Early Childhood Connections: Creative Play

Batman visited the museum today! I was coming into the museum in the late afternoon the other day, when a four year old child wearing a batman shirt and cap was exiting with his parent. I said “Well, Batman, thanks for visiting Discovery Gateway today – did you have a nice visit?” I watched as the child shared the biggest grin … he was clearly delighted that I referred to him as “Batman,” to which he responded, “Yep. Gotta go back to the Bat Cave.”

Superheroes continue to capture the attention of children and adults alike. What is it about these fictional characters that we find fascinating? I recently read an article that said the recent opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron brought in more than $640 million worldwide in its first 12 days, and set a new record for a weekend opening. That’s amazing to me. There was a time when super hero play was thought of as violent, aggressive and disruptive. While it is true that can happen (children can get carried away when becoming consumed by this type of fantasy play), the good news is we know that pretend play is an avenue for healthy emotional development. If we re-think super hero play and direct its focus to pro-social superhero play, we can help children play safely and learn self control. Parents and caregivers can do this by setting up guidelines and supervise children while they play, encouraging positive super hero play and allowing children to face their fears in order to feel empowered and in control. Finally, recognize that superhero play is important, as it promotes creativity and social development. A great example is Super Kids Save the World! – the newest traveling exhibit visiting Discovery Gateway through the summer. Come see George and learn about how he will Save the World by Lunchtime.

Early Childhood Connections: Week of the Young Child

“Today we know more than ever before about the importance of children’s earliest years in shaping their learning and development. Yet, never before have the needs of young children and their families been more pressing.

“The Week of the Young Child™ is a time to recognize that children’s opportunities are our responsibilities, and to recommit ourselves to ensuring that each and every child experiences the type of early environment—at home, at child care, at school, and in the community—that will promote their early learning.”  – National Association for the Education of Young Children. (N.A.E.Y.C)

Discovery Gateway: The Children’s Museum of Utah is a dedicated space where children of all ages and abilities can imagine, discover and connect with their world. Please join me in celebrating children and families across the world during the week of April 12 – April 18 with a Finger Paint Challenge. Take some time out of the day to sit and finger paint with a child. Let your imagination and creativity soar as you both explore and experience the magic of art! Be sure to post on the Discovery Gateway Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages – we’d love to see your creations. For ideas and finger-paint recipes visit http://www.craftychild.com/finger-paint-recipes.html

Summer Camps 2015

Discovery Gateway is teaming up with the Natural History Museum of Utah to bring you summer fun and learning!

INVENTORS WORKSHOP | 2nd & 3rd grade

In Partnership with the Natural History Museum of Utah

July 14 – 17

8:30 am – 4:30 pm




It’s all about the creative process, inventors, and inventions this week. While at Discovery Gateway each morning we’ll get ready to participate in messy science. We’ll experiment with Instant Worms, create rockets, participate in Operation Egg Drop, and lots more. At NHMU each afternoon we’ll investigate inventors and invention that helped shape our world from the use of solar power to perfecting a kite design. We’ll also deconstruct gadgets and toys and then use our new skills and all those thingamabob parts to concoct our own amazing new contraptions. Drop campers off at Discovery Gateway by 8:30 am and pick up at NHMU by 4:30 pm. Transportation between sites will be provided by NHMU


DEVELOPMENT LAB | 4th & 5th Grade

In Partnership with the Natural History Museum of Utah

July 14 – 17 

8:30 am – 4:30 pm



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Calling all inventors! Join us as we explore the science, inventors and the inventions that have helped shape our world. We will tinker with ideas, build prototypes, and deconstruct gadgets and toys. We’ll use the leftover components to construct our very own contraptions. Campers will also explore a variety of messy science as they work with a wide range of materials that will be use to inspire design.

Drop campers off at NHMU by 8:30 am and pick up at Discovery Gateway by 4:30 pm. Transportation between sites will be provided by NHMU.


Early Childhood Connections: Literacy

March is National Literacy month, which encompasses so much more than just reading a good book. Many people believe that children are taught to read and write in Kindergarten; however, the foundation for reading and writing begins long before a child enters their formal school years. In fact, early or emergent literacy (everything a child knows about communication both verbal and written) begins as a child is learning to communicate.

Adults can support a child’s early literacy development in very simple ways, such talking to babies, responding to a toddler’s needs, reading to children, playing music, singing and encouraging children to write and verbalize their thoughts. The Association for Library Service to Children has a great list of the best of the best children’s books, which can be found at Ala.org.

This month, and all year long, remember that everything from lullabies to reading books is making a difference in a child’s early years. So, encourage children to write and draw daily, engage in conversation even as you drive in the car and, most importantly, enjoy these special early learning years!

Tammy M Spicer, MAEd | Director of Operations


Early Childhood Connections: Compassion & Empathy

Conversational Hearts – I Love You, and Be Mine are messages found on the tiny hearts that make their way into our Valentine’s Day mailboxes this time of year. These words are gently spoken to those we love as we go about our daily lives; they’re emotions that express how much we care about those who are most important to us. In addition, empathy is an emotion that encompasses love, caring and compassion. Empathy is the foundation for treating others as we would like to be treated—otherwise known as The Golden Rule.

I’d like to share with you some simple ways to teach empathy to young children. First of all, talk to children about all feelings and emotions, and don’t always expect your child to be happy—it’s human nature to experience all emotions. Respond to your child’s needs by helping them to identify their emotions, and find strategies to cope. Also, be forgiving and talk about the meaning of forgiveness. Help your child imagine what it must be like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Avoid comparisons and celebrate diversity. Most importantly, lead by example and model empathy yourself. Children are great observers. They listen to our words and watch how we handle situations, so show small acts of kindness whenever possible, and help those in need.

Visit Discovery Gateway on Thursday, February 12 for the Share the Warmth event and practice this empathy and compassion together as a family. Bring in a new or gently used blanket or coat for families at The Road Home in exchange for one free admission per donation. Also, you can participate in a service project from 11 am – 3 pm by helping us assemble craft kits for kids who are patients at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Tammy M Spicer, MAEd | Director of Operations

Early Childhood Connections: Happy New Year


Happy New Year 2015!

Each new year brings with it new opportunities and approaches to lifestyle. It’s the traditional time to reevaluate and make needed changes in our lives. It’s also an ideal time to begin introducing this concept to your older children. Children ages 7 – 12 years are able to understand the concept of New Year’s resolutions and make their own, because they still be forming habits that are not yet set in concrete like many adult habits are. Making resolutions with your children can be fun. I’d like to share some helpful ideas.

Make resolutions age appropriate, simple, and easy for children to understand. Use a calendar to track progress. Also, allow time for children to adjust to the new resolutions, praise them for their efforts, and most importantly celebrate the successes. Review resolutions together at the end of the year, and begin thinking of new family resolutions to begin the next year.

A fun way to transition from the holidays to New Year’s Day is to create a family New Year Tree. Prior to New Year’s Eve, decorate a small tree with party horns, streamers, and any other New Year’s party items. Write your old resolutions on note cards and place them on the tree, and then replace them with the new resolutions on New Year’s Day.

Tammy M Spicer, MAEd | Director of Operations

The Power of Giving


The Power of Giving

‘Tis the season to give and be grateful for all that we have. December has traditionally been the time of year that we encourage our children to give to those less fortunate. The concept of charity and giving is a message that we want our children to carry throughout the year rather than a onetime occurrence; the spirit of giving can become a way of life for children as they grow into adults who make charitable giving a habit.

Here are some ideas to get children involved with giving all year long: Donate gently used and outgrown clothes to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Help neighbors with projects. Assist an elderly neighbor. Donate food to the local food bank throughout the year. Create a savings jar for loose coins and donate the collection to a children’s charity once a year. Discovery Gateway’s End of Year giving campaign is another way you can give to families less fortunate. See details here.

Your encouragement and modeling of charitable giving by reaching out to others in need will become a way of life and children will come to truly understand the power of giving. When you help a child help others, you are creating a better world.

Tammy M Spicer, MAEd | Director of Operations