Ages 3-5 | Museums, Theatre & Arts

Do you want to introduce your preschooler to music and dance?  Attend one of the Kid's Club performances at the UMKC Conservatory.  The Kid's Club exposes children to the world of music and dance through interactive and entertaining shows, which are held 4 times per year. 

UMKC will not be offering the Kids Club sessions in 2013/2014.  We will update our listing if they decide to restart the programs.

Before the Performance:

  • Read one of these great kids books about music and orchestras under out "Let's Make Music Together" recommendations.
  • Arrive early to get a good seat and see any pre-performance events.
  • Talk to your child about 'how to behave' at a show:  when to be quiet, when to clap, staying seated so others can see, etc.  Many of these shows are interactive so kids may be asked to get up and get involved!

This Season's Shows:

To Infinity and Beyond

October 13, 2012

Music from Pixar Movies and classic westerns with be shared, along with a live version of the score to a short film about the Hubble Space Telescope

Aesop's Fables (Dept. of Dance)

November 3, 2012

UMKC Daners will whirl they way through some of Aesop's greatest fables - “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “ The Boy who Cried Wolf,” and the “Ant and the Grasshopper.”  Watch as they use dance, movement, and music to tell the story!


How The Camel Got His Hump

January 26, 2013

A fun operetta for young audiences, this performance will be based on Rudyard Kipling "Just So Story" and will feature singers, piano and percussion.

Children's Story Corner

February 23, 2013

Enjoy two mini-musical performances - the first is based on an original story about a girl who loves to dream.  The second has kids visiting an imaginary land and will feature a brief chamber opera in three acts with projected shadow art.  A wonderful combination of math and music!

Discover More with Music:

  • Introduce your preschooler to music
  • Visit the PBS music pages for programs like Super Why!, Calliou, Zoboomafoo and others.
  • Learn about music with Disney's Little Einsteins 
  • Listen to some great kids CDs from artists like: Laurie Berkner, Raffi, Jim Cosgrove, Funky Mama, and the Imagination Movers


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Paul Mesner and his puppeteers have been entertaining Kansas City audiences for more than 20 years.  Come see some of your favorite books brought to 'life' by a variety of puppets.  Both young and old alike will enjoy the wonderful story interpretations the company is showing in it's 2011 - 2012 season.  The following shows are recommended for preschoolers -

Before the Show:

  • Get there early!  Seating is first come, first serve - and these shows are very popular with school groups.
  • Read the book/story that's associated with the show.
  • Visit the Paul Messner site if you want to review the activity guide (available for some shows).
  • Make sure to have a snack prior to arrival, and visit the bathroom before the show begins.

2012 - 2013 Performances

Officer Buckle & Gloria

November 1 - 25, 2012

Learn about safety with Officer Buckle and his very funny partner, Gloria the dog!

The Nativity

December 14 - 16, 2012


A beautiful show that portrays the birth of baby Jesus.  Amazing 7 foot tall puppets and held in the Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard & Her Dog

January 3 - 12, 2013

A special show for our youngest audiences - lights stay on and no loud noises.  Come experience your first puppet show!


Martha Speaks

January 16 - February 10, 2013

Martha the dog is able to talk!  Find out what she does now that the humans can hear her.


Wiley and the Hairy Man

February 20 - March 16, 2013

A retelling of a popular African American folktale - Wiley and hsi mother outwit the Harry Man.


True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

April 3 - 28, 2013

A hilarious retelling of the 3 little pigs from the wolf's point of view - you will laugh thru the whole show!


Sleeping Beauty

May 7 - 19, 2013

A spinning wheel, a prince and a magical kiss -- along with lots of humor!


Puss in Boots

June 5 - 30

Enjoy the adventurous tale of the brave cat who wears spanish boots!


Go, Dog, Go!

July 17 - August 11, 2013

Have an exciting time with the dogs as they attend parties, drive cars and have all kinds of fun!


Discover More about Puppets:

Theatre for Young America is located in Union Station and specializes in live performances for kids.  Your child will love the variety of shows they can see, along with the music, humor and personal touches that are experienced.  Great shows for preschoolers include:

 Before the Show:

  • Read the book to your child so they are familiar with the story.
  • Arrive early and hit the bathroom - nothing ruins a good show like missing the middle!
  • No food or drinks in the theater - have a snack before you go.
  • Talk to your kids about how to behave in a theater - no shouting, stay seated, when to applaud, etc.
  • There is usually a question & answer time after each show that younger kids will enjoy so be sure to stay for a few extra minutes.


Explore the Performances:

 This season, the shows at TYA are all connected to children's books so be sure to read the story before or after you attend the play!


Charlotte's Web

March 3, 2015 - April 11, 2015


A classic tale of friendship between a young girl, her pig and all the animals of the barnyard! Kids will also enjoy the film adaption of Charlotte's Web (2006) which is a fun compare/contrast activity after seeing the play too.


If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

April 21, 2015 - May 16, 2015


Adapted from the hilarious book, follow along on this crazy adventure to see what happens if you if you do indeed decide to give a cat a cupcake!


The Princess and the Pea

June 9, 2015 - June 27, 2015


Will a girl shows up at a castle, will the royal family be able to tell if she's a true princess?


Discover More:

  • Ask your child what they enjoyed about the play - the costumes? the set?  Introduce some theater terms to them.
  • If you enjoyed the play, check out others at TYA or the Coterie for kids!

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Photo credit:  Theatre for Young America


Take your kids to see a show at the Coterie - voted one of the 5 Best Theaters for Kids by Time Magazine.  Located in Crown Center, they offer great plays for all ages, and there's not a bad seat in the house!  The following shows are recommended for preschoolers:

Before the Show:

  • Reading the book before seeing a play helps to familiarize your child with the story.
  • Arrive early as seating is first come, first serve. 
  • Eat a snack before you go as most theaters don't allow food or drinks.
  • Don't forget to try the bathroom before finding your seats!
  • Review theater etiquette - no shouting, try to stay seated, and yes, laughing during the performance is fine!  The Coterie has a great information page.


Performances for 2014-2015:


Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

March 31, 2015 - May 17, 2015


So many antics to follow along with as The Cat, Thing 1 & Thing 2 entertain Sally and Dick for the day.  Based on the much loved children's book!


A Year with Frog & Toad

June 16, 2015 - August 2, 2015


A musical adaptation of the book series -- learn how their friendship endures through all types of weather and seasons!


Discover More:

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Bring your kids to one of the best hands-on art studios in Kansas City!  And it's FREE!  Come make a puzzle, color fun pictures and paint with glow-in-the-dark wax.  You and your kids will have a great time working together to create some fun artwork.

Before Your Visit:

  • Look on the Kaleidoscope calendar for the dates & times of Family Sessions.  Adults & children can attend sessions together, or children ages 5+ can attend Individual Sessions.
  • Plan to arrive early as tickets are first come, first serve.  Kaleidoscope is located at Crown Center so there's lots to do if you have to wait for your session to begin.
  • Kids will be able to draw and paint - so dress accordingly.

Explore Kaleidoscope:

Kaleidoscope changes the art projects at different times during the year.  Some of the things you can enjoy include:

  • Paint with hot-wax in the dark room.  Kids can also 'paint' on the wall using lights.
  • Draw a picture on cardboard and put it through the puzzle-making machine.
  • Sit at one of the fun seats and make a card for someone you love.
  • Visit the art tables scattered throughout the room to find different paper projects you can make using tape, ribbon, stickers and die-cuts.
  • Be sure to look around - it's a very colorful place with windows to look through, and small places to explore.

Learn About Art:

  • Create some fun online art at Atrsyfartsy
  • Fun stories to read about art:

"the dot" by Peter H. Reynolds teaches the reader that everyone can make art, all you have to do is "just make a mark and see where it takes you".

"The Art Lesson" by Tomie dePaola is actually an picture-book autobiography of the famous author/illustrator Tomie dePaola, and how he learned to create his own artist style.  Wonderful lessons on doing what you love and perserverence are found throughout the story.

Discover More Art:

Other places to explore art in Kansas City:

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Come explore huge sculptures in the outside sculpture garden, see a mummy or a suit of armor for a horse!  You will find old tea sets, fun paintings and colorful art - there's lots of fun kid's activities and things to explore at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

Before Your Visit:

  • Talk to your kids about what they want to see - here's some ideas:
    • Go on a shape hunt using artwork.  Ask your child to choose their favorite shape, and then look for that shape in pieces of artwork (paintings, sculptures, etc.)
    • When visiting a museum, ask your child to pick a common object (such as flowers, cars, books) and see how many pieces of art you view includes this object.
  • Stop at the main desk and ask if they have a current scavenger hunt available for any of the exhibit halls.
  • Wear comfortable shoes & bring a sweater/sweatshirt (sometimes the museum is cool).
  • Request tickets if you're planning to visit a special exhibit.
  • Check the calendar for any tours or events you may want to attend.
  • Use manners but have fun - yes, your preschooler might want to run in the garden or may ask a question that makes you blush, but that's no reason to stay home!

Explore the Nelson-Atkins:

The museum has a lot to offer and kids will enjoy exploring various types of art.  Here are some highlights that young children will enjoy:

  • Sculpture park - take a walk outside and see some of the fun sculptures.  This is a great idea after viewing some of the indoor exhibits.
    • Ask your kids which sculpture they like best. 
    • Tell your kids the name of a sculpture and ask them why they think the artist chose that name. 
    • The museum has a great online guide to the sculpture park. 
    • There's also a special Kids Audio tour that your children can listen to - you can dowload the audio tour or stop by the information desk and check out a mp3 player.
  • Egyptian art - visit the mummy!  Learn a little about ancient Egypt and see some hieroglyphics.
  • Medieval suits of armor - Kids will find the armor for both horse and man very interesting - the horses armor weighs 98 pounds.  There are also some great stained glass windows and other items in the European gallery area.
  • Prints, Paintings & Photography - there are so many prints, paintings and photographs throughout the museum.  Let your kids decide what interests them - maybe landscapes, or paintings that include young children.  After all, art is about what is attractive to each person.
  • Modern Art pieces - The contemporary art galleries have some very interesting pieces of art - sculptures, paintings, etc. - kids will be drawn to explore.
  • Family Activity weekends - the museum offers some great family activities that highlight art from different galleries.  Check out the events calendar to see what's coming next.
  • Rozzelle Court - where else can a kid have lunch on china plates with milk in a wine glass!  Stop for a snack or lunch during your visit - they have nice options for adults and kids alike.  It's also a beautiful space - kids will like the second story overlook and high ceiling.

Learn More:

Read some fun books about art from our "What to See at a Museum" booklist.

Discover More:

Check out other great artwork in Kansas City:

  • Make your own art at Kaleidoscope.
  • See some amazing sculptures and paintings at the Kemper Museum (look for their Family Scavenger Hunt days).
  • Tour the Nerman Museum at the JCCC campus.

All images have been obtained with permission from the Nelson-Atkins online press room. 

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