Kids Love for Imagination and Play

Addie Robb and Elizabeth Bersani

It’s summer, schools out, and kids are bored at home. Keeping kids busy isn’t easy, but Explore More Discovery Museum in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is one option to keep kids occupied during break. At the museum, there are many different opportunities for children to explore, create, play, and learn in the museum’s wide variety of exhibits.

Activities range from at the grocery store, piloting a plane, and milking a cow. These exhibits simulate activities adults do in their daily lives and allows children to play with different career options. “We try to scale it so they can learn things at different ages, and they can grow with them as well. Maybe the youngest ones are interacting with others while the older kids are learning more technical skills, like a 3d printer,” said Operations Manager Caroline Hancock. Hancock is a strong believer in the power of play and the process of kids learning through imagination and fun.

The Museum offers classes that go more in depth with the concept of using guided projects such as cooking, robotics, art, and games. Classes may focus on a skill like robotics, but they can help children develop basic life skills. “The biggest thing about this class is the teamwork,” said class instructor Katie Dove. The kids had a lot of fun creating different objects for their stop motion video (offered at the makers and movies class). “My favorite part about being here is the stop motion.This is like my 3rd year here.” said student Mealle. Another student, Ana, said, “My favorite part about being here is making stuff. This is like my 4th year here.” It often seems students are returning to take these classes.

Although most seem to agree with the power of play, there are always ways to improve and make activities more engaging. “This is our first time. They’re going through everything very quickly, but they are really enjoying it. I think that they’re learning some things, but a lot of it is playtime. I’m a teacher too and I think that having a scavenger hunt where they can look for things specifically, and that might be something that I would do the second time we came back once they’ve seen everything and have a sense of it. I think, yeah, a scavenger hunt to say ‘go find this’ so then I know that they’re learning things too,” said grandmother and teacher Susan Detwiler.

Even without changing anything the museum is already loved by children and families. “They are loving it, yeah. I have three grandchildren here, they are ten, six, and two and all three of them are finding things that they like to do.” said Detwiler.