Wheelock Student Research at Boston Children’s Museum: Kitchen Conversations

Arthur 5

This post is part of our series of articles by Wheelock College students documenting their observations of the many different kinds of learning and adult-child interactions taking place at Boston Children’s Museum every day.  This post was written by students Kaitlyn Talbot, Nico Cantu, Becca House, Azeema Shaikh and Emily Lewis. 

In a Museum full of activities and spaces focused on the play of young children, what is the role of an adult?   Do they stand by and let the children explore the spaces for themselves or do they prompt the children on how to use different materials? As a Wheelock College research team we observed multiple times in two sections of the Museum: Arthur’s World and Children of Hangzhou.  While observing we considered these questions:

  1. What role does the adult take?
  2. How do children and adults interact in Children of Hangzhou as compared to Arthur’s World?
  3. With such rich content, what do children do in Children of Hangzhou?

Arthur 1In Arthur’s World, a little girl was playing with her nanny in the kitchen. The girl moved to the scale and asked, “What’s this?” The nanny replied, “A scale, so you measure the weight of different things compared to this,” as she pointed to the red can, labeled “20 oz.”, on one side of the scale. Continue reading

Observing your Children Learn and Play

Wheelock Intro photo 3By Wheelock faculty, Stephanie Cox Suarez, Erica Licea-Kane; student documenter, Angelina Amato; and Boston Children’s Museum staff member Kana Tsuchiya

In spring 2015, Stephanie Cox Suarez and Erica Licea-Kane led 20 Wheelock College undergraduate students to Boston Children’s Museum as part of a capstone course called “Making Learning Visible”. This course focused on documentation and visual arts for teaching, and students visited the Museum five times to document children’s play and learning. This is the first collaboration of its kind with this Wheelock College capstone course, and it has inspired us to continue to research children’s play and learning at the Museum.

Throughout this project, documentation methodology included observation and subsequent interpretation of learning processes and products of learning. This methodology helps teachers to reflect, deepen and extend children’s and teacher’s learning (more about Documentation practice is available here). Wheelock College student documenters observed multiple times at the Museum and worked alongside Museum staff to consider the following questions: Continue reading

Bringing Together the Museum and Hospital Communities

IMG_3356This post was written by Boston Children’s Museum’s Health and Wellness Intern, Viktoriya Dribinskaya.

The “Message in a Milk Bottle” project is a new and wonderful tradition here at Boston Children’s Museum. This project is designed and run by the Health and Wellness Educator Interns every Spring. This Spring, the responsibility fell to me, and I titled my version “Helping Hands”. Helping Hands was an effort to bring communities together and to show the Museum’s visitors how children can work collaboratively to create something special. Continue reading

School Readiness – It Starts at HOME!

IMG_3888School is a big step, even for children who have already spent time in preschool or a child care setting. It usually means meeting lots of new adults, learning new names and faces, becoming familiar with a new building, a new classroom, and a new kind of schedule. Being ready for kindergarten can make all the difference in a child’s introduction and further steps in formal education.

By definition, getting ready for school starts at home. During this time parents, caregivers and families all play a leading role in nurturing a young child’s development. School readiness includes self-help skills such as getting dressed, going to the bathroom, washing your hands; familiarity and comfort with using school tools – scissors, pencils, markers, glue sticks; and social/communication skills like using your words to communicate what you need, taking turns, sharing and getting along with others. Continue reading

Celebrate Your Child’s Emotions

emotions aThis month’s blog post is written by Boston Children’s Museum’s Health and Wellness intern, Viktoriya Dribinskaya. She is a graduate student from Wheelock College pursuing a degree in Child Life. Viktoriya is helping provide various health programs in the Museum, and she is especially passionate about promoting children’s healthy emotional development.

 Children develop at a fast rate – they are enhancing their social, physical and emotional development every day. This development is a continuum for every child; every child learns a new skill at their own pace and the flow of development occurs differently in every child. From the time a child is born, she expresses her emotions by crying when she is not getting her way to indicate to adults that there is an issue that needs attention. As she develops, she begins to show a social smile, evoked by contact with another person. She then begins to express laughter as an emotion. From there, she moves on to expressing anger, fear of strangers and fear of separation from her caregiver. Moving forward she begins to show self-awareness, pride, shame and embarrassment. All within a short period of time, children learn how to express their emotions to the people around them. Continue reading

Artifacts Telling Stories

Bark Painting - OI 86-10

Artifacts carry an array of stories from who used it, who made it, what was it used for, and even how it came to the museum. Boston Children’s Museum’s collection holds 50,000 artifacts with countless compelling stories about people, places, and things from all over the world. Sometimes, a story can be told from the donation of an artifact, otherwise known as “provenance”.

Recently, I digitized all of the Australian artifacts in the collection. Many artifacts come from a specific donation from the Melbourne Children’s Museum presented by the Indibundji Aboriginal Dance Group in 1986. The twenty-two artifacts from this donation include a boomerang, a coolamon (an item used as a cradle or bowl), a tjara (a shield), and jewelry. Aboriginal peoples from all over Australia made these artifacts during the 1980’s. The donation tells unique stories about the artifacts, Boston Children’s Museum, and Aboriginal cultures.

Continue reading

Encouraging Creative Development

Encouraging Creative DevelopmentBoston Children’s Museum’s Art Studio is one of my favorite places – and that’s good, because I spend a lot of time there. For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve assisted our Arts Program Educator in program preparation and planning, carrying out workshops, and doing my part to help keep the Studio a place of healthy self-expression. My love of this work has inspired a new undertaking: the pursuit of a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education, with a particular emphasis on the creative arts in learning. Each month, I’ll reflect about an element of my graduate schooling and my job here at BCM through the Museum’s Power of Play blog. For the month of February, I’d like to talk about something I learned in a recent class, on the subject of appropriately supporting a child’s creative development.

Taking each of my daily encounters to heart, I learn so much through simple observation and quick conversations with our visitors. With this experiential education in addition to my formal schooling, I’m beginning to understand just how heavy my feedback may weigh in a child’s mind, for better or for worse. Continue reading

From “Miserable” to “Manageable”

healthOn Saturday March 28th, we are celebrating our annual Healthy Kids Festival at Boston Children’s Museum. There will be many hospitals and health organizations providing activities to teach our visitors about healthcare in fun ways. But let’s face it. How many kids do you know who absolutely LOVE going to the doctor? Healthcare settings are often scary, and we don’t have a lot of control over what happens there. For young children, their fear that is fueled by imaginary thinking, lack of prediction, and previous negative experience can make the healthcare experience even more difficult.  I’ve written about how to make the doctor’s visit easier before. This time, I want to focus on distraction techniques to get through possibly difficult hospital visits! Continue reading

Sick of Snow? Get Creative Inside.

IMG_0110SURPRISE! Weather reports predict it may snow again in Boston. This is good because we can still see the very top of our fence and a few more inches of snow should cover it completely. Goodbye fence! I guess we’ll see you in the spring.

As everyone in the greater Boston area knows, we’ve had record snowfall this winter, schools cancelled throughout MA, RI, NH and beyond, and at times the snow has forced the MBTA to slow down or shut down completely. Being cooped up inside for days can be frustrating for everyone. For parents and children it can be very challenging, as we reach a whole new level of “stircraziness”. (Is that a word? It should be!).

Kids of all ages need to move their bodies and they need to be challenged to think and learn every day regardless of the weather. Continue reading

Happy Smiles With Healthy Teeth

dentalDid you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? Children are encouraged to visit the dentist regularly starting by age 1 because good dental hygiene habits that are developed at an early age are likely to remain in adulthood.  However, although it may be easy to say “Everyone, brush your teeth!”, some children struggle with tooth brushing. Here are some suggestions on how to develop healthy dental hygiene habits:

Continue reading