Toddlers tumble through soft rainbow-hued tubes or fit together bright Lego blocks.

Preschoolers "drive" a real bus, give first aid from a real ambulance, ride a real policeman's motorcycle and try on full-sized firefighters' garb to "put out" fires with real hoses.

Older children capture their shadows on phosphorescent vinyl walls, create animated comic strips, star in their own television broadcast or music recording session and improvise in theater workshops.

All of the above are offered by the Los Angeles Children's Museum at 310 N. Main St., as this year's 250,000 visitors can testify.

There are face paints, trunks of clothes to dress up in, stacks of large "sticky" cloth cushions to build with and climb on, and a computerized player piano that lets you "see" the music.

It sounds like fun--and it is. But the activities and exhibits are aimed at providing what museum officials call "a hands-on participatory environment in which children can learn by doing." Parents are invited to take part, too.

The six-year-old museum is a non-profit organization which receives no government funds but relies on private donations and admission fees.

Admission is $2.75 per person, with children under 2 free. Adults are free on Wednesday and Thursday.

During most of the week the Children's Museum is reserved for school groups; it is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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