We know that young children learn by exploring, observing, manipulating objects, and imitating what they perceive of the world around them. When properly used, museums can be fun and exciting places providing experiences that encourage young children to learn.
At the Kingman Museum we have made several slight changes in our operations that greatly enhance learning by pre-schoolers.
Shorter, multiple visits where students build upon their previous experiences have proven the most useful. We’ve also learned to find out what subject area the pre-school class is concentrating on at school. A short conversation with the teacher allows for a better adjustment of programming to fit their needs. Museum visits that are isolated from classroom instruction are not nearly as effective as cooperative learning experiences between the classroom curriculum and the museum.
At Kingman, we allow for exploratory learning. Pre-schoolers are naturally curious, eager, and socially and physically active. We design our programs to take advantage of these attributes.
Should your institution be working to improve its educational impact with younger audiences, you might be interested in a guide we developed titled ‘Tips on Visiting Kingman Museum with Young Children.” Though it is specific to our museum, it provides easily adaptable suggestions that will work in any museum setting. A free copy is available by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Kingman Museum of Natural History, W. Michigan at 20th Street, Battle Creek, MI 49017. Please mark your request to the attention of the Education Department.
Paul H. Rheaume & Lisa Murphy Education Department, Kingman Museum of Natural History
Rheaume, Paul H. and Murphy, Lisa. “For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator 2.2 (Winter 1992): 11.