It’s October and that means Halloween – costumes, candy, pumpkins, parties. It can be an exciting time for families to play together and be creative. It can also be stressful, balancing expectations, deciding on costumes, and maintaining a healthy diet. Two previous posts on the Power of Play blog offer thoughtful tips for navigating the Halloween season and are worth a first read, or a second look.
Happy Healthy Halloween by Saki Iwamoto suggests ways to turn Halloween challenges into fun learning opportunities.
Note: In 2017, we will celebrate Halloween in simple ways at Boston Children’s Museum, starting with a Monster Mash KidsJam dance party on Friday October 27, and continuing with activities such as mask making and pumpkin explorations through October 31.
Indigenous Halloween Costumes: Empowering or Problematic written by Sara Tess Neumann and Meghan Evans tackles the complicated topic of costumes and cultural respect.
Note: The Native Voices traveling exhibit referred to in this post is no longer at Boston Children’s Museum.
Take a velvet robe, add a football helmet, or a floppy summer hat and let your imagination soar. Dress up and role playing fosters creativity and empathy and helps children grow physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually.
First you’ve got to get the costume on. Dressing up is a chance for young children to practice basic skills like pulling arms through sleeves and slipping shoes onto feet. Buttoning a button and tying a belt require fine motor skills. Strutting around pretending to be a king, twirling like a dancer, and crawling like a cat, develop muscles and balance.
Social and Emotional Development
Abby Lorimier is one of the nation’s most talented high school cellists. On a Friday night this past December Boston Children’s Museum visitors had the privilege of hearing her play. Abby is a participant in the Center for the Development of Arts Leaders (CDAL) through NPR’s classical music radio show From the Top. Throughout the year, the talented, passionate, young musicians of From the Top lead musical demonstrations at the Museum.
It was at one of these performances, two months earlier that Kyung-Nam Oh, the conductor of the Youth Family Enrichment Services (YoFES) music program in Hyde Park, heard Matt Ludwig, another From the Top cellist. The program inspired him to suggest that his students perform at the Museum. A few phone calls later, and it was all set. Mr. Oh’s students would come to the Museum, listen and learn from the FTT musician, and then perform themselves. Continue reading
They make it look so easy. The NBA player going up for a lay-up. The jazz pianist improvising on stage. The cook who whips up a delicious soup in minutes. Experts make difficult tasks seem effortless. Maybe even so effortless that you are lulled into thinking – I could do that. And maybe you could, but only with years of practice. Good teachers in classrooms and informal educational settings like museums do it too. They make it look easy. But it’s not. A quick look around Boston Children’s Museum offers some examples.
Start with the Visitor Experience Associate who greets you. While he smiles and answers your question about how to use the lockers, his eyes are searching 360 degrees as groups of people pass by in multiple directions. He notes the toddler wandering into the bubbles exhibit by himself, ready to step in if no adult appears soon. He remains calm and sympathetic listening to a parent complain about traffic in downtown Boston, and gives a high five to a frequent visitor leaving for the day. And that’s just the first few minutes of his shift. Continue reading
Philosophers have theorized about how and why humans make the choices we do for hundreds of years. These days it seems like more choices are sprouting up in all aspects of our lives. From hundreds of television channels to dozens of varieties of toothpaste, Americans have a huge range of choice in what we wear, what we eat, even where we work and live.
Museums are great places to practice making choices. In fact the term “free-choice learning” is used by museum professionals to describe the museum environment. Children especially need places where they can practice making choices. Continue reading
On the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Boston Children’s Museum celebrates UN-Shopping Day. Families are invited to avoid the mall madness and come to the Museum to make their own fun, enjoyable do-it-yourself art projects; to make music with instruments created out of recycled materials; and spend time savoring each other’s company.
Try your own UN-Shopping Day. Here are a few do-it-yourself seasonal projects that are rewarding to make, give and receive. Continue reading
Visitor Experience Associate team building exercise
At Boston Children’s Museum it’s easy to find examples of visitors learning: toddlers developing motor skills as they dance in KidPower; rising kindergarteners playing with math manipulatives in Countdown to Kindergarten; and a family experimenting with dry ice together. What you might not see happening behind the scenes is Boston Children’s Museum staff learning too. While staff learning happens all the time, in the past two weeks there’s been a flurry of opportunities to embrace “lifelong learning”. Continue reading