International Museum Day

International Museum Day

This morning, reading my morning social media feed provided a moment of serendipity. One of the posts reminded me that it was International Museum Day. Just recently, after assigning my writer’s circle students to write on a the events of a specific day in history, one completed the work for the date of May 18th, informitng me of International Museum Day. It was the first I’d heard of this designation and now, it had popped up again, only a couple of weeks later!

I’ve been fornuate to have been able to visit some wonderful museums. My travels include several international museums as well some closer to home.  I think my fascination with museums stems from an 8th grade field trip to the Toronto Science Center.  The other attractant that draws me to museums is that I love information!

Some of the museums recommended to visit in the United States are the following:

  • Franklin Institute – Philadelphia PA
  • The Air and Space Museum in San Diego, California
  • The Smithsonian Institution Museums in Washington, D.C.
    • The Air and Space Museum is a favorite and one I have been to several times in my life, sharing it with my parents, my husband, and my boys – all on separate occasions. If you like space flight and airplanes, it is the place to go!
    • The Natural History Museum is also a favorite of mine, having much to offer my curiosity about science and our natural world.
  • Also in Washington, D.C., is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. We took our teen boys to this museum in the summer of 2015. It is a sad and serious place that loudly reviberates the atrocities that humans can commit against each other. I would d like to say it should not be missed, but it is not for everyone. It might be too emotionally draining and definitely not something I would do with young children.
  • Being from Rochester, New York, a trip to the George Eastman Museum (and House) is necessary to for any visiting photographer or local resident fascinated with the lore of the Eastman Kodak Company.
  • Also in Rochester is the The Strong – National Museum of Play. This is what I would deem a pre-eminent children’s museum. It has something for everyone and probably bears repeat visits or membership if you are a local family in that region. I’ve been to other children’s museums around the country, including Madison, WI and even volunteered in our local children’s museum in La Crosse, WI, but nothing has ever surpassed The Strong! Of course their numerous and generous endowments allow this museum to continue to be top notch. One cannot reasonable expect other children’s museum to compete without simlar funding.
  • Philadelphia is filled with museums, and the Franklin Institute, mentioned above is filled with interesting exhibits.  One must visit Independence Mall, which has numerous museum like venues but is run by the National Park Service. Gettysburg is another place I would highly suggest visiting that has several museums or museum like exhibits.

Internationally, the following museums are interesting –

There is more about my visits to these Dutch museums in an earlier post on the Dutch artist, Vermeer.

As you can tell, I think museums are great places to visit. If you are able, start going to a few local museums with your children.  If they are exposed early to museums, they will develop an ability to appreciate the exhibits and time spent learning about our world!

Happy International Museum Day!

 

Summer Learning: Ramp Up your Vocabulary!

Summer Learning: Ramp Up your Vocabulary!

An earlier post of mine regarding ideas for summer learning drew some attention from online readers. It is still receiving regular views, despite not being published recently. This tells me that people, most likely parents, are looking for ways to enrich their children over the summer. Over the next few months, I will try to offer a more specific, weekly ideas on things you can do over the summer to enrich your child.

One area that can always use opportunity for enrichment is language arts. When my boys were younger, let’s say between kindergarten and 6th grade, I encouraged them to learn new words over the summer by making a “word wall” on their closet door.  The words I chose to post, usually on Sundays, came from words encountered in a book they were reading or from a resource book of lists containing common vocabulary based on grade level.  Since it was an activity for enrichment, the words chosen were high interest and slightly above grade level.

One way to do this is to use an online word generator for word walls. Scholastic has one  here: I just found this and it is user-friendly. You can made lists of words based on subjects, alphabetical order, or even the Dolce Sight Word list! You can generate your own word list too. Just now, I made a list of words for a presentation I did for elementary children on forests. These words were what I thought would be challenging for most students. This list might be somewhat generic, depending on the student with whom you will use it.  But, the nice part of being a parent and generating a word wall list is that  you know your child better than any teacher. You are reading books together, or still helping them choose books from the library for the summer. You know their interests, you know their skill level. You can hand-pick the words that will benefit their vocabulary and their interest areas.

Another resource for finding age appropriate word lists based on topic is at vocabulary.com. This site offers several different avenues to learn words. You can play a word definition game and earn points. The game adjusts to your knowledge of words and will eventually challenge your vocabulary. There are also word lists that are generated per topic or even event (like taking the SAT). I’ll have to share this with my high school junior who will take that college entrance exam next month. This is a fun, easy, and transportable way to learn new words if you access to a computer and the internet.  You can also put in a topic to search and the site will let you know if they already have a word list generated. In the search bar I typed in The Great Gatsby and Forests (as separate searches) and both queries returned extensive word lists.

The Lexile PowerV website generates lists of vocabulary words for over 125,00 books. It can be found here: Lexile PowerV Vocabulary Tool.  The lists are ten words long that are challenging and important for the students to know while reading the story.  If you know your child’s lexile reading level, this site would be an excellent resource to match books they are interested in with increasing vocabulary.

There are other sites, too. Keep in mind that I did not use any of these internet sites when I made my word wall lists for my boys. I just tried to challenge them with words I thought they should know, like “photosynthesis” for example. Or, I paged through one of the novels they chose for summer reading and extracted words I thought would be a challenge, but again, important to the story they are reading. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can always just search in the dictionary, as well. You, or your student,  can write words on a sheet of paper and post it where they spend a lot of time. Talk about the words on their list throughout the week. By the end of the week, if they have spent some time talking to you about the words, or even using one or two to include in a letter to grandma, your children will increase their vocabulary!  It should be painless.

And, who knows? It might also be fun!