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You and Me
The very first exhibit visitors to the museum will meet will help them know that this place is for and about them … and that they are changing and growing all the time! As visitors enter they will learn about themselves and experience a connection with others in the museum and in their Siouxland community.
Through play in the exhibit components and associated activities, visitors will:
● Investigate their own skills and personal statistics (height, weight, etc.)
● See themselves as individuals and part of a community
● Understand that there is a wealth of diversity within their community
● Make choices and decisions as they interact and cooperate with other visitors
Building - Mechanics and Architecture
What does playing around with blocks have to do with learning? Lots!
The Building exhibit encourages visitors of all ages to explore simple machines in unique, playful, dynamic and compelling ways!
In addition to moving blocks with simple machines, there are loads of opportunities for building. Planning, designing, strategizing about different modes of assembly and a multitude of possible structures helps children understand spatial relationships, develops their fine and gross motor skills, and hones their ability to express their ideas and work with others. Early science and pre-math skills are employed when building on a grand scale.
Although air is all around us, we can’t see it. This amazing substance has weight, exerts pressure, and totally fills any size or shape of container. Living things need air to survive. Air - and all the many ways it performs - is so basic to our lives that we take it for granted. Perhaps because it is so fundamental, air provides an excellent springboard to scientific investigation for children.
The idea that something that is invisible has such power can be difficult for a child to understand, unless it is presented to them in a way that it can be seen, touched, controlled and heard. Given the right apparatus, air offers at least as much appeal, movement, and ‘playability’ as water. The action of the air on a carefully designed environment makes inquiry, investigation, and discovery part of child’s play.
With this in mind, the Wind exhibit will give children the opportunity to learn some of the mysterious powers and properties of this most vital substance while practicing the basics of scientific investigation: asking questions, collaborating and discussing, suggesting and testing ideas, making observations using the senses, and describing and communicating what is observed.
Water is an excellent learning medium for children across a wide range of ages. Whether it is a whole ocean or just a small cupful from the kitchen sink, water invites the multisensory explorations of the very young as well as the problem solving inclinations of older children. As children play with and use their senses to investigate the physical and aesthetic properties of water, they are doing science. Discovering and experimenting with water fosters intuitive curiosity-driven learning.
Commerce and Trade
Commerce and trade keep our economy strong, both locally and nationally. Children are eager investigators of the world of commerce and trade when they are playing their way to new learning.
Role-play allows children to test themselves by taking on diverse roles and solving a variety of complex problems. In addition, a highly important aspect of role-play is the function it plays in socialization. It encourages friendship, involving as it does cooperation, listening, and turn-taking. Because it is all pretend, children can investigate new worlds and endless opportunities.
Both the Market and the Café are familiar environments to children. Allowing them to independently explore, investigate, experience and be in charge of these familiar places fosters feeling of empowerment and broadens their thinking.
As children play in the Market and Café, they will encounter a variety of foods, take on diverse roles, and work on even unlikely skills such as early literacy and early math as they restock shelves, sort, count, group and serve.
The agricultural roots of Siouxland are close to the surface. The farms of the area are both large and small and contribute not only to the local region’s food supply, but also to the nation’s abundance.
However, today’s children are not as connected with growing things as were their grandparents. It may surprise kids to learn that food we eat does not come from cans or from the supermarket, but originates from live, growing things.
The Agriculture area will offer an environment where children will discover and learn about some of the different foods that grow locally and will explore the growing process. As children pretend, use their imagination, and role-play, they will experience the life of a farmer and learn how the farm and farm equipment and machinery help to give us our food.
The earliest years are the most significant learning period in life. The whole world and everyone in it presents learning opportunities during all waking hours. An environment rich in possibilities and someone to share it with gives a little child the very best start possible.
Research clearly shows that the earliest years of life are most important to a child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth. Early stimulation is known to actually build neural pathways in the brain; early experiences shape not only children’s ability to learn but also their attitudes toward themselves and others. We now know that the environment plays an extremely important role in brain development in the first years of life.
The Infant-Toddler Area will provide an outstanding learning environment for the littlest visitors and the adults who care for them. Here, carefully steeped developmental challenges will encourage every little body to grow and develop. The learning needs of adults are carefully considered, too; in this special space, adults can learn about their children’s growing skills… and their own growing abilities to care for them.