The Art of Letting Go

Boy ChairI have a confession.  I posted an article in March, 2013 called “The Resiliency Gap”, in which I wrote about our observed increase in the number of children shying away from difficult challenges – particularly from trying and failing, then working through that failure and trying again.  This skill of resiliency, or “stick-to-itiveness”, is imperative for a child’s development, their self-esteem and their ability to solve problems.  But here is my confession…as a dad, I’m terrible at teaching this skill to my child.  I talk a good game, but if my 3 year-old son is struggling with a puzzle, or with figuring out how to dress himself, I find that I am quick to step in and assist.  Too quick, actually.  I hate seeing him frustrated, and I have an innate urge to make his life easy.  This extends to real risk-taking too – if I see him climbing something, I am quick to ask him to climb down, or rush over to assist him for fear that he might fall.  If he is in any situation where there is a remote opportunity for injury, I tend to hover.  And worry.  And hover some more.  But my son continually expresses his desire to “do it myself”, or to test his limits and the physics that govern his movements in ways that, frankly, scare me. Continue reading

Keeping Up with the Cool Kids

IMG_2335“We love the museum, but even though Maeve is still having fun, Katie is starting to grow out of it.” This is a sentiment I am hearing more and more during my time in the Museum’s exhibits. Grownups will bring their child here for years and have the time of their life. Then their kid gets younger siblings, and they continue to come to the Museum with the new additions, and have the time of their life. But then their oldest child turns 7 or 8. He or she starts worrying that the Museum is too “babyish” and doesn’t feel like coming just to play with the younger sibling and parents.

Our visitors are always going to be growing up. That’s a given. We could choose to simply let them go, or we can try to capture the attention of these creative, thoughtful kids until the very last second! Continue reading

Yoga for Children and Grownups

yogaSeptember is National Yoga Month. Yoga offers various health benefits: it helps you relax, stretch your muscles, and strengthen your body. Yoga also helps you to practice relaxation and concentration. But yoga is not just for adults – it is also recommended for young kids.  Along with the above benefits, yoga can also encourage positive child-family development. Share your experiences with yoga at September’s Tasty Tuesdays and also join Family Yoga in the Museum at 11 am on Mondays and Fridays! Continue reading

Fold and Fly: Paper Airplane Engineering

Paper AirplaneHave you ever made a paper airplane? Then believe it or not, you’ve done some engineering! Paper airplanes may be simple, but they’re also a great way to learn some basic engineering techniques. If you’ve tried to fly one, you know they don’t always fly straight. Sometimes, they don’t fly at all. But through engineering, we can improve our designs and make airplanes that soar.  Here is a simple airplane you can build at home with your child. All you’ll need is one 8.5 x 11” piece of paper. Continue reading

Stay Cool and Hydrated with Popsicles!

popsicleAs we enter the peak of summer, you may be spending more days outside running around and getting sweaty, or you could be sweating just from being in a non-air conditioned room. Although hydration is always important, we are more likely to get dehydrated during the hot summer.

One great way to easily get some water into your body is to eat popsicles! Although many sweet treats can be overloaded with sugar, if you make your own popsicles you can not only control the amount of sugar that goes into them; you can also be sure that they are made from healthful ingredients. You will even save money!  And of course both kids and adults love popsicles, not just because they taste good, but because they help cool you down on a hot day. Continue reading

Ahoy There! It Be Boats Afloat on Yonder Water!

Boats 1Wake ahead and winds a-flurry! What does it take to stay on course and above water when hit by these elements on the kiddie pool? This past Sunday, families got to put on their engineering sailor hats and test out how well their designs held up against fans and a wave maker.  During our hands-on Boats, Rafts and Ships workshop, cardboard and paper were transformed into sails; skewers became tall masts and harpoons; and Popsicle sticks were made into oars to complete kids’ aluminum-lined vessels.

What is the maximum load your boat can hold? Continue reading

Creative Confidence – Expand your life experiences

A Distant Episode 2Having creative confidence is trusting and valuing each and every one of your ideas and taking creative risks.

In the Art Studio this is goal #1 – to instill creative confidence in every visitor that walks through the door – no matter what the project is, what medium we are exploring, or what collaborative project we are constructing.

We regularly post new ideas about how to instill creative confidence in children at home and in the classroom.

For those of you out there that do not know, Boston Children’s Museum has an awesome gallery space where we have been showcasing the work of local artists since our renovation in 2007. One of the unique things about our gallery space is our family audience, which can top 2,000 any given day. That is an amazing turn-out for any art space! The thing about our audience is that they most likely are not coming to the Museum to see art. (I am trying to change that!). What this means it that they aren’t anticipating walking into an art space or preparing themselves for the conversation they will have with their children about what they are seeing, or what the art is, or what it means. They just happen upon it. I love watching the discovery, seeing what kids are drawn to, how they decide to interact with the work, what they say, what they don’t say….being a witness to the truly hands-on aspect of the Museum and what this means in an art space. Continue reading

How to Be a Bubble Hero

Bubble ChaserSummer is a great time for kids to be outside investigating the world around them, and there are not many more captivating activities for kids than blowing and chasing bubbles. Maybe you have tried it with one of those plastic bubble bottles and little round bubble wands.  Want to do something a lot more impressive?  Read on, bubble master.

Here is how to create giant bubbles that will impress your kids, your neighbors, your friends and yourself.  And all you need is stuff you already have at home. Continue reading

Play Safe in the Sun

outdoorPeople spend more time outdoors in the summer by going to the pool, the beach, camp, and other outdoor events. Boston Children’s Museum also offers more exciting outdoor programs throughout the summer. When you are spending a lot of time outdoors in the beaming sun, it’s always important to be mindful about sun safety. You have probably heard enough about this topic, as information about it is everywhere, but I also hear grown-ups say, “my kids don’t like sunscreen” or “I can’t get my child to drink any water.” I wrote a blog post about summer safety last year, but for this month’s Tasty Tuesday’s post and handout, I would like to focus more on strategies to make sun-safety part of your family routine: Continue reading

Down the Rabbit Hole

Lord House original

Archival photo of Lord House when it first arrived at The Children’s Museum in Jamaica Plain

For the past few weeks, I have immersed myself in the Museum’s dollhouse collection. Let me just say, it is extensive! Not only do we have a number of wonderful large and small dollhouses, but many of these original gifts came with furnishings and doll residents too. Over the years, some of these original sets have been scattered, with pieces borrowed from one house to decorate another, used for other exhibits or sadly lost to time in the move from Jamaica Plain to Fort Point. My task has become to reunite houses with their proper furnishings…thus, down the rabbit hole I go.

As I delve into the sorting and organizing, it has been a wonderful opportunity to also explore the stories of these houses. Fortunately, one of our former Curators of Collections, Ruth Green, was an avid record keeper and maintained correspondence with donors and kept notes on exhibit use for many houses. Having these records and photographs has helped with identifying specific furnishings and accessories, which is no small task when the object in question may be a wall clock smaller than a thimble…and may be in storage with other similarly tiny wall clocks. Continue reading