Friday, October 8, 2010

Design for Kids

Hey everyone! Today I sat down with Please Touch Museum's Arts Coordinator, Nora Banks, to talk her about Design Philadelphia and how kids can get involved with design.

Pinky: So I've been hearing a lot about Design Philadelphia at Please Touch Museum- what do people mean when they say Design Philadelphia? And how is Please Touch Museum celebrating?

Nora: Great question Pinky! Design Philadelphia is a city-wide celebration of all types of design that takes place from October 7-17. People are celebrating by offering special exhibits, programs, lectures and parties throughout the city.

If you visit the Program Room this month you will find our Fashion Design & Storybook Time Activity.

Pinky: I like Fashion Design and I like Storybooks, so what kinds of things will I be able to play with?

Nora: Fashion Design & Storybook Time has some of the most beloved storybook characters of all time (Madeline, Max, Corduroy, Peter Rabbit, Max & Ruby). With the help of Design Exploration and Creativity Kits donated by The Design Center at Philadelphia University, I created world cultural clothing for these characters to try on. Kids can dress the characters in new and different ways with kilts, kimonos, mud cloths, kente cloths and even sarongs. We also hope that families will take the opportunity read together as they play.

Pinky: Last year for Halloween, I dressed up as a mummy! I loved that costume AND I designed it myself! How can kids be designers?

Nora: Children are natural born designers and design is all around them! Design was the start of the strollers they ride in; it's part of clothing they wear; it's in the toys they play with; and even in the schools they learn in.

Do you have a kid who always has suggestions how to re-decorate their bedroom or play room? Do they like to pick out their own outfits for school in the morning?

If so, you may be able to encourage their love of design by allowing them to make those independent design choices (when feasible). If your child requests to transform their room into a pirate ship, this may sound like an impossible task but try to work as a team to think of inexpensive ways and manageable steps that can help transform the room. Artwork is one way to decorate a child’s room and make them feel proud of their accomplishments. Bring out the art supplies and let them design whatever they would like. It can be a pirate ship, an eye patch, or even the signature red and black striped patterns that pirates wear.

Pinky: Maybe I could redecorate my room with lots of pink and some trees and some stripes and…oh wait, how old do I have to be to start designing my own things?

Nora: You are never too young to start experimenting with design and art materials. Allowing a child who is as young as 18 months old to use a washable crayon, marker or other writing utensil allows them to build the muscle memory necessary for development of early writing skills. Supply them with a large, blank piece of paper and many parents will be surprised by the results! Always try to recognize the effort that went into making the art. In doing this, you communicate that effort, not ability, is necessary for success.

Pinky: Thanks for meeting with me today and I hope to see you at some of the DesignPhiladelphia Events!

Nora: Thank you, Pinky. I'm looking forward to seeing how you re-design your room!

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We're all about learning through play.

Join Pinky, one of Please Touch Museum's resident puppets, on an inside look into all the fun, educational things happening at Philly's Children's Museum. This blog is not just about what we do at the museum, but about the educational philosophy behind why we do what we do.