Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Free Friday Reflections

This post was contributed by Lyndsey Ursillo, AmeriCorps Museum Educator. Lyndsey is part of a team of 13 dynamic and diverse individuals who have dedicated a year to working with underserved children and families. AmeriCorps members design and implement enriching activities for Head Start; create and conduct after-school Learning Clubs at local community centers; recruit and coordinate Museum volunteers; and receive training in museum education, learning theory and public service.

I worked during Free Friday last week and had a really great night that reaffirmed my belief in kids and play and the Museum in general. Over the winter, I was losing some of the enthusiasm I had when I first started at the Museum and found myself watching kids instead of really engaging with them.

At Free Friday, however, I was completely surprised at how new and exciting the Museum could become for me and the kids I was interacting with! The night started off with a local marching band coming through the Museum and playing for everyone, which reminded me that there is so much creative energy in this city that is not shared enough. It really pumped me up for the night and I think it did the same for the visitors. I led the program "Stack ‘Em Up” – building towers from paper cups – and I was amazed at how much fun it was to build a large tower and then knock it down with kids. It also brought to light a fact that I already knew but hadn't really acknowledged: kids love to play with simple every day items, they do not need fancy technological toys all the time. The program lasted two hours but the time flew and I was sad to see it end.
At the end of the night I helped a few parents coax their children out of the Museum by promising to show them Nori the dragon's tail outside, which I have never done before. And it worked! Kids actually wanted to go outside and see the tail. As I was racing a little girl down the ramp to go outside I thought to myself, "We forget as adults how wonderful it is to be a kid and I'm glad I can be around kids for my job!"

Click here to learn more about the Museum's AmeriCorps program. Click here for more information on the Museum's free MetLife Family Fridays, sponsored by MetLife Foundation.

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