Learning STEM Through Play at the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum

As a child, I remember the swing set in my backyard fondly. Whenever my sister and I played on it, it transformed into incredible things. Sometimes, we were in a ship in the highest mast. Sometimes, we were on a rope bridge over top of a volcano and if you jumped off, you fell into the lava. Sometimes, the swings were airplanes taking us as high as our imaginations would let us. As adults, we remember being young, but it’s hard to remember the days when all we had to do was play and imagine. We were chefs, princes and princesses, rock stars, and race car drivers. We didn’t need real cars, crowns, pots and pans, or guitars. We made them out of the everyday things around us or used our imaginations to create them. Now, even thinking about that seems like a lot of work. Play is serious work for a child, it’s the avenue for which children learn and grow. Though our work is different now that we’re grown, we can see from these examples that we have actually been working since we were toddlers!

Children are curious about the world around them. They ask questions and expect answers. If they can’t get those answers, they keep trying until they do. We have seen kids play tirelessly doing the same thing over and over for hours with a smile on their face. Maybe they are learning how to play or maybe they are learning how to work. Perhaps they are learning to experiment and using the scientific method, all before spelling their own name.

The Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum (MMCM) is a place for kids to be curious, to be imaginative, and most importantly, to be free. In each of our 10 (soon to be 11) galleries kids can explore the world around them in a safe and inviting environment. That is our whole mission at MMCM, to encourage children’s creativity and curiosity to learn about our world. Through our exhibits, every child can explore and play uninhibited by normal constraints. They can touch everything, play with everything, and explore galleries that are scaled to a child’s size and point of view. They practice shopping, driving, painting, and more just like the adults they observe every day. Kids become mini-scientists learning things as they play, trying out each new space. The museum offers educational programming that enhances the learning they are already doing in so many ways. Through field trips, lessons, day camps, events and more, MMCM encourages kids to put into practice the skills they are taught and learn even more through hands-on play. Research shows that pretend play supports social and emotional development, language and communication skills and encourages thinking, learning and problem solving abilities.

Even Mr. Rogers recognized the importance of play and exploration. He saw unprecedented growth in children when they were given the freedom to be creative. The Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum hopes to spread that message to our community and be a welcoming place for kids to explore, learn, and grow. “Play is the work of childhood” and the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum lets kids play as hard as we adults work now.

For more information about MMCM, visit https://www.michildrensmuseum.org/ or call us at 989-399-6626.

*STEM Passport discount – Discounted admission for everyone at $5/person.  Click here to learn more about the STEM Passport

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