Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Theory Behind the Design

The popular idiom There is more to it than meets the eye strongly resonates with DuPage Children’s Museum. When you visit, you see what is before you—water play, bubbles, wind, light, shadows, movement, rhythm and much more. However, behind the exhibits and programs is a team of people who think, rethink and construct based upon current research and theory. Gaining an understanding of that research and theory is the essence of a special program for high school child development students entitled, Theory Behind the Design. The program is conducted by our Early Learning Specialist and Program Specialist.

First, a short presentation invites discussion related to theories of constructivism, including the work of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Common to these theories are real-world experiences with objects and people. Piaget tells us about a series of stages children go though as they learn, each building on milestones that occur in the step prior. Vygotsky helps us understand learning by presenting a zone of proximal development where children learn skills with the guidance of another.

Next, we introduce the students to the Museum’s “Neighborhoods” and how they are developed to support early learning through play. It’s a great way for beginning child development students to explore how theoretical knowledge is put into practice. Engaging children in active learning through play is a key consideration as DCM’s exhibits and programs are produced. Teams of artists, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, educators and other experts have come together to provide an environment rich in materials and resources that reward curiosity, enthusiasm, creativity, experimentation and problem solving.

Finally, it’s time for the students to put their new theoretical knowledge into practice on the Museum floor through stimulating, hands-on experience with the exhibits -- creating their own fun and “learning through play”!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Museum Happenings – Play into Spring!

Are you starting to think about spring break? Maybe you are way ahead and already thinking summer? At DCM children can engage in playful learning experiences that span and support development from birth to 10 years, build on curriculum, and encourage a pattern of lifelong learning.

No matter if you are preschool age, 10 years, or somewhere in between, DCM certainly has something for you! Come one, come all, to the DuPage Children’s Museum where great classes, activities and performances are always happening!

Family Fun Friday Nights

The FUN is surely emphasized in our Family Fun Friday Nights. Join us for performances by North Central College’s Red Bike Performance Company and Naperville Park District’s Elan Dance Company. The Treasured Stories of Eric Carle will be presented by the Mermaid Theatre Company of Nova Scotia. Also coming up in March, join us for an energy exploration family science night, Farming for Fuels.

Spring Break Camps

Spring brings new adventures in learning and fun. At the museum, we will literally build and play. DuPage Children’s Museum is happy to welcome Play-Well TEKnologies. During this engineering driven camp, children will have access to over 100,000 pieces of LEGO! They will have the opportunity to build what they have dreamed of with the support of an experienced Play-Well engineering instructor to guide them. Classes include Pre-Engineering with LEGO or Engineering FUNdamentals.

Summer Camps and Activities

This summer we will engage 3-5 year old children with 8 different weekly themes. Set-up your summer play dates with us. We will begin the summer with Art Explorers and Let’s Pretend, continue with Water & Bubbles, Color, Light & Shadow, Great Big & Tiny, Playing with Math, Make it Move, and will end with Let’s Build.

The summer brings more Engineering Camps and Summer Mini-Camps too! Enjoy Cool Chemistry, Up, Up & Away and Robots, Robots Everywhere!

This spring break and summer— in fact, anytime -- consider a playful learning “get away” at the Museum!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Learning Language

Some exciting new research has come out recently about the way infants learn language. In the past, experts suggested that infants learn how to talk by listening to those around them. However, a recent two-year study on language acquisition in infants indicated, for the first time, that infants learn how to talk by listening and looking. Check out some of this research and see what you think.
  • Listening & Looking: David J. Lewkowicz, Ph.D., and Amy Hansen-Tift, a doctoral student, showed some under-one-year-old infants videos of women who could be seen and heard talking. The infants’ behavior patterns led the researchers to conclude that learning to speak is multisensory rather than auditory only. This Florida Atlantic University study was funded in part by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and is published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • A note: Karen Nemeth, consulting Editor and Dual Language Learning Advisor at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, questions Dr. Lewkowicz and Hansen-Tift’s conclusion. She states concern because their conclusion is drawn using data collected solely from babies who are watching a video.
  • Babies Keep Tabs: Nemeth recommends research offered by Patricia Kuhl, Ph.D., in The Linguistic Genius of Babies. Dr. Kuhl provides data that show under-one-year-old infants reacting very differently to video language as opposed to language provided in interactions with responsive adults. Dr. Patricia Kuhl is Co-Director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, Director with the NSF, Science of Learning Center and Professor in the Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences at UW. Her 10-minute presentation can be found at: http://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius_of_babies.html
In the meantime, enjoy the little ones around you by showing them lots of smiles and face-to-face interaction!

Mollie HM Willis, MS Curriculum & Instruction, guest blogger

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Counting and number recognition while jumping!? Reciting the alphabet and phonetically sounding out the letters while dancing!? Why not! Young children have a need to move. It can be difficult for a young child to complete tasks that involve being stationary for a long period of time. This need to move is typical of gross motor exploration in young children. In fact, Howard Gardner, author of Frames of Mind, proposes that Bodily-Kinesthetic is one of the important approaches to learning, or “intelligences”, in his overall theory of “multiple intelligences.”

Gardner suggests that Bodily-Kinesthetic learners learn best by incorporating movement into their learning -- even about subjects like math or literacy. A Bodily-Kinesthetic approach can be fun and useful when introducing these subjects. For example, children can practice the literacy skill of recollection by physically acting out a story that was read to them. They can learn patterns or rhyming words by alternating hand the movements of snapping and clapping.

The Museum offers many Bodily-Kinesthetic learning opportunities. Visit the Creativity Connections Neighborhood where your child can jump and count while watching his shadow; tell a story while tapping out a beat on the wrenches in the Room for Rhythm; or why not hop over to the Museum for a class in our Hop ‘n’ Bop© series? You can sway, dance and play to the Hop ‘n’ Bop© theme, then take the activity home and build on the early math and literacy concepts. Move into the fun!

Mollie HM Willis, MS Curriculum & Instruction, guest blogger