The Chinese New Year is coming! And 2013 is the Year of the Snake! At Kidspace, we will be honoring this celebration with Chinese constellation presentations in our mobile observatory, red lantern making and other traditional crafts, a special themed book reading, and a traditional Chinese music performance.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this celebration, however, will be the special appearance of our ball python snake Baldwin! One of our expert Educators will be roaming the Museum grounds with Baldwin throughout the day, introducing him to guests, allowing them to touch him, and teaching them all about the snake’s connection to the Chinese zodiac.
At Kidspace, we aim to expose children to creatures in the animal kingdom that are traditionally viewed as scary, dangerous, ugly, and menacing, in an attempt to reframe the way that they see these animals. By teaching children that all creatures have a purpose and play their own important role in ecosystems around the world, we aim to de-stigmatize animals like Baldwin, and replace traditional fears toward these animals with a sense of wonder and appreciation for them as members of the earth-family.
In addition to our bald python, we have Rosie the tarantula, Kahn the scorpion, Maddy the Madagascar hissing cockroach, Farah the rat, Ozzie the bearded dragon, and a number of exciting spiders. Our Educators bring out at least two of these “animal staff” every day, and roam the Museum floor and gardens sharing all sorts of fascinating, exciting, and positive information with children, while emphasizing the similarities between us as humans and the creatures we traditionally see as scary. Many children have reported overcoming their fears of these types of creatures thanks to their experience at Kidspace. Our hope is that this exposure will ignite a larger appreciation for nature in general, and dissolve the wall that children sometimes see between themselves and the natural world.
Parents and their children see many “scary” creatures every day, such as common house spiders, lizards, cockroaches, etc. Every one of those encounters is an opportunity to teach your child about our local ecosystems, and inspire in them a curiosity about all of earth’s creatures. What kinds of questions can you ask your child next time they see a spider and feel fearful? What types of information can you give them to help them understand how helpful spiders are to the environment, and to help them realize how these creatures are our friends, and deserving of our respect?
So if your child is fearful of any of these “spooky” creatures, and you’d like to help them overcome that fear and replace it with understanding, stop by Kidspace for a visit with any one of them. If you time your visit right, you may just get up close and personal with one of them during one of our Animal Encounters! And if you’d like to become acquainted with Baldwin, be sure to come celebrate the Chinese New Year with us on Sunday, February 10th. We, and our animal staff, will look forward to seeing you!
Blog Entry by:
Brooke Applegate is an Education Manager at Kidspace Children’s Museum, with a long history of developing children’s programs in the arts, humanities and sciences. She comes to us from the La Brea Tar Pits, where she managed the school visits program. She has also taught international dance to children in her spare time and lived in Madrid, Spain to teach English as a second language.