Quiet Moments: How a Washingtonian Family Does Spring Break

Spring

DSCN3881Spring has finally sprung in DC and although the cherry trees haven’t yet blossomed, the tourists have arrived. If you are anything like me, you prefer to stay away from the crowds, but still want to make the most of spring break with your family. The trick is choosing the right destination. Living in or around D.C. means we are fortunate enough to visit museums year-around. Consider leaving the big attractions like; Air and Space and Natural History for the winter months when they are less crowded and using spring to discover some hidden gems.

The Freer Gallery of Art

Gallery Visit: Japanese Screens
The Freer is scheduled to close next year for renovations so it is an excellent time to visit. This spacious room is a great place to have a seat and do some close looking, read a book or sketch. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy or share art with your children.

Make a Connection

  • Read a book like Eliza’s Cherry Trees: Japan’s Gift to America by Andrea Zimmerman and sketch the screens.
  • Learn more about what a Japanese screen is from this teacher resource on page 65.

Finish your visit by walking out through the Sackler, which is connected to the Freer, and heading down Independence Avenue to the Tidal Basin to check out the blossoms. It will undoubtedly be crowded there, but at least you started things out quietly.

The National Museum of African Art

Gallery Visit: Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue
Inside this exhibit is one of my favorite pieces currently on display at the Smithsonian; a butterfly mask from Burkina Faso. It’s also located in a quiet nook of the Museum and perfectly situated for children to walk around and observe.

Make a Connection:

  • Children are often attracted to butterflies for their beauty and they will likely connect to this mask for that very reason. Bring photos of butterflies and compare wings. Look for shapes, patterns and color.
  • Discover the other animals represented on the mask.
  • Pose questions: Why is the butterfly important in Burkina Faso? Where is Burkina Faso? (this information is included in the link above)
  • Ask your children to design their own butterfly wing and bring paper and colored pencils to the gallery. Finish your visit up with a walk over to the butterfly garden.

The National Gallery of Art

Gallery Visit: American Masterworks from the Corcoran, 1815 – 1940 
This gallery might be a little busy, but its worth it because it closes on May 3. There are some breathtaking works in this gallery that are large and inviting for children and adults alike.

Make a Connection:
Since there might be a few more people in this space, choose what the family wants to see ahead of time by looking online. This will help you plan and will get the kids excited for the visit. Once there, find your selected works and share what you like about them. Do you notice anything in-person that you didn’t online?  If your children are too young to talk – that is ok – talk to them. They will still benefit from the experience.

Enjoy your spring break.

Teacher Feature: Two Year Old Classroom Explores The Human Body

It’s Teacher Feature Thursday!

This week we are featuring Javasa Finney. Her twos classroom was learning about the human body and decided to spend a day learning about hair and how the human body grows. Below you will find a reflection from Javasa and images from some of her lessons.

Body_Cover

What were your topics of exploration?

During the months of October and November the Penguins were exploring the human body.  We talked about the different parts of the human body.  Some of the parts we focused on included:

  • hair
  • skin
  • mouth
  • bones
  • eyes
  • brain
  • heart

In addition to how these body parts work we had a lot of fun learning about the five senses.  We talked about nutrition, how important it is, and how what we eat affects our body. Then they made delicious food from the different food groups with my co-teachers throughout the week. We also talked about the importance of sleep and how important exercise is for the human body.  They were extremely excited to have the opportunity to go exercise at the Washington Monument.

What were your learning objectives? (What did you want your children to take away from the lesson?)

I wanted the class to learn all about their amazing bodies. My main learning objective when teaching the kids about the human body was for them to learn about how important their bodies are and how to care for them. I also wanted them to learn all the bodies’ functions and abilities.

What was most successful about your lesson?

During the time we spent learning about the human body there are two lessons that I feel were extremely successful and memorable.  The first one would definitely be when a baby came to visit.  The child is currently a student in the infant class here at SEEC.  The five month old was our model for the lesson. During this lesson I talked to the Penguins about how we start out as small babies.  We talked about how different a baby’s body is compared to older people.  We talked about how when babies are born they don’t have teeth and can’t talk, walk, run, or jump.  They learned that during the first year a baby sleeps and drinks a lot and cries to communicate.  During circle time we made observations about the baby’s body and talked about how fragile it is.  Then the Penguins had the opportunity to touch him.  It was wonderful to see the children light up and respond to the child.  The second most successful and memorable human body lesson was our lesson on hair.  We learned how hair can be many colors, textures, and lengths.  We talked about the things we use to care for our hair.  Then the Penguins had the opportunity to try on wigs that were different colors, textures, and lengths. This lesson was followed up with a trip to the National Gallery of Art.  We went to look at the “Little Dancer” by Edgar Degas sculpture. First we made observations about the body and then we had the Penguins take a closer look at her braid.  The braid is made of real human hair, coated and held in place by wax.

What could you have done differently? What recommendations would you have for another teacher trying out this lesson? 

During the first lesson, if I were to do this again, I wouldn’t keep the baby on my lap the entire time.  I realized later it would have been nice for the kids to see him crawling, playing, etc.   For the second lesson about hair, I would have picked a different day to go to the National Gallery of Art.  The day we went there were several trips there and the room with “Little Dancer” was extremely crowded.

Here are a few images from their unit on the human body:

DSCN1370Javasa began the week by exploring how our bodies grow and change. As a way to illustrate this development, Javasa invited a child from the infant classroom to visit. She wanted the class to look at the baby and compare his body to their own and the teachers’. Javasa explained that people start by needing a lot of help from adults but as our body changes we become more independent.

DSCN1373Javasa explained that the baby couldn’t feed himself, talk, or even walk yet. She showed how the baby would eventually learn how to do all these things as he gets older.

DSCN1382The next day the class moved on to Hair. Javasa read “Hair” by Cynthia Klingel and Robert B. Noyed to introduce the topic. The book helped students understand that people all over the world have many different types of hair and hair styles and each one is as special as the next.

DSCN1387One of Javasa’s co-teachers shared her collection of wigs as way to talk about how hair can be all different colors, textures, lengths, and styles. She explained that hair comes in a range of color but if you want certain colors (for example, pink) you would need to dye it that color.

DSCN1390She showed the group a zoomed in picture of a hair follicle. The kids couldn’t believe how the root of their hair looks.

DSCN1393Javasa went on to explain that hair can grow curly, straight, or wavy.

DSCN1397 DSCN1398The group spent a long time looking and touching their own hair.

DSCN1409Then it was time to try out new hair!

DSCN1415 DSCN1431They had a wonderful time trying on the different wigs!

DSCN1436 DSCN1438The group then walked over to the National Gallery of Art to see Degas’ “Little Dancer.” They were fascinated by how Degas used real hair for the sculpture. The children discussed the color, length and style of the dancer’s hair.

This class had an awesome time learning about their bodies! Be sure to check back for our Teacher Feature next week!

Fountain Fun

DSCN3881Pools, beaches, lakes, sprinklers…it’s that time again! Children all over the US are enjoying summer-time to its fullest and likewise, parents are looking for water-inspired activities. Here in DC, we are lucky enough to have a number of public fountains that are both beautiful and refreshing. Fountains capture the imagination of children, so why not take this opportunity to create a learning experience?

Duckling FountainInfants
Infants often have mixed feelings about water, it can be both scary and exhilarating. Why not introduce them to water through their senses, especially sight, sound and touch. Simply draw their attention to different aspects of the fountain.

  • Do they hear that sound? Mimic the roar of the fountain.
  • Describe the color of the water.
  • Connect the fountain to the actual feeling of water by getting their hands wet.
  • At home, identify other places where you might find water and remind them of their visit to the fountain.

Toddlers

Toddlers are excited by new things and fountains are no exception. Take the time to explore the fountain and ask simple questions about its design:

  • What direction is the water moving?
  • Is there water that is still, where?
  • From where do you think the water is coming?
  • What else do you see besides water?
  • Do you see any pictures or decorations?
  • Try making your own fountain at home with a hose and baby pool.

Preschool and UpFirefly Fountains

By now your child has seen a few fountains and you can begin to investigate the concept further. Here are some fun multidisciplinary ideas:
  • Rainbows, light and water. This blog has some nice experiments you can easily duplicate.
  • Experiment with force and getting water to move in a certain direction. You can even perform this experiment at home if you are feeling adventurous.
  • Discuss why fountains are used: are they pretty, do they help us remember something, are they for cooling off, do people seem to like them?
  • Ask them to choose a location in your community and design their own fountain.

Favorite DC Fountains

Fountain at the Hirshhorn

Fountain at the Hirshhorn

  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • National Museum of American History (Constitution Ave. Entrance)
  • US Navy Memorial Plaza
  • National Gallery of Art
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Senate Fountain
  • WWII Memorial Rainbow Pool
  • Bartholdi Fountain
  • What is your favorite community fountain? Leave us a message!