SHHHHHH!!!! Don’t give away our secret hiding spot!

Our first week with real live museum visitors! It all began on Tuesday with our first ABC tour, which covered line, color, and shape with 4 and 5 year olds. The first thing we learned (and quickly) was that when a group arrives late, quick planning and flexibility are absolutely imperative.

Pablo Picasso
“The Red Armchair” 1931

We began with “The Red Armchair” by Pablo Picasso. Maybe it was the excitement of starting late or climbing two flights of stairs, nevertheless as soon as we began reviewing colors the kids were literally climbing on my Matthew and I. We wanted to be on their level but quickly realized that we were likened to objects in a jungle gym. The first thing we said to one another after the tour was, “Maybe sitting on stools would help?”

Our second tour was an Art from Many Places tour with 7, 8 and 9 year olds. Confident boys and shy girls characterized the group. In the beginning the girls hardly volunteered but by the end they were sharing between stops and volunteering in front of the last piece. One of the most surprising moments was when one of the boys, Boaz, responded assertively to our inquiry to “Name one thing you saw or learned today.” Boaz stated “I liked learning that artists show distance by making things in the front bigger than things in the back.” I’m sure our looks of excitement and shock were hardly masked.

Our last tour of the week was an ABC tour with 5, 6 and 7 year olds. We used stools and reviewed rules a bit more and shockingly we weren’t used as gym equipment! My favorite moment of the week was when I lead our final group to our last stop by telling them that we had to be really really quiet because we were going to a secret room! The kids were nearly silent as we tippy-toed our way to the American Folk Gallery. As we made our way into the room and hovered around a window that looks down into Ryerson library the kids excitement mounted

“Whoa… what’s down there?

“Is it a book store?”

“That man probably can’t see us!”

As we drew their attention into the gallery, I shifted my tone from a whisper to a normal speaking voice. The kids responded immediately…

“SHHHHH!!! Don’t give away our secret hiding spot!”

Matthew and I realized our dire mistake and kept our voices hushed for the remainder of the tour as the kids leaned in closer. This shift had an incredible effect because they went from fidgeting at times to being completely invested in finding shapes throughout the gallery. They found triangles, squares and then oval shapes in the faces of figures and the rectangular shape of an open book in the painting “Mrs. Noah Smith and Family” attributed to Ezra Ames. Shapes I frankly had not expected them to see…

Attributed to Ezra Ames
“Mrs. Noah Smith and Family” c. 1830

I guess I just have to remember that when I set up the rules for a secret mission, I too must abide by them until the end of the tour!

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