Homeschool Challenge: Museums with the Littles
As an art lover, the most exciting part of becoming homeschooler was knowing I had the ability to attend all of my favorite museums with my littles. However, my kids are some of the most energetic and lively people in the world. It was clear that I would have to teach some basics before I could spend any time admiring art with them. The following is my list of tricks and tips to make any museum friendly and accessible for you and your family:
Repetition and boundaries
Anyone who has ever been to a hands-on-children’s museum knows the chaos of creativity that littles bring to the table. So the first goal of attending any adult-centered museum is to prepare littles for “the grey line”. Nearly all museums will have a “grey line” or some type of line that will help art lovers know how far to stay back from a piece ‘ because, believe it or not, adults like to touch art too! Depending on your child or adult art enthusiast, teaching them to identify and recognize all the ways museums keep them from touching the art can take multiple visits and reminders. I began taking my children to museums as infants and all we would do was play “find the grey line” and then stand as close as we could to the artwork. After they tired of that we would find an area of the museum they could climb, roll or run to help them prep for another building. Bonus activity: There is nothing my kids love more than walking through the museum reminding adults that they are crossing the grey line at the museum.
Pick a topic and have your kids keep a tally of how many times that particular item shows up in a museum. This means knowing a little bit about the exhibits before you go. No matter what exhibit you are attending there will be plenty of something that appears over and over again. The excitement of finding millions of something at the museum hidden in different pieces will keep them busy and actually interested in viewing the art. Our first trip to the Getty was all about nudity found in art. It was hilarious to my kids that a bunch of adults were walking around quietly and professionally looking at statues of “butts”. One of our trips to the SFMOMA stood out because they were fascinated with how many adults loved “giant scribbles” and that scribbling was actually something people would pay thousands of dollars to own. No matter how simple or seemingly silly your topic is the objective is to get your kids interested in viewing and discussing the art work.
Stop to smell the roses
Be sure to plot out time for snacks and breaks. Every museum has lovely landscaping, gardens or fountains. Take the time to allow your kids to roll down a grassy hill, smell the flowers and run through a hedge maze. This not only helps them transition through quiet spaces and get out their wiggles, but it helps them feel like there is space for them to exist as their natural selves. And of course, no trip to a museum will be complete without touching and holding all the sample items in the gift shop! Although we mostly spend our time looking in the gift shop, every once in awhile we will splurge on a postcard or trinket to take home to show dad or grandma. These little trinkets help make the day memorable and allow them to take a piece of the museum home with them.
These three little activities have helped me through years of weekly trips in some of the stuffiest galleries of precious fine art with my jumpy and energetic kiddos. Keep in mind that every museum has a free day to attend. Many have kids workshops and spaces where the kids can also make their own art. If you take the time to do art at home and replicate art found in galleries you will see how quickly your children will expand their ideas of what art can be. They will also be able to design and to recognize the value in the most simple and ordinary ideas. Enjoy!
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