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 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

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

Costumes All Year Round

Nate as Spiderman

Nate as Spiderman

Costumes are unique toys, if you even want to call them that. They’re playthings you don’t play with, rather, they support and inspire play – they’re play facilitators. You’ve likely seen it for yourself that there’s something very compelling for children about re-envisioning everyday objects, assembling ensembles, or pretending to be somebody else. But did you know it’s also good for their brains?

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (click here for article), playing with costumes can build imagination, help children discover new things about themselves, and can be a powerful tool for self-expression. But I wasn’t about to take NAEYC’s word for it, so I took my questions to an expert: 8-year-old costume-enthusiast Nate Hill. Continue reading

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

Welcome Critters!

Kids and Pets 1On the third Saturday of each month, Boston Children’s Museum celebrates “Critter Day” when we have special live animal presentations delivered by local organizations.  Most of these presenters bring wild or exotic animals – we’ve been visited by a variety of creatures over the years, including snakes, owls, bats, alligators, armadillos, tarantulas, ferrets and lots more.  But Critter Day is also an opportunity to meet more familiar animals, including ones you may be considering bringing into your home. Continue reading

Spring Training: The Importance of Outdoor Play

SONY DSCThis month’s blog post is written by our Health and Wellness intern, Ashlee Burgess. She is a graduate student from Wheelock College pursuing a degree in Child Life. Ashlee loves baseball and the warm weather, and she would like to introduce you to the benefits of playing outside!

Playing outside removes the physical limitations of playing inside. When your child is outside he can run without worrying about bumping into the couch, can jump without feeling like he might slip on the hardwood floors, and can leap without being concerned about careening into the glass cabinet. Outside, your child can practice skills like throwing a ball, catching a Frisbee, and swinging a bat. He can also practice different gross-motor skills such as digging a hole, pushing a swing and pulling a wagon.

  1. Physical benefits of playing outside.

While playing outside, your child will be active and burning calories. Being physically active may help prevent obesity, and will decrease the likelihood of heart disease and hypertension. Continue reading

Project Play: Research at Boston Children’s Museum

Lifter office

Boston Children’s Museum works closely with researchers from local universities to conduct studies into child development, cognition and more; and to translate the latest studies and findings for the general public in order to make a positive impact on parenting practices. We will periodically publish articles from these researchers about their work, their reflections and themselves. As part of our continuing series sharing details about research happening at Boston Children’s Museum, Karin Lifter, PhD from Northeastern University shares below some information about her research at the Museum:

Project Play at Northeastern University is dedicated to studying developments in play of young children who are developing typically, and young children who are developing with delays, such as language or movement delays, from 8 months to five years of age. You might have seen one or another of us recruiting children for our project outside PlaySpace on Friday nights.

Continue reading