Now, before you go all “But I’m not a paleontologist” or “But my kid doesn’t like dinosaurs” on me, just know that this is a project that requires very little pre-knowledge and is adaptable to nearly any collection your kid has (with the probable exception of those trampy Bratz dolls). Got diggers? Wild animals? Princesses? Gadgets? Got a kid with a collection of somethings? (Really, got a kid at all?) You’re all set.
And if you are suffering from any (or all) of the following, you need this project:
* the weather is too terrible to venture out – for the tenth straight day in a row
* the house is a mess
* the baby is sleeping, and the pre-schooler wants “something to do” [insert high-pitched whine here]
* all the play places and museums and other indoor distraction zones are CLOSED because it is New Year’s Day and who wants to venture out on a day like that, when they’ve already been home on vacation with the pre-school set for two weeks, and the Christmas cookies are stale, and the doting grandparents have all gone home, and there isn’t enough snow to build a snowman? I mean, really, WHO?
Step 1: Assemble all the possible entrants for this collection. This may take some time (a good thing), and it may take some organizing of the toy bins and other detritus left over from the recent toystraveganza (an even better thing).
Step 2: Look online for particularly excellent pictures of said objects (try Google Images). You’re making museum signs. Copy and paste small versions of these pictures into a word-processing document. (As long as you aren’t planning on charging admission to this museum anytime soon, you don’t have to worry about copyright infringement here.)
Step 3: Ask your child to narrate all he/she knows about the pictured objects. Depending on the child’s age, you may have to prompt with lots of questions. You may even choose to have said child do a little research and find out actual facts and dates to put on your signs. Or, if your kid is Son’s age, let all the information come out of his/her head. Write down what your child says, verbatim. Here’s a sample of what fine things can be produced with minimal parental intervention:
I love Tyrannosauruses because they are super-scary, and I like scary dinosaurs. I know what they eat. They eat meat. I know about their teeth. They are super sharp, and I like sharp things, and they hurt people. I know about their claws; they are super sharp. I know about their mouth; it opens super wide, and I know about the eyes because they blink.
(Image credit: Feenixx Publishing)
Step 4: Arrange all the objects and their signs and take lots of photos of the new museum.
Step 5 (optional): Get the toddler up from her nap, show her the museum, and watch her create crisis by knocking everything down.
Step 6 (depends on Step 5): Mediate the first round of Smackdown!: Toddler vs. Preschooler Edition 2008
Step 7: Repeat whatever steps from above you prefer, as long as you all maintain interest.
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Okay, so the incredibly gorgeous snowfall we had overnight proves to anyone who lives near me that I didn't write this whole post this morning...I started it last night when the greeny-brown grass and leaden sky were looking all Michigan-wintery and dull, dull, DULL. In fact, we made our museum yesterday. Today, we're making snowmen. But I stand by this project. And I'm off to help Son make a veloceraptor sign to go with the T-Rex one. Happy (Museum-y) New Year!