Look Closer

Benjamin, Cranston, RI, Age 9 bruiserdog77@gmail.com Macro April 21 2015-033Working with our collections I was recently tasked with choosing objects to be highlighted in Boston Children’s Museum’s Macro Photography program. Macro Photography is an art form which can turn even the most mundane leaf or twig, which we might otherwise destroy without even noticing, into a treasure just by looking closer at it. With the hustle and bustle of spring in Boston, I cannot remember when I last stopped and looked at something simply to study it.  As I took the time to select objects for this program, I wondered which of them kids would be drawn to. I chose a brightly colored quail, whose feathers were filled with patterns and shapes. I chose crystals with many facets and ornate metal-work from Syria, thinking that kids would be excited by the artifacts’ intricacies. With the stage laid, objects picked, and camera ready I was still surprised by the depth and thoughtfulness of the first photographer. Continue reading

Let’s Play in the Mud!

Mud 1

International Mud Day is on June 29 (really!) and we at Boston Children’s Museum will be celebrating on Saturday June 27 from 11:00-3:00. We’ll be looking at different types of dirt under microscopes, playing with “clean mud,”  and exploring objects made from clay. But the highlight of the day will be the giant bowl of mud in our front yard, under the tent.  And I hear you asking, “Why on earth would I want to let my kids play in a giant bowl of mud??”  To which I say, there are lots of reasons!

Kids, especially young kids, need to activate all their senses to help their brains develop.  Mud-play is a highly tactile, sensory experience that actually helps to build the brain!  This kind of tactile play is a great opportunity to develop science skills too; kids will notice cause-and-effect, advance their “what if” experimenting skills, explore the properties of matter, and lots more.  Mud is also a great equalizer; anyone can play with it, at any age and any ability. Continue reading

Talking With Children About Tragic Events

talking about tragic eventsTragic and senseless events such as the one in Charleston, South Carolina can make us feel vulnerable and helpless. For those who have children or who work with children, the emotional reactions can be even greater, especially when children are involved in the event. Even if only viewing such events from a distance, children want to understand what happened and why. What’s the responsibility of an adult to help children understand events like this?

Everyone, both children and adults, responds to tragic events differently. Some people are more affected than others. Some people show emotional responses while others may be more reserved about expressing their feelings. People cope differently, and it’s important to act accordingly based on how your family processes difficult situations. Here are some tips that may be helpful when you are thinking about ways to explain tragic events to your child. Continue reading

Fix-It Fest

Fix 1On Sunday, May 3 Boston Children’s Museum held our first Fix-It Fest, a one-day extravaganza devoted to construction, fixing, and creating. Inspired by Broken? Fix-It, a traveling exhibit from Long Island Children’s Museum, Fix-It Fest was the brainchild of educator Cora Carey. I sat down with Cora to learn more about this exciting event. She talks 21st Century Skills, the “magic” of making, and the challenge of overcoming the prevalent “disposable goods” mentality. And make sure you check out the Glue Recipe at the end of the interview!

 

What is Fix-It Fest? Continue reading

Wheelock College Student Observations: Follow Me!

Climber 5This post is the last in 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 Wheelock Student Researchers Meghan McWeeney, Katherine Finegan, Emma Petner and Paige Dillon.

Children loved leading us up and down the Museum’s Climber. Through these journeys, we discovered answers to the following questions through observation, note-taking, picture, and video:

 

1) What does the interaction between children and caregivers look like?

2) How do children find their way to the top and back down The Climber?

 

Climber 1In order to get a closer look at how children moved up and down The Climber, we sent one of our researchers, Emma, to gain a better understanding of how Josh, age 5 made his way through.

Climber 2Right from the start, Josh was eager to show researcher Emma how he found his way to the top. Continue reading

Wheelock Student Observations at Boston Children’s Museum: The Wheels are Spinning

Peep 1This 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 Wheelock Student Researchers Samantha Marrocchio, Tatiana Medina-Barreto, Gaby Boivin and Mallory Johnson.

Our observations took place in the Peep’s World exhibit at Boston Children’s Museum. We were seeking to investigate questions we had regarding child development and play, including:

  • How do children in different stages of development use modeling as a technique when playing?
  • How do boys and girls play differently when playing?
  • How does parent/adult involvement affect children’s play?

Continue reading

Wheelock Student Observations at Boston Children’s Museum: Interactions in PlaySpace

PS 4This 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 Wheelock Student Researchers Ashley Domaldo, Amanda Kalander, Braelan Martin, and Katlyn-Rose D’Errico.

As student researchers from Wheelock College, we observed children playing in PlaySpace. PlaySpace is an exhibit specifically designed for children three and younger. During our observation, we focused on two main questions:

  • How do caregivers and children interact in the space?
  • How do children play with other children?

Continue reading

Wheelock Student Observations at Boston Children’s Museum: Random vs Structured Play

rw01This 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 Wheelock Student Researchers Priyanka Deb, Julia Kelsey, Shannon Hennessy, and Liz Randall.

We were able to observe and interact with many children and families who visited the Raceways exhibit at Boston Children’s Museum. Here we documented how children interacted with both the materials and people in the exhibit. This gave us a better understanding of how children play in this particular social setting. The questions we considered during our visits were:

  • What is the difference between the first time visitor and the frequent visitor?
  • Some children play randomly with the balls and tracks. Some children plan their play. What is the difference and how do they play differently?

Continue reading

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

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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