Learning Through Play; A Look at Learning Opportunities at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire
By Sarah McInnis, Director of Play Experience
The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire (CMEC) is an interactive environment, designed for children and adults of all ages to learn through play. Not only are there the obvious lessons in sharing and socialization, but our guests will also learn about the connections that are made through play between parents and children as well as the lessons children learn through playing on their own.
CMEC’s hands-on exhibits provide a safe and healthy environment for children and adults to have meaningful interactions that inspire imagination, creativity, discovery and the love of learning while also educating our guests about everyday situations on a daily basis. For example; young children can learn about cause and effect by playing with blocks in our Toddler Park. When a child builds the blocks too high, or the hits the blocks, the tower falls down.
While the CMEC exhibits provide fun ways for children to learn through play, the Museum also offers evidence-based programs to help promote learning on a deeper level. (Now being offered as VIRTUAL programs!) Everyday there is a different experience to be had. The activities and programs offered in our Art Café will help to encourage critical thinking skills and what it means to think “outside the box” when creating. In our FAILSAFE Lab, CMEC’s STEAM programs allow children to learn about topics focused on academia in a hands-on, play-focused way where our STEAM educator is able to be more one-on-one with the children. Our Let’s Get Cooking program allows for children to lead the way in the kitchen and put their own spin on recipes while learning kitchen safety and how to make healthy treats in their own kitchen! We are proud to offer programs for different age ranges where children can also view the experience through other’s perspectives.
There are also more fun and play-focused experiences such as parachute games, that teach children how to work together to achieve a collaborative goal. While they may only view it as singing and dancing, they are actually learning that when they do the same motions as their neighbor, working together, they can shoot a stuffed animal all the way to the ceiling, off of the parachute!
Learning does not have to be formal or focused. It can be playful and creative and look completely different than even the child playing next to yours! Each experience is just as important as the next and each will help kids of all ages SEE, TOUCH, LEARN and GROW their way through important developmental milestones.