Port Discovery Creates A Variety of Virtual Learning & Enrichment Opportunities for Children, Families, Schools & More
In a normal year, Port Discovery Children’s Museum serves hundreds of thousands of children, families, teachers and students through hands-on play, learning, and experiences delivered at Port Discovery’s interactive Museum, in classrooms and community centers, and at community events.
Quite obviously, 2020 hasn’t been a normal year by any means – but despite temporary closures, canceled field trips, and all that COVID-19 has changed – Port Discovery’s mission to bring playful learning and joy to children and families throughout Maryland and beyond is alive and well.
One of the ways that Port Discovery has pivoted to continue serving children, families, teachers, and students is to design programming that meets people where they are, and gives them a variety of options to keep them playing and learning about themselves, building connections, and developing an understanding of the world around them.
Port Discovery has a variety of long-standing relationships with schools, educators, community centers, and organizations serving children and families. As they’ve pivoted to providing virtual and hybrid learning, Port Discovery’s team of play experts has teamed up to provide teachers and caregivers with ready-made live and pre-recorded programs that they can use to keep kids active and engaged in their virtual and in-person classrooms.
From individual live sessions to series-based offerings exploring subjects like STEM and Art, Port Discovery’s educators have provided hundreds of children with live, interactive play and learning programs over the last 10 months. Paired with hands-on material kits that participants can use as they follow along with each lesson, Port Discovery’s live programs have inspired curiosity and learning about everything from Slime, Animal Adaptions, and Owl Pellets to Stained Glass Stories, Cave Paintings, and even Early Literacy.
Port Discovery’s educators have also developed a library of pre-recorded programs that teachers and caregivers can use for synchronous, asynchronous, and independent learning. With options available for students in preschool through 5th grade exploring everything from art, space, science and engineering, history, and more, Port Discovery’s pre-recorded programs offer teachers and caregivers ready-made lessons that help them meet educational standards while keeping students engaged in hands-on learning. While the programs are delivered virtually, they incorporate a variety of hands-on activities that help children apply what they’re learning.
Port Discovery has also pivoted to help provide play and learning to children and families in their homes. Beginning in March 2020, Port Discovery shifted to providing a variety of programs and activities designed to help children and families play and learn at home, and in the fall of 2020, the Museum partnered with a nationally-recognized online academy to provide families with access to high-quality supplemental learning they could participate in at home.
For the last 10 months, Port Discovery’s play experts and educators have created and hosted hundreds of virtual programs, live story times, Pop-Up Playtimes, and downloadable activity sheets designed to help children play, learn and stay active at home. In addition, the activities are designed to provide parents and caregivers with ideas and programs that children can enjoy independently, or that they can enjoy together. Live programs and downloadable activity sheets continue to be delivered weekly via Port Discovery’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, and past programs can all be accessed free of charge via Port Discovery’s website.
As parents and caregivers look for options to help supplement what their children are learning, and to keep them engaged and exploring subjects they love while learning from home, Port Discovery has partnered with Pearson Online Academy to provide discounted access to fun, flexible and easy-to follow online courses. Designed by nationally known and trusted experts in online learning, the multi-week courses are designed to work with each family’s unique needs and schedule, and explore subjects like art, music, Elementary Chinese and Spanish, home-based projects like cooking and sewing, and more!
After many months of planning, preparation, and work to update Port Discovery Children’s Museum’s space, exhibits, and operations, Port Discovery re-opened to children and families with a variety of new safety updates in place. Since re-opening, several thousand visitors have taken advantage of having a safe, fun place infused with play and learning to explore and spend time together. The response from our community has been overwhelmingly positive, with members and visitors alike reporting that our reduced capacity, leveled up cleaning, and many other updates have made them feel safe and that their children and families desperately needed a place like Port Discovery during such difficult times.
2020 has brought many challenges to children, families, schools, businesses, and people everywhere. We're proud to have had the opportunity to continue providing essential play, learning and enrichment in new ways to help our community navigate these challenging times.