Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part Four—Practical tips and suggestions
Yes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums. Apply these tips and watch students enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.
- Think about your purse or bag. Some museums won’t let you carry a large bag. A diaper bag or Mom backpack won’t cut it. Think about how you’ll carry your wallet and keys. Maybe you want a small purse that’s easy to carry. Also, bring some quarters for the locker. Many museums’ lockers are free these days, but not all. It’s good to be prepared.
- Remember that children have short attention spans. A teacher’s rule of thumb: a child can focus intently for the same number of minutes as his age in years. Of course, if you can truly engage the child, he will focus for much longer. Just keep this in mind for those times when you want to linger over an exhibit, but your child is done quickly. That’s how kids are.
- Hydrate! Bathroom! These two go hand-in-hand. When you feel your energy lag at the museum, it’s time to hydrate. A nice big glass (or bottle) of water will restore you pretty quickly. Then hit the bathrooms—or plan to go soon—because you don’t want bathroom emergencies. I recommend you locate the bathrooms when you first enter the museum so you’re ready for a crisis.
- Eat something. Hungry kids are cranky kids. Eat something filling before you go, and find a snack while you’re there. Musuem cafes often have tasty offerings. Some cafes are on the expensive side, but they often have reasonably priced offerings for kids. If the café isn’t in your budget, bring a snack from home. Good Old Raisins and Peanuts (GORP) is an easy snack to bring. Add some M&M’s if you’re feeling generous. That plus water from the water fountain will get you pretty far.
- Take breaks. Many museums have beautiful grounds or a nice patio. Take breaks every so often and let the kids run around. Grab a snack from the café or head to the car to enjoy a brown-bag snack. In a pinch, get kids away from the exhibits and do a few yoga stretches or simple exercises.
- When all else fails, play I Spy. A game of I Spy can keep a child going even if she is not particularly interested in the exhibits. Alternatively, I Spy might help your child focus on the details. Sit on the bench in the middle of the gallery. Ahhh…that feels good! Now, play I Spy. Challenge your child (or students) to find the green this or that, an unexpected symbol, an artifact, etc.
Read all four posts about helping kids enjoy museums and historical locations:
Part four: practical tips and suggestions