Discoveryland is our children’s gallery. It’s an amazing place where our youngest guests can play and learn. It’s also overcrowded and starting to fray around the edges. So in the spring, we will open our brand new early childhood gallery, CuriousCITY.
The design process for CuriousCITY started with a question: “What do we want to keep from our current Discoveryland?”
The unanimous answer: The airplane and the water table.
On the surface, we were answering the question of which exhibits get used most often. But as we discussed why these areas are so well loved, we began to see that we were actually answering the question: “How do children want to learn?”
When children decide to play at something, they are deciding to learn. Through collaborative dramatic play, as we see in the airport area, they are learning social skills such as sharing, communication, and conflict resolution. Children are also ‘trying on’ different roles. They are working towards understanding the social structure of our world and how their role fits in with those around them.
The popularity of the water table is easy to understand. Children are natural scientists – they ask questions, perform experiments, and apply their learning to new situations. Our water table provides an opportunity for open-ended exploration. A spot where children are free to answer their own questions in an environment where they’re encouraged to splash, spill, and generally make a mess.
So the water table and airport will find new life in CuriousCITY and as we designed this new gallery, we aimed to create more opportunities for open-ended, collaborative, and dramatic play. As children travel through Edmonton landmarks they will be on lookout at Fort Edmonton, control the lights on the High Level Bridge, and direct air traffic in the YEG Control Tower.
When it opens, CuriousCITY will be a supportive and enriching environment for children to learn the best way they know how – through play.