Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Garden Reflections

A follow up to our previous post - some reflections staff have shared following their time in the garden this summer.

Cool Climber
After having seen an indoor climbing structure at another children’s museum, I reflected on Janice’s assessment of The Climber as “kid space” and realized there’s something about the design of our Climber that makes it especially powerful. I think it’s partly that it’s REALLY theirs – grown-ups are welcome but don’t often venture in – and partly that you can see all of the kids at once. It’s concentrated vertical space instead of a structure that disperses kids in a way that takes them out of view, so you can see them moving and playing as individuals and as a whole. Kids bring this intriguing work of art to life – watch for just awhile and it’s clear that it really works!
Megan Fischer, Marketing & Public Relations Manager

The Garden as Park
If children’s museums are the new ‘town square’, then our Children’s Garden is the new ‘city park’! At least that’s the feel of things now that we have installed The Climber and Underland. Recently when a preschool group was visiting, a teacher with the group remarked, “There is something for every child in this garden...most of mine can be in The Climber but five of them can’t be, so they are over in the sand, digging and playing quietly, because that’s the way they like it.”

I looked around and realized she was right and that it felt to me a bit like a park. Adults on benches, just glad to sit and feel the breeze, knowing their children, scattered about, were completely engaged and safe. Children darting in and out of Underland’s entrances, stopping only for a second to share their plan of where-to-next. Some of them ended up at the toys, picking up a hula-hoop to whip around their tummies or their arms. Some ran to The Climber for an adventure up among the treetops. “Look, I can see the city,” one cried and others darted into the tunnels creating another scheme to ‘get away and not be found!’

So, I just stood there taking it all in. Caregivers and children eating lunch underneath the birches, birds flopping in the fountain to cool their wings; toddlers sifting sand at the sand flowers. It all had the feel of a busy park, that here in the middle of the city, we were providing just what a park does: a bit of nature and a gathering place for children and their families and friends...a safe and joyful place that says, ”Come in, scamper like a squirrel, slip down a hole, encounter a worm, or better yet, climb up, up, up to the top of the world!” Found here in our Children’s Garden, a play experience for children where they have the comfort and security of knowing that adults are nearby but feel entirely on their own, away in a tunnel or on the top of their city!
Mary Hackman, Early Childhood Program Developer

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