Education & Development

  • Research at Pretend City

    Partnership with UCI My name is Ashley and I am a PhD student from UC Irvine currently studying Social Development. I, along with undergraduate research assistants, have been conducting a series of studies at Pretend City Children’s Museum for the past two years. We are investigating how children understand conflicts between individuals. A perfect example of this type of conflict is illustrated in the famous Dr. Suess story, The Zax. It begins: “One day, making tracks In the prairie of Prax, Came a North-Going Zax And a South-Going Zax. And it happened that both of them came to a place Where they bumped. There they stood. Foot to foot. Face to face. The story ends with the Zax stuck in their same position, refusing to budge.” In our study, we show infants and children a puppet show that is a lot like the Zax—one puppet wants to cross from left to right across the stage, and one wants to cross from right to left across the stage. However, in our puppet show the conflict is resolved—one of the puppets politely bows down and moves out of the way allowing the other puppet to reach its goal. Then, we present the […]

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  • Help Bring Music to Pretend City!

    Imagine your little one strumming on a guitar, banging on the drums and shaking the tambourine. Not only are they having a blast, but they are also learning while they play. Pretend City wants to provide that experience for you and your family where you can shake, rattle, and roll together! Our new music pop-up exhibit will feature a variety of large-scale percussion and stringed instruments for you and your little one. Music stimulates and awakens different parts of the brain, immersing the child in language and helping them develop memory while movement helps to develop their coordination. Music is a natural way for all children to express themselves and a great way to explore how sounds work. A wealth of scientific research over the last decade is proving that music education is a powerful tool for attaining children’s full intellectual, social, and creative potential. Research indicates the brain of a musician works differently than that of a non-musician due to an increase in neural activity. USC neuroscientists at The Brain and Creativity Institute confirm that music instruction accelerates brain development in young children. The areas of the brain most impacted are responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception, […]

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  • Communicating With a Child on The Spectrum

    We all know and love a child on the spectrum, whether you are their parent, grandparent, relative, friend, or even neighbor. With that love is the desire to build a strong relationship with the child, but do we know how? Every month, we will highlight a different topic catered towards understanding and connecting with a child on the spectrum. This month, we are providing a few basic tips on communication between you and the little one! Communication is a vital piece in developing a better relationship with children on the spectrum. The proper communication allows you to understand their current emotions and respond appropriately. This month’s theme is all about helping you communicate at home, at the playground, and even in Pretend City! Our exhibits are ideal for practicing your communication skills in our self-contained and supportive spaces! We reached out to one of our community partners, the Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, for a few tips on enhancing your communication with a child on the spectrum. Michelle L. Wahlquist, MS, CC-SLP, their Lead Speech-Language Pathologist is here to help! Communication Tips: Provide Face-to-Face Directions “Make sure you have [the] child’s undivided attention before you give a direction,” said Wahlquist. “To do this, you need to […]

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  • A Taste of Italy with Pretend City

    Ciao! Pretend City would like to welcome our little visitors to our brand new Italian restaurant, La Trattoria Italiano! La Trattoria Italiano is a fully interactive restaurant exhibit where your child can immerse themselves in Italian cuisine and all that it’s got to offer. Come as a patron and watch your little tot play restaurant server by taking your order and sending it to “la cucina,” or the kitchen. The kitchen is fully stocked with assorted spices and ingredients for your child to play chef and get creative. What will they cook up? The menu offers a variety of authentic Italian cuisine with food your child can get messy with to create delectable dishes! Enjoy a delicious plate of spaghetti and meatballs or a nice afternoon Gelato! This meaningful play will teach children how to identify shapes and colors while learning about the food they put into their bodies. This exhibit displays rich Italian culture with images of Italian cities along the walls and popular food and art. Your child will also learn first-hand the responsibilities that come with a restaurant job from taking patrons’ orders as a server to cleaning up afterward as a busser. Utilizing different roles in […]

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  • Trader Joe’s Grocery Store at Pretend City Children’s Museum

    Have you ever thought of a grocery shopping as a learning experience for children? Your grocery store is filled with great literacy and math learning opportunities  including: Counting Addition/subtraction Measuring Learning the value of money Sorting and categorizing Letter recognition On your next visit, incorporate a fun activity to teach your child mathematics while shopping by giving them a go at shopping for apples – they will pick up skills such as: weighing objects identifying differences and similarities in shapes and sizes calculating costs The grocery store is also a great opportunity to teach by example. Your child may have observed how you make one of their favorite meals at home, such as spaghetti. While grocery shopping, ask them what ingredients are needed to make their favorite spaghetti at home and let them pick it out. They will learn things about the grocery store such as: that the store is organized into groups of similar things (i.e. produce, aisles, dairy) that it takes several ingredients to make one thing (the whole is made up of many elements) that the same product can have different costs (consumer literacy) Come to Pretend City and explore our brand new Trader Joe’s grocery store! […]

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