Parents know that one of their most important roles is encouraging their child to look at the world with wonder and use their imaginations. Albert Einstein famously said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Creativity and imagination are often cited as the best predictors of future success in later life but recent research shows that children today are less creative than they used to be. A 2010 study from the College of William and Mary found that since 1990, children have “become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas.”
We’ve found five unique and engaging opportunities for you to help your child wonder and imagine right here in Central Pennsylvania. Share with us in the comments or on our Facebook to let us know where you like to go to imagine with your children.
Billing themselves as “a place to discover it all”, this hands-on science museum in Harrisburg offers engaging activities for kids of all ages. The KidsPlace area is especially designed to spark imagination and creativity in the museum’s youngest visitors with an aquarium, waterworks area, construction zone, and kid-sized farmers market play place.
Hike it Baby Harrisburg
Exploring the great outdoors has been proven to spark imaginative development in children. A 2006 Danish study found that children who played and learned outdoors were much more likely to invent new games than their indoor counterparts. Other studies have shown that outdoor play is positively linked with the development of imagination and a sense of wonder. Central PA offers countless opportunities for children to explore nature, from your own backyard to the Appalachian Trail. The region also has a very active chapter of a national organization called Hike It Baby. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers lead hikes throughout the week and on weekends for a variety of ages and skill levels- including nature trail hikes, river walks, and urban strolls.
Scheduled hikes: http://bit.ly/1RAhf3H.
Hike it Baby Harrisburg Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hikeitbabyharrisburg/
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
This Harrisburg museum has a section called Curiosity Connection, which they describe as “your child’s first museum experience”- a hands-on environment designed for imaginative children ages 1-5, featuring giant farm animals, oversized blocks and train sets, an assembly line, and dress-up clothing.
Susquehanna Art Museum
Speaking to the National Endowment of the Arts, Rebecca Davidson, Manager of School and Educator Programs at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, says “Bringing children to museums opens their eyes to different ideas and perspectives that are relevant to their lives. This kind of exposure can help develop higher critical and creative thinking skills, which are integral to future success.” The new Susquehanna Art Museum, in Harrisburg’s Midtown neighborhood, offers youth programming for children as young as 4. Older children can take more advanced classes and families can participate in sculpture classes or family painting parties.
Hershey’s Chocolate World
A favorite area destination for families, Hershey’s Chocolate World offers several hands-on activities for kids and parents to flex their creativity and imagination. Whether they’re creating their own candy bar (picking the ingredients and designing the wrapper) or creating chocolate desserts like personalized cupcakes or s’mores, this should be a sweet experience for sure.
Here’s to a very imaginative Spring with the kiddos!