Boston Children’s Museum Launches Open-Ended Exploration and Discovery Kits

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School Readiness Materials Support Summer and At-Home Learning

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We’re excited to continue partnering with under-resourced families in new and exciting ways and to try to find innovative solutions to encourage families to learn and play together.

In order to support summer and at-home learning for under-resourced families within Greater Boston, Boston Children's Museum has recently launched three activity kit projects. The kits are designed for families with young children (under age 10) and are filled with fun and engaging materials to help children and families play, explore, and create together.

Through conversations with the Museum’s many community partners and surveys to families, it was discovered that families were getting a great deal of activity ideas from online sources but did not always have the materials at home to do the activities. These kits are designed to provide some of these materials to families, along with ideas for how the materials might be used.

The three kit projects include:

  • 200 kits with school and craft supplies for school-aged children generously supported by the Vertex Foundation and distributed over the summer to Boston's PA Shaw Elementary School.
  • 265 kits with school and craft supplies for school-aged children and activity ideas in English and Spanish to be distributed over the summer or during school year within Lawrence Public Schools.
  • 300 Tools for Tiny Hands multilingual kits for children ages 2 to 5 and their caregivers generously supported by Liberty Mutual Foundation and The Counts Family. The Museum is working with two Boston Family Engagement Network (BFEN) Neighborhood Agents in Mattapan and Roslindale to distribute kits to families in August.

Since the kits are intended to support summer and at-home learning, the Museum has provided suggestions of some developmentally-appropriate activities that families could engage in to use the materials—but there are many ways these materials could be used, and no one right way. One of the Museum's aims in crafting activities is to allow for open-ended exploration and discovery.

“We’re excited to continue partnering with under-resourced families in new and exciting ways and to try to find innovative solutions to encourage families to learn and play together,” said Kacy Hughes, director of Community Engagement at Boston Children’s Museum. “The world has thrown us a curveball but building strong relationships with community agencies like Boston Family Engagement Network and the Boston and Lawrence Public Schools will help us persevere.”

The Tools for Tiny Hands kits are designed for very young children, ages 2 to 5 years, and their adult caregivers to focus on activities that build fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are essential for children to develop and practice in the early years. With many young children not able to go to childcare right now, they may be less able to practice their fine motor skills. The kits offer families the tools and confidence to practice these skills at home. The kits are filled with tools that build fine motor skills, like scissors, paint brushes, eye droppers, and playdough. Activity resources for caregivers have been shared in languages identified by the Museum’s community partners, including Spanish, Haitian Creole, Arabic, and English. Educators from the Museum will work with community partners to introduce the kits to families during existing online playgroups. The Museum is working with BFEN partners to develop and execute an evaluation plan to assess kits, messages, and partnership to inform future efforts.

The Museum is also creating kits for school-aged children (over age 5) that contain materials that were gathered in consultation with classroom teachers that support children to engage in school activities. These kits will contain things like pencils, scissors, crayons, glue sticks, construction paper, and some outdoor toys to encourage physical activity, such as jump ropes, beach balls, and sidewalk chalk.

The kit projects provide materials and activities designed with a certain range of ages and skill development in mind. Through these projects, the Museum is providing families with resources that will support the caregivers and children with fun activities from a source they trust. The Museum hopes to expand the work to reach more families in more neighborhoods.

For more information, please visit BostonChildrensMuseum.org.

About Boston Children's Museum
Boston Children’s Museum engages children and families in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning. More information about Boston Children’s Museum can be found at BostonChildrensMuseum.org. Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Jo-Anne Baxter
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