The Strong provides a resource for scholars looking for definitions of play through the Museum’s Elements of Play chart. “Play is difficult to define because it is complex. Many scholars find that describing play is easier than defining it. To help advance discourse around a definition of play, research undertaken at The Strong suggests that six […]
How do we design programs that tear adults away from their coffee and cell phones? Here are some ways to design and facilitate programs that actively engage both adults and children.
The Minnesota Children’s Museum’s focus, like many children’s museums, is all about play. However, the Museum provides a unique approach to play in museums through their PlayLENS. This framework guides adults in supporting their child’s play with a clear call to action. The Museum’s Successful People Play movement seeks to show that successful adults know […]
Why should I use this technique? You can’t avoid it; many family programs require instructions conveyed by a facilitator. While not an inherently bad thing, you may find verbally communicating clear instructions trickier then you imagined. Instructional cards can communicate instructions through text and/or images; serve as handy reminders of important information that families can […]
Invisible Pedagogies: the messages we send, sometimes without even knowing it, by how we craft our environment, by the words we use, and through our actions. What are Invisible Pedagogies? Andrea De Pascual helps us understand the concept of invisible pedagogy by asking the following questions: “What do our students in class, the participants in […]
Developed by the Nova Scotia Interpretive Working Group as an “introduction, a personal development tool, a training tool, a resource, or a point of inspiration” for the 28 Nova Scotia Museum sites, the toolbox is a comprehensive resource with many applications for program design and facilitation. Copyright Nova Scotia Museum. Sections include: Activities are Object-Based “Good Questions” […]
In this presentation from a seminar sponsored by ARKEN Museum of Modern Art (Denmark), Professor of Free-Choice Learning (Oregon State Univ.) and museum researcher John H. Falk discusses how identifying the motivations and identities of museum visitors can inform practice. This video includes the following topics: Indicators of learning Learning over time & memory (3:05-6:30) […]
In her Museum 2.0 blog, Nina Simon asks, “How do we find the RIGHT questions for visitor participation?” She discusses what are the “right” and “wrong” questions to ask, how to develop the “right” questions, and offers three concrete examples from various institutions. The discussion in the comments section is quite useful as well. Read […]
Research Summary Families value experiences they can’t get at home or haven’t experienced somewhere else. Tips & Takeaways What is it that people can do, see, hear, touch, and learn at your site that they can’t do elsewhere or at home? Find the twist that makes your program topic distinct or unique to your institution. […]
Research Summary Layer content so that individual members of the family with their own needs and interests can find something that interests them. It can be subtle or overt. Think about various formats you can incorporate (images, objects, books, activities). That way, there’s more opportunity for people to connect to something that interests them and […]
Research Summary The experience doesn’t have to end when the program ends. Adult caregivers are looking for ways to “extend” their programmatic experiences in order to encourage their children’s learning. Parents have the right idea because research proves that people of all ages learn from assimilating experiences and making relevance from them. This is done […]
Research Summary Adult caregivers seek out fun and enjoyable experiences for their family to experience together. In addition, research proves that a child’s play leads directly to positive social, cultural, and educational growth. Parent and adult involvement in a child’s play increases the efficacy of that play. However, parents are not always comfortable or don’t […]
Research Summary Research shows that social interaction within families leads to overall enjoyment and learning because it helps families develop a shared knowledge, better understanding of each other, and family memories. Tips & Takeaways Get people talking to you and, more importantly, each other. Design discussion prompts into the program Add opportunities for problem-solving, teamwork, collaboration, […]
Research Summary Encourage reflection during and after your program. Research shows the importance of the reflective process to learning and memory making. Tips & Takeaways Be prepared to disengage with visitors on their terms, when they’re ready. Find ways for families to continue the experience either at your institution or at home, preferably both. Quick & […]
Research Summary Research shows that adults offering children vague guidance, asking open-ended and reflective questions, results in more learning than precise guidance, giving the answer or solving the problem for the child. Facilitators can encourage families to converse and reflect with each other, which benefits the family. By modeling for caregivers and scaffolding both adults and […]
Research Summary Respect the family dynamic and give families choice and agency whenever possible. Facilitators should prioritize information so as to not overload participants. Stick to relatable content presented in an accessible, comfortable way. Tips & Takeaways It is part of a facilitator’s role to work throughout a program to maintain the engagement of all […]
Research Summary Use eye contact, invitations, and your words to let adults know you want them to participate with their children. Throughout the program, caregivers will constantly be negotiating their role in relation to the facilitator’s – respect the family’s agency and pre-existing relationships. Caregivers have their own personalities and parenting methods which will inform […]
Research Summary Your program’s environment and set up can complement the multigenerational nature of your program or hinder it. Program spaces should be comfortable and inviting to families, as well as accessible and flexible, in order to fit the needs of diverse families. Tips & Takeaways Adding appropriate context to your environment can help family […]
Think about not only hands-on, but also minds-on (intellectual and emotional) engagement. Active participation is more than simply a “do.” Hands-on elements should be used to get participants thinking and understanding your content.
Research Summary Research shows that the public wants to feel that they are participating in authentic activities. Choose a topic that maintains “content integrity” (fits your mission, collections, displays, and content), so that participants feel it is authentic to your institution. Then, whenever possible, use authentic materials in authentic environments. Tips & Takeaways Try to […]
There is no single definition of family in the 21st century. That said, research shows most families want similar things from their experience.