Monday, April 19, 2010

Observation through the Use of Photographs

In a previous post we discussed the value of observing children playing and interacting in the Museum. When you sit back and watch your child interacting with materials and other children in the Museum, you may delight in a growing understanding of his ever-changing development, both cognitively and socially.

Observing first before interacting may not always be an option. If you brought your camera to the Museum, you have another tool for finding out what your child can do. You can look at your photos after your visit and discover something you may not have observed earlier. Let's take a look at some pictures and see what they tell us:

These children look as if they are discovering that air blowing through the tubes is keeping the ball (and the attached ribbons) suspended above the tube. The exhibit in AirWorks offered these children multiple opportunities to experiment in ways that may have surprised them. Their obvious enjoyment of the activity looks as if it's keeping their interest. If these two children don't know each other, you may have also discovered your child's interest in sharing the experience with another child.

Looking at this picture together, after a visit, offers opportunities to continue discovering what your child learned. Your child may offer comments about what she thinks about air or how she discovered the surprise of the ribbons standing straight up in the air. Extend the learning by going outside on a windy day and predict what the air outside can do with balls.

In this picture, taken in our WaterWays Neighborhood, this child is exhibiting good concentration as she pours the water into an opening on the top so that the water wheel below will turn. She may be experimenting with how pouring fast (or slowly) affects how fast (or slowly) the wheel turns. We are definitely reminded about how concentration plays a role in learning and completing a task. I wonder what this child is thinking when she's experimenting with water. Perhaps she's making a connection to something she saw outside. Further investigation can happen when caregivers and children look at photographs together.

So the next time you're in the Museum, take time to observe what's happening. Use your photographs to learn more about your child's growing interests and extend learning opportunities for yourself and your child!

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