The Practice of Letting Go

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If you visited Boston Children’s Museum on a Monday in June, you may have noticed that the hordes of children playing in the museum looked…very colorful. Why? There was Messy Monday face painting in the Art Studio! Twice a month we give “big kids” the chance to engage in extra messy (and extra fun!) art activities. (Read art educator Alice Vogler’s blog post on Messy Play to learn more about Messy Mondays). I have really enjoyed working in the Art Studio on Messy Mondays because it is wonderful to see the children having a blast playing and creating without grown-ups telling them to stop making a mess! However, I also think that it has helped me to let go of some of my own expectations of art. As we get older, we tend to shy away from getting our hands dirty and forget the simple pleasure that comes from the specific slimy smooth texture of oobleck or the cool temperature of finger paint. However every Messy Monday I am reminded, as I see children of all ages with HUGE smiles on their faces, that life is messy and sometimes we have the most fun when we have oobleck dripping through our fingers. Continue reading

The Joy of Climbing

Climber 2When children first lay eyes on the Children’s Museum’s three story climbing structure, their eyes usually light up with awe and excitement.  For many children, it is their favorite part of a visit to the Museum. However, some grown-ups are not quite as thrilled.  Despite the fact that it’s an extremely safe structure, it is nerve-wracking for any grown-up to let their child climb up so high, especially by themselves. I have to admit, that when I first started working on the floor at the Children’s Museum as a Visitor Experience Associate, standing at the exit at the top of the climber was my least favorite shift. I quickly realized I was going to have to overcome my fear of heights in order to muster the courage to help children who were scared, and also celebrate the amazing successes of all of the children who proudly make it to the top.

Those of us who work at the Museum strive to be positive role models for the children who visit us and in many ways I believe that the children inspire us just as much. One day at the climber exit, I witnessed a boy of about 8 years old guide a young girl he didn’t know down from the top because she was scared, helping her each step of the way. Another time, a girl from South Korea who didn’t speak English played peak-a-boo with me, grinning from ear to ear. I have even seen two year-olds reach the top! Continue reading