Monday, January 12, 2009

Seeing Stars

On a Monday in mid-December, we gathered a group of children – kids of staff, relatives and friends – for an after-school play session that was filmed by WPRI for the Museum's new PSA. It was a wonderful afternoon – kids, oblivious to the camera, had deep, intense play interactions with one another and also with the staff members who were there facilitating (Experience Coordinator Lindsay Kilgore and AmeriCorps Museum Educators Melissa Kline and Miranda Elliott Rader).

Last week, I went to an editing session to review the footage and determine what made the final cut. What an amazing experience! There were lots of close-ups of kids hard at play and I was mesmerized as their beautiful faces and bright smiles filled the screen.
It was incredible to watch so closely as these children played, to take in the comments I didn't hear at the time and notice the subtle changes in their movements and expressions.

To see Mena's focus as she and Lindsay built a city together.

To witness Ciara's shy smile as she dropped the whirligig she just made.

To watch Finn (who had just learned how to read) carefully sound out each word in a book about bridges, so intent that he tuned out the laughter and yells around him.

To marvel as three-year-old Hannah stuck her entire face in a fountain – exploring Water Ways with all of her senses!

I was also impressed by watching our wonderful staff as they focused on each child, engaged them in thoughtful dialogue, asked open-ended questions, gave challenges and acted pretty darn silly! I was really proud of them, and of the Museum for being an environment that encourages and inspires this level and quality of interaction with children and families.

I'm fortunate to get to watch kids play frequently – through my office window and anytime I walk through our exhibits. But it was such a gift to see them through the focus of the camera's lens, to have the opportunity to really notice how amazing each little moment is.

Note: The Museum's new PSA will be ready to air by the end of the month and I'll add it to the blog so everyone can share my sense of wonder!

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