Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina
For the past several months, I have worked with Marbles Kids Museum – a children’s museum that prioritizes learning and holistic development through play.
Below is the museum’s mission statement:
Marbles sparks imagination, discovery and learning through play. Marbles has 5 core initiatives:
Ready Set Learn. Play builds intellectual, social and emotional skills for success in learning and in life.
Be Healthy, Be Active. Play promotes physical development and good health.
Create, Innovate. Play encourages imagination, creativity and self-expression.
Explore, Experiment. Play leads to discovery and kindles curiosity.
Connect. Play teaches cooperation and collaboration, strengthens families and unites our community.
With Marbles, I worked in the imagiFAB exhibit space and performed research on opportunities for equity and inclusion that could be implemented across the entire museum.
Within imagiFAB, I helped support the various spaces (Create, Build, Make, and Animate) which all provided children with the opportunities, tools, resources, and space to practice crafting and workshopping projects of their own design. In Create, children can paint while making crafts out of paper, fabric, pipe cleaner, tape, and many other things. In Build, children play with Legos and building blocks. In Make, children can use real tools (yes, real tools) with wood to practice carpentry. In Animate, children can color a picture of an automotive vehicle that is projected onto a green screen — allowing the child to watch their creation drive or fly over downtown Raleigh. In each of these spaces, children work on their fine motor skills, develop their visual and tactile literacy, and learn how to play with others.
Beyond imagiFAB, my research explored the capacities of supporting a wide public of learners. Inspired by the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, the WOW! Children’s Museum, and Kids Quest, I created a Social Story and Sensory Menu for Marbles to help support families that might need additional sensory support. In doing this research and attempting these projects for the first time, I am excited by the educational resource work being performed and led by many children’s museums.
While most of my teaching experience has occurred within the K-12 public classroom or in higher education collegiate classes, I am greatly inspired by the pedagogical capacities of learning through and with play as we see with Marbles Children’s Museum. The prioritization of play also results in the prioritization of fun, creativity, self-directed exploration, imagination, and socio-emotional wellness. Moreover, the great work being accomplished by Marbles and similar spaces is a clear indication that greater attention should be given to the role of play in classroom spaces, such as those that I teach in too. What might a college curriculum look like when play is centered? How can learning standards and metrics coincide with play?