National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) member, Sarah Erdman, is an early childhood educator and museum professional who teaches at in a preschool in Virginia.  She advocates for early learning professionals to form partnerships with museums stating, ” museums help people learn and make meaning, share stories, and understand their cultural heritage through objects and resources.”  She adds, “Museums speak directly to a toddler’s ability to connect with concrete objects.  Things that children only read about in books have size, content, texture, light and sound when viewed in a museum.”  Further, museums ” enable preschoolers to participate in activities and engage with interactive elements in exhibits” and encourage language development as children interact with and manipulate objects.

James’ Place downtown location affords access to many enrichment opportunities including regular visits to the Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) at the Whatcom Museum.  The toddler and Pre-K classes walk to the FIG every other week.  The children interact with the various exhibits, have access to arts and crafts activities that complement the various exhibits and participate in programs conducted by the Children’s Museum Supervisor.

We were fortunate in establishing a collaborative relationship with the FIG education program staff, beginning in 2023.  Drew Whatley, Education Manager and Susan Buck, Family Interactive Gallery Supervisor enthusiastically helped craft a program that has become a highlight of the children’s experience at James’ Place.

The FIG visits constitute one component of the Arts, Literature and Culture curriculum at James’ Place.  Children learn best through hands on, direct interaction with the world and we have found no better place than the Children’s Museum Family Interactive Gallery to facilitate that learning.