Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Enhancing the Experience: Lazure-Inspired Murals in Young Explorers

Lazure-inspired Mural, Creativity Connections
You don't need to be an expert to enhance a child’s experience with art! Here are a few ideas on how you can nurture a child's development while looking at the Lazure-inspired murals in our Young Explorers Neighborhoods:
  • Use directional words related to the child's experience. Is the child looking up to see the pattern block shapes in Math Young Explorers? Perhaps, while being held, your child is looking down at a circle within the Creativity Connections Young Explorers mural. By saying these directional words and using gestures, you are nurturing language development and spatial understanding.
  • Label or describe what you see. As the child looks at the mural, talk about it using words like: (shapes) square, triangle, (colors) red, blue, green, etc.
Observe the child’s reactions. Children respond to colors and patterns in many different ways. Have you ever noticed a change in your child’s temperament, mood, activity level or attention related to his/her environment?  There can be an impact.  See if you notice those reactions by visiting and observing our Young Explorers Neighborhoods!
Lazure-inspired wall covering, Make it Move
Family Resource Center, painted by DCM staff, Cindy Moran

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Conscious Choices: Environmental Elements - Math Young Explorers

Did you know that aesthetic elements such as wall colors, murals and art pieces can help nurture children’s learning and development?  That was an important part of the plan as the
Lazure-inspired murals were added to the Young Explorers Neighborhoods at DCM. 

The Power of Color and Pattern
Peter Crabbe, Director of Exhibits, explains that DCM adapted Lazure murals to the Museum’s environment. They were chosen for the Young Explorers areas because of their softer edges and colors, which are believed to soothe young children, ease transitions and stimulate minds. He mentions, “We have a whimsical palette already and didn’t want to lose that. However, we wanted it a bit softer." Crabbe describes each of the murals as being visually stimulating, but not overwhelming to the senses.

Color and patterns provide visual stimulation for infants, similar to that of a mobile above a child's crib. According to the report Color in an Optimum Learning Environment, some scholars suggest that color in the learning environment provides an unthreatening environment that improves visual processing, reduces stress and challenges brain development through visual stimulation/relationships and pattern seeking (Daggett, Cobble and Gertel, 2008). The report also states that color and patterns can "rewire the brain" and make stronger connections while fostering visual thinking, problem solving and creativity.

In addition to the ability to appease and rejuvenate infants and toddlers without overstimulation, the murals also directly relate to Young Explorers themes. Both the Creativity Connections Young Explorers and Math Young Explorers murals integrate math and the arts by featuring appropriate shapes and patterns. The Build It Young Explorers mural relates more to structures, featuring lines and stripes.

Look for more on Lazure, Enhancing the Museum Experience in our next post!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Playing IS Learning: Young Explorers - Mouthing & Sensory Exploration

In early development it may seem that children need to put everything in their mouths--building blocks, puzzle pieces, the occasional board book. Many may wonder, often with valid concerns for infants' and toddlers’ health and safety:

Why must young children put things in their mouths?

Why is mouthing important?
can be described as children's exploration of objects (or hands or feet) using their mouths. Mouthing is an important way to help infants and toddlers better understand their sense of touch and learn more about objects in their environment--especially those that are new to them. It gives them an introduction to texture, size and function. Children also use mouthing as a feeding behavior and as a comforting and soothing tool (Ruff, et al., 1992).

DCM: Keeping Your Infant or Toddler Safe and Healthy
Young children will explore using all of their senses.  Therefore, DCM follows the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and local health department’s recommendations for cleaning and sanitization of props and surfaces. Daily and weekly cleaning schedules ensure exhibit components are disinfected.

The following are other things visitors can do to help keep DCM safe and clean:
· Mesh bags and toy returns found throughout the Museum can be used to deposit any toys that have been mouthed (Carpenter, 2008).
· Visitors may use disinfectant wipes found in the three Young Explorers areas to wipe up areas affected.
· Remember that hand washing is the best way to fend off germs.
· Please watch what your infant or toddler mouths. Most toys in the Young Explorers areas of the Museum are not choke hazards. However, many other exhibits have pieces that may be. Always supervise your infant or toddler.

Carpenter, J.  "How Clean is Clean?" Hand to Hand-Association of Children's Museums (2008).
Keagan, Paul, Origins of intelligence in children, in Michael Tomosello's The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (1999).
Ruff HA, Saltarelli LM, Capozzoli M, Dubiner K. The differentiation of activity in infants’ exploration of objects. Developmental Psychology (1992).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Preschool Art Explorers

The DCM Preschool Summer Camp began with an exciting week – Art Explorers. This camp gave children the special opportunity to become familiar with multiple aspects of art like line, shape, color and composition – all through hands-on activities. The preschoolers explored different mediums throughout the week using oil pastels, wire, paint, water colors and more. Each open ended activity was inspired by a famous artist such as Wassily Kandinsky, Vincent van Gogh, or Alexander Calder. One activity was wire sculpture, specifically inspired by Calder. Campers were able to use a Styrofoam base, poke a wire into it and then bend it, twist it and shape it into anything they liked, just as Calder did with his famous wire sculptures. 

To complement the wire sculptures, we read the colorful book Lines That Wiggle by Candace Whitman. Inside the book is a raised, glittery line that squiggles on each page, describing all of the different kinds of lines from “lines that wiggle, lines that bend” to “zigzag lines that light up the sky.” 

The highlight of the week was the group activity that accompanied the reading of Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Children were able to dip their feet in blue and yellow paint and then walk down a giant sheet of white paper, leaving colorful footprints. As children walked down the paper they stopped to rub the colors together and excitedly saw the colors change. Children seemed to appreciate the light-hearted lesson on color and loved the book that went along with it. Overall, inviting a love of art in children was our ultimate goal and with the multiple activities, children left with a sense of pride in their ability to create unique and interesting art from various materials.

This post submitted by Sarah Prokop, Programs Intern and Mollie Willis, Early Learning Specialist. Video compiled by Sue Kessler, Preschool Camp Coordinator.