Tag Archives: preschool adventures in Seoul

Agriculture Museum and Rice Museum

First of all, sorry for the lack of photos. It’s difficult to snap photos while making sure my two 4 year olds don’t destroy anything or kill themselves with an 18 month old strapped to my back! I’m working on it though!

Today, the kids and I set off to the Rolling Ball Museum and the Fun Museum, which I read about on this AMAZING blog Kids Fun in Seoul. It sounded great, and I coordinate some other moms and their preschool-aged kids to meet us there. We arrived to find that of all the weeks in the year, the museum was closed this week for their yearly break. :-/

Luckily, on our walk to the museum from the subway station, we passed the Agriculture Museum and right next to it, the Rice Museum. Why not? We’d come all this way. May as well venture in!

We started at the Agriculture Museum, which felt a bit strange when we first walked in with our brood of 4 year old boys. They were loud and rambunctious, and the museum was dead silent. The women at the information desk welcomed us in, and one of the women followed us through the first floor exhibition, giving us (me, mostly, since I was the only one of the bunch who spoke Korean) brief descriptions of the dioramas.

The museum is filled with depictions of early agriculture in Korea, beginning with the Stone Age and progressing through the development of Bronze age tools, the adaptation of natural resources (abundant mountain streams to irrigate crops), and innovations that allowed for things such as growing crops during Korea’s cold winters. One of the most interesting dioramas showed Korea’s unique greenhouse–the very first greenhouse ever used in human history according to the museum guide–made from paper (since glass had yet to be invented) that had been treated with animal fat. Very cool!

We were guided upstairs, where the exhibition continued, showing depictions of everyday life in post-agricultural or “traditional” Korea. At the end of the exhibition galleries on the 2nd floor, there’s a small room with activities for children. There wasn’t a whole lot that our group of kiddos could participate in since everything was in Korean, but there were buttons to push and a couple of touchscreen activities that engaged our 4 year olds, despite their inability to understand what they were doing!

Sorry for A) the blurred out faces of these handsome little guys, but only Charlie and Lincoln are mine, and B) the fact that I was unable to get a photo with ANY of the boys actually looking at the camera! 

No matter what, button pushing is fun. 

Right next door to the Agricultural Museum is the Rice Museum. I should mention that both of these museums are sponsored/supported by NH, a major Korean agricultural company. Their green and blue NH logo can be seen all over the country–on food items, on buildings, on banks–there’s actually an NH bank that was originally founded to help farmers manage their finances.

Anyway, the Rice Museum is a much more child-centered museum. The space is bright and colorful, and it’s much more hands-on that the Agricultural Museum. There’s a room with cute little stools for kids to sit on (or climb or rearrange) and watch a video about rice. Moms can sit in there and take a little break too!

One of the women told us about a little rice cafe upstairs on the second floor, so we ventured up there and found a cafe that sold snacks and drinks consisting entirely of NH products. There were things like rice lattes, shikhae (the sweet rice drink that’s often given to you at the end of your meal at Korean restaurants), hoedduk (a pancake-like snack with melted brown sugar in the center–so good!), ddukbokki (the spicy rice cake dish often found at street vendor stalls), and rice puff snacks for kids. FYI, none of the food is prepared there. All of the food that’s sold and served is from NH’s line of pre-packaged instant-ready foods. The just add water and microwave. You can also purchase these items at the little shop to take home and eat at a later time.

On our way out, I noticed a sign by the door to the elevator lobby:

It appears as though the Rice Museum offers enrichment classes for children on the weekends. Obviously, these classes revolve around cooking, and I would imagine that understanding and speaking Korean is a requirement… But how fun! The youngest age group is 6-7, so my kiddos are too young to go anyway, but they would love it. I’ll have to come back in a couple of years and get them in some cooking classes!

So all in all, despite our little setback at the beginning, we had a good time. We’ll probably be going to the Rolling Ball Museum next week since I was able to confirm that they will, in fact, be open.

Yongsan Family Park

Despite having lived in Seoul for 10 months already (yeah, when did that happen?!?), we made our very first trip to the Yongsan Family Park. Located a very short walk from the Visitor Gate/Gate 13 and the Ichon Subway station, it’s a great location for anyone who lives on or around post. None of my children like big crowds, so we tend to avoid public places on the weekends, particularly those that attract families with children. It just gets a bit chaotic, and my boys have realized over the past several months that they don’t like being stared at while trying to play. So we decided to go right after breakfast and arrived at the park around 9:30am. There’s a very small parking lot (maybe 25-30 spaces) that’s tucked away under an overpass. When we arrived, there were about 3 other cars in the lot. We were given a ticket when entering the parking lot with a time stamp in order to pay on our way out (FYI, we were there for a little over 2 hours and paid 2,400W when we left).

Right next to the parking lot are the restrooms and a handful of picnic tables in a shaded area–great place for a picnic, especially if you don’t feel like lugging 3 kids and bags and/or a cooler full of food to another picnic location. My kids don’t care where they eat. As long as they eat!

There’s also a very convenient little map of the park, labeled in English, at the entrance of the park. The walkways are very well-maintained and if you’re looking for a place to just go for a walk or a run, this park would be great. It’s quite stroller friendly, and little ones would have plenty to look at and admire while mama gets a workout.

When we got there, some people were working on the vegetable garden, and my boys, who love tomatoes and zucchini were quite impressed with the garden. It’s really too bad that we don’t have a yard here in Seoul, although I imagine a container garden up on our balcony would do really well. There’s also a barefoot path through the vegetable garden, so this would be a great way to teach your little ones about how food is grown while letting them get some dirt between their toes. And don’t worry–there’s a water faucet to clean your feet afterwards!

We wandered through the park, tossing around a football and a frisbee we brought with us while trying to prevent our ever-curious and perpetually suicidal 18 month old daughter from falling into the little pond and stream.

The only thing Miss Penny Penny is afraid of, apparently, are grates. She won’t step on them. Ever.

We only made it halfway through the park because the kids were distracted by the playground. It’s a lovely little play area with a cute little mushroom house, flowers, benches and picnic tables as well as the closest thing I’ve seen to sand at a playground (it’s more like sand mixed with gravel, but the kids didn’t seem to mind!).

My only complaint about the playground area is that although the rest of the park is very well shaded, the playground itself has no shade. I don’t mind the kids getting some sunlight, especially after what felt like a ridiculously long monsoon season this year, but we couldn’t stay out here for long stretches, especially with my littlest one’s fair skin. On the bright side, there are restrooms and a water fountain very conveniently located by the playground.

There’s also a SUPER LARGE bench, which not only makes for a great photo op…

…but offers little boys another opportunity to give their mother a heart attack. :-/

We ended our morning trip to the Yongsan Family Park with some juice and a snack at one of the picnic tables. All in all, I’d say it was a lovely little adventure!

Our Adventures Begin…

After agonizing over the decision for weeks, weighing the pros and cons, discussing it with friends who are parents and educators, my husband and I decided not to send our 4 year old twin boys to preschool this year. Neither of us ever considered “homeschooling” our children, but it seems that for this year before they enter kindergarten and they begin to spend more and more time out of the house, I will be my children’s teacher. I will also get to snuggle them just a little bit longer, help fill their growing brains with memories of exploring the world around them, and nurture a love of adventure!

I’m both excited and nervous about this task I’ve decided to undertake. On the one hand, I’m in love with the idea of spending this next year adventuring with my boys, and I’m confident that I can teach them the ABCs, the sounds that letters make, numbers–all the basics to prepare them for kindergarten. On the other hand, as most moms do on a daily basis, I’m constantly questioning whether or not I’m really doing what’s best for my children. I’m a bit nervous about the amount of work it will take to do this, the fact that I also have to care for my very demanding 18 month old daughter, and that my boys will miss out on the socialization aspect of preschool.

I hope that most days will be full of laughter and the spirit of adventure, but I’m sure that there will be many frustrations, days that I wish I had put them in preschool… So here I am blogging about it. Mostly, it’s to hold me accountable for the next 9 months, but also for me to think about the things that work for us and the things that don’t. And maybe if anyone reads this, it will help them with their own preschool adventuring, whether in Seoul or not!