Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Tis the Season for Celebrations!

What kinds of celebrations are you planning during this time of year? In any culture, it is the celebrations that connect us to each other. Typically, celebrations are woven into our family traditions and help us connect with important people in our lives in meaningful ways.

What's one thing you remember about a family celebration? Good, bad, funny or sad, most of our celebration memories revolve around the connections we have with our family and friends. In her book I Love you Rituals, author Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D. says that "celebrations can help remind us who we are as individuals and as a family." This is particularly important for children. After all, especially in these trying times, what matters most are the connections we have with family and friends.

Create a family tradition at DuPage Children's Museum by joining us for our ninth annual New Year's Eve family-friendly celebration, Bubble Bash. Participate together in this year's theme, Blast Off. The celebration begins at 9 am and ends with a countdown to noon with Naperville's mayor, George Pradel, to ring in 2011. You and your family can participate in celebratory hands-on activities, play time in all the exhibits, photo opportunities, refreshments and musical performances by Mr Singer and the Sharp Cookies. This is a reservation-only event. Tickets are available on-line. To see pictures from last year's celebration, click here. The book I Love you Ritual is available for viewing in our Family Resource Center or can be purchased by using our Shop and Grow Program.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Have you visited the Family Resource Center Lately?

With a very comfy chair and lots of parent and teacher resources, the Family Resource Center (FRC) might just be the place to visit next time you are in our Museum. Located on the second floor, this tucked-away area not only serves as a respite on busy Museum days, but also provides a lot to see and do - quietly.

Stories and Books
Grab a book and share some cuddle time with your child or enjoy one of our many story reading and story telling opportunities offered throughout the week. They all support your child's growing literacy skills! Check the calendar for the daily schedule of events.

Table Top Activities
While you're resting or looking at resources, your child may enjoy exploring the teddy bear and elephant counters. These counters provide endless exploration with sorting by color, counting and pretending. Other table top activities include stacking blocks, Large Leggos® and puzzles. As he develops his skills, the emerging artist in your child may want to draw a picture with crayons or chalk using the drawing resources available in the FRC.

Parent and Caregiver Resources
Finally, a welcome surprise for many of our visitors is the variety of books and resources for parents and caregivers available in the FRC. The books are for you to peruse while visiting the Museum. You will find a designated shelf of parent support books and topical focus books about art, math, science or play. A recent addition to our library, donated by Perseus Book Groups, The Secure Child by Stanley L Greenspan gives timely advice for helping children feel safe and secure in a changing world.

A sign outside the FRC indicates what the current focused topic is. Presently our focus is about the arts. Teachers and parents may want to look through the variety of art curriculum books. One of our many books, Discovering Great Artists, Hands-on Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga, offers 110 unique art activities for children to experience the styles and techniques of the great masters from the Renaissance to the present. If you would like your own copy of one of the suggested books, support the Museum by using our Shop and Grow Program on our website.

Enjoy some of our former posts about visual art, dramatic art and storytelling opportunities in the Museum.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Creativity Builds Thinking Skills

What is the child in this picture thinking? If I were to guess, he is brainstorming the best placement of his scissors for the size of ribbon he needs for his collage resting on the table. Perhaps the ribbon is too thick or not thick enough. In that case, he'll have to search the table for alternate supplies. Maybe his caregiver will make a suggestion and together they will collaborate on the best solution. Brainstorming, searching for alternatives and collaborating are some of the critical thinking skills we need in life to succeed.

Creativity is a confluence of traits, capacities and skills. While some of us may not consider ourselves to be creative in the sense of known artists and musicians, the characteristics of creativity touch on the decisions we make on a daily basis. Here's what some of those characteristics look like from a developmental standpoint:

Infants are nurtured through sights, sounds and gentle touches. They learn to respond to the sounds of the human voice and noises in their environment. Given a stimulating environment and an attentive caregiver, babies discover that they can create change by what they see, hear or touch. Place rattles of varying sounds and textures in a baby's reach and he will explore them in various ways - shaking them, tasting them or dropping them and then exploring them again. In life, creating change leads to innovative solutions!
Crawlers and walkers become more deliberate and purposeful in responding to people and objects. Sing a familiar song or nursery rhyme over and over again. Then sing it again, only this time stop before you get to the last word or phrase. You may hear your child finishing the song for you. Learning to anticipate what happens next contributes toward making good decisions.

Young preschoolers are beginning to form mental pictures as they make sense of the sights and sounds of their world. Recreate some of their favorite story books by acting them out together. This helps build memory, a necessary component in school or work. At this age they may enjoy attending a performance or storytelling event.

When older preschoolers use their imagination with peers, they are learning to hone observation skills as they take their cues from another perspective. The older preschooler may enjoy creating simple performances with puppets and props. In addition, their growing interests in exploring clay and other art materials contribute towards learning to make choices and figuring out how to make things happen. Those thinking skills keep increasing in competency!
By the time your child enters school, he is looking at others' artwork and performance and developing an opinion - another higher level of thinking. Be sure and provide a space where your child can hang his artwork so others can look at and respond to it. You can model the importance of opinions by responding to creative examples in your home and community. What do you like or dislike about a painting or sculpture?

Older school-age children are ready to apply analytical thinking skills through discussions that offer their likes and dislikes about works of art, theater productions, stories, songs and poetry. At this age, they can share a judgment and, at the same time, take on the perspective of what another person may have been thinking. Your child may enjoy collecting music or poetry to share with others.
The pictures in this post were taken during one of our Higher Order Thinking Series™ Classes. These classes are offered to develop creativity and critical thinking skills through hands-on-art processes to build the creative mind. Children can discover more about themselves and their capabilities as they experiment with different art mediums such as paint, scissors and chalk. Click here for more information about our Creativity Classes. Consider attending one of our Tiny Great Performances™. For more information about the arts, read the report by the Task force on Children's Learning and the Arts, Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections.