Tips & Takeaways
- Give your program a family-friendly facelift! You don’t have to start from scratch to make a multigenerational program. If you already have a great program for kids or adults, try altering a few things to make it more engaging and inclusive of other age groups.
- Revise elements of an existing program using the prototyping process. Prototyping is an iterative process of design (test, redesign, test again) that will get you the best results in the end.
- Test your program in chunks, rather than all at once. It's easier and less stressful.
Quick & Easy To-Dos
- Pick one part of an existing program that could be improved. Try changing it up a bit the next time you do it.
-What was better? What was worse?
-What worked? What didn't?
-How might you do it differently next time?
- Have a fun kids’ craft program? Try adding:
-Chairs for adults.
-Scissors and adult-sized supplies.
-Cue cards for adults with questions or conversation starters, so they can chat with their kids.
-Kits so adults can work on their own project alongside their kids, rather than just helping them.
-Roles for both adults and kids so they can collaborate together and work as a team
The revisions made to the USS Constitution Museum's Writing with a Quill Pen program's environment, content, and materials allow families of all ages to gather around and more successfully participate with the activity. These revisions and more were done in less than two weeks during the summer of 2014. Learn more here.
Revising an Existing Program: Cheap, Quick, and Easy, But it Can Make a World of Difference
Have a small budget? Don’t have a lot of time? Want to just dip your toe in the family program waters? Take an existing program and try making it more engaging for multiple generations using the strategies on this website. This will cut down on resources and staff time since you already have the bones of a good program.
Examples of Revising Programs at the USS Constitution Museum
With two weeks of summer left in 2014, the Engage Families team revised two of the USS Constitution Museum's existing programs. That's all it took, two weeks and maybe $100 total for both programs. We spent a few hours a day observing the existing program and trying lots of new things. By the end of the second week we felt we had made great strides taking kids programs and making them into truly successful multigenerational programs. You can read more about our process below.
When to Revise?
We decided to revise our Writing with a Quill Pen and caulking, or waterproofing, programs because we were not seeing the multigenerational engagement we hoped for. Adults were simply helping kids or not participating at all. Quill Pens was more a craft activity than a content-rich, immersive, social experience. We wanted each program to do more.
You will develop your own criteria for success, but just to give you an idea, here's our criteria in a nutshell:
- Is everyone engaged?
- Are adults actively (vs. passively) participating?
- Are some family members (often adults or "littles") distracted or bored?
- Are families experiencing a meaningful interaction (rather than just doing a trivial activity)?
- Is this a social (rather than individual) activity? Are people talking to each other? Are they collaborating or working as a team?
- Is everyone having fun together?
So What did We Do?
Using the sub-categories that make up the Programs section of this website, we took a critical look at each program for areas we should improve in order to reach our goal of successful multigenerational engagement. Here is an overview of what we did for each program (you can read more in depth on these changes below):
During the revision of our Caulking a Ship program, we rethought our program location and environment. We started with a white table in a corner with no context. Then we tried putting the program in our Discovery Center, a more family-friendly area, with smaller tables that families could gather around, but there were too many distractions. Finally, we realized we already had a perfect place in our exhibit gallery, where we we could put our ship side next to a stage-set of USS Constitution's side. This area has high visibility, attracts an audience, and provides a great deal of context we lacked elsewhere.