Thursday, August 23, 2012

Museums at home

One of our favorite ways to beat boredom around here is by playing "nature center" (or, "feeling museum," as the littles call it). First we spend some time collecting specimens from the yard, and then the kids get them all displayed in the dining room. Squeak makes and posts signs. Then both Squeak and Pixie invite all the neighbors over for a personal tour (sometimes they even charge admission!). Luckily we live in a great neighborhood with very polite and obliging neighbors. :)

I love this activity for many reasons. I love that it gets us outside. When these pictures were taken, it was a grey and rainy northwestern spring day. We were all bored and cabin-feverish. As soon as the rain eased up, we headed outside. Normally if I tell the kids to go play outside when it is raining, I am met with some resistance (even though we do try to go out and play regularly even during our long wet season, and my kids are used to that and enjoy it for the most part). But with the exciting purpose of collecting specimens for our nature center, my kids raced out the door!

I also love that it encourages us to explore and appreciate nature. Squeak and Pixie often play outside in their treehouse, on my hammock, or on their swing, and they often run around playing some make-believe game or another, but they don't take the chance to really discover nature very often. When we set up a museum, the kids really search for all the beautiful and amazing things found right in our own backyard. They use all of their senses as they decide what to display. They take their time and really see and touch the hidden things they typically overlook.

I love the creativity they use as they set up their displays. The first time we did this, all on their own, they gathered all my glass containers and turned them upside down over their display objects. Some of the items were reserved for the "feeling chest," where visitors could have a hands-on experience.

They filled vases with water for the flowers and plants, added mud, leaves, and moisture to the slug's terrarium, and brought in some moss full of tiny bugs to feed the ladybug in her jar. They set up an "employees only" area and roped off the hallway to the bathrooms, explaining that you needed to ask a worker before you could go to the bathroom.

Squeak decided on his own that there should be a fee to enter the museum (one quarter OR penny, take your pick!), but that once inside the museum, all the exhibits would be free.

 I gave them just the teensiest suggestion of something to do one boring afternoon, and they totally ran with it and made it their own. Awesome!

So, readers... Now that I've shared one of mine, I wanna know, what's your favorite way to beat boredom with your little learners?

1 comment:

  1. We love to pull out the big white board and play word/drawing games. We create word ladders by starting with a simple word and changing one letter to make a new word on each rung (i.e. cat->hat->hot->hop->top). I played a new "game" with the 4 yr-old today, we each took a turn writing words for the other to draw. However, the kids favorite activity in this category is to play a progressive drawing game where we alternate adding something to the picture. The kids tend to lean toward robbers and lasers, but it's fun to watch what they come up with to catch/defeat/whatever-they-are-trying-to-accomplish the parent portion of the picture. We've played this verbally in the car, too. (Player 1: I have a bird. Player 2: I put the bird in a cage. Player 1: The cage door is still open and the bird hops out. Player 2: I tie the bird to the cage. Player 1: The bird snips the string with it's beak. And so on.)