Monday, February 23, 2009

Meet the Museum's Supporting Players

Fifteen Play Guides (those playful people wearing yellow aprons you might have interacted with in the Museum’s exhibits) recently gathered for an evening training session. The group consisted of volunteers, college work-study students, high school students, working and retired adults, and two mother/daughter pairs.

Play Guides ran through the Museum (something they don’t get to do when children and families are around) in search of clues to solve a scavenger hunt and watched a skit performed by education staff about the role of the Play Guide. We also played games highlighting the Museum’s value of providing excellent visitor experiences. What does it take to make a visit extra special?
Then we began to take our play to the next level. At the Museum, play is serious business! Our Play Guides pride themselves on their ability to interact and inspire play for all visitors. It’s right in our mission, “to inspire learning through active play and exploration,” and each staff person accomplishes this in their own way. Finding that way takes practice and experimentation.

Play Guides broke into small groups, got down on the floor, and honed their ability to facilitate play. Using varied materials they built unique structures and practiced making observations, asking questions and giving challenges. We also discussed the importance of sharing the value of play with visitors.

We ended by playing a game using exhibit components in new and different ways, similar to the prop game on “Who’s Line is It Anyway?” Did you know a foam noodle could be a telephone, a space helmet, and a horse? Overall, the training was a big success. Next time you come to the Museum, look for our Play Guides, ask them about their training, and of course engage in play with them. It’s their job to play and they love it!

This story was shared by Kelly Fenton, Visitor Services & Volunteer Manager (also known as the Play Guides' fearless leader!)

No comments: