Did you know Fresno has a children’s museum? Finding it can be tricky because it’s always on the move! You might find it at a school one day, or a private party the next.
Last Saturday, I found the Playzeum at Storyland and took my posse to test it out. I have four boys ages 2 to 9 and they all loved the exhibit.
Although created for ages 2 to 8, there’s really no limit on creativity. Playzeum Director Karen McEwen says, “We find we get kids across the board—younger kids even into teenage years—fascinated with building magnet trees and PVC pipes.”
The Beginning Of Playzeum
This portable “museum without walls” sprang like a phoenix from the ashes of the Metropolitan Museum. McEwen explained to me that after the Met closed, she and others realized the closure created a void of educational activities for kids. Although they didn’t have a building, they were determined to fill the gap.
McEwen and the Playzeum board have quite a bit of experience in museums and education. She notes, “Everybody that had left the Met pulled together for this project. It started originally for a facility but from there it spiraled into site visits. Our dream is, down the line, to have a facility—but we’re fairly new.
“We travel. We’re here at Storyland every other Saturday and we travel to schools as well. Right now, we’re looking to work from Madera to Kings County.”
Building Blocks for Learning
Playzeum is focused on the importance of play in developing young minds. According to research, kids benefit from social interactions while they play. At Storyland, I noticed this in action as Playzeum staff mingled with kids, striking up conversations and commenting on their creations.
Board Member Ann Wanger obviously knows how to engage in open-ended questions with kids, and she enjoys doing it. I was impressed with her friendly and relatable interactions. Playzeum sets parents and adults up for success in talking with kids about what they’re doing by creating cards with ideas for questions to ask while kids are playing. Talking with children helps them sort their thoughts and makes play more meaningful.
Playzeum works hard to make sure the work of children is educational. The exhibits aren’t just thrown together, they are carefully researched and selected for their engaging educational abilities. Playing with blocks, for instance, helps kids understand math concepts, vocabulary skills, and oral language. Plus it’s fun, which makes kids (and let’s be real, adults too) more receptive to new concepts and ideas.
Playzeum has partnered with the Central California Association for the Education of Young People to get the word out on how play and literacy are linked. As Karen McEwen puts it, “the ball is rolling for Playzeum,” so you can expect to see more fun and learning in years to come.
Start Playing Along With Playzeum
If you are interested in following Playzeum in their adventures, check out their Facebook page here. You can book Playzeum for birthday parties or request a school visit by visiting their website here.
Playzeum will be at Storyland on August 5 and 12, and you can play for free with admission to Storyland. For more information on these dates, check out the Facebook event page here.
Playzeum is located at 1155 West Shaw, Ste 104, Fresno CA 93711.
Contact (559) 222-5068 for information or visit them on the web at www.playzeum.org.
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