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!

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