Monday, January 30, 2012

Movement as a Science

Children are naturally curious. This allows for many opportunities to engage in science concepts at a very young age. Did you know that lessons in physics can start as soon as a child begins to push or pull at an object? The result of pushing or pulling is a basic lesson in energy, force and motion. Similar lessons are learned about scientific principles such as inclined planes and friction as well as balance. Children can learn these concepts at the park, at home or, here, at the Museum.

While at the park or at home, energy, force and motion are experienced directly by kicking or throwing a ball or even by the simple act of walking. The child can gain a better understanding of inclined planes by sliding down a slide. A parent or caregiver can add an awareness of friction by asking, “How does your clothing affect how you slide down? What material might make you slide slower? Faster?” A sense of balance can be gained by sitting on a swing or a see saw, “What happens when you lean back or lean forward? When your weight is shifted to either side? What happens when you are sitting up straight?”

On your next visit to the museum, why not play with some of the exhibits that help children learn these scientific principles? Our WaterWays exhibit and Kidnetic Motion Machine can aid in an understanding of energy, force and motion. Our Make It Move exhibit stimulates learning of inclined planes and friction. Learn about balance by stacking weighted blocks on each end of the Large Beam Balance exhibit. We look forward to seeing you!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Movement as Art

Dance is common to many cultures as both a form of art and recreation. Dance as art expresses emotion, sets a mood and even tells a story. Some dances consist of symbolic gestures that tell a complete story through carefully choreographed movements. Dance as recreation has long been a source of relaxation, fun and companionship.

Dance can help children move, think and feel simultaneously – a valuable learning experience. One favorite of Interdisciplinary Art Specialist, Marcia MacRae, is Flight of the Bumblebee, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. “It’s so visual, so evocative. And making “Bee Wands” to dance with provides opportunities for learning that span the curriculum.”

Chinese Folk & Classical Dancers at DCM January 14, 2012 (Tiny Great Performances series)
“Bee Wands” are made by using an arm length of yellow crepe paper. Children add stripes to symbolize the colors of the bee. As the wand is made, mathematical concepts can be introduced by measuring the crepe paper and making the alternating yellow, black pattern. Then, turn on Flight of the Bumblebee! You can enhance auditory awareness by asking children to listen for soft and loud sounds; increase awareness of rhythmic movement by asking them to respond to fast and slow parts of music; and even increase children’s critical thinking skills by asking them to visualize the bee they hear in the music, “Is it big, little, fast or slow?” In addition, build math literacy and spatial awareness by challenging children to move their Bee Wands vertically or horizontally, over a leg, under an arm and around in a circle. Finally, don’t forget to allow time for free dancing to encourage creative expression.

Mollie HM Willis, MS Curriculum & Instruction, guest blogger

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Power of Movement

The New Year is here and many of us are talking about moving more--moving to reduce weight, moving to increase energy and moving to take better care of our bodies. Movement is a powerful tool for parents, caregivers and educators of young children. Eloise Elliott, Ph.D., creator of a web-based instructional module for intermediate age children on cardiovascular health, Healthy Hearts for Kids, and Steve Sanders, Ph.D., author of Designing Preschool Movement Programs, tell us that regular physical activity helps children build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints; reduces fat; prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure; and may, through its effect on mental health, increase students' capacity for learning. In addition, professionals in mental health fields tell us that physical exertion can calm us and have a positive impact on our social and emotional health.

Adults and children alike can use movement for exercise, development and just to have fun. Large muscle activities are important for toddlers who are learning to walk, balance, climb and reach. As we grow, movement continues to help us develop so that we can do many activities, becoming increasingly independent and doing it, “by my own,” which is what one of my 3 year olds exclaims on a regular basis.

Fun is important when working to get our young ones to move—here are some activities to try. Take a load off, play and see what works for you and yours.

Fun together at a DCM Jim Gill Concert!
Just dance.  Jim Gill is a local artist who puts out some great interactive music for children. Children love to “Dance any way they want to, dance any way they please...”; they listen to a song called Spin Again, again and again, dancing, often wildly, while the “washing machine is washing them clean.”  Older children love to dance, too, with music geared more toward their age group. 

Older children dance at a Tiny Great Performance©
Stretch and move. Yoga is a great stretching and strength-building activity. Babar, the elephant, has a wonderful introductory approach to yoga. The book is titled Babar’s Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff. There are some great titles, books or videos at the local library or bookstore to help you get started. And DCM has a Hop ‘n Bop© Beach Party class soon, too.

So Happy New Year! Let’s get moving for our health, growth and development!

Mollie Willis, MS Curriculum and Instruction, guest blogger,
Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on Movement as Art, Movement as a Science and Movement with Math & Literature.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Guests Got on Board to Celebrate the New Year!

Museum members and visitors gathered New Year’s Eve morning for our annual Bubble Bash event, Bubble Bash 2011 All Aboard! Next Stop 2012. The event featured live music, train-themed activities, light refreshments and a countdown to noon led by Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel.

Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel leads the countdown to noon

Bubbles filled the room when the clock struck noon

Award-winning musicians The Boogers rocked and rolled in the New Year with original hits as well as classic children’s songs with a twist. Incorporating elements of punk rock, this band of talented musicians had toes tapping, hands shaking and children and adults dancing to the beat.

Children dance to the rock and roll sounds of The Boogers

Children created train-themed hats, such as a conductor or engineer, and train noisemakers used during the New Year’s countdown celebration. In addition to everyone enjoying the Museum’s three floors of exhibits, family photographs were taken in front of a commemorative Bubble Bash backdrop.

Painting Train Cars    Making Box Car Shakers

This year’s Bubble Bash theme tied in with the Museum’s latest exhibit, which opened in September 2011. Trains – Get on board! encourages kids and adults to discover the wonder of train transportation by exploring exhibit stations that incorporate art-, math- and science-based learning opportunities; role playing activities and model trains.