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There is power in play.

"Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning."

- Fred Rogers

Since 2016, a group of early childhood educators, parents, and community members have worked diligently to bring a destination worthy children’s museum to Ventura County. Motivated by their knowledge of the long-term impact of early experience—and inspired by the promise and excitement of young children—they have been committed to a children’s museum as a way to build on a strong local legacy that can contribute to future prosperity for the region. 

 

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They have built awareness and support in the region around a children’s museum and what the play-based, family-centered experiences characteristic of these museums can contribute to local children and families, and the greater community. kidSTREAM has engaged children and families in hands-on activities at locations across the region and opened a Vision Room called Kids Dream of kidSTREAM to share the kind of experiences children and families will enjoy in a permanent facility, as well as receive input from the community and stakeholders in what they value in what will be a destination-worthy regional children’s museum. kidSTREAM has delighted children by inviting them, their parents and grandparents to explore, play, and discover. And they have tested interest in a wide range of programs and exhibits. 

Over the first four years, this active group of educators, parents, grandparents, and community members has made friends, found new partners, and built a growing community around a children’s museum. Through listening and active engagement of parents, educators, innovators, artists, and business people in their learning and planning, the group has started to shape a children’s museum that reflects its home in Ventura County.

 

Despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, kidSTREAM continued to grow by hiring a veteran in the children's museum industry as the inaugural Executive Director, and tirelessly continued to serve the children of our region with quality hands-on, minds-on learning through kits and virtual program until restrictions eased. This dedication and commitment to community and prompted the City of Camarillo to transfer the full site, the 16,000 square foot former library building and 2-acres of land on which it resides to kidSTREAM.

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A LEARNING FRAMEWORK

The Learning Framework positions kidSTREAM as a robust resource for play that contributes to the well-being of children and the community. With an understanding of children’s development, recent research on brain development, the role of play in children’s optimal development, and deep familiarity with Ventura County and the surrounding region, the Framework orients the Museum towards irresistible experiences that get everyone into the act with play and make its value visible. 

 

AN EXHIBIT EXPERIENCE APPROACH

The Exhibit Experience Approach focuses on the first-person engagement that involves all the domains and senses and that is at the core of compelling exhibits and environments. A set of Essential Experiences that all children in the Museum’s age range, regardless of background, should enjoy regularly with family, friends, and peers, identifies the variety of opportunities and experiences. Unifying these experiences, providing coherence among them, inspiring ideas, and expressing a resounding commitment to play is a basic assertion: play = possibilities. 

 

GALLERY CONCEPTS

Gallery Concepts present both narrative and visual descriptions of the environments and activities where children, their parents, grandparents, caregivers, and educators will play, explore and share moments of discovery. Several indoor and outdoor galleries will animate the building and grounds. They are based on local settings and landmarks with play potential for children, their parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers to explore, think, discover, learn, and enjoy. 
 

  • Health & Human Connections & First Responders Deck is about stepping into the shoes of the grown ups we know and love; building empathy and understanding of our past, present, and future, as well as learning about our local heroes who keep us safe.

 

  • Agriculture and Farmers Market is about understanding where our food comes from both now and in the future. It is about playing with the possibilities of exploring nature: natural materials, open space, and inspiration. The “Things that Grow” gallery is about playing with the possibilities of the soil, seed, sun and water that help plants and animals thrive.
     

  • Air, Earth, and Science Gallery will feature the vast realm of the physical to the biological sciences with opportunities to explore a light and dark gallery to further understand the physics of light, as well as opportunities to deepen an understanding of the microscopic world - and what connects us - as well as what makes us unique!
     

  • Build It is an opportunity to engage in open-ended building design with a variety of different tools and materials. Young Engineers can collaborate on larger scale projects - as well as opportunities to draft and design.
     

  • Maker's Space is dedicated to open-ended learning opportunities which will be coupled with 21st century skills from coding and robotics to using repurposed materials to propose solutions to modern day problems.
     

  • Sensory Room is built around an engaging environment that is inclusive to children across the neurodivergent spectrum, which coupled with temporal opportunities for children who may be overwhelmed by the sounds and sights of a full and busy children's museum, such as "Free to be me" windows of time, kidSTREAM will have a dedicated space where things can be a quieter and calmer experience with sensory rich opportunities for learning.
     

  • Infant +Toddler Play Space is a safe space where children 3 years and younger can safely explore their environment with experiences that mirror the larger galleries around them.
     

  • Channel Islands and Pacific Ocean Adventure reflects the beautiful coastline of Ventura County as well as the Channel Islands. The gallery includes opportunities to climb kelp, surf waves, and visit a whale pod. 
     

  • Treehouse Climber + Adventure Trail is a gross motor adventure with many opportunities to climb high amongst the trees surrounding the outdoor galleries - or play low in parallel play adventures. Many adventures abound and allow for children to experience safe risks and test limits in a safe and exciting environment.
     

  • Sand and Water Play is a sensory playground incorporating drought-responsive water play where children can pump water down a natural creek bed, as well as creating a bank of mud for a mud shack experience, which incorporates a Pygmy Mammoth Dig just at the edge of the sandy beach.
     

  • Flexible Exhibit Space will be a central and revolving gallery that will provide many different opportunities for community engagement with the first exhibit anchored by a TapeScape, which will be an indoor climber created through a community build of scaffolding and packing tape with many points of engagement for children of all abilities.

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Since its founding, kidSTREAM has been thorough and energetic in its planning for a child-centered and family-friendly venue to serve the region. Consistently, its planning has been sound and solid. Further evidence of this conscientious approach and the commitment to being a recognized and reliable resource on the value of play is kidSTREAM’s work observing and studying the play activities and conditions of children and adults in the Vision Room: Kids Dream of kidSTREAM space. Such diligence promises an exciting and successful addition to the educational and cultural landscape of Ventura County and beyond. 

 

kidSTREAM’s mission and vision are to: 

 

Create an environment where children can explore, play, and discover, inspiring and empowering kids to become critical thinkers, innovators, and life-long learners.. 

 

LEARNING PURPOSE

A learning purpose defines a museum’s broad learning interests. Recognizing the powerful connection between learning and play, kidSTREAM’s Learning Purpose focuses on play and its benefits. kidSTREAM’s Learning Purpose is to: 

 

Make the joy and value of play, and its connections to learning and well-being,

visible to children, parents, teachers, and the community. 

 

LEARNING PRINCIPLES

Learning Principles emerge from the Learning Purpose and address the basic conditions that support children’s learning, particularly in informal learning settings. They are grounded in theory and research on play, learning, growth, and development. 

 

  • Play is essential for the optimal development of all children. It is essential to the cognitive, physical, social emotional well-being of children and youth. 

  • Play is a research activity. Motivated by their natural curiosity and desire to learn, children explore, ask questions, gather information, and make connections.

  • Children are active participants in their own learning, exploring the environment, learning to communicate, and building relationships.

  • Play builds active, healthy bodies. Children’s play facilitates their sensory-motor development and increases activity levels.

  • Learning is a social activity. Children learn in relationship with others, through talk, interaction, sharing information and finding out together with family and peers

  • Rich imaginative play provides not only social-emotional but also cognitive advantages to children. 

  • Children require direct experience with varied and real objects and materials. Children explore, manipulate, and elaborate using real objects in order to engage in symbolic forms of learning such as reading and writing.

  • Children’s learning is made visible through many forms. Children’s language, imaginative and constructive play, and movement allow them to discover themselves and the world; and integrate the two. 

  • Adults add a level of richness and variety to children’s play. By supporting and extending a child’s exploration, imaginary situations, or problem solving, adults play a critical role in guiding and nurturing children’s development.

 

LEARNER PROFILE

Serving an audience well relies on describing it in meaningful ways so that important characteristics, especially those most salient to planning experiences, are readily apparent. Fundamental to kidSTREAM’s planning for its audience is its target audience; a view of its audience as learners; age groupings based on age-related development; and the priority among groups based on their presence at kidSTREAM . 

kidSTREAM ’s target audience is: 

  • Children 10 years and under 

  • Their parents, caregivers and teachers 

  • In Ventura County

kidSTREAM's secondary audience is:

  • Children 11-13 years old

  • Museum Volunteers

  • Outside of Ventura County

 

kidSTREAM views its audiences as learners. Reflecting a natural disposition to learn, children display remarkable feats of learning early in life. Even before going to school, children learn to walk, talk, dress themselves, and get along with others. 
 

How a museum views its learners influences how it shapes learning experiences for them. Making its view of learners explicit, guides a museum in deliberately selecting and shaping settings and situations to engage with the key attributes that learners, both young and experienced, bring to the museum. 

 

kidSTREAM sees its learners as: 

  • Social, learning with and from others 

  • Active and engaged 

  • Curious and inquisitive 

  • Creative and imaginative 

  • Responsive and open to opportunities and experiences 

 

Learners can also be tired, demanding, distracted, all of which are qualities that can interfere with learning. These, however, are best managed through architecture and wayfinding, through amenities such as seating and food service, through exhibit maintenance, and through staff training and customer service. 

 

Planning learning experiences relies on a solid understanding of the audience that will engage with and benefit from. kidSTREAM defines learner groups by the age of child, since age-related development drives other important considerations: how children of different ages explore, play with, and learn from objects, activities, and spaces; how they interact with family and peers; and what appropriate supporting materials are needed.

 

Since its beginning, kidSTREAM has been thorough and energetic in its planning for a child-centered and family-friendly venue to serve the region. Consistently, its planning has been sound and solid. Further evidence of this conscientious approach and the commitment to being a recognized and reliable resource on the value of play is kidSTREAM’s work observing and studying the play activities and conditions of children and adults in the Vision Room. Such diligence promises an exciting and successful addition to the educational and cultural landscape of Ventura County.