kids and also encourages adults to notice and appreciate the importance of their children’s self-directed play.

Play Power was created with kids ages 5 to 11 especially in mind, but it’s fun for all ages. We all need to play, and we all learn through play. 

Some things to do in Play Power

  • Turn the creature columns to mix up the frog, the puffin and the chimpanzee.
  • Put colorful pegs into the light wall. Try to make a pattern with the colors.
  • Go into the kaleidoscope and close the door. How many of you do you see?

Ages 5 to 7:

  • Send scarves soaring through the air tubes. Try to stop them mid-flight.
  • With some friends pretend that the play dome is a submarine. Or a space ship. Or a secret cave. Or anything you want! Use the foam blocks and noodles to transform it.
  • Make up a tune to play on the musical pipes.
  • Find a place in the funhouse mirrors that makes you look very short and wide. Find a place where you look tall and thin. How else can you change the way you look in the mirrors?

Ages 8 and up:

  • Use the tubes and ramps on the magnet wall to create a crazy roller coaster for a ball. Try to send the balls rolling around the edges or through the holes to end up on the other side.
  • Create a glowing design on the light wall.
  • Send scarves through the air tubes. Have a race with a friend – who can get a scarf through the air tubes fastest? Who can get one through slowest?
  • Get your family or your friends together at the funhouse mirrors. Who looks really short? Who looks really thin? Who’s upside down? Change places, move around, wave your arms, have a good laugh together!


  • Play with your kids! Join in the activities they choose. Ask open-ended questions (“What do you think will happen?” “What else could you try?”) to deepen their play.
  • Notice your children’s play. Maybe you will be surprised by their creativity, persistence, ingenuity or other unexpected behavior.
  • Play yourself! Create a design at the light wall, construct a course for a rolling ball at the magnet wall, play with the air tubes, laugh at your reflection in the funhouse mirrors.
About Us

Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning for all through play, creativity, and exploration.

Hours and Admissions

WEDNESDAY – SUNDAY (beginning 9/7/22)
9:30am to 12:30pm and 
1:30pm or 4:30pm

Reservations are available online. Reserve your ticket now, or purchase walk-up tickets when you arrive.

Masks are optional for most activities at PCM.

Group Visits

Providence Children's Museum is the ideal place for school field trips, camp outings, homeschool and community group trips and Scout excursions.

For Families

We’ve collected an extensive resource of creative activities that will engage kids and their caregivers wherever you may be.

About Play

While society often overlooks and undervalues play, we are here to celebrate and elevate it. Because we know play isn’t frivolous. It’s foundational.

PCM Lesson Plans

Check out our library of lesson plans for teachers and families. PCM has created a variety of lesson plans for teachers by teachers for children pre-k through early elementary.

Become a Partner

PCM has brought the magic of learning to life for over 40 years. As a trusted resource for families and children in southern New England, PCM is an anchor in our community.

More than a Museum
PCM is committed to serving the children of southern New England – regardless of their financial ability. 40% of the Museum’s budget is dedicated to welcoming one-third of the Museum’s total audience free of charge or at greatly reduced rates through a variety of outreach programs.