Posts Tagged 'kids'

The Game is Afoot!

Calling All Junior Detectives! There’s a mystery afoot, and we need every Sherlock min-fan and Nancy Drew-in-training on the case! After years of hosting the popular Museum Murder Mystery Game here at the DMA, we’ve decided it’s finally time to give the kids a chance to step into the role of detective. Our kid-friendly version is the perfect mash-up of Night at the Museum and the game of Clue, featuring plenty of fun and games . . . without the murder.

On Friday, March 9th our first ever Family Mystery Night will make its debut, and we’re looking for the brightest junior detectives to help solve the case. Actors will bring the art to life, and kid detectives can interview the suspects, search for clues in the galleries, sniff out the crime scene, and hopefully solve the mystery by the end of the evening.

We polled a few prospective detectives on what the mystery could be and got some very devious ideas (maybe we should watch our backs?!).

From Caleb, age 7:

“I think maybe one of the paintings is a map to the emperor’s treasure, I don’t know where, maybe in a dojo!”

From Lucia, age 14:

“If I had to guess, there are a bunch of art pieces who aren’t happy because they don’t get enough attention, so they decide to steal/kidnap another work of art who is very popular. This art was supposed to travel somewhere, but because they stole it, everything got delayed, so now we have to find the missing painting so it can get to its destination.”

From Naomi, age 9:

“Somebody’s head got chopped off! A kidnapping! A painting is rogue!”

To get the dirt on the real story, find all the details here and purchase your tickets today. Happy sleuthing!

Leah Hanson is the Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs at the DMA

Friday Photos: What Did You Learn at Camp?

With 24 camps focusing on all areas of the DMA’s collection, our summer campers sure learn a lot! In any given week, campers might learn how to mix just the right color, why Picasso portraits look so funny, the secret to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, and much, much more. The best part is that many of these camp lessons are also life lessons. Here are a few of our favorites:

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Art (and life) can get messy… and that’s okay!

Funny faces are always in style.

When you work hard, be proud of what you accomplish!

What lessons has camp (or art!) taught you?

For a list of all our available camps, click here. You can also keep up with the fun here on the blog and through the C3 Flickr page.

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

 

Lessons Learned from a Kid Whisperer

Last summer, resident kid whisperer, Leah Hanson, asked me to step in to teach one of her Toddler Art classes. I had observed Leah’s Early Learning programs in the past and thought it would be a cinch. After all, Leah made it look easy!

Her classes were like the scene of Edward Hicks’ The Peacable Kingdom. Teaching her class would be a breeze! Right?

Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1846-1847, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund

…WRONG!

There was nothing “peaceable” about the scene that ensued. In fact, it much more closely resembled Michelangelo’s Torment of Saint Anthony, on view at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.

Deeply humbled by the experience, I returned to Leah’s classes to watch with a much more observant eye. While she made the classes look easy, Leah was carefully employing mindful techniques to help her class go smoothly.

Here’s what I learned:

Don’t just give the rules, explain them

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Any child who has ever taken a class with Leah is ready to tell you, “We have oils in our skin that are good for us, but bad for the art. That’s why we don’t touch the art!” Give the agency of rules to the child by asking them to help you be the protector of the art.

 

 

 

Keep your cool

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With a group of excited children, it can be tempting to raise your voice level to be heard over them. This is a downward spiral. As you get louder, the kids will also get louder and pretty soon you will be at a full cacophony. Instead, lower your voice until you’re in a whisper. The kiddos will quiet down to hear your “secret” information.

 

 

Speak their language

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Think back. Way back. Remember when your teacher would tell you to fold your paper “hotdog style” or sit “crisscross applesauce” and you knew exactly what she meant? Especially with toddlers, it’s important to know that you are being understood, not just heard. Don’t know kid lingo? Befriend an elementary school teacher to teach you the ropes!

 
Ask about it

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Instead of trying to interpret a child’s artwork on your own (and risk misinterpreting it!), ask them to tell you about their work of art. You will be amazed by what you find out!

 

 

 

 

Play isn’t a bad word

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Museums are often thought of as solemn places, where education takes precedent over entertainment. But at the DMA, we believe that play is important too! Cognitive research has revealed that play is the central device for exploring and learning, developing new skills, and making connections with others. Playing thoughtfully with children will also help nurture their natural curiosity and creativity. 

Be specific in your praise

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Instead of saying, “That’s a great painting” try to take a closer look at the child’s artwork and find a specific quality to praise, such as “I love how you combined straight lines and zig zag lines in your painting”. This will encourage you to look more closely at the artwork and the child will appreciate your attentive eye.

 

 

I returned to the Early Learning programs with these tips and tricks and was amazed at how well the next class went. Practice Leah’s approach and you, too, will be kid whispering in no time!

Emily Wiskera
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Let’s Hear It for the Kids!

Let’s hear it for the kids! This week (April 12-18) is Week of the Young ChildTM. Never heard of it? The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) established this annual tradition in 1971 to “focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.” This year’s theme is “Celebrating our Youngest Learners,” and here at the DMA, we love nothing more than doing just that!

In honor of Week of the Young Child, I thought I’d share what we love most about the children who have become part of our DMA family over the years.

They are honest.

AAM Feb 2015

In preschools across the country, teachers often refer to the children as “friends.” So rather than calling out “boys and girls” when it’s time to leave the playground, you might hear someone say “all my friends—it’s time to go!” I often use this language in the Arturo’s Preschool classes I teach here at the DMA. One morning as we were sitting in front of Frank Gehry’s Easy Edges chair, I asked “Friends—what material do you think the artist used to make this chair?” Without missing a beat, a little boy looked me square in the eyes and said, “I’m not your friend!” Ouch! I laughed and did my best to win him over by the time we went down to the studio. I love knowing that four year-olds will give it to you straight!

They are curious.

Another admirable trait I often see in the preschool crowd is that they are excited about pretty much anything! Wherever we go in the galleries, they always want to make sense of what they see and figure out how it connects to their own lives. Once during a class focused on the art of ancient Egypt, I asked the children to imagine what life would have been like with no TVs, no electricity, no cars. One little girl piped up with all the authority of a wise three year-old, “they used cans and strings, right?” She cleverly deduced that if the Egyptians didn’t have the kinds of phones we have today, they must have used tin cans and strings to communicate! She wasn’t deterred by the concept of “long ago and far away”—but instead, she found a way to relate abstract ideas to her concrete reality. Brilliant. (And I just love the image of Pharoah calling down to his court on a tin can).

They are open-minded.

Picasso Portraits

Young children are incredibly willing to entertain new ideas and explore new possibilities in art. While an adult might look at a painting and ask “why is this art?,” children move beyond “why” and ask “how,” “where,” “when” and “can I try it too?” This month we’ve been learning about the artist Pablo Picasso and Cubism. Inevitably, when I show the children a cubist portrait, they giggle and say “that’s a crazy face!” But then they take a closer look and are delighted when they find the nose and ears and eyes and can explain what the artist did to surprise us.

They are creative.

Arturo's Art and Me 12.2014

You can’t help but feel the buzz of creativity and the energy of little fingers at work when you step into an early learning studio class. Whether they are painting with their feet, concentrating on sewing stitches onto burlap, or experimenting with watercolor, young children are fearless when it comes to making art—something I think we can all aspire to. They dive in, not concerned about doing it “right” or making it look “just so.” They enjoy the materials for what they are, and love to see what paint or markers or paper or their own two hands can do! And when they’re done, they can’t wait to show off their work and tell you all about it.

This year, April 16th is Artsy Thursday, so grab your crayons and paint, and celebrate the young children in your life!

For more ideas on how you can celebrate Week of the Young ChildTM, check out the resources and suggestions on the NAEYC website.

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

Arturo’s Magical Mail: Redux

Santa’s mailbox may see a lot of action leading up to December, but our own celebrity here at the Museum gets mail all year long–our family mascot, Arturo!

Amelia Wood, last year’s McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching, wrote a post in February about how magical sending and receiving mail can be, especially in the form of letters to Arturo. As we start wrapping up 2014, I think it’s only fitting to share some of the highlights from the year since then–a “best of” Arturo Letters, if you will.

What strikes me most about these letters is always how open and loving the messages are. Sometimes it’s an assortment of pencil scribbles with the child’s name and age (these are usually parent-written: from Sophie, age three, or Mikey, two years old) included at the bottom. Sometimes the sender chooses to use art instead of words. Sometimes the message takes up the whole page; sometimes it is short and sweet. Often, the child simply wants to tell Arturo “Thank you” or “I love you.”

Many days I’m surprised by the insightful questions that these children ask. How does Arturo write his letters? (Feathers make it difficult to hold a pencil, so he has a human friend that helps him write and draw pictures!) Or how do you explain why Arturo, a male bird, has eggs in his nest? Why, he’s a great babysitter, of course!

Arturo also hopes the eggs will hatch soon, Kinner! It will be great to have some new bird friends to play with.

Arturo also hopes the eggs will hatch soon, Kinner! It will be great to have some new bird friends to play with.

The creativity that this simple act of exchanging messages draws out is absolutely magical. Amelia loved “imagining the excitement as children discovered a response from Arturo,” and I’m just as excited to receive their letters in the first place. I’m in for an adventure every time I go to collect the latest crop from that little red and yellow mailbox – there will be some new question, some sharing of an experience in the galleries, or some imaginative drawing that I haven’t encountered yet.

For now, I’ll leave you with one of Arturo’s and my favorite letters yet–a rare, purely parent-written one. Signed only as “Papa Bird,” this touching drawing reminds us of our own families.

"Being a Dad is a Real Adventure - Love, Papa Bird"

“Being a Dad is a Real Adventure – Love, Papa Bird”

So as we head into the holidays, whichever one you may celebrate, don’t forget to give your loved ones a great big bird hug…

…or if they’re too far away to hug in person, a piece of wonderful, magical mail should do nicely.

Jennifer Sheppard
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Family Ties

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The Costantino Family

The Costantino family has been coming to the DMA for years, and we’ve had the pleasure of watching the children grow up with art as a regular part of their childhood. Mom Rose is a homeschooling extraordinaire with a background in play therapy who brings her children to the Museum at least twice a month. When the Family Programs team decided to experiment with the idea of kids creating activities for kids, we knew just who to turn to! The Costantino kids (above, ages 10, 6, 3 and 8), stepped into the role quite easily and helped us create a brand new Art to Go family tote that will soon be available for all visitors to check out and use in the galleries while at the DMA. Here’s a peek into life with these fantastic kids from their mom, Rose.

What was your first visit to the DMA with your children like?

The first time I took all four kids to the Museum, I was overwhelmed. I was worried that they would touch something they shouldn’t or act completely crazy. We stayed too long that first time. It felt like such a victory to even get there in one piece, that I wanted them to see everything.

What actually happened was the Museum guards were very nice and helpful. The kids loved all the different things to see. Then once we found Arturo’s Nest, we were hooked. The Nest is a super fun play room. It is a great way to end the day.

Littlest

Now that you’ve been coming regularly to the Museum for years, what has changed about the way you visit with your children?

We talk about what we are going to see before we get there. I try and weigh everyone’s opinion. We all enjoy seeing a new exhibit. We might take 10 minutes to walk through–the kids are eager to see what’s around the corner, so we walk through quickly. The next visit we might go back to the same exhibit to look at just one piece. Not trying to see it all in one visit is the best way we have changed our visits.

Painting like Monet at the Arboretum

Painting like Monet at the Arboretum

How have regular visits to the Museum influenced your children beyond the gallery walls?

They have become so confident in any museum setting. They recognize artists and their work in a variety of places. And, they love creating their own works of art!

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I know your kids have seen many different exhibitions come and go here at the DMA. What have been some of their favorites?

Some of their favorites include: The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks from the British Museum, Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, Jim Hodges: Give More than You Take, and The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

Oldest

We specifically chose to feature your family as our “Guest Family Curators” for a new Art to Go Tote because we knew your children have a lot of experience interacting with art in a variety of ways. They know that there’s so much more to do at a museum than just stand in front of a painting! What was it like for you and the children to come up with ideas for other families to use in the Museum?

We had a blast creating this bag! The kids had tons more ideas. Art for them is an extension of play.

What piece of advice would you give to parents who feel like they don’t know enough about art to enjoy a visit to the Museum with their children?

Don’t be intimidated! When you take your child to the art museum, try to let your child lead. Think broadly. Look for colors, shapes or themes. Walk around and see what your child is drawn to. Take some of their ideas and try them out at home. Enjoy yourself and your family!

Thanks for sharing, Rose! The Costantino Family Favorites Art to Go tote will debut in early summer. Be sure to check it out and see what fun activities the kids came up with!

{All photos courtesy of Rose Costantino.}

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs


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