Friday, October 1, 2010

Welcome to Explorers' Studio

This post was contributed by Mary Scott Hackman, the Museum’s early childhood program developer.

“What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught. Rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing as a consequence of their activities and our resources.”
Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach
What does it mean to provide open-ended programming for young children and why are open-ended activities so vital to a child’s successful learning experience? We in the field of early care and education always hear the phrases “process, not product”; child-directed learning; self-esteem; hands-on activities. What does all of this mean?

For us here at the Museum, it means that we take seriously our responsibility to honor the words of Malaguzzi and furthermore, honor our youngest visitors by making these phrases the essential components of each of our new Explorers’ Studio programs starting this fall.
Our classroom will change from week to week. Depending on the activity at hand, children ages 3 to 6 will be invited into the color lab; the wood-working shop; the art studio. They will be presented with assorted papers, natural materials and, as always, recyclables so that their creations will be their own, each one different and unique. Sometimes they will get to use real tools, like a pipette in the art studio or a hand-drill in the workshop.
In October, we’ll explore fall in the color lab; kids will hammer nails into a stump in the workshop; and at the end of the month, they’ll craft masks to accompany their Halloween costumes. In the weeks ahead, we’ll invite children to join us in the workshop again but this time to explore different tools, perhaps wrenches and clamps. We may reopen the art studio for clay sculpting and mural making. In short, new activities will be offered within a schedule of repeated themes or experiences. This, we feel, is helpful to young children since it is by repetition that they learn, in their time, going back in, figuring it out.
The studios will run for 2 hours allowing children to stop by and stay for as long or as short as they like. Who knows? They may need to come back! Drop into the studio this month on Thursdays from 1:00 to 3:00 PM and Fridays from 10:00 AM to Noon – check the calendar for a full schedule of activities.

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