The Art Institute and Young Children

I will be honest. When I was a kid, the Art Institute was definitely not my favorite museum. Oh, it was soooooooo boooooooring. It was just walking around and staring at a wall and waiting for my parents to finish reading signs.

Now, however, the Art Institute is one of my favorite places in all of Chicago. I’m old enough now (lol) to understand the importance of so many of the pieces in their collection. I could seriously sit and just look at a painting for a long time. At least until my girls started getting fidgety. But, in the years since I was a kiddo, the Art Institute has  done an amazing job at helping people (of all ages) to love art!

IMG_1410

One of the best areas in the museum is the Ryan Learning Center. Amazing. Perfect for kids. And there are things that for even the youngest art lover. On their shelves, you will find puzzles, blocks, and lots and lots of books.

IMG_1417

IMG_1418

When the girls were really little, we would spend hours building with blocks and reading book after book after book.

There is always an art project for kids to do that relates directly to an artist’s work that you can find somewhere in the museum. The last time we went, our girls made “light screens” in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright.

IMG_1423

But one of the best activities that you will find in the Learning Center is the JourneyMaker! It is amazing! The kids pick a theme, answer a few questions, and then print out their own art scavenger hunt based on their answers to use as a guide in the museum.

IMG_1338IMG_1339IMG_1340IMG_1341

The booklet that is printed, tells you exactly what gallery to find the art in, as well. This helps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. I try to combine both girls’ Journeys on a museum map so we can save time. This past time, most of their pieces to find were close to each other in the galleries.

Once you find a piece, there is an activity to do. Kids are asked to think of what questions they would ask the art, or try to pose like a statue, or imagine if their parent was wearing the same thing as the art. Lots of fun scenarios and it  helps them to engage with the art in a meaningful and age-appropriate way.

IMG_1346

Now, you certainly do not have to limit your museum visit by simply finding things in the JourneyMaker. I try to pick out a couple pieces that I want to see. Or a gallery or two that I would like to wander through.

Chances are really good, you’ll find me in the Impressionist galleries.

And a stop to see one of my faves:

IMG_1356

Plus, there are two galleries that I promise your kids will love! The miniatures and the armor!

IMG_1381

(If you are visiting during the holidays, the miniatures are fun to see decked out in holiday decor! Very fun.)

IMG_1397IMG_1398IMG_1399IMG_1400

The armor exhibit recently went through a huge update and is amazing!!!


It is tempting to try to see everything when visiting a museum. I’m going to be honest and say that if you tried to see everything at the Art Institute and you are traveling with young kids, you and your kids will most likely be miserable. Oh, I’ve been there. It’s not much fun. However, if you use the JourneyMaker as your guide and then pick a few other pieces that are must-sees for you, you and your kids will have a blast visiting one of Chicago’s best offerings!

Now, tell me…..have you been to the Art Institute? What are your must-sees?


This was one of one summer bucket list items!

Our list thus far:

Advertisements

Monday at MSI

This week, we also took advantage of the free Illinois resident admission at the Museum of Science and Industry. We knew, when we planned this day, that we were already going to pay extra for tickets to the special exhibit – Science of Pixar. However, you can really take advantage of the resident free admission by just going to the regular exhibits.

I will go ahead and say, I really really really recommend going to the Pixar exhibit. 1) It’s Disney! 2) It’s Pixar! 3) We all learned a lot! It’s astonishing to think about how much work goes into each individual second of an animated movie. Truly it’s astonishing.

IMG_0864

IMG_0862

But, if you don’t do the Pixar exhibit, there is still a lot to see at this museum. It’s huge!

IMG_0868

IMG_0882

Our summer list thus far:

A fun filled week – Summer Update #10

We’ve had many busy weeks recently but one week a couple weeks ago was especially busy. But, we were also able to take it easy when needed. (And it was needed, too.)

After that week, we were able to cross of several things from the to-do list:

IMG_8229

We saw a movie outdoors. We saw Lego Batman at the Oakbrook Center. Thankfully, the weather cooperated so we were able to do this! So fun!

IMG_8270

We went to the Chicago Children’s Museum. It was a really great night. Normally, when we’ve gone on a Thursday night (free admission on Thursday nights!), we had to wait in a long line to get in. That was not the case when we went last week. We were able to just walk right in! Awesome!

 

And, we went to a new-to-us playground downtown. Check out that view from the playground! The sky doesn’t look too friendly in the pictures but it was actually pretty nice out – although a bit humid so the misting coming from the sculpture was really nice.

The checklist thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

 

Summer Checklist – Update #3

We continued our museum days last week by attending the free days at the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium. These days were even more fun because we went to the museums with friends!

IMG_7858

IMG_7925

(Yes, I added the Museum of Science and Industry to the list just so I could cross it off. Somehow, I hadn’t remembered to add it to the original list.)

Last week has really been full of items from the checklist….. I’m exhausted already. 🙂

The list thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

 

Summer Checklist – Update #1

We’re starting off our summer by jumping into the checklist right away. Big girl has a lot of things that she wants to accomplish in the next few weeks so we started working our way through the checklist right away.

I love the free admission days at the museums. They are definitely crazy busy days to go to the museums, but, the free admission is a huge plus. Adler Planetarium had some free days last week so we were able to take two things off of the checklist:

IMG_7785

Go to Adler Planetarium!

And……

IMG_7793

Eat astronaut ice cream. We tried two flavors: neapolitan and mint chocolate chip. The mint chocolate chip was the favorite of the two types.

So, the list thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.

 

Summer Checklist – Update #4

Big girl informed me that her favorite museum that we go to is the “dinosaur museum”. Lucky for her, the Field Museum recently held their free days for Illinois residents. Lots of museums do free days (just check their websites). However, for some of the museums you will probably want to add on experiences instead of just the general admission since general admission may not allow you to visit the areas that you really want to see. So, you will save money since on free days, the museums offer a discounted price for the extra experiences (mostly because you aren’t paying the general admission in addition to the add-ons) but it won’t be free. At the Field, though, big girl’s favorite area is included in the general admission. Dinosaurs!

IMG_8614

Summer checklist update thus far:

  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the pool.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the playground.
  • Make cookies.
  • Go downtown.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Eat at Flat Top Grill.
  • Read books.
  • Eat at Noodles & Company.
  • Get ice cream.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Go to the water park.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Go to the movie theater.
  • Play on the McDonalds playground after lunch.
  • Go to family fun festival downtown.
  • Go to the Art Museum and go to the kids area after looking at paintings.
  • Go to the dinosaur museum (Field Museum).
  • Go to the space museum (Adler Planetarium).
  • Have a pajama day. (Although big girl has now requested that we have 100 pajama days.)