There are hundreds of Children's Museums across the country.
And for a good reason.
According to The Institute of Museum and Library Services, children who visit museums achieve higher grades in Reading, Math, and Science.
In addition, children's museums help kids connect with the past while nurturing their futures.
Museums are also an excellent space for kids to learn and move in different ways, and we are seeing this with the rise of sock rinks.
If you have some extra space in the museum, or you want to learn more about socks rinks before trying them out, you've come to the right place.
What is a sock rink?
Sock rinks are spaces designed to look and feel like an ice skating rink.
But instead of metal blades and hard boots, you can use your socks to slip and slide on the surface.
Sock rinks are made of a surface that's easy to slip around while soft enough to avoid injury.
As a result, they've become increasingly popular with young children, and more spaces – like museums – are incorporating them into their offerings.
All you do is slip off your shoes and slip on some socks.
Then use your momentum to slide around like you would on ice skates.
Benefits of a sock skating rink for a Children's Museum
So what's all the hype about?
Prominent children's museums in different states have sock skating rinks, especially around the holidays, and many more are considering installing them.
Sock skating rinks have some fantastic benefits to the museum, kids, and parents.
Let's break them down:
A much-needed rest for parents
Moving through a museum with your toddler can be exhausting.
They want to see everything and go everywhere as quickly as possible.
When they reach the skating rink, however, it's a space they can stay and have fun while you take a breather.
Sit nearby and watch your young ones slip and slide on the rink.
Safe for young kids
Sock skating rinks are safe for kids of all ages.
Parents won't have to worry about serious collisions or hard falls using ice skates.
Sock skating rink surfaces are hard enough to enjoy sliding but soft enough for a safe landing.
If your kids are accustomed to skating, you know how nicks, cuts, and injuries are always a concern.
The chances of this are near zero.
Low barrier to entry
You don't need to know how to skate to get on the ice and have fun.
Anyone with a pair of socks can go on the rink and experiment, knowing that there's no right or wrong way of doing it.
If anything, a sock skating rink teaches kids the mechanics of ice skating, so if they decide to pick up hockey or figure skating as a hobby, they have a point of reference.
Teach the origins of ice skating
Why not turn your sock skating rink into an exhibit?
Rinks are an excellent opportunity to teach kids about the origins of skating.
Children will be surprised to find out that the first ice skates were made of bone and were a means of transportation.
Go through the history of hockey or the actual science of ice skating, then let them experience it for themselves on the sock skating rink.
Get kids prepared for cold weather.
Sock skating rinks are a great way to build anticipation for winter.
Your kids can learn the basics of the sock rink first.
Some may already know how to skate but can't wait to lace up their blades and hit the backyard rink.
Sock skating rinks are also a great opportunity for kids to get accustomed to moving on synthetic ice, something we will touch on later.
Increase revenue for the museum
Children's museums depend on grants, government funding, and ticket sales for money.
There aren't many revenue-generating avenues after that.
However, a sock skating rink can be a great way to add income to the museum.
Charge a small fee to use the rink and sell socks for those who forget to bring their own.
Sock skating year-round
The weather controls how long most outdoor rinks last.
With sock skating rinks, you can have them in the rink year-round.
Move from a Winter Wonderland to Easter, Thanksgiving, and everything in between.
Kids will enjoy it any time of year!
Grown-ups can get involved too!
Did we mention that sock skating rinks are for all ages?
If you don't want to sit on the sidelines, be a kid again and join in the fun.
Skate with your kids and relive those moments you had skating or playing hockey.
What Is The Best Sock Skating Rink for Children's Museums?
Children's museums have different spaces and rooms that go unused.
So why not invest in a sock skating rink?
The rink demand will only rise, so the next question is determining the best sock skating rink for the museum.
Remember, this is not a rink made of ice, so you won't have to flood your roof with water or spend tens of thousands on a refrigerated rink.
The surface must be smooth and slick enough to slide.
Even with this simple requirement, some surfaces work better than others.
Here are four surfaces that museum owners or curators can consider:
1. Synthetic ice sock skating rink
Synthetic ice has been a part of rinks large and small for decades.
These are heavy-duty, white polyethylene tiles with dovetail or puzzle piece edges that connect to form a large skating surface.
And yes, you use your actual metal skates!
PolyGlide Synthetic ice comes infused with a slip surface agent that allows metal blades to glide smoothly over them.
We offer 2-sizes for Sock Skating rinks:
- Pro-Glide Infused - Full Panel (1/2" X 46" X 96", 80 lbs. per)
- Pro-Glide Infused - Half Panel (1/2" X 46" X 46", 40 lbs. per)
You can also add an additional slip agent to the surface for some extra glide if you want.
What sets them apart is that they are made for skating, so they look and feel like an actual rink.
The surface is slippery, so you feel like you're gliding on air when you use socks!
Synthetic ice is durable, lasting 5-10 years with ice skate use.
These should last much longer as a sock skating rink.
Synthetic ice rinks double as an ice skating rink in the winter and a sock skating rink the rest of the year, just use the other side!
2. Hardwood Or Laminate flooring
These wood planks are installed and sealed, just like you would in a room in your home.
Hardwood or laminate floors are great surfaces for roller skates and can be used for sock skating skating.
They are hard, smooth, and easy to maintain.
However, hardwood floors are expensive and may need to be painted to give the feel of an ice rink.
4. Concrete floor with Sealing Wax
Do you have a concrete area that will be great for the rink?
Like hardwood floors, smooth, flat concrete is great for roller skating.
Sealing the floors with wax can make them smooth enough to skate with socks. Like hardwood floors, there needs to be the look and feel of ice.
These floors may be smoother than hardwood but may hurt a bit more if a child takes a fall.
5. Plastic Floor Tiles
Plastic tiles, sometimes called Hockey Flooring, are popular on Amazon.
These square tiles connect to form a smooth, white surface for skating activities.
Parents and kids use these surfaces for hockey drills and basic figure skating practice.
Plastic tiles are the cheapest option and will look like ice.
However, this surface provides the worst skating experience and may need some added surface conditioner.
These tiles also won't last long, even with socks, and won't be worth it in the end.
How do you set up your own?
Here are 6 Tips:
Undoubtedly, synthetic ice will be the best sock skating rink for children's museums in 2022.
In just a few hours, you can build a rink to the size of your choice.
1. Choose your location
Where are you going to install the rink?
On the roof?
In a particular room?
On the main floor?
You'll need to consider safety, foot traffic, rink size, coverings (for outdoor), and other factors.
2. Measure your dimensions
Once you've agreed on a location, you must decide on a size.
Rinks come in different sizes, and the size will be relative to your space.
You want a rink big enough that everyone can enjoy it safely.
3. Buy your synthetic ice sock skating rink.
Once you've measured your rink space, it's time to get your synthetic ice. Synthetic ice comes in tiles or larger, heavier panels.
Panels are also infused with a slip agent, reducing the need for constantly reapplying conditioners.
These need time to be freight shipped, so keep this timeframe in mind.
If possible, they can help with the installation of the rink too.
4. Add rink boards (walls) for safety.
Rink walls are boards that surround the rink, with a door for entry and exit. These walls make sure skaters can hold on if needed.
They have walls for support if they do fall, preventing skaters from falling onto harder surfaces.
Some rink boards are sold separately from your floor provider.
5. Invest in (a lot) of socks
Even if you spend thousands of dollars advertising the rink, people will show up without socks.
No worries, you can sell them a pair!
This is an opportunity to maximize the return on investment.
A pro tip; get fluffy socks.
Regular cotton socks or tube socks are fine, but they won't slide as soft socks would.
Of course, the socks are one-time use, so get enough to last for the month.
And as a bonus, encourage participants to recycle or donate the socks when done.
The museum can then give the sock to a shelter, as socks are the item in highest demand.
6. Assign a staff member or volunteer.
It would help if you had someone always manning the rink.
Although the surfaces won't cause severe injury, you still need someone to manage the kids on the rink, sell socks, and deal with emergencies.
Let these rinks knock your socks off!
Children's museums are a great space to learn in different learning styles.
Even when kids are moving, they learn, making great connections in their growing brains.
Sock skating rinks are growing in popularity, so choosing the best surface will ensure that kids return.
Synthetic ice rinks give the best look and feel of ice and a fantastic sliding experience.