With a Masters in Museum Science; museum going has been a love of mine for a long time. Even the dullest museums in content tend to fascinate me with structure. When I go into a museum I am reading humidity gauges, identifying text type and size, I can name a few glass manufacturers and I know how much money they spent on what display. I find it interesting because I know that information from school, but my children don’t. When we are state-side I get asked regularly how I manage to take such small children into such adult minded museums and the flat answer is quite simple; I just do. As creatures of learning they get used to the museum atmosphere and eventually learn what is appropriate and not appropriate, but there’s more to it sometimes. I do try to choose museums that offer the words “interactive,” “young explorers,” “Junior artists” on their websites because they tend to have some activities, even floors, dedicated towards children, but that’s not always possible.
When we are exploring a museum that mama is greatly interested in, or a museum that I know will involve a lot of reading on my part, in those museums “school” starts immediately as opposed to the next day. For example, I really wanted to go to Rosenborg Castle. It seemed like a great option for the kids as well for a few reasons;
- Every kid loves a good castle
- The kids are free 🙂
- There is weaponry on the brochure
That alone could have been enough, but when I saw the amount of stuff to see and look at upon entering I immediately began to engage them in my world. A few tricks and tips;
- Eye Spy: We played this in almost every room. “Eye spy four Ostrich Eggs.” It forced them to focus their attention on a few of the hundreds of items and then proceed to question that item as opposed to being overwhelmed and not questioning anything at all.
- “Does anyone see a game that looks similar to something you own?” Now granted, ours is not gold and bejeweled, but a year ago I created a military strategy table top for the boys with civil war soldiers and horses. It could be anything though if you own nothing like this, maybe you have a b.b. gun? etc.
“Yes! Did a kid play with this like we do with our army men??”
“Yes, this was the crown Prince’s game pieces to help him learn military strategy. Do you notice anything special about them? What are they made of?”
“Yes, those are called gemstones.” And then we identify the gemstones. Then we inevitably figure out our birthstones.
“Why are they riding camels??”
“Because these pieces are supposed to represent the Africans and the Romans. What does the camel tell you about Africa?”
“There’s sand and it’s super hot.”
And on and on and on. Simple. Effective. Engaged.
“What do you think this is?”
“A hole to hide your sword!” Such conviction.
“Not quite, but that might have happened a time or two. It’s an early intercom system. The person using this could communicate with people on the other side of the castle if they needed something. Do you remember seeing another communication system like this?”
“How about the tin can telephones on Sesame Street? Do you think that has the same effect?”
“Oh….yeah! They’re both super cool, but I think this one should be for hiding your sword.”
If you have the resources, this is a good one to ‘take home’ so to speak. You could easily make a tin telephone system.
- History museums are a perfect place to teach about organic materials. There are a lot of things that were once used to make regular objects that have since been done away with, for example;
“The Queen’s throne is made entirely out of Narwhal Tusk.”
“The tusk of what?”
“A Narwhal, like a small whale with a really long horn. The Horn is ivory and they hunted it for it’s horn.”
“Just like Rhinos and Elephants?”
“Yep, exactly. The King’s throne is made from solid silver. Where does silver come from?” I was looking for ‘mines’ as an answer. . .
Same for the last photo. We had a great discussion about Amber. How it is made, what it is in it’s liquid form and then it turned into a conversation on dinosaur fossils. The possibilities are really endless if you choose the right items.
I am here to tell you, from one mother of crazy children to another, there is never a good time to introduce your children to museums, but you are doing no one justice by with holding. If you haven’t noticed Greg and I live in this, slightly delusional yet achievable reality where, we believe that there is no where our small children can’t go. It isn’t because they are well behaved angels, they are not, not even sort of. It is because we believe that everything worth seeing should be witnessed by them as well. Bite the bullet and get them out there. There’s so much world, culture and learning to be had.