Who knew children could learn so much through play? At the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem (CMWS), located in the Piedmont Triad, we see children learning every day while they watch scarves zip through the Amazing Airways exhibit, cooperate and collaborate on fortresses in Built It!, or take part in a story time or special program. CMWS is designed to enhance the educational power of play with age appropriate, open-ended experiences.
The Children’s Museum opened its doors in November 2004 and was a gift to the community from the Junior League of Winston-Salem to celebrate its 75th anniversary. In November 2014, CMWS celebrated its 10th birthday and a decade of play. The museum focuses on children from birth through age 10 and their caregivers using literature, storytelling, and arts as its platforms. Our member families and visitors have stories to abound regarding their visits to CMWS. One of our members said, “My children are really using the exhibits as a background for their imaginative play,” a sentiment which gets at the heart of the Children’s Museum experience. Children are able to challenge themselves physically and experience positive risk every day as they climb the museum’s Beanstalk from the first to second floor or weave their way through Kaleidoscape, a hand crocheted play structure created by Japanese textile artist, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam. Kaledioscape is MacAdam’s first permanent installation in North America.
Just like adults, children need an opportunity to practice their market place skills and social negotiation. At CMWS, kids go “behind the scenes” in the Food Lion grocery store exhibit and become a cashier, bakery or deli employee, or customer. Kids in the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Factory work together with other visitors to “make doughnuts,” a logical step-by-step process. While exhibits at the museum can provide a backdrop and stepping off point for imaginative play, children make each visit their own while imagining and creating their very own dialogue for their own stories and memories.
As we struggle with how to increase literacy rates among our children, experiences reading with your child in the Amazing Library and pointing out the letters in the Animal Alphabet instill early building blocks of literacy. A mother of one of our frequent visitors said, “When we moved back to the United States, the museum’s library was her favorite place to practice her language skills.” Using imaginations, creativity and role playing in the Enchanted Forest as you recreate your version of the Three Little Bears or give your own puppet show to an audience bring stories to life.
Last year, Peppercorn Theatre became a part of the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem, allowing both organizations to expand performance theatre options to include a full summer season and community shows during the year while also expanding field trip opportunities to include live performance and additional educational programming offerings on the floor each day. While making memories at the Children’s Museum, you can rest assured knowing you have offered a fun space with growth and learning as well.
Arkansas State University
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