One of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon is on a museum experience with my four girls. I ask the museum to provide a pack of cards of about 10 pieces of art which include info about that piece and the artist statement, whenever possible. 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. 10 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 (2 – 9 years old).
Afterwards, we head to a coffee shop where o 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 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.
We would love to hear your thoughts about how you do museums with kids. Please comment below and let us know!
Article & Photography by Janelle Schroy | Janelle is the Producer of Adventure Family Journal and mom to four daughters: Reagan, Madison, Devyn and Peyton. Their family is traveling the world to 50 countries over 24 months making 500 Films for Families with the goal of inspiring families with kids to see travel as a key component of a child’s education. To learn more, see here.