The Children's Museum of Immigration, located on the third floor of the Swedish American Museum Center (5211 N. Clark, Chicago, IL 60640, 773-728-8111; ) in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, is a true gem that your children will love exploring. I know it doesn't sound like a place children will rush to, but the Swedish children's museum has done a phenomenal job ensuring that your kids will enjoy learning about the lives of Swedish immigrants.
In this hands-on exhibit, kids can dress up as Swedish immigrants, get their passports, board an immigrant steamer, and travel to America to start a new life. TJ liked swabbing the deck with a broom on the steamer. Once in America, kids can check out life in a pioneer log cabin. TJ loved picking realistic vegetables from the garden, then running into the little cabin to prepare dinner on the old fashioned stove for the baby in her cradle. Kids can also fish off a bridge with a magnetic pole that catches stuffed fish, ride a horse, or check for freshly laid eggs under chickens. Probably the highlight, though, is the Swedish farm house (or "stuga"), in which you can milk a cow (ok, a wooden one, not a real one, but TJ didn't seem to care), churn butter, collect apples, and hang laundry out to dry. All these activities may sound a bit pedestrian for kids of the electronic age, but maybe that's why they enjoy it so much; it's a complete departure from everything they know.
The children's museum is by far the best part of the Swedish American Museum Center (in fact, kids will likely consider the other portion of the museum which highlights Swedes' contributions to Chicago downright dreary), so make sure to visit during the limited times the children's museum is open: Tuesday - Friday from 1:00 -4:00 p.m., and Saturday - Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $4 per adult, $3 per child (under 1 get in free), with a $10 family rate. Or, even better, visit on the second Tuesday of every month when admission is free!