The role of the child in public life has changed significantly in the last two centuries. From the eighteenth century definition of a child as one that must be "seen and not heard," to the present-day celebration of childhood and protection of children's rights, the child has always been one of our most enigmatic and enduring images. The development of children's museums across America in the last two decades, for example, seems to be an antidote to the stuffiness of some public museums and galleries which still do not allow or approve of children as visitors. One of these commendable projects is the Children's Museum of Kansas City.
Aiming to provide "an innovative, hands-on, learning environment where young children explore, discover and imagine through play," the Children's Museum of Kansas City offers a constructive facility through which kids can enjoy constructive and educational fun. Through a variety of tools and learning exhibits, the museum adheres to particular key fields in order to help a child's development, namely in areas of: diversity, problem solving, literacy, creativity, imagination, relationships, communication and curriculum integration. By using this method, the museum and its activities are designed to appeal to a wide range of childhood learning styles and modes of intelligence.
Having begun in the Carriage House of the Kansas State School for the Visually Handicapped in 1989, the museum has, to date, played host to over 270,000 children. Its main events include organising after school programmes and providing "Classrooms on Wheels"; in fact, the museum is now one of the best places to take your children in Kansas City, and it boasts a yearly attendance rate of over 23,000 people.
In employing particular education techniques and organising highly successful learning events, the Children's Museum of Kansas City has been integral in aiding childhood learning and playing in Kansas and its immediate vicinity. Its most popular programmes include: Discovery Days, exploring issues of science, art, history and culture; Family Fun Days; Youth Achievements Programs (YAPs) and Tot Time, a fun-learning program designed particularly for 2 - 3 year olds. The C.O.W., or 'Classroom on Wheels' facility, is a popular feature of the museum's services; a full-size bus, it contains a fossil-dig for children to enjoy, which includes an entire dinosaur skeleton made from copies of actual bones.
Furthermore, the Children's Museum of Kansas City even organises themed birthday parties; popular themes include teddy bear parties and "monster makeovers," as well as a Victorian-style tea party in which kids in attendance are given Victorian etiquette lessons from the Museum's Party Hostess, as well as elegant costumes in which to dress up. The success of the Children's Museum of Kansas City seems to be emulated in other children's museums across the country, including The Indianapolis Children's Museum and Detroit Children's Museum. Parents who wish to give their kids an education tour of America might find it enjoyable to take their children on a tour of the country's best children's museums; and with many of the larger hotel chains currently offering excellent rewards systems this isn't an unaffordable aspiration.
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