Indoor Holiday Explorations `Muppets' Enliven a Visit to Denver Kids' Museum

Article excerpt

A CHILDREN'S Museum has its own place in a community, its own function. If it's a good one, it not only aids teachers in formal education, it helps bridge the gap between school and the important education that goes on in the home. It offers the opportunity for parents to interact in the educational process with their children, says the director of The Children's Museum of Denver, Loren Behr.

"When we are developing exhibits," Ms. Behr says, "we are constantly thinking, `What is the parents role going to be in this exhibit?'" So exhibit labels are directed at parents, frequently in the form of questions in an effort to develop the process of inquiry.

But all the exhibits are designed for hands-on learning, inquiry, and problem solving. A good children's museum is a virtual lab of interactive learning.

Behr says that their busiest times are always vacation weeks when families come to view their new and exciting exhibits.

This year, the Denver Children's Museum offers a large, hot-air balloon that children can fill and release. The museum is always looking for ways to give children control over what they don't normally control.

In a special exhibit called "Drive-In Cafe," the museum attempts to demystify the world of animation. The kids are taught about its history at the same time they make simple animated forms. They incidentally learn that people are behind the scenes who are making decisions as to movement, story, and character.

The idea is to help children better separate fantasy from reality, while increasing their appreciation for (and, therefore, enjoyment of) this art form.

A grocery store teaches children simple and practical mathematics, nutrition, and decision-making skills. …