Friday, November 29, 2013

Splashing into Math & Science Exploration at DCM

The summer days of splashing are gone and the cold weather has moved in. Don’t worry—there are still plenty of opportunities to engage in water play at DuPage Children's Museum (DCM)! Here, two water tables, one designed for a fast flow and another designed for slow flow, allow for water exploration and the learning opportunities that accompany this play favorite!
As children manipulate water play materials, they begin to understand why and how things happen. This is hands-on problem-solving in action (Dorrell, 2008)! Rubber ducks are a mainstay at DCM’s fast flow table. Children love to watch ducks move quickly down the inclined plane. Learning about gravity becomes part of the play! 

Add force to the inclined plane and you have more physics play and exploration! At the top of the inclined plane a bucket fills with water while children anticipate what will happen when the water is released. As they pull a chain, the water spills out of the bucket and ducks go rushing downhill!  The force of a dumping bucket and fast flow turns water play into exciting, engaging fun and scientific learning for our young visitors. 

The fun and rich learning continues at DCM’s slow flow table! Here children are introduced to mathematics language that includes more/less, same/different, many/few, empty/full, before/after, greater than/less than as well as counting. In addition, problem-solving and engineering can become a big part of the fun! As children and adults use PVC pipes to construct their own fountain, they are involved in the engineering design process—ask, imagine, plan, create, improve. 

Leave the mess to us! DuPage Children's Museum is open for water exploration, engineering, science, math, and more all winter long!

Ashbrook, P. (2012) All About Water Play/Study. National Science Teachers Association

Christine, J., Drew, W., Johnson, J., Meckley, A. & Nell, M. (2008). Constructive Play: A Value-Added Strategy for Meeting Early Learning Standards. National Association for the Education of Young Children, Young Child,

Dorrell, A. (2008). Water Play: Wet and Wonderful. Early Childhood News,

VanMeeteren, B. & Zan, B. (2010). Revealing the Work of Young Engineers in Early Childhood Education. Early childhood Research and Practice,

Friday, November 22, 2013

Playful Learning Engages Families in Aurora

DuPage Children's Museum (DCM) is reaching into the Aurora community with programs that engage families in math, science and play! In addition to programming for families, Play to Learn has extended its reach by offering workshops for childcare providers. In collaboration with SPARK (Strong Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten), an initiative of the Fox valley United Way, Play to Learn programs were offered to families throughout the fall.  Workshops for teachers of young learners are ongoing through January, 2014.

The Play to Learn family program offers a mini-Museum experience through interaction and learning with some of DCM’s amazing portable exhibits! Smaller versions of the Museum’s favorite exhibits are taken off-site where children engage in a playful style of learning with parents and caregivers as well as Museum facilitators.  Through this program, parents are offered information about how learning experiences in math, art, and science can be encouraged—during the program and at home.

Take a look at some of the highlights pictured here.

Although the family programs have ended, there is still time to register for workshops that take place on December 5, 2013 and January 15, 2014. If you are an early childhood educator or home childcare provider in the Aurora area contact SPARK directly for more information. Remaining workshops are held at the Eola Public library and focus on Math, Science, and Literacy as well as Playful Learning: Focus on Play.  

Who knows? Play to Learn programming may be taking place in your neighborhood! Look for DCM’s  Play to Learn at your local library or contact DCM’s Early Learning Specialist for more information.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Brain Building through Repeat Experiences

Early experiences are incredibly valuable for a child! As a matter of fact, the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child at Harvard University tells us that early experiences can have a profound influence on a child’s brain architecture.  Further, repeating experiences or doing the same activities over and over can build a foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health.  This rings true whether a child plays at the park or is involved in the same art project, science experiment, or math activity time and time again.

Repeated play, learning, and exploration experiences can support the growing brain by:
• Helping to stimulate flexibility, imagination, and inventiveness
• Building confidence on familiar knowledge by allowing children to constantly reexamine understandings about their world
• Engaging children in a learning process that includes making plans and carrying them out, reasoning and problem-solving, as well as interacting with others
• Challenging children to construct new understandings based on new information
• Providing a place where children can demonstrate understanding of skills and concepts
• Offering opportunity to observe and participate in the perspective of others
• Supporting intrinsic motivation to learn through a hands-on and interactive environment.

At DuPage Children's Museum, coming back means you engage with our exhibits in a different way—learning something new with each visit! A membership makes repeat experiences easy and affordable!

There are also new learning opportunities! Our newest exhibit, Monumental,  is now open and draws young children into the architecture and culture of Greek and Maya civilizations.  Experiences include DCM’s standard—art, math, science, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and much more!
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

This article also published in Positively Naperville--a local, reader supported, monthly newspaper published in Naperville, Illinois. Positively Naperville has been supported by a great group of local businesses, organically growing four pages at a time since it was first printed issue in September 2001.  and locally-owned independent enterprise is still our primary passion.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Creativity Studio Offers Monumental Preview with Papel Picado

DuPage Children's Museum’s Creativity Studio is bustling with activity as we gear up for the opening of an exhibit of colossal proportions! Monumental, opening to the general public November 16, introduces Maya and Greek cultural monuments  to visitors big and small.

This week children (and caregivers) have dropped by the Studio to create beautiful projects that incorporate the Mexican Art of punching out or perforating paperPapel Picado. Traditionally, Papel Picado is a paper decoration usually hung and used in a celebration or event such as a wedding or holiday. This paper decoration is hand cut with various patterns of shapes, designs, and images.  

Unbeknownst to the young artists engaged in Papel Picado, this activity exercised their bodies and brains by focusing on skills such as artistic expression, creativity, the creation of visual patterns, and symmetry. The activity even encouraged the use of hand-eye coordination through the use of scissors, papers and pencils, as well as fine and gross motor skills—using both small and large muscles to prepare supplies and arrange materials. These skills can be important to a process that engages self-expression and critical thinking! 
Inspirations for Papel Picado at home:                       
San Salvador, Huixcolotla St

Join us in the Creativity Studio next week for Art Olympics where visitors can draw without lifting a pencil, practice shading techniques, and build the smallest scale model of a house. Some of our artistic Olympians may even experiment drawing with their non-dominant hand or creating an upside-down self-portrait!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Gearing Up for a MONUMENTAL Experience!

DuPage Children’s Museum (DCM) is bringing the scale, beauty, and engineering of Greek and Maya architecture to the Chicago region with the opening of its newest exhibit, Monumental, on Saturday, November 16. Located on the first floor of the Museum in the Creativity Connections Neighborhood, the new exhibit will remain at the Museum for more than six months before being offered as a traveling exhibit to other Museums and institutions.

Monumental offers a unique introduction to the science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematical principles of architecture. Through interactive components and specially designed public programs, children can explore building styles, construction techniques, common decorative elements, and the cultural attributes of Greek and Maya monuments, while exploring fundamental principles that helped shape modern day architecture.

The exhibit will introduce two historic cultures through the architecture and engineering of their monumental spaces. Working with the National Hellenic Museum and the National Museum of Mexican Art, DCM has developed an exhibit which will explore the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, as well as the Maya structures at Chichen Itza in the jungles of southeastern Mexico. 

"This is an exciting new addition to the Museum that we are thrilled to unveil," said Peter Crabbe, Director of Exhibits. "Weaving history and culture into the exhibit experience alongside the core concepts of art, science, and math has allowed us to create an entirely new experience that will appeal all ages."  

Installation will begin Monday, November 4.

Click here for behind the scenes pictures and more.

Blog contributor, Brianne Bromberek, is Marketing Manager with DuPage Children's Museum.