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Current Issue Table of Contents | Back Issues

Volume 3 Number 5

Harry & Rosemary Wong urge, "If you are a teacher applying for a job, it is essential that you ask the question at the interview: Does this district have a new teacher induction program? "...
The Miracle of Teachers
Teaching: An Awesome Responsibility
The Teacher is the Difference
All my Children
Improving Classroom Grading Procedures
Computer Use Policy: Informing the User's Consent
Families Get Organized For Success
Museums: Hands-on and More!
A Dozen Sure Fire Ways to Boost Memory in the Diverse Classroom
Another Way To Look At It...or...Thinking Like A Child
A Lesson in Economics by Alan Greenspan
The Benefits of eBooks: Learning With an Attitude!
The Reading Puzzle
Nobody Should Go Through It
Temperate Deciduous Forests
"OH DEER!" Game
What? No TV!
Teaching Gayle to Read (Part 5)
High School Research Papers
Music Lesson: Teaching High/Low Tones
Field Day
Field Day Games & Activities
The Creation-Evolution Controversy: A Guide for Teachers
Index of Columns
Index of Regular Features
Index of Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Early Years Are Learning Years...
Early Years Are Learning Years is a regular series from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and one of many tools NAEYC provides to early childhood educators, parents, and others who support and nurture the development of young children. For more information or to become an NAEYC member, visit

Teacher Feature...

Museums: Hands-on and More!

from Early Years Are Learning Years

Museum tours can involve so much more than standing quietly in front of stuffy, ancient paintings. Communities around the country now feature child-friendly museums that offer a wide variety of exhibits and learning experiences. Museums provide a perfect opportunity to spend time with young children and learn together.

Part of the fun of exploring museums is finding out what excites a child. Whether she is interested in art, music, history, natural history, science, technology, baseball or gems, chances are there's a museum waiting just for her.

Here are a few tips on ways to make museum visits enjoyable learning experiences for you and the children in your program.

  • Children's museums encourage hands-on learning and interaction. In these environments, children can touch, feel, and handle materials that might be off-limits in other museums. Many children's museums invite participation in building miniature model cities, conducting scientific experiments, playing musical instruments, or sliding down a firefighter's pole. Storytellers, or "griots" as they are sometimes called, are frequently invited to museums to enchant children with their special skills.
  • Zoos and aquariums are great places to encourage a young child's interest in the natural world. They provide a firsthand look at animals and aquatic species, their habitats, and how they live. Botanical gardens and arboretums, with their glass houses and surrounding grounds, introduce children to familiar and exotic plants and flowers.
  • Foster an interest in history by visiting restored areas or historic homes. Some restored areas recreate whole villages much as they were centuries ago and historic homes provide a glimpse of how people lived in the past. Cultural heritage museums house collections from specific culture groups and offer insight into cultural traditions and history. To go way back in history, visit a museum that has a dinosaur bone exhibit.
  • Think carefully about age-appropriateness when deciding on a museum to visit. For example, a much-anticipated and crowded Van Gogh exhibit may not be the best place for a two-year-old!
  • The Information Desk is a good first stop. Here, you can find floor plans with the locations of exhibits, museum gift shops, restrooms, wheelchair ramps, and rest areas. You can also learn about times and locations for hands-on rooms, children's performances, special presentations, musical events, and storytelling sessions.
  • Don't feel pressured to see everything in one visit. Young children, especially preschoolers and those in primary grades, usually learn best in 10- to 15-minute sessions and can be overwhelmed by seeing too many things at one time.
  • Museums have the ability to inspire and amaze us. Take full advantage of everything the museum offers to motivate young children to use their thinking skills. Although they probably won't need prompting, encourage the children to ask questions about what they see, and if you don't know the answer, ask a docent or tour guide. Use the opportunity to learn together.

National Association for the Education of Young Children
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