Children's Museum

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The mission of Providence Children's Museum is to inspire and celebrate learning through active play and exploration. The Museum creates and presents interactive play and learning environments and hands-on programs for children ages 1 - 11 and their families. Located in Providence's Jewelry District.

Museum educators and other staff contribute monthly articles about topics related to children's play and learning. Articles advocate for the importance of play to children's healthy development and are full of great ideas and resources, activities to try at home, and much more. For additional ideas and resources, visit the Museum's website and blog. Also join the conversation about the need for play on the Museum-hosted PlayWatch listserv (http://www.playwatch.org/).

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Raising Spatial Thinkers

Raising Spatial Thinkers

[ 0 ] February 13, 2013 |

I recently had the privilege of watching my granddaughter, at 9 months, negotiate the positioning of her body. I could see the wheels turning as she tried to move into a sitting position, thinking “if I do this, this might happen…” As she pulled herself up into what I refer to as the ‘majestic triangle,’ she brought her hands together celebrating the growing sense of herself in space. She was really thinking spatially —developing an intuitive understanding of shape and space, a skill that is necessary to navigate the world around us on a daily basis.

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Play Watching

Play Watching

[ 0 ] January 9, 2013 |

By Janice O’Donnell, Executive Director, Providence Children’s Museum

If you’ve visited Providence Children’s Museum in the past couple of months, you may have noticed members of the staff with clipboards lurking in the Museum’s newest exhibit, ThinkSpace. Doing some lurking of my own, I spent nearly 20 minutes watching a very small visitor push big wooden beads along the wire and bead maze, watch them slip down, push them up again. Twenty minutes – amazing concentration for an 18-month-old. I tracked a 7-year-old who solved one block-stacking challenge after another, translating abstract drawings into three-dimensional models, and a 9-year-old who was determined to map all of the mystery mazes. I took notes, timed how long they spent at activities, and listened for spatial language: “Rotate it!” “I need another parallelogram.” A mom asked what I was doing. “Observations,” I told her.

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Gift Picks: Great Spatial Thinking Toys

Gift Picks: Great Spatial Thinking Toys

[ 0 ] December 13, 2012 |

By Providence Children’s Museum educators Since planning for and opening our new ThinkSpace exhibit, Museum educators have been thinking a lot about great spatial thinking activities.  Spatial thinking is an important problem-solving skill, and one that is fundamental for kids’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines.  Here are some of our favorite […]

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Introducing ThinkSpace

Introducing ThinkSpace

[ 0 ] November 9, 2012 |

ThinkSpace, a major new exhibit exploring spatial thinking, opens at Providence Children’s Museum on November 10, 2012! This dynamic environment invites visitors to experiment with shape and space through engaging hands-on puzzles, challenges, building activities and more. Why spatial thinking? Robin Meisner, Director of Exhibits, Providence Children’s Museum shares the big idea behind the exhibit’s topic.

Spatial thinking is integral to everyday life and is necessary to navigate, explore and survive in the world. People think spatially all the time – when tying shoes, reading maps, finding the way to school or work, building snowmen, doing jigsaw puzzles, designing costumes, climbing trees or slicing pizza. Spatial thinkers are engineers planning bridges, pilots flying airplanes, doctors reading x-rays, electricians wiring houses, meteorologists predicting weather, bakers decorating cakes, geologists studying fossils and trapeze artists flying through the air. Kids are spatial thinkers, too!

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Quality After School Includes Play!

Quality After School Includes Play!

[ 0 ] October 16, 2012 |

By Cathy Saunders, Director of Education, Providence Children’s Museum

Play is important for children’s healthy development. All too often the school day offers little or no opportunities for children to play – recesses are limited or eliminated, “test prep” replaces hands-on exploration, and so on. By the time the typical child finishes 5½ or more hours of school, he is ready for some fun!

Think about your childhood afternoons. What were some of your favorite memories – gathering with other kids at the park? Playing hoops at the local community center? Making messes in the kitchen? Doing Scouts or some other organized activity? Digging into your favorite hobby? I’ll bet that it included some time to rejuvenate as well as opportunities to engage your mind in something interesting to you.

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Scheduling… Over!

Scheduling… Over!

[ 0 ] September 17, 2012 |

By Mary Scott Hackman, Early Childhood Programs Coordinator

The summer crowd has a special feel here at Providence Children’s Museum. Visitors seem relaxed and joyful, peer excitedly around corners, anticipate what the next room or exhibit will hold, hold hands with their children, and run up the ramp, entirely open to the possibilities. The unplugged, gleeful way they experience the Museum shouts, “We’re on vacation!”

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Fun for the Whole Family…?

Fun for the Whole Family…?

[ 0 ] August 17, 2012 |

By Janice O’Donnell, Executive Director, Providence Children’s Museum

Do you like kids’ movies – the ones with great animation, a good story and a little adult-level humor mixed in? How about really well-written children’s books with beautiful illustrations? Me too. How much do you like them when you’re watching them for a fourth time or reading them for the tenth ­– this month?

Just as with a movie or book, we adults can get bored visiting the children’s museum or zoo long before kids do. A recent national study surveyed over 8,400 adults who visit children’s museums frequently. The typical respondent was a 30-something, college-educated mother of a child or children under 6. Why does this mom go to the museum so often? She does it for the kids. She knows the kids love it and it’s good for them. But she’s not having much fun herself. Oh dear. Children’s museums are meant to be fun and engaging for the whole family. We know it’s our job to come up with better ways – activities, signage, staffing, seating – to engage adults so they’re having fun too, but visitors can make some changes themselves.

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Get Out and Play!

Get Out and Play!

[ 0 ] July 2, 2012 |

Unstructured, freely chosen play promotes children’s healthy growth and development, but many kids don’t get enough free play, especially outdoors. The warm summer months invite kids to indulge in more carefree, active, outdoor play that is not as available during the school year. This summer, Providence Children’s Museum offers an array of powerful outdoor play experiences on its grounds and well beyond.

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Rethinking Recycling

Rethinking Recycling

[ 0 ] June 26, 2012 |

Recycling in Rhode Island has recently changed to encourage more people to recycle, and so that we’ll recycle more than ever before. We can now recycle additional plastics – jars, tubs, yogurt and take-out containers, egg cartons and those ubiquitous plastic cups. All plastic containers up to two gallons can be recycled, regardless of the number in the recycling symbol, and we no longer need to separate our recyclables. (See www.RecycleTogetherRI.org for complete details on recycling changes.)

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Loosen Up!

Loosen Up!

[ 1 ] May 21, 2012 |

In my business we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about loose parts. (We spend a lot of time picking them up, too.) Loose parts play has certainly been around for as long as childhood, but the term was coined in the early seventies by British architect Simon Nicholson.

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