The past few weeks the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has become a long-awaited and desired stopover for me, my little daughter and her friends (all 3-5 years old children). Together we go to a time travel adventure to meet the people who have contributed to the present appearance of the city which we live in.
And because we are super moms with unlimited number of creative tricks in our beautiful minds (and bodies! :)), we transformed the visits to the Galleries into a real adventure. As we enter the large hall on the first floor, we look at the stunning 2200-star ceiling. Filled with a starry mood, we rush up the stairs. We say hello to the busts of Alex, Robert and George and head to the large hall with portraits on the second floor.
HOW TO MAKE THIS EXPERIENCE INTERESTING FOR CHILDREN
Every time we are here, we come up with a dedicated theme to guide both children and us – the super moms. Today’s theme was “the picture that makes you smile.” The children studied each portrait with interest, and only after looking through the whole hall did they come to us to show the picture that had made them smile. Frankly, Max’s favorite made me laugh a lot.
It depicted a walk in old Edinburgh. You could see a busy street, people walking around and a dog whose muzzle was really close to the bare feet of a pedestrian passing by. The children’s imagination saw the dog as feeling disgust with the smell of dirty feet. We had lots of fun. And most importantly – we made few casual tourists smile overhearing our conversation.
Hence, I can declare today’s adventure a real success. First, because the children once again experienced the magic of art in a conscious and purposeful fashion. Second, because we conveyed a smile to complete strangers. Laughter is contagious and there is no greater magic than bringing joy to others.
THE SUPER POWERS OF THE HEROES OF THE DAY
I feel joyfull knowing that our 3-5 year old children enjoy art and get to know the “heroes” of the day from the cultural, sports, economic and other fields. As we pass the busts and the paintings in the Galleries, we do not accidentally greet everyone by name. It is all intentional as we tell the kids about the super powers that each character possesses. For some, these are words (poets, writers, journalists). For others, it is the ability to enter roles and transform emotions (actors, singers…). Yet for others, it is the power and dedication to protect and save human lives (doctors, scientists…).
Sometimes we go to the Galleries and look for the magic in the paintings. An instant wink from a portrait, just a subtle musical note or butterfly fluttering wings, we are longing for the atypical and the magical. Thus, a seemingly absurd mission – to make the visit to the Galleries of a 3-5 year old child a real balm for the emotions and muse for the imagination – is easily achieved and transformed into a unique experience.
Once again, I reassure myself that nothing is impossible. No children are deprived of curiosity. It is just us, the adults, who need to be reminded that with a little sparkle and “magic” we can ignite the most powerful weapon – the imagination.