How to Enjoy a Museum with Kids (finally!)

by Janelle Schroy

One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is on a museum experience with my four girls. I buy a few postcards from the museum gift shop which feature different art work from the museum. Ideally, these include info about that piece too.

My kids love using cards like this as a scavenger hunt to find and discuss each piece. When museums don’t have this kind of option, I just buy a pack of their museum postcards at the gift shop and make our own!

At museums, I never try to do it all with little kids. Ten exhibits or pieces and one hour of time is about max. We do just those and spend 5 – 10 mins at each one as we really linger longer. I feel this is the best way for us to get a deep, meaningful, educational, enjoyable museum experience at my kids’ ages.

Afterwards, we head to a coffee shop where I bring out supplies with which they create a reflection piece about something related to what they experienced. I believe in the spiral learning theory, which says that you master something over time, coming back to it again and again and gleaning from it what you can at different ages/seasons of your life.

While they create, we discuss what we experienced and together decide one what we call a “thread-line” which is easier for them to grasp than a “theme”. They always seem to find it easily between the ten pieces/exhibits and we talk about how it matters to our lives.

I’m always amazed at the insights of young children. When they are given a little bit of focus in a museum couple with a hands-on application (must be immediate), they really do it well and gain a lot. Of course, we end it with cups of whipped cream drizzled with caramel, because it’s fun to have educational experiences to end on a “sweet note”!

We love slowing down and creating this space to refresh, reflect and bring a conclusion to our museum experience. We never want to just consume travel, we want to pause, consider, and respond to the beautiful world we are exploring.

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