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Children's Museum promotes creative thinking
It started with a trip to a Seattle-area children's museum with her grandchildren six years ago.
Babs Lonan, 68, was fascinated by the museum's pint-sized city.
Kids there can play a variety of roles — hostess, cook or customer in the cafe, an actor, lighting designer or audience member in the theater, etc.
"I came home with a desire to promote this kind of creative thinking," said Lonan, a long-time early education professor at Yuba College.
Earlier this month, she debuted her own modest version of that pretend world with something she calls the Children's Play Museum of Yuba-Sutter.
"It's a place where adults can interact with children, and play with children," she said.
For now, it is a series of traveling hands-on exhibits.
A $9,500 grant from the Yuba County Children and Families Commission helped sponsor its first few outings: An event in the foothills called Wild Hog Glory Daze was its premiere.
"People loved it, and they wanted more," she said of the erector-set type playground and exhibit areas.
"I just cried. It was so much better than i imagined it could be," Lonan said.
The Yuba City Stroll last Friday was the museum's second trial. She and fellow members of the museum's board also plan to showcase the museum at the Marysville Peach Festival in July, and a National Night Out event in Plumas Lake in August.
Among the exhibits in her make-believe, hands-on world are one where children can mimic activities in and around a farmers market, and another where kids can pretend to plant and harvest a garden.
"Pretend-play has been lost in the educational system. Those things are important to a child's thinking and development," she said. "Learning, for children until 8 years of age, should primarily come from play."
Her project, she said, came about with the help of members fromTwin Cities Association for the Education of Young Children.
Volunteers there have helped create the exhibits and form the structure of what Lonan hopes will eventually be a nonprofit organization.
And a museum, she said, needs a home.
She is shopping for a location, and for funding.
In the meantime, she said she is developing printed materials to help adults learn how to use her play areas.
"They kind of want to watch the children. They don't seem to know how to play with the kids," she said. "We want to help and encourage them."
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.