Friday, September 30, 2011

Play and Back to School

Back-to-school time often means leaving behind the carefree, active, unstructured play that kids enjoy during the summer months. How can we ensure kids have plenty of imaginative, self-directed playtime during the school year? Here are some ideas from Museum staff and friends:
  • A great list of resources that the Museum's educators put together for Kidoinfo. There are some good blogs to read but also inspiration for fun activities for kids to do on their own or with their families.
  • See the play resources page on our website. The ones listed are websites and online articles but you can also download our Play Power resource sheet, which includes books and films.
  • Join us on Tuesday, October 4 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM for Kids, Play and Risk: a community conversation, about the importance of children's unstructured, self-directed play and the benefits of risk-taking to their healthy development.
  • And if we don't encourage unstructured play now, what might the future hold? Here's an idea.
Happy Playing!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scenes of Summer

As summer officially drew to a close, Museum staff shared some of their favorite moments seen and heard this summer:

"Mine was definitely when I took a photo of a group of 11 or so children sitting on Estrella's lap. All of the children were cousins. Their moms and dads chose the Museum as the meeting ground for their family reunion. I was touched that our Museum was the special spot for this moment in their lives, and I was thrilled to see so many related and smiling faces fitting comfortable in 'the chair lady's' lap."
–Leiana Hawkins, Visitor Services & Volunteer Manager

"The happy intensity of the bright summer sun beaming into the atrium ramp way seemed to be reflected by a family - two parents and three children - coming down the ramp: hand in hand, with wide smiles, bobbing steps, swinging arms and laughter. Natural joy inside and out!"
–Jennifer Laurelli, Director of Development

"A young man who seemed to have developmental challenges and visual impairments sat in the sand pit for a long time, scooping up sand and slowly pouring it out over his outstretched hand, over and over again. He looked so completely content, lost in the calming sensuous experience."
–Janice O’Donnell, Executive Director

And some other favorite fun included creating colorful chalk art:

A rollicking visit from a local marching band:

And, of course, the opening of our new Discovery Studio. What a summer!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kids, Play & Risk – join the conversation!

RSVP to Megan Fischer

PlayWatch logo
This conversation was inspired by discussion on the Museum's listserv, "PlayWatch: Connecting the Community to Promote Children's Play."  To read the PlayWatch archives or to join the list, visit

Click here to download a flyer (PDF).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Let's Move, Let's Play!

Providence Children’s Museum is a proud new member of Let’s Move! a comprehensive national initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama that is dedicated to solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation by encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. Active play is an important part of children’s healthy growth and development and the Museum is committed to offering interactive play and learning experiences that promote physical activity, and to providing parents with resources about nurturing kids’ growth through play.

Many kids have plenty of opportunities for active play – especially outdoors – during the summer.  To ensure they keep moving during the school year, here are some playful ideas contributed by the Museum’s educators:

  • Strike a pose.  With a friend, take turns forming funny positions and different shapes with your bodies.  Trace each other’s outlines (with chalk on pavement, marker on paper, or a stick in the sand or dirt).
  • Follow the leader – as animals!  The leader hops like a frog, crawls like a crab or slithers like a snake.  Everyone else does the same and tries to guess what kind of animal they have become.
  • Create an obstacle course in your house or backyard, with things to hop or climb over and tunnels to wriggle through.  Or build a fort with sheets, furniture and cardboard boxes.  Or make a mini-golf course with objects found around the house.
  • Have crazy challenge races – playful competitions where the object is to complete a challenge in the shortest time possible.  For example, run to the other side of the room or yard, put on all the clothes in a box and run back.  Make challenges more difficult by running backward or hopping on one leg.
  • Don’t put the beach ball away just yet!  See how long you can keep it bouncing in the air before it hits the ground.  Also find out how many times you can hula hoop or jump rope without stopping.
  • Play balloon volleyball (with or without a net) or make rackets using paper plates and rulers for a game of balloon badminton.  Try each game outside or in a roomy indoor space.
  • Strreeettch!  Stretching feels good and it can be done standing, sitting or lying down.  Start small with wriggling fingers and toes or with simple reaches and twists.  Make sound effects or sing a song to accompany each stretch.
  • Move to the music.  Play several styles and make up different dances.  Or try games of freeze dance or musical chairs.
  • Take a hike!  If it’s close enough, walk to school together instead of driving.
There are more great ways to keep kids moving this fall.  Look for “Let’s Move, Let’s Play!” programs on the calendar plus explore the Museum’s play and learning environments (and learn some fun facts) with a new Let’s Move! physical activity sheet. Here's a selection:

Happy playing!

A version of this article was originally posted on Kidoinfo.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Traffic Report!

This post was contributed by Museum Executive Director Janice O’Donnell

A rainy day in August. Vacations are winding down, camp is over, school hasn’t started, the beach isn’t an option = the busiest day at the Children’s Museum all summer. Almost 1,500 visitors converged at the same place on the same day. A lot like highway rush hour (only it’s more like six hours) – we need traffic reports!

They might go something like this:

"Movement through the time tunnel is sluggish due to a twin-sized stroller blocking the way near the packet ship... A collapsed block tower is impeding traffic in Shape Space, where construction is underway... There's a long line at the Littlewoods slide due to a toddler at the top who isn’t sure he wants to slide down, but Play Guides have arrived at the scene... There is also considerable congestion on the stairs, due to a recently arrived camp group. Please seek an alternative route if you’re headed to the first floor. 

It’s smooth sailing in Water Ways; that accident we told you about earlier has been mopped up... Looking at conditions in The Children’s Garden: traffic is flowing freely in The Climber as well as in the Underland burrows... Use caution, however, near the sand pit. Residue from an earlier mishap involving an overturned bucket is causing slippery conditions and Play Guides are sweeping the area." 

Editor's note: This playful post appears on the third anniversary of this blog. Three years and nearly 25,000 visits – thanks, everyone!