Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Instructions not included

Have you ever noticed that many adults want to see the instructions to make something work? Kids are more likely to jump right in and see what happens. And that’s exactly what DuPage Children’s Museum is here for – to support children’s growing creativity skills and their confidence in trying things out. The next time you are at the Museum and not sure what you are “supposed to be doing” with the exhibit, just watch your child take the lead and follow along. We are confident you will both learn something along the way!

DCM is designed to help children play with a process to expand their understanding or express themselves -- with assistance from the exhibits, from you, and from our staff. We want them to feel confident enough with the exhibits to ask “What else can I do with this?”

For example, this wonderful work was produced by a 3rd grade girl working in the area of our loom exhibit. She created a large weaving made from the black and red strips used to weave on the large loom on the second floor of the museum, but it was on the floor! With no rules or specific instructions, she set her own creative goal and achieved it. What if there had been instructions? Would she have felt safe enough to use these materials in such a different way?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Homes for our feathered friends

It has been a wonderful summer filled with learning and fun in the DuPage Children’s Museum Preschool Summer Camp. “Let’s Build” was the theme of this, our last, week.

The children were surprised and delighted as they discovered many different types and sizes of houses reading Ann Morris’ and Ken Heyman’s book titled Houses and Homes. The book shows houses that are made out of mud and straw. The children thought about whether those houses would have electricity like our houses? The children also read Wow! City by Robert Newbecker and built their own city with construction paper houses on a city block. There were many opportunities for scientific, mathematical and social-emotional learning as they explored the similarities and differences in houses for people and animals in our world.

For our blog this week we are sharing photographs of the project our preschoolers worked on all week… wren houses. These houses were built little by little over the course of the week. They are absolutely beautiful, wouldn’t you agree?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Transformations and Extra Sparkle for DCM

DuPage Children's Museum will be closed from August 29 through September 11 for new exhibit installation and facility deep cleaning. Although we do clean and sanitize all the manipulatives in the Museum every night, during shutdown we take the cleaning to a whole new level. We pull just about everything off the floor, steam clean, power scrub, paint and repair the building and our exhibits. You’ll need to wear your sunglasses when we re-open…it will be so clean it will sparkle!

Remember that The Play’s the Thing- Act II is closing in Monday, August 22nd. Be sure to come into the Museum in the next two weeks to experience this popular exhibit before it is removed to make room for our NEW exhibit. Get back on track when the Museum re-opens on Monday, September 12, when Trains – Get on board! pulls into DuPage Children’s Museum.

So while you are thinking about what you will do while the Museum is closed for two weeks, take a few minutes to watch this wonderful video from Dr. Christine Carter, titled “Get Out and Play.” She talks about how play helps children in so many ways. Think about what you like to do or what you enjoyed doing as a child. Revisit those activities with your child and see what fun you can share together. Go ahead, get your play on!

Submitted by Carrie Abbott-Walk, Master Early Learning Educator and Marcia Z. MacRae, Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist

Friday, August 5, 2011

Did I ever tell you the story about the…..

Stories. Children love to hear stories. We often think about the importance of reading storybooks with children, but oral story telling is another wonderful way to communicate and connect with each other. The next time you are faced with 15 minutes to wait in line with a child at the grocery, think of a fairytale, a folktale or a story from “real life” to share with them. Often times you can begin with, “Do you remember the time we...”

You don’t have to memorize a children’s book (although you may have many memorized!). A simple story of a funny thing that happened to you “in real life” could become a favorite story to your child. Take a moment to think about the great stories of your life and share them with a child today.

Storytelling provides school readiness skills by building a child’s emotional and social skills as well. “Oral storytelling is a great vehicle to enhance children’s academic learning. Storytelling promotes children’s language and literacy; in the social-emotional domain, storytelling promotes children’s self-identity, social-emotional reasoning, and problem solving.” (Young Children, NAEYC, September 2006)

Stories don’t always have to come from you. Your child probably has many stories just waiting to be told. Write down the stories that your child wants to tell. Save them and use them to start new stories over and over. Having this shared story will create a very special family narrative that may last for years and years.

Ideas to get you started:
Your first day of school
Fairytale with the child as the hero or villain
What it was like when you were a kid
A time when you did something embarrassing
A time when someone helped you
A favorite family vacation that you took as a child

You might want to check out this book too:
The Parent's Guide to Storytelling: How to Make Up New Stories and Retell Old Favorites by Margaret Read MacDonald

Monday, August 1, 2011

Active learning through play in summer preschool program

Highlights on active learning through play in the DCM summer preschool program this week: Our theme this week was Color, Light and Shadow.

What would you expect from some paint and curious mice? With this “feet-on” activity the children were able to be actively engaged with the concept of color as they listened to the story Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. The children walked along the paper with red, yellow or blue paint in order to see what colors THEY could make. What a wonderful way to experience the process of making new colors with your friends and your FEET!

Light and Shadow:
The power of connecting light and shadow to ME! To provide our campers with real opportunities to play with light and shadow, we used a projector to cast a shadow of each child on butcher paper. The children were then able to take their paper back to the table to draw all of their unique features and characteristics.

Many times during the course of our planned activities, the children will start on their own course, making sense of the topic in their own way. This picture shows the product of this child’s idea of making a shadow puppet to bring with her as her shadow was captured by her teacher. When we encourage children to pursue their ideas, we make the way for powerful learning!

Color and Shadow---TOGETHER!
What a simple way to give children choices in their investigations with color and light! Simply using paper cups with the ends replaced with colored cellophane gave these campers the power to change the color of the light coming out of their flashlights. This activity gave them another opportunity to discover the ways that light and color work.

Volunteers Support Emergent Literacy:
Some of the most powerful learning moments in our lives come from simple moments like the one captured here. The simple act of reading with a child is one of the most important things we can do as caregivers. This moment was provided by one of our valuable Museum volunteers. These volunteers make so many learning opportunities possible every day at the Museum. Thank you!!

Submitted by Carrie Abbott-Walk, Master Early Learning Educator and Sue Kessler, Play Coordinator