April 25, 2006

My Museum

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment

Saturday morning, again Emma and I went to Chicago Children's Museum at Navy pier. The big shopping hall was as busy, crowded, cheerful, and noisy as usual. A group of high school students, boys in black Tuxedo or suit, girls in flower-decorated black gown, were sing on the stage of family pavilion. Emma watched intently as she chewed on her Jimmy John's sandwich. I think she enjoyed it, as much as her sandwich. At the same time, the "Passport to the World" program was going on upstairs at the great hall of the CCM. Later, we watched girls dressed in Irish green dresses, kicked, circled, hopped and danced in tiptoe to Irish music. The beat was so strong and contagious that Emma almost danced to it.

At the CCM, there are always so much to play, so much to see. However, as always, once Emma finds her interest, she dives in, single-mindedly playing her thing over and over, for one or two hours at a stretch.

Last time, she was totally engrossed in making stuff with sand dough, pressing sand to make stars or little hexagons on a mini-sand dune, or making sand towers using special shaped-containers. This time, the arts activity exhibit, a dynamic exhibit CCM called as “My Museum”, immediately drew her in.

The exhibit was in a big room, right across the great hall. There, rows of oil pastel portraits were hung low on the wall, all children's work, distinguished by children's imagination, colors and disproportional eyes or pigtails. In the center, there were a few glass globes / shelves featuring some children's collections, like bears, little articles or "charms", snow globes, fossils. Long, long, colorful special hoses wind along the walls, serving as speakers or receivers. Emma and I used those to talk small talks, like:
"Hi, Emma"
"Hi, Mommy"
"Are you hungry?"
"Want water?"

Of course, we did not notice any of these until much later. Of course, only the interactive pieces that inviting children to play, to create, to manipulate are the favorites. The best of them was two hard-plastic panels stationed at the entrance of the hall. At the bottom of the panels were bottles of paint. Children flocked over to paint or smear paint on the panels. They made
them look like wild stained glass.

Emma was no exception. She ran over to grab a bottle of paint and
tried very hard to color the remaining blank space. I hurried to put a little blue makeshift robe on her, then stayed back and watched her.

What a fun! She smeared heavy paints on the plastics, she tried this bottle, then that one, yellow, white, then heavy blue, bright red ... The paint in the bottle was quite hard to squeeze out, so I helped her from time and time. Sometimes she looked back at me, asking me to join her. Her face had dots of blue and yellow. Her robe was too big. Her eyes glistening, she smiled from ear to ear, she pointed the very unrecognizable splotch of paint, and said: "Tortoise." Or "Flower". Or "Sun"... I cannot help agreeing with her.

I watched her busy working while other kids came, played and went away fast. She did not want to leave. I was thinking, among Emma's many other qualities, she has the amazing ability to concentrate, to repeat doing things over and over. This is especially obvious at CCM. She would always stay at one place and play and play
until she is so exhausted and we have to leave. The Montessori theory always ring true in such an extraordinarily prepared and stimulating environment like Children's museum.

So Emma stayed there painting and painting for almost an hour. Finally, she moved on to wander around. She found a little chalk-drawing black round table, so she sat and drew a little. Then she proceeded to do clay modeling. We were puzzled and challenged by the hard, lead-colored clay. We sat down around the big table, where a lot of older kids or young adults were also working, and played a while, Emma made a lot of small clay balls and put on the clay head everywhere, naming whatever she liked, eyes or ears or whatever.

The last fun part was a little mirrored Kaleidoscope tunnel in the shape of a house with slanted roofs. We crawled in and out, out and in, looking at ourselves reflected from every angel.

At last Emma was so tired. I took her out, put her in the stroller. I pushed and she slept.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
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leo said...

You two had a nice day in museum.

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