Posted on behalf of SEEC two year old teacher Javasa Finney:
This spring I decided to volunteer with the museum education team at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC) to help out with the weekend family workshops. I currently teach in one of the two year old classesthere and was interested in seeing how the experience changes once parents are involved, in the classroom and museum visit.
During the workshops I worked with the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The theme for the infants/toddlers was “Tiny Gardeners” and in these classes the children had the opportunity to explore flowers and gardens. The theme for the older toddlers and two year olds was, “Where Does it Come From” which focused on exploring different foods and the origins of food. Every week we met at the Natural History Museum and then headed to the museum where we would find out the topic for the day by focusing on a particular object, exhibit or art work. After our visits, we headed back to the SEEC classrooms for some hands-on activities related to our topic of the day. Time in the classroom was spent, planting, cooking, painting, reading, singing, and additional play. It was also wonderful to see the children socializing and making new friends.
In the museum the children did a fantastic job. They all seemed very curious and ready to explore. Everyone was respectful of the exhibits and stayed together as a group. We were often even able to sit down together to share a story and hands-on objects while we were inside the museum. Everyone seemed captivated and engaged. During our trips we visited exhibits that were directly related to what our topic for that day was. Some of the museums we visited during the four weeks include the American History Museum, Freer Gallery, the Botanic Gardens and National Gallery of Art.
As I reflect upon my time in the family workshops, I have many great memories. It was great to see the children so involved at the end of the session that they didn’t want to leave. Since several of our families return from one session to the next, I imagine that they are also finding the experiences together both meaningful and memorable as well. Museums have so much to offer, they are inspiring and educating. They are great for introducing new topics or re-enforcing facts. The most wonderful thing I saw during my time volunteering at the family workshops was the parents and children bonding, learning, and discovering new things together at the museum. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning! SEEC’s infant, toddler and pre-k Family Workshops will start up again in the fall. We hope to see you there!