Cincinnati Museum Center opens Kids’ Town Park for region’s youngest learners

Cincinnati Museum Center is giving the region’s youngest learners a new place to learn through play. A new language development exhibit in CMC’s Children’s Museum turns words into building blocks for curiosity, generosity and empathy.
Kids’ Town Park helps early learners ages 6 and under explore language development and literacy through play. An interactive pond projection teaches verbs as worms wriggle and butterflies flutter. A street library turns letter cards into a giant see-and-say. And an emotions wheel helps name feelings to nurture social-emotional learning. The vibrant, park-themed language development gallery is the museum’s newest permanent exhibit and the newest addition to The Children’s Museum.

“Language and literacy skills are the foundation of intellectual and emotional development. Research shows that children who are exposed to 30 million words in an intentional, meaningful way before age 3 are set up for future success,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president & CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “With Kids’ Town Park, we’re equipping kids and their adults with the curiosity and skills to surpass that number and to build positive habits they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives.”

Research by early literacy experts, preschool directors and pediatricians has shown that language gaps can appear as early as 18 months. These gaps, resulting from hearing fewer words during those critical early months of language development, impact future reading comprehension and overall academic, social and professional development. However, exposing children to a variety of words early and often helps develop vocabulary, reading comprehension, social-emotional skills, math and spatial skills and even generosity.

Kids’ Town Park encourages kids and adults to experience the space together. Rotating character cubes invite you to tell a funny story using six characters you can mix and match. (Will you put a toucan’s head on a tiger’s body as it walks on crocodile legs?) You can also connect spoken words with heard words by speaking to the talking tree and hearing your words repeated back to you in a different voice. A giant see-and-say connects letters and words with pictures as it reads the letter and picture out loud with a focus on phonics.

The new addition to The Children’s Museum also uses art to support literacy development. An art in the park station encourages you to create your own story using pieces of felt cut into familiar and abstract shapes. As kids and adults talk about the story together, they’re using three important cues to provide a rich language environment: tuning in to each other, talking about what they’re doing and taking turns to development conversation patterns.

Kids’ Town Park has space for the earliest language learners, too. Mirrors, textured shapes and tactile letters create moments of discovery and engagement between kids and adults. Every ooh and ahh becomes a steppingstone to forming words and every word the child hears is a building block to how they learn about the world around them.

Cincinnati Museum Center

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