Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Extending the Museum’s Reach

AmeriCorps is celebrating its 20th anniversary, each year engaging more than 80,000 individuals in intensive service at nonprofits, schools, and community agencies nationwide. This fall, the Museum entered its 17th year of hosting an AmeriCorps program and welcomed 12 full-time volunteers committed to instilling a lifetime love of learning in children – especially those whose exposure to high-quality educational experiences is limited.

It’s a unique individual who is willing to dedicate a year to service, and this group brings an array of talents and experiences that will enrich children at the Museum and in the community. Seven of the 12 served in AmeriCorps previously, three at Providence Children’s Museum. They bring experience from science, art and history museums. Two have degrees in education.

Over the course of their service, the Museum team will make an immeasurable impact. They’ll reach over 1,500 low-income children in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls with inspiring hands-on activities, Museum field trips, and free family nights and annual passes. They’ll also support Museum visitors, engaging children and families in playful exploration and interactive programs, plus recruit and train Museum volunteers.
Welcome to the 2013-14 MuseumCorps team – Alison, Amanda, Ashley, David, Faina, Hannah, Jack, Joey, Meg, Sarah, Tracey and Vanessa!

The Museum’s AmeriCorps program is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and Serve Rhode Island, with support from additional sponsors for the Head Start and Learning Club programs.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Play for All Ages

This article, by Museum Exhibits Director Robin Meisner, was also posted on Kidoinfo.

At the beginning of a Museum visit, many adults ask, “What is there to do here?” Or more specifically, “What is there for my toddler (or my 6-year-old or my 10-year-old) to do here?” Typically, kids don’t wait for an answer before running off to explore and play. They know what to do – splash, dig, climb, pretend, create and build.

So to our grown-up visitors, here’s some advice. When kids play – here or anywhere – they learn and have fun. And they play in ways that are appropriate for them – for their individual interests and developing abilities. They are adept at choosing activities based on what they like and are capable of doing, often pushing themselves to go a little further, reach a little higher or play a little deeper.

Most of the Museum is created with the development of 3- to 11-year-olds in mind but also includes activities for very young children – so our environments can grow along with your child. Littlewoods, our early childhood space, is designed exclusively for children 4 and under and their adults.

There is no “right” way to visit the Museum. Some kids stay focused in one place for a very long time. Others bounce from one activity to another, eager to try everything. Follow your children’s lead. Enjoy seeing your visit through their eyes!

If they get stuck and need suggestions of what to try next, consider some of the ways you know they like to play. If your child enjoys…
  • Exploratory play – he might like to open and close latched doors in ThinkSpace (younger) or build fountains and mazes in Water Ways (older).
  • Pretend play – she might like to move rocks with trucks in Iway (younger) or reenact a favorite tale on the ship in Coming to Rhode Island (older).
  • Creative play – he might like to create music on the marimba in Underland (younger) or design a magnetic chain masterpiece in Play Power (older).
  • Physical play – she might like to hop over the stream in Littlewoods (younger) or climb to the top of the outdoor Climber (older).
  • Social play – he might like to read a story together in a book nook (younger) or play the shape talk game with a partner in ThinkSpace (older).
Grown-ups, you can play too… or just have a seat and watch the kids play (or chat with friends or read a book or daydream).

We recently installed a new resource area for adults that includes hint sheets for exploring the Museum with kids of different ages. There’s also a sheet for adults, to share ideas of how you can support your kids’ play.

Next time you come play, try one out and let us know how it works for you – we’d love your feedback!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

PlayWatch: Scenes from the Garden

These wonderful pretend play moments were witnessed recently in The Children's Garden:

A young girl, age 5 or 6, was very busy setting up a “birthday party” in Underland. She collected lots of natural materials and enlisted mom’s help in gathering baskets of sand. She laid everything out on the table in the fairy kitchen until it was just right, excitedly chattering to herself the whole time about the impending party.

Credit: John C. Meyers

A woman was walking her “puppy” (daughter, on all fours) on a “leash” (jump ropes knotted together and tied around the girl’s waist). They circled slowly and deliberately through the garden a couple of times, eliciting giggles from the staff who were watching. I said to mom, “Good thing you have her on a leash – you don’t want her to run wild!,” and immediately the puppy took off, yanking the leash out of mom’s hand and sprinting through the cave. Only moments later, the puppy had morphed into a kitten and meowed loudly several times as she passed by.

I love that both of these parents followed their children’s cues to get involved in and support their play, and gave them the freedom to have these deep pretend play moments!

Megan Fischer, Communications & Marketing Director