I am a retired HS physics and science teacher and I am also the proud grandmother of 11 grandchildren. My husband and I love to take our grandchildren on trips and this year we took 6 of the younger children (5-8 yrs) on a trip to San Antonio. Since my husband and I are both teachers, we like to include something fun, but educational on our trip.
It was a particularly hot and humid day, so we chose to take the kids to the new DoSeum that had just opened. The DoSeum is a huge, 5.5 acre magical facility full of everything science and much, much more all for a reasonable price with season ticket options available. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it!
The minute we walked through the doors, I was ecstatic to see all of the cool “sciencey” learning toys and exhibits everywhere! I was even more ecstatic to see the happy families playing with those cool learning toys!
The first area we entered was the section marked “Spy Academy.” This section allows the kids to “play detective” and solve clues to find secret rooms, tunnels and hidden drawers in the walls, staircase, and fireplace. My grandchildren stayed in that room for over an hour looking for clues. There are costumes available for several of the exhibits, so my little sleuths decided to wear trench coats and fedoras!
Spy Academy included a finger-printing station, a police photo station, plus secret codes that they had to decipher. They were so engaged by the activities in the Spy Academy section, I was not sure we would even see the rest of the museum that day! What fascinated me about this room was that it was so quiet! Most of the kids (and their parents) were thinking about their next clue. There was no talk. They were in the hunt searching for that solution to the mystery and their faces all showed complete determination to get the job done. It was awesome to see their problem-solving skills in action!
There is something about learning and play. Research tells us that children learn the best by playing and using their imagination to solve problems. I know that. I’m a teacher. I’ve read the research. But as I watched the many parents and children in that museum that day learn the same concepts I taught in my physics class, I thought to myself, I am looking at the way families have probably connected for thousands of years. Parents and grandparents taught survival skills or traditions that ensured family success. Playing is learning, and learning makes people happy and connects families! Kids and parents were both engaged in using their brains, solving problems and building memories. Everyone was smiling! It reminded me of my youth learning how to garden with my grandmother and how to sew with my mom- both lifetime skills and happy memories that will stay with me forever!
Nowadays, life is so hectic, and young parents or grandparents spend much of their would-be quality time commuting or working. I thought about how hard it is to incorporate fun learning into the day at home. This day at the museum with our grandchildren was a special time. It made me grateful for having grown up in “slower” times and it made me grateful for being able to share in the learning experience with my grandchildren. I give the day an A++!