What We Do & How We Do It
With interactive Playscapes, daily educational programming and special events throughout the year, the Children’s Museum of Denver has become well-known as a safe gathering place for community families to play and learn together.
The Museum team focuses on five key developmental domains when designing our educational play-based exhibits and programs: hands-on development, social-emotional growth, sensory awareness, language and cognitive development, and large motor development are used as criteria to create well-balanced Playscapes and programs. In addition, we use the Colorado Model Content Standards and the Colorado Building Blocks, to support the specific needs of our guests, including students and teachers.
The Museum’s educational focus is built on the theories about play and its potential to support and enhance a child’s development. It is the Museum’s belief that Playscapes should be rich with open-ended materials and opportunities for children to learn and solve problems. Through staff facilitation, programs use the play environment to support the development in preschool and K-3 students.
Guided by our mission, the Children’s Museum of Denver believes:
- All children deserve respect
- Children are always learning
- Children deserve a fun, safe place to play
- Families and caregivers serve as children’s first teachers
- Communities are diverse and connected
- Literacy is essential to the success of a child’s lifelong learning
- The arts and sciences are an important channel for discovering the world
- Stewardship of the environment is everyone’s responsibility
- Play should be open-ended and offer opportunities for problem-solving
Educational Philosophy — The Importance of Play
Play is essential to a child’s development. Play contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of children. When children are born, they are immediately seeking ways in which to explore and learn from the world around them.
Developmental theorist, Jean Piaget, believed that as a child develops and interacts with the world, knowledge is constructed and reconstructed. For a child to construct knowledge of the world, they need to explore and experiment for themselves. According to Piaget, both learning and thinking involve the active participation of the learner, and that this primarily happens though play.
Like Piaget, Lev Vygotsky believed that children learn though active experiences in their environment and that that during play, children are able to think in more complex and abstract ways.
Both theorists argue that children develop and learn through play.
The Children’s Museum of Denver — Looking Ahead
While continuing its goals around motor skills, arts and literacy, the Museum is also advancing its focus around thinking skills. Through play, these skills will be developed in a context that integrates other content areas, such as science, math, technology, engineering, health and wellness.
Trends in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education
According to the National Science Foundation, recent studies show that most students did not reach the proficient performance levels when tested in Mathematics and Science. Many researchers and educators agree that when students get turned off by math and science at an early age, it is very difficult to get them interested in high school. Early exposure to these concepts can have a larger influence on a child’s interest later in life.
Many organizations, including informal education facilities, are getting involved to help with the solutions. Engineering firms, museums and universities are creating new opportunities to create positive exposure to science, math, engineering and technology.
Importance of Health and Wellness Education
There are many theories around the increased rates of childhood obesity and overall unhealthy habits of children. Sedentary behavior and poor food choices top the list for possible causes for the noticeable increases. The Museum focuses on providing educational information and activities to support positive behaviors around health and wellness. This includes daily programming and monthly themes about nutrition and fitness, special events to get all ages moving and healthy food choices in our café.