Posts Tagged 'Art babies'

Dance, Dance, Baby!

Penn 3

I first met dance instructor Misty Owens last summer when she partnered with some of my colleagues to present movement-based workshops for visitors with special needs here at the DMA. She brought pool noodles, scarves, inspiring music, and a mesmerizing grace into the galleries, and it was so fun to watch her work with our visitors.

This past spring, I saw her in action once again when she brought her Dance for Parkinson’s Disease class to the Museum for regular visits. Her ability to communicate ideas through movement and encourage even the least-coordinated person (me!) to attempt some dance moves in the galleries is inspiring. The culminating performance for Misty’s Dance for PD group just happened to fall on the same day as a Toddler Art class I taught. As the children trickled out of our classroom space after class, they literally stumbled upon the dance group’s dress rehearsal. The toddlers were mesmerized! They spontaneously sat down on the carpet and became an impromptu audience as the dancers practiced their steps. There were huge smiles (on both the toddlers’ and the performers’ faces), and it sparked an idea—what would it be like to have Misty work with our littlest visitors?

Lucky for me, Misty is willing to try just about everything, and earlier this month, she was at the DMA once more, this time as a special guest teacher for the Art Babies class. The Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty exhibition served as our inspiration, and Misty led caregivers and babies in a lively exploration of Penn’s photography through movement.

We began by looking at Issey Miyake Fashion: White and Black. Misty and I were both taken by the fabric and thought that the peek-a-boo playfulness to the image seemed to be begging for some baby dance moves! Using lengths of stretchy white fabric, we experimented with making shapes with our bodies, played peek-a-boo, and created living sculptures around the babies. One little guy could not stop giggling as his mother wrapped him and unwrapped him in the fabric, surprising him with silly faces.

 

For our next stop, we took a closer look at Frozen Foods (one of my personal favorites from the show!) This time, Misty focused our attention on the different textures in the photo—we noticed the long, straight shoots of asparagus, the rounded pops of frozen berries, and the crackling frozen lentils. Using pool noodles, shakers, and maracas, the babies and parents created their own soundscape for the photo, and moved and danced in rhythm to bouncy melodies. It was a ruckus, but so much fun!

I loved watching the parents and children experience the art in an entirely new way. When the music came on, the babies couldn’t seem to help themselves, and their little legs and arms would start bopping in time to the music. Parents were all smiles and gave themselves permission to be silly as we jumped and reached and swooshed around the galleries. And for me personally as an educator, Misty helped me to approach these works of art with a new eye and gain an even greater appreciation for Penn’s artistry and talent. I noticed textures, shapes, movement, and stillness where I hadn’t really seen them before.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lesson learned—a little dance is good for everyone, no matter how big or small!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs

Glow Babies

Pop! goes the art in our Art Babies classes. Take a peek at what we’ve been up to as we’ve explored the International Pop exhibition over the past few months. With its bright colors, oversized pieces, and recognizable objects, this exhibit is perfect for our littlest visitors. We’ve been counting pies and cakes, searching for hidden turkeys, and ooh-ing and ah-ing over giant French fries in our investigation of the paintings and sculptures featured in the show.

Inspired by the fun factor in Pop art, I tried something new for our sensory play session in the studio—glow in the dark play! We strung up twinkle lights, plugged in black lights, and used glow sticks throughout the room. With the overhead lights off, the studio turns into a magical place and creates a new environment for the babies to explore. At first the children are quiet, taking it all in. But as soon as they realize that they don’t have to take a nap, there are shrieks of laughter and lots of giggles as they shake bottles filled with water and immersible LED lights, crawl around on a shiny emergency reflective blanket, and try to catch bubbles. It’s a glowing good time!

If you’d like to join us next time, tickets for the January-March classes will go on sale December 3 at 10:00 am on our ticketing site.

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

Pint-Size Sous Chefs

During this month’s Art Babies, our mini museum-goers joined a hungry caterpillar at an imaginary dinner party to explore the sense of taste. Armed with their very own—Museum staff approved!—silver spoons, they goo-ed and gah-ed over the shiny silver serveware on Level 4. Their appetites primed with art, we then headed to the Art Studio, which was transformed into a smorgasbord of color, texture, and even flavor! Our petite Picassos used vibrant food puree “paint” to create their own masterpieces, taste-testing encouraged. Class ended with a colorful, baby-approved snack of blueberry carrot oat mini muffins, which you can try out at home:

Blueberry Carrot Oat Mini Muffins
20438306986_fd529afecc_k
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
½ cup sugar
6 oz vanilla Greek yogurt, room temperature
½ cup carrot puree
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Line mini muffin pan with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. In large mixing bowl, stir together oats, both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until pale and frothy. Add yogurt, carrot puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla, whisking until fully combined and smooth. Add carrot mixture to flour mixture and stir with rubber spatula until flour is mostly incorporated. Gently fold blueberries into batter with a few revolutions, just enough to incorporate remaining flour and distribute berries evenly throughout.

Divide batter into muffin cups, using a tablespoon scoop to fill them almost to the top. Bake about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Note: A regular muffin pan can be used instead, increasing the baking time to 20 minutes.

Tickets for our fall classes go on sale September 3—we hope to see you then!

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.

What’s That Smell?

Art Babies 1

In our family classes here at the Museum, we try to make sense of the art in more ways than one! Whether it’s through tactile objects that mimic textures we see in a painting, or listening to music that inspired certain works of art, we do our best to find creative ways to engage more than just our sense of sight when exploring the galleries. For this month’s Art Babies class, we kicked it up a notch and focused on our sense of smell.

Since babies already naturally rely on the five senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing—to learn about the world around them, they were the perfect audience for this sort of experiment. For me, though, it was a fun challenge to imagine smell as a pathway for exploring art. How could I bring smells into the galleries that were both baby-safe and art-safe? And how could I be playful and engaging in my approach? My solution—puppets and spice jars!

Art Babies 2

We began with a story featuring Jack the dog, inspired by Claude-Joseph Vernet’s painting A Mountain Landscape with an Approaching Storm. Jack smells something new in the air and sniffs from one furry friend to the next trying to discover what the smell could be. I used a loveable puppet to bring the story to life, and Jack quickly became fast friends with our little visitors. Several wanted to hug and kiss him, but they also imitated the puppet’s sniffing, and as the story progressed, more and more babies would scrunch up their noses and make sniffing noises along with Jack. (The little one pictured above was one of my most expressive sniffers!) When Jack finally discovers that his mystery smell is the scent of rain, the children and their caregivers made their own discovery too—finding a little dog in Vernet’s painting and noticing the ominous clouds in the top corner of the landscape.

Now that we had planted the idea of using smell to better understand what we see, families set off on a smelling adventure through the galleries, using repurposed spice jars filled with a variety of scents—from apple blossom and rain to fresh hay and mountain air!

Art Babies 3

Babies sniffed, shook the bottles like rattles, and stuck them in their mouths. Adults searched for paintings with objects that matched the smells. Together grown-ups and children found new ways to experience art.

Art Babies 4

Before the shrieks of delight and giggles could dissolve into tears or frustration at not being able to touch, we left the galleries and made our way to our sensory play stations. Here, any and everything can be picked up, mouthed, dropped, smelled, rolled, bounced, and more. And for a special smell-inspired play area, we offered the babies fresh flowers, oranges, lemons, and limes to smell and investigate.

I do believe that these little ones have quite a nose for art!

You can create your own smell-based sensory play at home with recycled spice jars, cotton balls, and scents. I found inspiration from this blog post. Be sure to avoid scents that might create a burning sensation (like wasabi, chili powder, mustard or pepper). My go-to source for unusual scents is the Demeter Fragrance Company. Smells like art to me!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

 

Friday Photos: Art Babies

This Monday, with a little help from some shiny blue fabric and a DIY dragon puppet, our monthly Art Babies class dove deep into the galleries for a little fun under the sea with Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea. Babies and grown-ups alike enjoyed exploring our Japanese collection before heading down to our studio for all kinds of sensory play. When it was time to say goodbye, we wrapped up with singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star under our magical starry fabric.

We love seeing our littlest visitors feel right at home in the Museum, and we’ve even bumped up our number of classes each month to squeeze in a few more friends! Tickets for July through September (we’ll be focusing on our senses) are now on sale. To register, visit our Art Babies page.

We can’t wait to see our friends again next month for more family fun!

Jennifer Sheppard
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

You Know You’re a Museum Mom If….

Over the years I’ve had the chance to see children grow up right before my eyes as they’ve attended classes at the DMA. They may solemnly gaze at me from their strollers in Art Babies, toddle around with their binkies in Toddler Art, and then proudly graduate to the “big kid” art classes before confidently marching off to kindergarten. I’ve also had the opportunity to get to know many amazing moms in the community. They push strollers, wrangle kids, balance wet paintings on their arms, and cheerfully champion their children’s creativity. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are just a few of the things we love about Museum Moms!

Mothers Day 1

Fun is often messy. Museum moms aren’t afraid of messes—even big ones! We’ve challenged children to paint with their feet, create dripping, gluey sculptures, and blow colorful paint bubbles onto paper. To say that we sometimes get messy in the Art Studio is a bit of an understatement. But our DMA moms are always enthusiastic, encouraging their children to try something new and to not let sticky fingers hold them back. As we’ve conducted fun painting experiments in the studio over the past few months, I’ve watched children gaze at their moms in wonder as they strip off their shoes and socks, push up their sleeves, and dive into some serious action painting.

Mothers Day 2

Sometimes you just need to shout! We hope that every child finds his or her own unique voice, and through our family classes, we do our best to give children opportunities to share those voices. Museum Moms value what their children think and wonder about art, and often let them lead the way in talking about what they see. In a recent Art Babies class, caregivers pulled their little ones across the floor on colorful fabric to mimic the sensation of paint gliding across a canvas. Amidst the giggles and smiles, one baby accidentally discovered the wonderful echo she could make in the galleries. A comical shrieking match quickly broke out as other babies realized they could make their own echoes too, and the gallery was soon filled with high-pitched, delighted squeals. Rather than frantically shushing their children, these wise moms simply reveled in the display of spontaneous joy that came from children making discoveries in an inspiring place (and took advantage of the fact that there were no other visitors in the gallery).

Mothers Day 3

Being present is the best present. We’re all about family togetherness here at the DMA, so when we’re sketching in the galleries or posing like a statue, more often than not, the grown-ups are right alongside their child, busily engaged in a class activity. Museum Moms know that their children watch everything they do, and that the best way to raise a creative child is for children to see you nurturing your own creativity. In a preschool class several years ago, I asked a group of three and four year olds who some of their heroes were. Lili piped up immediately and said, “My mom is my art hero because she watches while I paint.” When we’re busy creating in the Art Studio, I always have at least one or two children who inform me that their masterpieces are “for my mom.” Museum Moms are some of the very best at creating lasting memories for their families and giving the gift of their presence.

To all the moms out there, thank you for all you do! Happy Mother’s Day!

Leah Hanson is the Manager of Early Learning Programs at the DMA.

London Calling!

15104160945_015a70fc1a_o

Baby Explorers at the Manchester Museum, used with permission

Some people go to London for Big Ben, or to see the Queen, or to attend a Shakespearean play. I went to London for the babies! Thanks to a generous grant from the Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation, I was able to take a research trip to the United Kingdom a few weeks ago to investigate what museums there are doing for children ages 0-2.

More than a year ago, I stumbled across the CultureBabies blog, which highlighted the great work focused on babies happening in museums in Manchester and London. While many museums in the US offer a variety of programs and classes for toddlers and preschoolers, classes actually focused on babies seem to be harder to come by. I knew I had to see what was happening in the UK in person. (And let’s face it, I’d never refuse a trip across the pond!)

I started off in Manchester, where I visited both the Manchester Museum and the Manchester Art Gallery. These two institutions, along with the Whitworth Art Gallery (which is temporarily closed for renovation), have created a suite of programs that focus solely on babies who haven’t started walking. So we’re talking about really young children—the children that most people probably think don’t get much out of a visit to the museum. But what a mistake to think that!

Both the Manchester Museum and the Manchester Art Gallery focus on sensory play as a way for caregivers to interact with their babies, and for babies to explore their world. Educators at each institution were inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, an educational approach which champions the value of allowing children to direct their own learning, to learn through their senses, and to learn with one another. The Reggio Emilia approach also puts an emphasis on the importance of environment, and calls for early childhood classrooms to be filled with natural light, beautiful real-world materials, and to have open community spaces where children interact with one another.

Baby Explorers at the Manchester Museum, used with permission

Baby Explorers at the Manchester Museum, used with permission

The Manchester museums have translated Reggio Emilia principles into a museum setting by transforming exhibit and studio spaces into beautiful, engaging environments filled with things babies can touch, smell, taste, see, and hear. At the art gallery, an artist takes inspiration from an exhibition on display, and then creates a temporary installation for the babies in the studio. The sessions I observed focused on the work of artist Ryan Gander, and the Baby Art Club session was an exploration of traditional childhood play like making forts, playing peek-a-boo, building with blocks, and playing in the kitchen. Babies were knocking over cardboard boxes, burrowing into mounds of fabric, playing in a bowl of flour, and clanging metal spoons together. There were shrieks of delight, lots of happy babbling, and adults and children giving themselves completely over to enjoying play.

At the Manchester Museum, the Baby Explorers session begins with an interactive story-song time in which caregivers cuddle, sing to and bounce their babies as a teaching artist introduces the theme of the class and the gallery connection. I observed a class focused on ancient cultures, so the singing time included songs about a mummy and a camel. Babies and adults then had time to explore sensory “islands” that educators had set up in the children’s exhibit area—a sound station with musical instruments, a texture area with lots of natural materials, a metal area with shiny objects, and a light box with sparkly, translucent materials. Images of objects in the Museum’s collection or actual objects in protective boxes were scattered throughout the entire area, allowing babies to investigate ancient cultures in an age-appropriate way.

Baby Explorers at the Manchester Museum, used with permission

Baby Explorers at the Manchester Museum, used with permission

I was struck in both sessions by how ordinary objects became things of beauty. In the metal sensory play area at the Manchester Museum, metal bowls, spoons, whisks, and kitchen containers were transformed from utilitarian utensils into light, reflection, and shine. I observed one mother shining a flashlight through a metal object, and watched as her baby focused on the light and reached for the object as the light reflected around her. The next minute, the baby was waving a whisk through the air, experimenting with its weight and feel.

I saw tremendous value in both programs for adults and babies. For the adults, these classes seem to give them permission to leave behind all the usual tasks that build up in a day, and allow them to simply enjoy being with their babies. The adult-child interactions I observed as an on-looker were definitely sweet, but even more importantly, were contributing to positive social-emotional growth and language development for the children. Caregivers also leave these sessions with ideas for how to use everyday materials at home as playthings, learning that items as simple as a wooden spoon and a bowl of flour can provide endless entertainment and valuable open-ended learning opportunities for babies.

Baby Explorers at the Manchester Museum, used with permission

Baby Explorers at the Manchester Museum, used with permission

But perhaps the greatest outcome of these baby classes from a museum educator point of view, is that the families create strong relationships with the museums and see them as valuable partners in the journey of raising a child. At the Manchester Museum, one little girl has been attending the Baby Explorers class for the past few months with her foster mother. This month, she attended for the first time with her new adoptive parents. It was truly beautiful to see this little girl so confident in her surroundings, sure of herself as she crawled from one space to another, even as she adjusts to a new family and home life. The adoptive parents too were warmly welcomed into the museum family and appreciated the observations museum educators were able to share about their new daughter.

Art Babies at the DMA

Art Babies at the DMA

I came back to the DMA inspired and ready to try new ways of playing and learning with babies in our own galleries. We launched the Art Babies class for children under 2 years old here at the Museum in January, and the class has been a fun educational journey for me personally as we experiment with how to best serve our very youngest visitors. Over the coming months, I hope to incorporate some of the ideas and strategies I gathered from our colleagues across the way. Stay tuned for our own version of the British (baby) invasion!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,578 other followers

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories