Friday, February 22, 2013

Beyond Our Walls: DCM’s Play to Learn Program

DuPage Children's Museum (DCM) does so much to encourage learning and play at 301 N. Washington in Naperville that often our visitors do not know what is happening beyond our walls!  In a series titled, Beyond Our Walls, programs that take place outside of the Museum will be highlighted.

"Play to Learn"

Parent & child construct with Magna-tiles
DuPage Children's Museum offers "Play to Learn"  programs highlighting our wonderful collection of portable exhibits and materials to many local preschools and libraries. The program invites parents/caregivers and children to play and learn together while interacting with DCM’s portable exhibits and materials that focus on the areas of play, mathematics and science.  The ultimate goal is to offer experiences that engage families and promote early learning right at home!

The Play to Learn program offers three components. First, our specialized and trained staff discuss with parents and caregivers the aspects of play and how learning can be incorporated. Next, parents and caregivers as well as children are invited to play with DCM’s portable exhibits. This gives parents the opportunity to take information presented to them and apply it while DCM staff are available to answer questions.

Finally, materials are provided for activities that encourage learning at home.  These thoughtfully planned activities are designed to show the simplicity of extending early learning opportunities right in the home! And they help participants to better understand the experiences they might have at the Museum on a visit, too!
Sorting by attribute is early math
Our next adventures utilizing Play to Learn will take us to the Aurora Public Libraries this spring.  Check the library site for registration information today!

The "Play to Learn" program has been supported by the DuPage Community Foundation, Topfer Family Foundation and S.P.A.R.K. Aurora Early Childhood Collaboration.

For more information on play and learning, follow this link to

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Latest in Learning at DuPage Children's Museum

Have you visited our Multi-Sensory Room in the Creativity Connections Neighborhood? We have added some exciting new features with sensory learning and exploration in mind!

Children explore using all of their senses. Sure, as they get older they usually don’t mouth toys and the sucking reflex wanes; however, they are still alert to experiences that allow them to explore and learn using their senses.  Noises—musical or even the closing sound of a door, brilliant or attractive colors and patterns and rough or unusual surfaces are examples of what we might hear, see or touch.  Experiences that encourage children to explore in this way can evoke a connection to an object and its function in the world.

Lights swirl in DCM's Multi-Sensory Room
DCM’s Multi-Sensory Room includes a new LED light display.  As you move your hand around the display, light trails your movements with a streaming display. Sound, movement and color interact as you dance along colorfully lit circles.  Listen for the musical notes powered by sensors that track movement under the lights!

Interactivity covers this room and is sure to excite the senses of the young as well as parents and caregivers. Come by and explore the new and existing features that are sure to engage you in a rich opportunity of sensory exploration!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Activating the Imagination: Learning and Pretend Play

As a force for early learning, DuPage Children's Museum brings the latest research through many avenues.  Our Early Learning Research in Action Council (ELRAC) helps us put the latest research into action.  For example, an excerpt from an article in Psychology Today is provided.  

Many people often think of play in the form of images of young children at recess engaging in games of tag, ball, using slides, swings, and physically exploring their environments. But physical play is not the only kind of play. We often use the terms pretend play or make-believe play (the acting out of stories which involve multiple perspectives and the playful manipulation of ideas and emotions) that reflect a critical feature of the child’s cognitive and social development. Over the last seventy-five years a number of theorists and researchers have identified the values of such imaginative play as a vital component to the normal development of a child.
Studio programming at DCM includes opportunities for dramatic play.
Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven. Actual studies have demonstrated cognitive benefits such as increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and adjectives. The important concept of “theory of mind,” an awareness that one’s thoughts may differ from those of other persons  and that there are a variety of perspectives of which each of us is capable, is closely related to  imaginative play (Jenkins & Astington, 2000; Leslie, 1987; Singer & Singer, 1990; Singer & Singer, 2005).

For more information about DCM’s Early Learning Research and Action council, follow this link:
More links on the benefits of dramatic play:  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Let's Cook! More Math & Science in the Kitchen

Math and science learning can be as easy as opening up a cookbook! Try a favorite recipe to help boost math and science skills in a fun and delicious way!

Introduce & reinforce math concepts:
Count  Read the recipe out loud. Count the number of ingredients.

Measure  Hands-on measuring can teach more and less.  For older children it can develop an understanding of units of measure and equivalence. When children do work themselves, it creates opportunity to deepen the experience and helps them to learn concepts in another way.

Match  Before you begin to cook, draw silhouettes of utensils. Children can match the shape of the utensil to the silhouette. 

Sort  Gather all the ingredients in your recipe and help the child sort them into groups according to grain, fruit, dairy, vegetable or protein.

Encourage a budding scientist:
Observe  Choose a recipe that takes more than a few minutes to prepare. Children can take notes, collect data and document changes using a chart or graph while tea brews in the sun. 

Compare  Children can use their senses to determine similarities and differences in ingredients.  Touch, smell and see—how is the skin of an apple different from the skin of an orange?

Make predictions  What happens when you mix oil and water?  What if you added more water? More flour? Allow time for the child to think about it and hypothesize.

Experiment  Let children use whatever utensils they choose when mixing—even if you know they are wrong! Ask questions that will help determine which utensil gave the best results.

DuPage Children's Museum offers a Creativity Class on Makin’ Munchies.  Click here to see a full list of classes offered and sign up today!   


Feeney, Lisa. Cooking: A Practical Guide for Teaching Young Children, Scholastic Teaching Resources.

Suggestions for picky eaters and snack ideas from PBS Parents, Kitchen Explorers.