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Partners in Wonder

By Carly Loeper
Exhibit and Program Developer
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I remember sulking alongside my father on a ramble through the woods when I was about 10 years old, annoyed because he was always spotting the best treasures before I noticed them – broken bird eggs underfoot, soaring hawks overhead, trickling water in the distance. He explained, “The secret is to not just look ahead, but to really see what’s way up… and down.” This simple gem guides me to be aware of the wonder around me, no matter how ordinary the travels.

Conservationist Rachel Carson wrote, “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder…he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” It’s easy to spot very young children experiencing the world through their senses, seeing beauty with fresh eyes. But as children grow, it’s harder to encourage their natural curiosity when leisure hours are increasingly filled by organized sports, television, video games and other activities removed from the world of natural sensory experience.

Spending time together in nature, whether tame or wild, is an opportunity to share something inspiring and unexpected – if you really notice. You’re not required to be prepared with lore and identifications of wildlife. It’s about involvement rather than information, feeling rather than knowing. Observe, draw pictures, ask questions, watch for answers along with your child. Turn over rocks and logs, lie down and look up, see how many different colors you can find. Sharing wonder is about having fun together with a spirit of discovery!

Following your child’s curiosity is essential, and games can help focus the experience. In Human Camera, the “photographer” asks the “camera” to close his eyes and leads him to an outdoor “picture” she finds beautiful or interesting. She squeezes the “camera’s” shoulders to cue him to take in the scene for five seconds before closing his eyes again. To play the Sounds Game, have family members close their eyes and count a finger for each sound they hear. When eyes reopen after a few minutes, compare sounds.

You can explore outside and indulge your senses together at Providence Children’s Museum. Visit The Children’s Garden and follow the path of a bird, feel the cool water of a fountain splash over bare feet, and rub your fingers on native plants and take in their aroma. (Hint: one smells sweet and minty!)

Sharing curiosity with your child and finding wonder even in the ordinary is a fulfilling gift. As co-adventurers, you’ll have fun as you notice new things together!

News and Notes from Providence Children’s Museum:
Occasional posts about things to do with our kids – from places to go, things to make, ideas to think about, and ways to explore.
Providence Children’s Museum – 100 South Street, Providence, RI. 401-273-5437 (KIDS)

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