Sure, summer is vacation time and kids get the chance to unwind and destress. But fun doesn’t mean your kids still can’t be learning. While Los Angeles has many amazing museums that are made for kids, there are a plethora of other museum options that contain important educational content. And you can make those “adult” museum opportunities both a fun AND learning experience for your child with these six tips!
1. Plan Ahead
Before you jump in the car and head to your favorite Los Angeles museum like the Getty or the LA County Museum of Art, do some planning. Check out the museum’s website and find out more about the specific art your child will see at the museum. Have your child choose a number (four to ten, depending on your child’s age) of pieces they would like to see, and talk about the art with your child ahead of time. Read about in what time period they were created and why they are important. Print out the art pieces and use them to create a treasure hunt at the museum to find “their” art pieces. Helping your child connect to the art and artist ahead of time will give them something to look forward to as they walk around the museum and make the art come alive as they find the “original” art in person. Once they find the match, talk about the original. Is the original a good representation of the printout? Are the colors the same in the original and the printout? What do they like best about the art?Didn’t plan ahead? No worries, you can do the same treasure hunt mentioned above by visiting the museum gift shop when you arrive and allowing your child to purchase postcards of the art they would like to see in person!
2. Map It Out
Kids can find excitement and discovery when asked to follow a map to a location. Grab the museum brochure and map when you arrive and ask your child to navigate you to a room or item they want to see. It will be an adventure following your child through the ins and outs of any museum and you’ll discover surprising treasures along the way.
3. Create A Game
Kids love games and they can be fun for adults, too! Here are a couple of museum games you can play for optimum museum fun!
- Choose a piece. There are several variations of this game. Each person in your group should choose one piece of art in each room that they would rescue if the museum was on fire AND one piece that they would throw into the hot flames as they ran from the burning building. Or, ask your kid to choose the painting they would most like to travel into if they could visit there. OR, have your child pretend to be an art collector and tell them then need to record (in writing and/or photo, if allowed) ten pieces of art they would like to have in their art collection. Always ask why so that you can discuss more about the art pieces.
- Counting game. This is especially fun for younger kids…give them something to find and count. It might be number of flowers in a painting, the number of different animals in an exhibit, or the number of faces made of stone.
- Eye Spy. Focusing on the eyes in a work of art can be captivating for the young and old. Ask your kids to find the paintings with the best eyes that tell a story about the person. Or look at the details of number of brush stroked it took to paint the eye. Ask your kids what those eyes reveal about the person.
4. Scavenger Hunt.
This is another type of game that can be super fun for kids and adults. And if you’re in a large group, you can even break out into teams. Create a list of things to find in pieces of art. You can win in two different ways – by finding the most things in only one painting OR by finding everything on the list. Choose carefully, because the second way may create a rush to only find the items and not study the art. You can vary the length of the list depending on the age of your kids and/or the amount of time you want to spend. Use the museum website to get ideas for your list based on the art that will be displayed. You have to write down the name of the painting (or take a photo, museum rules allow) to get credit for the find. Examples of things you might look for include:
a gold crown
a bowl of fruit
a fancy headdress
flowers in a vase
a furry animal
5. Fuel Up With Food
This may be a “no-brainer,” but if you’re traveling with kids, make sure you make time for regular snacks and meals during your trip. Even adults get cranky when they are hungry, so give your kids a break to rest their legs and fill their tummies. Most museums have some sort of restaurant or food options, but if not, be sure to pack some snacks that can be easily consumed along the way. This will also give you a chance to discuss the art you have already seen.
6. Get The Cameras Out (if allowed)
Check with the museum staff to see what the rules are for photography at the museum. Many allow it as long as there is no flash. If they do, let your kids take selfies with their favorite pieces of art. Or, let them take photos of their favorite pieces of art, framed just perfectly to capture everything they love about the piece. Better yet, you take photos of them mimicking whatever is going on in the painting. This will help your child better study the piece of art, explore expressions and details and make better connections. Your kids will have fun pretending to be the different people they find in the art.
At Chatsworth Hills Academy, we work to make learning fun. Don’t let the summer pass your children by mindlessly floating at the pool. Visit one of the fantastic adult museums in Los Angeles and open up new worlds of interests in different cultures, different ideas of beauty and they way people used to live. Making these visits fun will keep your kids wanting to return, and learning, again and again!