Friday, January 31, 2014

Mirrors at DCM: Math Connections

Mirrors and math concepts are brought together in a unique way in DuPage Children's Museum’s Math Connections Neighborhood. Our Crawl Through Kaleidoscope and Cornering Reflections exhibits engage children in math learning in a playful and creative way!
Crawl Through Kaleidoscope
In our Crawl Through Kaleidoscope, geometry is explored through multiplying patterns and symmetry. As children moves through the prism tunnel, they see multiple images of themselves. Often, children stop right in the middle with a look of fascination. This is a wonderful opportunity to engage the child in ‘math talk.’ How many of you do you see? What happens if you move your arm up? Down? What colors and shapes do you notice?

To extend the learning (and create a lasting memory), you might talk about this experience when peering through a smaller kaleidoscope at home.

Cornering Reflections
Here we observe children and their caregivers creating patterns with two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometric shapes. Visitors often stack the shapes and interact with the multiple reflections they create by moving the mirrors back and forth.  Creating these patterns is an early introduction to algebra concepts! Children even explore geometry with the shapes used to create those patterns! Symmetry concepts are investigated as the mirrors are moved back and forth. 

When exploring with mirrors and reflection, we truly see how math is all around us! The math all around us is explored in our Creativity Classes. Mini-Mathematicians (for children 15-24 months) takes place on February 6, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. Register here or browse through the many classes we offer for all age groups.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Self-Portraiture for Older Children

We are back to continue our conversation on our use of mirrors in the Creativity Studio for self-portraiture and are now moving on to the big kids in the room!  
We try to encourage older children to really look at their faces, perhaps in a new way.  For instance, “Are your eyes really circles?  Is your hair one color or does it have many shades and variation?  What about your skin and eyes?”  Every child (and every artist) has that revolutionary moment when they begin to really see.  This not only signifies the development of an important artistic skill but also leads to a child’s viewing of the world in an entirely new and more observant light.  

Sometimes the challenge with older children is handling the frustration that they feel if their artwork is not coming together as they had imagined.  It is so important for children, and adults, to understand that there is no right or wrong in art and that mistakes are not only OK, but wonderful learning opportunities!   When it comes to art education, the process is far more significant than the product.  We always encourage kids to experiment with materials and techniques as they create.  With self-portraiture kids may be re-creating the image that they see in the mirror, but how they go about it is entirely up to them.  

Join us in the Creativity Studio for a drop-in during your next visit.  The DCM Creativity Studio is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m.  Next week we look to Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius for inspiration as we engage in the process of making delicate prints of vegetables and flower designs!

Guest Blogger Katie Fodor is a Program Developer at DuPage Children's Museum. Katie has an MA in Art History and Museum Studies from Case Western Reserve University. Katie joined DCM’s team in the summer of 2013. She brought with her experience in education and the museum field (Western Reserve Historical Society, the Akron Art Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mirrors at DCM: Creativity Studio

There is something exhilarating and almost magical about a child’s first experiences with a mirror.  Mirrors are certainly prevalent within DCM, and the Creativity Studio is no exception.  They can be great fun for young ones, but these playful encounters are often far more beneficial than one might initially realize.  We often utilize mirrors in the Studio to experiment with reflection, symmetry, and self-recognition.  One of our favorite uses, however, is for self-portraiture.  

Many parents initially feel as though their small children won’t be able to get anything out of a self-portrait activity, thinking, “My child is too young for this.”  However, the benefits of young children’s interacting with mirrors includes strengthening their skills in self-recognition, expanding their vocabulary (eyes, nose mouth, etc.), and even strengthening their hand-eye coordination.  Of course, kids also have a blast making funny faces at themselves in the mirror and examining the insides of their mouths, noses, ears, and eyes!  

While this activity may be about self-recognition and representation, we never discourage against imaginative approaches.  Come on in and check out our creations or, even better, drop in during a self-portrait week and experience the fun with mirrors yourself!  

Guest Blogger Katie Fodor is a Program Developer at DuPage Children's Museum. Katie has an MA in Art History and Museum Studies from Case Western Reserve University. Katie joined DCM’s team in the summer of 2013. She brought with her experience in education and the museum field (Western Reserve Historical Society, the Akron Art Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art). 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mirrors at DCM: Young Explorers

Exploring reflection has never been so much fun! At DuPage Children's Museum (DCM), visitors have many opportunities to investigate and explore using mirrors. Mirrors offer mathematical and scientific investigation as well as funny-face exploration! 

Wait! Is it just a funny face? No, early childhood experts tell us that using mirrors to explore is much more! At DCM, our youngest explorers can engage in social and emotional development by interacting with their own reflections. Much of the research in using mirrors with infants and toddlers to promote self-awareness, ego, and reading skills comes from the theory of the Mirror Stage, attributed to the works of psychiatrist Jacques Lacan. The Mirror Stage, said to be from the ages of six to eighteen months old, takes place when a child begins to recognize "self" as the image he or she sees in the mirror (Patsalides, 2012).
Mirrors are a part of each one of our Young Explorers Neighborhoods. Try these activities with your young explorer during your next visit to the Museum!
Promote Self-Identification- Say the infant's name aloud and point to the reflection in the mirror.

Imitate- Make a face in the mirror and attribute a word to the face. This teaches children how to imitate and identify feelings. 

Build Vocabulary- Name body parts as you guide the child to touch his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Practice Motor Skills- Ask the child to reach for the sky. If you model the behavior, he is likely to imitate—having fun with you, following direction, and building motor skills at the same time! 

Do you want to know more?  Visit this blog next week when the focus will be on Mirrors at DCM: Creativity Connections.
Patsalides, L., 2012. Infant-Toddler Development with Daycare Mirrors, Bright Hub Education.
Rochat, P., Broesch, T.,  Jayne, K., 2012. Social Awareness and Early Self-Recognition, Consciousness and Cognition, Elsevier, Inc.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mirrors, Mirrors

For young children, mirrors can be truly magical.  Whether children are discovering a reflection of themselves or seeing bright lights and colors bounce from glass, mirrors introduce them to the world around them in a unique way.

Infants and toddlers may look at their reflection and think, Who or what is that? They may tap on the reflective surface to see what the image feels like. 

Preschoolers might gaze in a mirror or window and make gestures, discovering, That is me! That is what I am doing! 

Older children may begin to lose interest in their own reflection; however, they still enjoy interacting with reflective surfaces. Preschoolers and beyond can begin to see the many uses of mirrors in our world—including the math and science concepts in reflection!

Reflections show us lines and angles that allow for investigations in geometry. The properties of shape can be explored through symmetry. An online resource, Math is Fun, tells us that symmetry is when one shape becomes exactly like another if you flip, slide, or turn it.

Try this! Place the pinky side of your hand against a mirrored surface; notice the reflection. While keeping the side of your hand on the mirror, move your hand back and forth. What changes?  What does not? 

Reflection occurs when light bounces off an object. When light is bent, it is called refraction. Mirrors provide opportunity to both bounce and bend light in fun and creative ways! Explore reflection and refraction using more than one mirror!

Make some reflective discoveries of your own. Visit us and look for mirrors throughout the Museum! 

Stay tuned! Return to this blog next week, when we will share more about the many mirrors of DuPage Children's Museum.  

Optics for Kids

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.