Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A magical place for children in Albion

While spending time at Albion, USA I was introduced to a children's centre of surprising and delightful creativity and organisation. I'd like to share some of the ideas I discovered there because these concepts could easily be reproduced elsewhere. I loved wandering around and seeing children and parents interacting with the mini--environments. I was, however, careful to avoid photographing any children and parents as this is forbidden.
The water table has running water where children can put slide in slices of plastic to alter the 'river's' flow and speed, and sail little boats etc

Some of the ideas at this Kids'N' Stuff children's museum can be done at home.

There's a stage with overhead balcony for putting on plays. Plenty of props and costumes. There's even a large puppet theatre where children can create their own imaginative stories.

One 'cabin' is devoted to Italy. Children are invited to cook pizzas in the pizza oven, play gloves supplied and play ingredients too. A picture of the Mona Lisa adorns the wall and there are other reminders of Italian culture and history.

Let me introduce you to the veterinary clinic. here we have stethoscopes and examining equipment, carry cages and food bowls. There is a light wall where x-rays of animals can be viewed, a reception area and information wall.

There is no shortage of animals needing to be checked and examined. Everything was scrupulously clean, of course.

The AgKnowledge section gives children the opportunity to become a farmer by planting and harvesting crops and feeding the animals They can use the hopper which sorts the grain according to what each animal likes to eat.

Atright is a bucket of animal food consisting of soybeans and wheat for the kids to sort in the hopper and feed to the animals


or maybe the children would like to drive a real John Deere harvester? you can do it here via donated equipment.

 Air and Movement exhibits teach children features of air movement, wind energy. here a ball is introduced and you can watch it move through the maze and even interrupt the passage.
Kids are naturally interested in bodies and how better to explore than putting a body together by moving x-rays into the correct positions on the table. A life-size 'doll' is also available to explore internally. see his organs spilling out. They can be popped back in, thank goodness.

The conservation station allows kids to explore the natural world around Michigan. They can be a conservation officer learning about the local plants and animals and discussing how to help the environment.

The messy art room is much as you'd expect; full of aprons, paint media including recycled materials
The Albion Community Foundation music room gives children the chance to try many types of musical instruments. An electronic organ has had the front panels replaced by glass so you can see it working while you play. there is a composing wall, drums to bang and instruments from other parts of the world.

I especially liked the PVC pipe organ. You tap on the inlets of each pipe with the bottom of a jandal. As you can see from the colours, each pipe prodes a different tone. it's very physical and it's fun.

Around the centre are US Mail post boxes. As children go about their learning activities they can write and post messages. Once they get to the Post office they can grab a post bag, visit the boxes and collect the letters, take them to be put in individual pot boxes at the Office. Letters can be weighed on the scales and stamps affixed.

Those who want to get physically serious can use the climbing wall. How high you get depends on how old and strong you are. There are hand and footholds only. It looked pretty difficult to me though I understand from staff that some kids get to the top.

The grocery Store is particularly impressive. It has equipment that works. The scanner takes the price of the article and the till records and makes additions. It's superbly stocked with all categories of food and grocery items.

Other areas of play include a glowroom wbhere kids can lie down on beanbags to look at the ceiling where stars and other objects can be viewed in the dark via ultraviolet, a little stream and bridge, barn, an infant and toddler area, an upstairs hospital and health centre.

There's a classroom on tap for school teachers to use. The centre is used for birthday parties, girl and cub scout programmes, field trips, preschool music and art and after-school programmes. It's open from Tuesday through Saturday and had 18,000 visitors in 2012. Albion can be proud of this awesome facility visit






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