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By: Stacey Montgomery, Stacey M Design Inc.
Even though my son is now a young adult, I recently became intrigued by the newest exhibit at DuPage Children’s Museum—The Questioneers: Read. Question. Think. PLAY! Based on the series of children’s books by local author Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, this new exhibit cleverly weaves lessons related to the social emotional learning principles of self-awareness and relationship skills into a fun, hands-on experience.
The exhibit allows children to dive into the worlds of the Questioneers. Each title character is drawn to a unique hobby or interest. For example, the exhibit includes a station where children are challenged to construct a replica of the St. Louis Arch out of gigantic pancakes just like in Iggy Peck, Architect! There is also a “thinking chair,”—just like the one in Ada Twist, Scientist. Children can climb into the big chair and ponder—Why? What? How? and When? questions—just like Ada Twist!
Even though the characters are challenged along the way and even face failure, they eventually develop the confidence to pursue what way gives them joy. The message is clear. Allowing children to explore their passions empowers them to persevere and helps them to become self-aware and understand their self-worth– important social emotional learning skills.
What fascinates your child? At home encourage their passions by chatting with them about what they enjoy, giving them books, toys, and kits on the topic. While some children will eventually move on to something different, for others the interests will be lifelong.
My favorite station in the exhibit is Citizens’ Park. Children can walk into the world of Sofia Valdez, Future Prez and learn important lessons related to the social emotional learning competency of relationships skills. Sofia, a second grader, decides to petition her local government to clean up a hazardous, garbage-filled area in her community and convert it to a park. Along the way, she learned the impact of the diverse members of her community working together.
Children interact with the exhibit board game style. Children can roll a big die to determine the number of spaces to move through a replica of Citizens’ Park. As children stroll through the park, roll by roll, they learn the steps that Sofia had to take to bring about change. Children leave inspired that anyone, even a second-grader, can make a positive impact with active participation in the community and are encouraged to speak up when they see a problem.
At home, you can encourage your child to identify problems that they would like to help solve. Referencing the steps Sofia took, help your child develop a plan to improve a problematic situation at home, at school, or in the neighborhood.
The Questioneers: Read. Question. Think. PLAY! exhibit is a must-see for elementary-age children. Not only will they have fun experiencing this multifaceted interactive exhibit, but they may also leave feeling more confident in who they are and what they can accomplish. Will they want to build, invent, help, draw, or explore?
Stacey Montgomery is an Aurora, IL-based mom, author, and social emotional learning innovator. She authored a series of guided journals designed to empower kids to believe in themselves, pursue their goals, and respect differences. She also developed a supplemental social emotional learning program for elementary schools. For more information about Stacey’s books and program, visit staceymdesign.com.