Ready, Set, Grow

Sponsored by First 5 Tulare County

The learning needs of infants and toddlers are unique. These youngest visitors to the museum are little, less physically able, and use their bodies and their minds differently than older children. Infants, toddlers, and their adult caregivers benefit from an environment that is tailored just for them and is distinctive and protected from the high energy and activity of the rest of the museum.

Description

Since families who visit children’s museums often have children of varying ages, it is optimal to provide compelling learning experiences for everyone. The infant-toddler area is designed to provide activities that are sensitive to the developmental challenges of the youngest visitors as they use their eyes, hands, and ears while exercising their language, cognitive, motor, and social skills. A centralized location helps adults keep an eye on both older and younger children simultaneously. The infant-toddler area also provides adult caregivers with the opportunity to gather, talk, and share the joys and challenges of raising their young children as well as to learn about child development from signage, programming and printed materials.

Ready, Set, Grow! offers the youngest visitors a beautiful environment celebrating nature and dedicated to providing a museum experience specifically for their unique developmental needs and emerging cognitive, language, physical, sensory, and emotional skills. Gated (so the little ones can’t escape and big children can’t intrude), this cozy and inviting area is tailored just for children under 3 years of age and their  adult caregivers. Low bench seating around the perimeter provides adults with a comfortable place to sit while they observe their youngest children and at the same time keep their older children in clear sight in adjacent areas. In addition, this informal seating arrangement provides a natural spot for adults to gather, talk, and learn from one another. A quiet, private nursing corner offers mothers and their infants a relaxing place for feeding. Simply written bilingual labels provide helpful information to parents and caregivers that can help them to understand and enrich their children’s development.

Rich in color, light, and texture and themed to reflect the natural beauty of the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, Ready, Set, Grow! offers many engaging activities. Slight changes in the elevation of the floor provide gentle hills for crawling over and onto. Soft sculptured boulders are the right height to provide children a place pull up to stand and get a different view of the people and activities around them. Smaller soft boulders are just right for pushing and rolling. A small playhouse without a front door has a large push button musical doorbell at the entrance, a large switch to turn the lights on and off, and a window to look out of. The interior of the playhouse has a small kitchen with a play stove and sink, pot and pans, play dishes, a small table, and two little chairs. A small scale Valley oak tree located next to the playhouse has nooks housing soft sculpture animals and birds that can be taken out.

A wide variety of easy-to-clean cause and effect toys are found in baskets and colorful soft plastic containers on the floor, as well as mounted to the walls within easy reach, thus providing opportunities for joyful exploration, fine and gross motor development, and experimentation. A wall-mounted cause and effect busy-box panel invites children to flip switches, turn dials, push buttons, and slide little doors back and forth. Unbreakable mirrors are mounted on the inner side of the adult seating area so children are able to watch themselves and other little ones who are moving about on the floor. A large, touch activated piano on the floor may be patted, crawled upon, or toddled across and encourages musical exploration as it plays clear tones. Wall-mounted drum heads, xylopipes, and a bamboo xylophone may be hit with padded beaters to create a variety of musical tones.

Ready, Set, Grow

Baskets and bins with age-appropriate toys (for example, rattles for babies and puzzles for toddlers) will be available, and a system will be in place to ensure that ‘used’ toys aren’t passed
from baby to baby.

Sturdy board books with pictures and bilingual text introduce the importance of reading and books to children and their caretaker adults. A small bookshelf located just outside this area and right next to the low seating provides bilingual books and other print resources for adults.

Caters from 0 – 5.