The DuPage Children’s Museum has reinvented two exhibit spaces, “Creativity Connections Young Explorers” and “Make It Move Young Explorers,” to engage families with children from birth to 2 years old.
Infants and toddlers can explore exhibits designed to consider their intellectual interests and physical capabilities, while also promoting brain development, a news release stated.
The experiences in the “Young Explorers” spaces were based on what has been learned through current and emerging research in early childhood development and through changes in the museum’s audience trends.
“The museum wanted to create beautiful spaces full of wonder and awe for our youngest visitors,” Kimberly Stull, director of exhibits and operations, stated in the release. “Our goal was to get babies out of strollers to experience the wonder and joy their older siblings do in the rest of the museum and to help inspire deeper connections between caregivers and their children.”
“Creativity Connections Young Explorers” focuses on beauty, wonder, color, light, shadow and texture. Infants and toddlers are able to explore light and shadow, enjoy some tummy time on the new “Tummy Time Circle” and explore “Seek & Find Drawers” alongside their caregiver.
It has the same feel as the space did before with some similar wall activities. Now, there is greater emphasis on the light and shadow activities to be more reflective of the “Creativity Connections” neighborhood, where the older kids play. There’s a mix of both active gross motor play and quiet activities that can spur conversation between caregivers and children.
“Make It Move Young Explorers” is all about movement. As a reflection of the exhibits around the space, the youngest explorers will be able to experiment with air, balls and physical movement. Infants will have a cozy corner, where they can explore loose parts; there is also a wave mat and baby ball pit, where infants can feel secure while they explore.
“The Toddler Climber” allows crawlers and toddlers to meet their caregivers eye to eye when they peek out windows at the surrounding areas; they can hoist a bucket full of balls to the top of “The Toddler Climber,” where they can watch the balls roll down a ball run just to go back to the bottom and start all over again. Infants and toddlers will practice important developmental behaviors such as object permanence, grasping and reaching, independence and attachment, and trial and error leading to mastery.
The planning and development of the exhibits has been more than two years in the making.
“The intentionality and the thoughtfulness surrounding how to create experiences and stimulate interactions that will naturally support the development of infants and toddlers is really special; I do not think that many spaces created for this age group often begin with this deep level of thinking,” Alix Tonsgard, early learning specialist, stated in the release. “Each and every little detail of these spaces – the graphics, the textures, the manipulatives, the larger exhibit pieces, [and] the intention behind them and how they come together to create the entirety of the space – were all carefully selected with children from birth to 24 months in mind.”
The museum helps develop curiosity, creativity, thinking and problem solving in young children through its mission: “DuPage Children’s Museum ignites the potential of all children to learn through hands-on exploration by integrating art, math and science.” DCM serves over 300,000 visitors annually, representing all 50 states and 575 zip codes in Illinois.
The museum is at 301 N. Washington St. Parking is free and the building is wheelchair accessible. For admission rates and other information, visit dupagechildrens.org or call 630-637-8000.