museum activities for families

A trip to a museum needn't be a drag for kids. Learn how to make it a day full of fun (and learning)

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Visiting an art museum is a wonderful way to nurture kids' art appreciation. To get the most out of a family field trip to a museum, here are a few ways to get ready and some kid-friendly activities that your pint-sized Picasso will enjoy!
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1. Parent Prep

Before you head out the door, spend a few minutes checking the museum's website. Knowing what's in store beforehand will help you think about what your kids might like to see. Choose just one or two exhibits that your kids will like best and focus your time there. Young children have difficulty paying attention, and they may get tired if you try to see too much all in one day.
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2. Preschool Private Eye

Turn your visit into an "I Spy" adventure with a museum scavenger hunt! For preschoolers, make a list of three to five simple things to look for. (Older children can look for more items.) Having a checklist will kids focussed and help them look more closely at the paintings you see.

Here are some ideas to put on your preschooler's list:
  • a picture of a child
  • a painting made only with dots
  • a piece of art that is only black and white or has their favorite color
  • a picture of people having a party
  • a sculpture of an animal
  • a piece of art that makes you feel happy and/or sad
  • a picture of something you might see outside (landscape)
  • a piece of art made out of one or many different shapes
  • a piece of art that is made of metal
Or you could play Art Museum Bingo. Print out the cards on sturdy paper and have your child check off each object she finds. Or play together. The first person to find four items in row wins!
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3. Play Art Student

Museums aren't just places to see artwork, they're places to make art! In fact, you may see art students with their sketch books in the museum during you visit. So, why not bring along a notebook and some crayons or colored pencils so your kids can create their version of their favorite painting or an original work of art of their own? You'll also be helping your kids feel right at home in the museum!
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4. No Peeking!

If the museum is not very crowded, here is a fun activity to try. Have your child stand in front of two or three paintings with their eyes closed. Choose one of the paintings and describe it to them as vividly as possible. When your child opens her eyes, have her try to pick out what painting you were describing.
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5. Make Up A Story

Have your child find a painting that they like and make up a story about it. Encourage your child to talk about who is in the painting, what they are doing, and where, when and why they are doing it. It can be a silly or serious story--whatever inspires them.
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6. Ask Questions

To keep kids eyes from glossing over, ask some questions while you're looking at the artwork. What would be a good name for this piece? What does this remind you of? What words would you use to describe this? How does this piece of art make you feel? Is it a realistic piece of art, or is it more a jumble of colors and shapes? What do you think the artist is trying to say? Do you like it? Tell me why or why not.
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