We took Ollie to the Minnesota Children’s Museum the other day. I love having a membership and taking advantage of having a great place to go play when the weather isn’t so great. On this particular visit, I witnessed something really kind of cool as Ollie was playing.
His current favorite exhibit is Our World, which is designed to look like a busy city like St. Paul. It has a Hardware store, a Fire Station, a Post Office, a Farmer’s Market and a little food stand. I was so sure Ollie would love the Hardware store the most, but he’s actually been a fan of the Farmer’s Market and most recently, the post office. On this visit, he wanted to play at the post office. They have boxes for the kids to take upstairs and send down a couple of different chutes. There are also a couple of pulley systems to send the boxes upstairs. Ollie led us upstairs because he really wanted to send the boxes back down. And this is where I started to observe something interesting.
It was very busy on the day we were there, given that it was a weekend and the weather was crappy. So there were LOTS of kids playing. Ollie could barely get his hands on a box, but he managed to get one big one, so first he started playing with that. But then he realized it wasn’t one that was meant to be put down the chute. So he asked if we could go back downstairs. We said sure.
Downstairs he grabbed one box and then asked if we could go back upstairs. We did and he put it down the chute and was so excited about it. But then looked around and realized he wasn’t going to get another box from upstairs, so he asked to go back down again. This time, he handed a box to both Nate and I and asked us to carry them up for him. Now he had three boxes!
Back upstairs we repeated the process, he loved sending all three boxes back down the chute. And of course, asked to go down and get more boxes. So we headed back down once again. This time he did something that really was clever. There was a large mail bin sitting down by one of the mail chutes. He grabbed it and asked Nate to help him fill it up and then asked him to bring it upstairs. Now he had TONS of boxes all for himself. He was so proud of himself as he walked back up that mail chute.
After that we moved on to something else, but I was so impressed at how he solved a problem while he was playing. The progression from one box to filling up the mail bin with boxes was something he figured out all on his own and it was just so neat to see. It makes me stop and remember that play is so important and even if we don’t always see it, kids are learning through play all the time. I can’t wait to see what he’ll teach me the next time we go to the museum!
This post was written as part of the Minnesota Children’s Museum Play Advocate program.