Preschoolers take class to museum


The most curious time in a child's life tends to be the preschool years and one local landmark is serving as the perfect classroom.

Just like any other preschool, the little ones here must line up and follow the teacher down the hallway. But where the hallway ends, a new world begins, where the aim is "hands on, worlds open."

"It is a unique place to have a preschool," said Cathy Southerland, preschool manager at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

Many children only make an occasional visit to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. But for these preschoolers, walking past the world famous Chihuly sculpture and taking a ride down the Yule Slide can be a daily privilege.

"It's fun and it's got the big switches and that train and the slide," said Joey.

"I like going to the exhibits," said Annabel.

"I like the slide," said Jasmine. "It's twisty. Because it's fun and it's fast."

On any given day, there are three classes of preschoolers at the museum, about 85 kids in all, some are here for four days a week, others are here for two days a week.

Children are able to handle and explore many of the 120,000 artifacts in the vast museum collection. On this day, it's a butter press from the 1800s.

Southerland has spent years teaching preschoolers in a traditional setting. She sees the difference in the faces of the little ones here.

"Pure, utter joy. This is a place, when they start in preschool here, most of them have been at the museum many times, so they already have an inherent understanding that this is a place that is positive. It's joyful, it's hands on," Southerland said.