Object of the Month: The Game of Knucklebones

 

 

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

May's object of the month is from The Baltimore Museum of Art.  The Interpretation Manager answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

Selected object: The Game of Knucklebones (Les Osselets)  c. 1734

by Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin (French 1699-1779)
Oil on canvas

The Mary Frick Jacobs collection. BMA 1938.193

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection?

A young girl wearing an apron plays "knucklebones," a game that looks very much like "jacks."  She has just tossed the ball into the air and will use her left hand to pick up the four knucklebones lying on the tabletop.  The irregularly shaped knucklebones are actually small bones from the heel of a sheep.

Chardin enjoyed painting realistic scenes of kitchen maids and crockery.  Nonetheless, his paintings have a message to convey.  Eighteenth-century viewers looking at The Game of Knucklebones would notice the pair of scissors propped conspicuously at the edge of the table and they would recognize them as a thinly veiled sign of disapproval; this girl should be attending to her sewing rather than wasting her time playing "knucklebones."  Perhaps Chardin agreed with English philosopher John Locke who wrote that it was useless for girls to spend hours perfecting their skills at a game when they should "employ all the industry about something that might be more useful to them."

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection?


An artist can use color to create the illusion of real light and shadow on the canvas: 

  • How does Chardin suggest that light is coming from a certain direction?
  • Which parts of the girl's dress are well lit?  Which parts are in shadow?
  • How does the artist create a shadow?
  • What color are the shadows on the girl's arms and hands?


3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

 Students will enjoy knowing that the game of Knucklebones is a not-so-distant relative of the game "Crazy Bones" that children play today with plastic bone-shaped pieces.  Three hundred years ago, a player tossed four knucklebones onto a table and calculated a score determined by which side landed "up."  The best possible throw was called "venus."  That meant that each of the four bones showed a different side "up."  The worst possible throw was called "the dog."

Students might make a study of probability as they try a similar game and keep track of how the pieces land. 

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?


You'll find many images of other paintings by Chardin on the internet. 

 

Other Objects of the Month:

 

Nickel the Sea Turtle

Woolworth's Lunch Counter
A. C. Gilbert Erector Set, Ferris Wheel

Chabo-hiba #877-37
The Caldonian Boar Hunt

 

"Clap Along if You Feel Like That’s What You Wanna Do."

International Museum Day


 

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established International Museum Day in 1977 to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society.  Today, it is recognized by approximately 35,000 museums in 143 countries!

 

Held in concert with International Museum Day, is the American Association of Art Directors’s (AAMD) Art Museum Day Many AAMD members will offer free or reduced admission, educational programs, and/or discounts on or around May 18.

 

Introduce your child to a world of art! 

The following tips, courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art, will get you started.

  • Follow your child's lead.  What interests or excites her?  Share in her sense of wonderment.  Go at your own pace and let your visit be a journey of discovery.
  • Imagine that a painting or sculpture could come alive.  What sounds would it make?  How would it move?  What would it do or say?
  • Take turns describing a detail from a painting aloud while your partner stands in the center of the gallery with eyes closed.  When she opens her eyes, can she find the painting with the detail you described?
  • Fun for the very young:  Find simple shapes, favorite colors (name everything blue you see in one gallery, red in the next), or an array of animals.  Try counting numbers, making up a rhyme, or striking a pose (it's fun to pose as something other than a person)!

Related Posts: 

Art Museums:  How to Engage Young Children
How to Visit a Museum with Children

 

Object of the Month: Woolworth's Lunch Counter

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

The object of the month is from the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.  The Director of the museum answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

Selected object:  Lunch counter from Woolworth's Department Store

Lunch counter from Woolworth's Department Store

 

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection?

This lunch counter is from the Woolworth's Department Store in Greensboro, North Carolina where four college students staged a sit-in on February 1, 1960.  They were protesting segregation in public facilities in the South at a time when African-Americans could not be served food at places like department stores.  The students sat at the lunch counter and left peacefully when asked.  However, they continued to peacefully protest this policy until the summer of 1960 when Woolworth's agreed to serve them.  This protest launched a wave of similar activities across the South and led to federal laws that prohibited racial segregation in public places. 

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection? 

I would ask students to think about issues such as equality, justice and freedom.  I would also ask them to think about the history of race relations in the United States, and discuss whether there is more freedom and toleration today than in 1960 when the sit-ins occurred.

3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

I suggest incorporating the story of the lunch counter into the larger subject of civil rights and human rights in American history.

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?

There are many books and films on this subject.  You should choose resources appropriate for elementary school children. 

 

 

Other Objects of the Month:

The Caldonian Boar Hunt

Chabo-hiba #877-37

A. C. Gilbert Erector Set, Ferris Wheel

 

Happy Birthday Jerry Pinkney

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to Jerry Pinkney, winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal for his children’s picture book The Lion and the Mouse.  The book's beautiful illustrations retell Aesop's fable (without the use of text) of how one good deed begets another.  Jerry Pinkney is also the recipient of five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Book Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards!

 



In September, I was fortunate to view the touring exhibition of his drawings and watercolors, "Witness:  The Art of Jerry Pinkney," at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  The exhibit looked back at his 50-year journey as an artist and showcased his versatility: "Touching upon personal and cultural themes such as the African American experience, the wonders of classic literature, and the wisdom of well-loved folk tales, the works in this exhibition celebrate both small yet extraordinary moments as well as significant historical events, reflecting the transformative power of visual storytelling in our lives." 

"Witness:  The Art of Jerry Pinkney" is currently at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia until January 5, 2014.  For fans unable to attend, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has an excellent 10-part video tour you can watch here.

 

Teens, Art, and Social Media

Combining museums and teenagers can be a daunting combination.  If you saw the movie Museum Hours, you can appreciate the perceptive presentation of teenagers' texting behaviors.  Additionally, among all the glorious art in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the teens focused mainly on art work with horror movie themes, such as the collection of painted beheadings

 

How can we extend this interest to other works of art?  This is a key question/challenge for museum educators. 

 

 

Dana Allen-Greil of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. offers a creative solution.  An educational technologist for museum learning, she created a program to incorporate teen behaviors, such as tweeting and snapping photos, into meaningful learning experiences. 

As Allen-Greil points out, "Each work of art is paired with a social media prompt such as:  take and share a photo (via Instagram), craft a text response (via Twitter), or ponder a question with a friend. By explicitly inviting and helping to shape teens' social media interactions with the Gallery, we hope to turn what might otherwise be a frivolous encounter into a learning experience."

 

To learn more about how she engaged her audience through social media, view the presentation below. 

 

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Engineering a Toy

 

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)


 

 

The object of the month is from the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.  The registrar of the museum answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

Selected object:  A. C. Gilbert Erector Set, Ferris Wheel, 1926

 

 

 

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection?

Playing with toys helps children develop essential skills they use to interpret the world around them.  Erector Sets have been popular since their inception.  Created in the early part of the 20th century by A. C. Gilbert, they were mainly marketed to boys.  Of course, many girls honed their engineering skills with them as well.  Through their mechanics and materials, their packaging and instructions, these toys open the worlds of design and engineering to both children and adults.  This Ferris wheel was actually a store display used as advertising for other Gilbert Erector Sets and would sit in a shop window to entice young passersby.  The toy is now part of our architectural toy collection which consists of over 2,100 architectural toy sets collected over a 20 year period by one man. 

 

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection?  

 

Where would you expect to find an object like this?
Have you played with something like this before?

Do you think both boys and girls would enjoy playing with this?
How is this object different/same from toys you play with?
Do you think you could build this?
How would you build it?  Would you need special tools? 
What is advertising?
Would this type of toy sell today?
How are toys marketed today?
What is the purpose of marketing?
Would you go into a store that displayed something like this in the window?


3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?


Overall, I think this toy could be incorporated into a discussion about mathematics, marketing, engineering, history, or art.  The feat of engineering a toy that represents something so tangible and recognizable would also be interesting.  Marketing is a subject that is more advanced but is important to promoting critical thinking about our world.  The historic significance of this piece, and toys in general, is fascinating and the subject of play is something infinitely interesting to children.  As an art object, this piece is both functional and beautiful in its own way. 

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?

 

Timeless Toys:  Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them by Tim Walsh (pgs. 23-26)
Greenberg's Guide to Gilbert Erector Sets by William M. Bean and Al M. Sternagle

Erector Classic Period Ferris Wheel
Highlights from the Architectural Toy Collection (National Building Museum)
Toy Story:  Museum Acquires Unique Collection

Other Objects of the Month: 

The Caldonian Boar Hunt

Chabo-hiba #877-37

 

World Harmony

Museum Monday
Since many museums are closed on Mondays, I'll bring a museum to you.  Serious music lovers will "sing" the praises of this special museum. 

Enter virtual gallery tours highlighting musical instruments from around the world and throughout the ages at the National Music Museum.  View harmonicas, drums, flutes, guitars, violins, and much more.  It is an extremely helpful site for instrument research too!

 

 

"Founded in 1973 on the campus of The University of South Dakota in Vermillion, the National Music Museum (NMM) & Center for Study of the History of Musical Instruments is one of the great institutions of its kind in the world. Its renowned collections, which include more than 15,000 American, European, and non-Western instruments from virtually all cultures and historical periods, are the most inclusive anywhere."

 

Do you think music is "The Key to Success?"

 

 

For Inventors and Innovators

 

If you have budding inventors in your household, direct them to The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.  Plenty of fascinating inventors are featured, including the individuals who invented robotic ants, the first chocolate covered ice cream bars, and Velcro. 

 

Enthusiasts can also learn more at The Center's fascinating blog, Bright Ideas, (where I learned who invented the Super Bowl Trophy). 

Object of the Month: "Chabo-hiba" #877-37

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

 

 

The object of the month is from The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.  The director of the museum answered our questions as follows:

Selected object"Chabo-hiba" #877-37:  the oldest tree in our collection

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection? 
(Excerpt)


Bonsai is a traditional art that started over a thousand years ago in China, and was taken up in Japan by 1095 when Buddhism became the state religion.  Dwarf potted trees served to bring the natural world to the confined spaces of monasteries and cities.  Over time the wealthy classes brought bonsai into their homes.  Dwarf trees such as Chabo-hiba #877-37 were trained into conical shapes resembling a distant mountain.  The masses of foliage were called "clouds."  "Chabo-hiba" does not have an exact translation; it refers to a particular evergreen with deep green, densely clustered scales. 

After Japan opened its doors to trade with the United States in the 1950s, Americans began discovering a new and exciting culture, and they began collecting everything that could be brought across the ocean to these shores.  One of these wealthy American collectors was Larz Anderson, who served as an Ambassador to Japan.  He brought many bonsai to America and kept them in his personal collection for many years.  When he died, 30 of these trees were given to his friend, Charles Sprague Sargent, the director of the Arnold Arboretum.  Chabo-hiba #877-37 was one of the trees.  This tree began its life in 1737, probably in a Buddhist temple in Japan, where it was intended to be an object of veneration.  However, it most likely went to an auction when it reached around 150 years of age, being seen as more valuable for the money it would bring in than the tradition it represented.  Larz Anderson was one of the Americans acquiring these trees, which were exotic novelties to him. 

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection?

  • The oldest tree in our collection started growing in 18th century Japan.  The gardeners at the Arnold Arboretum have attempted to maintain the shape and design of that time.  How does this tree look to you? 
  • How many generations of people have cared for this plant over the centuries?
  • What does it mean that this tree could live forever if it was always taken care of properly?
  • How does the practice of bonsai help you understand the needs of dwarf trees?  Are the needs different from trees that don't grow in pots?
  • What ways do people in the United States today look to Japan for new culture and art?  What arts and culture do you enjoy from Japan?


3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

 

Bonsai are fascinating subjects that are not easily categorized.  Botany, horticulture, and Japanese culture all figure in the development of this art. 

 

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?

 

Animation Magic

Museum Monday

During a recent visit to the Witte Museum, I was reminded of an animation unit I used to teach. The Witte currently has an exhibit of magic lanterns (through June 2014) which are the predecessors of slide and movie projectors.  They were an extremely popular form of entertainment - especially during the second half of the 19th century.  There were even toy lanterns for children.  The exhibit features many different types of magic lanterns, slides, and captivating lantern shows.

 

You can learn how to make one at PIE (Playfully Inventing & Exploring with Digital & Other Stuff), a website that integrates art, science, music and engineering. 

 

Thaumatropes, phenakistoscopes, zoetropes, and flip books are other "persistence of vision" toys children can make while learning about the history of animation.  To learn how, click here.
 

Learn even more with The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry's Animation Teacher's Guide that includes the history of animation and a zoetrope template. Additionally, the V&A Museum of Childhood website has a thaumatrope template and other fascinating things to create for children of all ages. Needless to say, once children learn how to make these toys, it's amazing what they produce.

 

 

Museum Hours

 

Museum Monday
Since many museums are closed on Mondays, I'll bring a museum to you. 

 

This week it's in the form of a movie recommendation  -  Museum Hours, a beautiful movie about friendship, art, observation, and existence.  Directed and written by Jem Cohen, much of the movie takes place in Vienna's glorious Kunsthistorisches Museum.  Works by Rembrandt and Bruegel are highlighted in magnificent detail as are the visitors viewing them. 

 

In short, the movie reminds us why great museums, like the Kunsthistorisches, should be part of our lives.

Related post:  How to Visit a Museum

 

Unlikely Pairs

 

Museum Monday

 

Since many museums are closed on Mondays, I'll bring a museum to you. 

 

This week it's in the form of a clever book, Unlikely Pairs, by Bob Raczka.  If you need a creative way to introduce famous works of art to children, try sharing this book with them.

 

What Bob Raczha does is encourage children (or adults) to make imaginative connections by grouping 28 famous works of art into 14 "unlikely pairs."  While the pairs are unlikely to be seen next to each other in a museum exhibit, they are very likely to create laughter and imaginative responses from children.  

Unlikely Pairs by Bob Raczka

 

I've used this book many times with upper elementary-aged children, and they always love it!  We've used it as a springboard for creative writing and for creating our own unlikely pairs.  The back of the book also includes information about the artists.

 

 

I've already written about how play develops creativity and imagination, and this book promotes both.  (Needless to say, I would like to thank the clever media specialist who introduced me to the book.)

 

Don't miss Bob Raczka's other fun books about art, including Art Is . . .

 

What is a Museum?

The Definition of a Museum

 

 

 

"The definition of a museum has evolved, in line with developments in society." Museum professionals have struggled over the definition, which often centers on things.  Do the objects have to be real?  What about living things:  animals, plants, fish?  Do museums have to display objects?  What about a place that stores memories or a living history center?

  • The following group definitions are from college undergraduates in response to the question, "What is a museum?"
  • The definitions were created prior to a discussion about the difference between museums and other institutions. 
  • We also discussed types of museums, how museums can teach content across disciplines, and the educational benefits of the arts as inspiration.

Click on the image to read the definition. 

National Book Festival and Little Golden Books

 

 

This week brings a celebration of books and reading.  On Saturday and Sunday, September 21-22, The National Book Festival will take place on the National Mall.  Sponsored by the Library of Congress, this fun event gives attendees the opportunity to visit with authors, illustrators and poets.  Even if you live thousands of miles from Washington D.C., you can still join other book lovers at the Book Festival's Kids and Teachers website.

My favorite section of the website is 52 Great Reads, where you can click on a map of the United States to view titles suggested by each state. "Read the book suggested for your state or district and then learn, through these books, about the other places that interest you."

 

Gaston and Josephine:  Little Golden Books

 

Museum Mondays

Since many museums are closed on Mondays,

I'll bring a museum to you.

 

 

Whether you're visiting physical or virtual D.C., you might want to also take in the National Museum of American History's,

Little Golden Books exhibit. The Museum is "home to nearly 500 of the original drawings from Little Golden Books." 

 

This small but power-packed exhibit features a sampling of early illustrations from these books along with intriguing information about their history.  Click here for the online exhibit. 

The Poky Little Puppy
The Poky Little Puppy

 

 

 

Little Golden Books

National Museum of American History

June 28, 2013 to January 5, 2014

Second floor east

 
 
 
 

Museums as Online Resources

 

Museum Monday


Since many museums are closed on Mondays, I'll bring a few museums to you. The following 3 museums offer excellent educational explorations for both families and educators.  They also provide support for the interests and learning needs of creative children.

 

 

 

 

Children's Museum Indianapolis
The Children's Museum website offers learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities.  It includes games, hands-on activities, and lesson plans for school and home use.  The extensive list of lesson plans includes resources and activities to complement the exhibit, Power of Children: Making a Difference.  This exhibit tells the stories of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White — children whose lives teach about overcoming obstacles to make a difference in the world.

 

 

University of California Museum of Paleontology
If your child likes fossils and dinosaurs, she may enjoy these online exhibits and resources.  Information about the profession of paleontology, explorations of fossil images, and numerous investigations for middle and high school aged children provide for an engaging online museum visit. 

 

 

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian
This museum has "one of the largest and most diverse collections of Native American objects in the world."  Their "Infinity of Nations" page enables children to learn about Native cultures through a collection of objects.

 

 

If you liked this post, you may also like - Virtual Exhibits.

 

 

Creativity is . . .

Creativity is . . . Julia Child's Kitchen

13 Reasons to Visit a Museum


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Object of the Month: The Calydonian Boar Hunt

 

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a fun museum research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience. 

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)


The August object of the month is from The J. Paul Getty Museum.  The director of the museum answered our questions as follows: 

Selected object:  The Calydonian Boar Hunt, by Peter Paul Rubens

The Calydonian Board Hunt by Peter Paul Rubens

 

 

 

 

Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)
The Calydonian Boar Hunt, about 1611 - 1612, Oil on panel
Unframed: 59.2 x 89.7 cm (23 5/16 x 35 5/16 in.)
Framed [outer dim]: 76.5 x 108.3 x 5.7 x 9.5 cm (30 1/8 x 42 5/8 x 2 1/4 x 3 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

1.  What information and essential understandings should students know about your selection?
This was painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1611.  The subject is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses.  Rubens was influenced by his stay in Italy where he saw and studied ancient statues.  He was also inspired by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, artists whose works he encountered while in Italy.

2.  What questions would you ask students to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about the selection?

  • Who are the main characters in the story?  How can you tell?
  • How would you describe the animals in the painting?
  • What do you think came before the moment depicted in this painting?  What about after? 

3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating the selection into a specific subject?

  • Have students pick a character in the painting and write a description from that character's point of view (language arts).
  • Ask students to look at images from Ruben's inspirations (as noted in question #1) and compare them (visual arts).
  • Ask students to research the literary source for the painting based on visual evidence.  Or read excerpts from the source to students and have them sketch their ideas as they listen, and explain why they chose certain details. 

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?

If you enjoyed this resource, let me know, and I will include a selection from the project each month.

Creativity in the Garden

3
The Green Man/Mosaicultures Internationales 2013

For many East Coast residents, Montreal is a day's drive.  This fabulous city provides the opportunity to experience international travel without crossing the Atlantic - I feel the same way about quaint Quebec City. Wandering its cobblestone streets is like spending time in a small European town.

Bienvenue!

 

Fresh air, natural beauty, science, and plenty of creativity can be found at the Montreal Space for Life (Espace pour la Vie).  Its Botanical Garden, Insectarium, Biodome, and Planetarium form the largest natural science museum in Canada, and it is overflowing with playful and interactive activities for everyone.  C’est magnifique!

 

  • The Botanical Garden, one of the world's finest, includes gardens, exhibition greenhouses, an arboretum, presentations and numerous workshops for adults and children. 
  • The Insectarium, a favorite of children, is the largest museum devoted to insects in North America with 160,000 living or naturalized specimens.  If you have young children (infant – age 5) they will enjoy the interactive discovery area – The BuzzGround.
  • The Biodome’s 5 ecosystems highlight 4,500 animals from 250 species and 500 plant species all under one roof!
  • The Planetarium includes two shows: one a visual and musical representation of space and the other an informative planetarium show. 

 

If you visit before September 29, don’t miss the spectacular Mosaicultures Internationales living sculptures exhibit.  The Botanical Garden features 50 of these beautiful art forms - all made from plants.  Wow!  Visiting these sculptures is like walking through a peaceful outdoor art preserve right in the heart of Montreal. 

If you’d like to cultivate some of the Montreal Botanical Garden’s creativity in your own backyard, link to Cornell University’s Dig It!  Cultivating Creativity in the Garden.  This helpful project guide integrates gardening with the arts.  Projects include painted leaf print casting, gourd birdhouses, seed jewelry, clothes dyeing, time lapse video, and much more. 

 

Virtual Fieldtrip

 

 

Exploratorium

Wow!   Gain access to fascinating online experiments, exhibitions, and hands-on activities through this virtual museum fieldtrip.  Explore the science of baseball and skateboarding, interact with optical illusions, build your own spectroscope, even visit the extensive archived area to dissect a cow’s eye – you will need your own cow’s eye!

http://www.exploratorium.edu/

 

 

 

Art Museums: How to Engage Young Children


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How to Visit a Museum with Children

 

 During a recent visit to Washington, D.C., I witnessed a “behavioral museum meltdown” at the National Mall.  In response to his parents, a child was screaming, “I don’t care what we do, as long as we don’t visit another museum!”  Perhaps his museum fatigue (and outburst) could have been prevented had his parents followed the four “B's” of family museum-going as detailed in the classic, Where’s the Me in Museum:  Going to Museums with Children.

 

They are paraphrased below:

 

1.  Behavior

Before the visit, review how visitors should behave at a museum.  Children often do not understand the difference between public and private behavior.  For example, in an art museum, “no-touch” is an important rule.  Parents should explain how important the art is, and point out all the guards protecting it. 

 

2.  The Building

Children react to their surroundings – especially large open-spaced areas.  Before entering an exhibit, take time to point out features and note how the building differs from home.  For example, ask a young child to name five ways in which the museum differs from his home.

 

3.  The Break

Every visitor needs one.  Consider bringing snacks or even a bag lunch to prevent energy drain.  With a bag lunch, everyone knows they have what they need and how long it will take.

 

4.  Bathroom

Needless to say, this should always be the first stop before beginning any adventure with children. 

Going to Museums with Children

How to Visit a Museum

 

 

Do you love art, but dislike visiting museums?  If yes, you may enjoy Brian Cohen's article, “How to Visit a Museum,” a comical critique of museum practices.  While many of Cohen's recommendations focus on a need for visitor solitude, he realizes that museum-going is “unavoidably  and unfortunately” a social experience.  His recommendation to avoid the museum guards is one I disagree with.  Guards are observers who often have interesting opinions about the collections. Read the article in The Huffington Post here.

How to Visit a Museum

The Art of Ballets Russes

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes,1909–1929: 

When Art Danced with Music

May 12 – October 6, 2013

 

If there’s a ballet dancer, artist, set/costume designer or musician in your life, take her to the The Ballets Russes exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.  The exhibit highlights the company’s magnificent use of visual arts in performance and features original costumes, set designs, paintings, sculptures and much more.  Serge Diaghilev, the company’s founder, collaborated with the most creative artists, dancers, and musicians of the era such as Picasso, Matisse, Nijinsky, Balanchine, Stravinsky, and Debussy. There were surprises around every corner, including Natalia Goncharova’s enormous back cloth from The Firebird and original costumes from the Rite of Spring.

 

If you're unable to visit the museum, you can still "see" the exhibit in their fine brochure. 

 

National Gallery of Art, East Building Mezzanine

Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Banner of costume design for Vaslav Nijinsky as the Faun from The Afternoon of a Faun 1912
Banner of costume design for Vaslav Nijinsky as the Faun from The Afternoon of a Faun 1912

Ah, You Found Us!

 

 

 

If you are a parent curious about education resources or an educator looking for ideas, then this blog is for you.  Although the blog covers a range of topics, creativity is the main theme within the following categories:

 

 

 

  • Discover an Activity:  Are you searching for motivating games, projects, and activities?  Children who try new things, while receiving support and encouragement at home, become creative learners throughout their lives.  
  • Discover a Book:  Do you read aloud to your children?  Do they read to you?  Reading together is one of the most important things you can do with your children.  Books promote imagination and family togetherness. 
  • Discover a Museum:  Museums are all about inquiry, creativity, inspiration, and discovery - for all ages!  Many museums excel at offering child friendly experiences such as scavenger hunts, hands on experiments, fun family tours, and online explorations.
  • Discover Resources:  Being informed helps you make decisions about your children's education - research articles, books, and useful tips will keep you up-to-date.

Contact Information

Debra Lemieux

If Then Creativity

debra@ifthencreativity.com

 

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