Millikin School of Education pays for DPS students to explore museum
There are plenty of new displays at the Children's Museum of Illinois, and thanks to the Millikin University School of Education, every kindergarten student in the Decatur Public School (DPS) District will be able to visit the museum this spring. The School of Education is paying the children's admission fees and the Children's Museum is covering the cost of buses.
This spring marks the second year that the School of Education has paid for students to come into the museum and explore the various exhibits, including an outdoor display called "Messy Materials."
"It's important for the museum to help make sure DPS students explored the museum because playing is a vital role of the learning process," said Dr. Christie Magoulias, director of the School of Education at Millikin. "Playing is learning for young children. When they play and they are allowed the time to play, their imaginations do the work for them. That is their work and the work of a child is to play."
The Children's Museum of Illinois and Millikin University's School of Education have collaborated for the past two years, developing exciting ways for children and families to engage in learning experiences in the indoor and outdoor spaces at the Museum.
School of Education faculty and Children's Museum staff worked together to create "Messy Materials" in a Reggio-inspired outdoor classroom, filled with many hands-on, child-centered experiences that promote critical thinking and other 21st century skills. In this way, the School of Education has helped the Museum develop an ecological approach in providing learning materials from the natural environment – such as wood, rocks, sand – that are more meaningful from the children's own community of Decatur, Ill.
In their "work," the children create their own structures and add on to others' work in a learning environment that promotes exploration and open-ended problem solving.
Dr. Magoulias added, "It's the job of parents and educators to set up environments where children can play and learn."