Vote for NCM!

cool and awesome

Cool and Awesome may be running against each other for the Mayor of My Town, but both candidates know that NCM is totally awesome! And it seems like folks in the DMV agree.

We were thrilled to learn earlier this month that the National Children’s Museum is a finalist in Red Tricycle’s 2013 Totally Awesome Awards! More than 15,000 families nominated us for the “Most Awesome Museum” award category, and we are so grateful for your support.

Exercise your civic duty and help us take home the big prize by voting today! You may vote as many times as you’d like between now and August 15. Make sure to tell your friends!

Vote now



Bike Safety 101

Bike Blog Pic 2

In the spirit of Bike to Work Day 2013 and with just one month remaining until CycleFest 2013, ‘tis the season for talking about biking safely.

With accessible public bike shares, bike lanes, and commuter trails abound, it’s easy for D.C.-area residents to find a place to ride. But how many of us cycle safely? More importantly, how many of us teach our kids how to properly and safely ride a bike? Bike safety is important and we’ve provided three easy tips to teach you and your kids how to be a safe on the road this summer!

As uncomfortable as it may be at times – especially on those hot summer days – wearing a well-fitted helmet is the most important safety step you and your family can take toward healthy riding. Your helmet should be properly positioned towards the front of your head, and you should be able to fit two fingers between your eyebrows and helmet. The chinstrap needs to be tightened to secure your helmet in place. Once your helmet is snapped and fastened, it should feel nice and snug with very little movement. Your little ones will love the variety of colorful helmet designs and styles, and may even be able to decorate their own!

Along with wearing a helmet, it’s important to be seen! Make yourself visible to fellow cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. Making sure you and your kids are easy to spot is simple and fun. Start by wearing brightly colored and reflective clothing, regardless of the time of day. Consider wearing a reflective vest and reflective tape, both of which can be found at most sports stores. Additionally, place a flashing white light at the front end and a flashing red light at the back end of your bike. While lights are more important for nighttime riding, using one during the day is perfectly fine too. Just remember that the more your outfit stands out, the more visible you will be to drivers, pedestrians and other bikers.

Our last bike safety tip is to encourage your little ones to follow the same rules as the cars and trucks on the road. This means stopping at red lights and stop signs, and looking left, right, and then left again before crossing traffic. It also means signaling motorists and pedestrians that you are turning left, turning right, or stopping. To signal a left turn, horizontally extend your left arm straight out to your left side. To make a right turn, extend your left arm horizontally and make an “L” shape with your extended arm. Finally, to signal that you’re stopping, extend your left arm horizontally and make an upside down “L” shape with your extended arm. Signaling traffic will help prevent confusion on the road as well as accidents.

Riding your bike is a great way for your whole family to stay active this summer. Teach these three tips to your kids, and you’re ready to hit the pavement. And remember to mark your calendar for CycleFest 2013 on June 22 for bicycle rodeos, tune-up workshops, special giveaways and more!

Pinkberry Partnership!


Photo credit: National Children’s Museum

Olga Roberts and her children, 4-year-old Ikaros, 2-year-old Nefeli and 9-month-old Alexandros have been NCM members since mid-December and visit the museum at least twice a week. Olga and her husband Stavros also own the Pinkberry at National Harbor, which is one of the establishments providing a special deal for NCM members. Today, we are also excited to announce a new partnership expansion: for every NCM customer who presents their same-day receipt or membership card at the time of a Pinkberry purchase, Pinkberry will donate 10 percent of those proceeds to the National Children’s Museum. Thank you, Olga and Stavros, for your support!

National Children’s Museum: Why did you purchase a membership?

Olga Roberts: I wanted my children to have a place where they can learn, discover and imagine while at play. The National Children’s Museum provides an ideal environment for them to do that. We also wanted to support NCM as much as we could, so we decided to become members.

NCM: What are your children’s favorite activities and programs here?

OR: The children love almost everything at the museum, but they enjoy the fire truck and the Thai tuk tuk the most. Our favorite theatre program is Imagination Playground and we love the Sesame characters that come out to visit.

NCM: Did you attend our Sid the Science Kid: The Movie member event?

OR: Yes. It was a wonderful children’s movie and we had a great time!

NCM: What types of programs would you like to see in the future?

OR: A children’s science show or world musical instrument workshop in the theatre would be fun. I would also love to see more children’s book authors hosting readings in the theatre.

NCM: Would you recommend the museum to others?

OR: Yes. We recommend the museum to everyone we know and meet.

The ABCs of ECE

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela

As the Week of the Young Child comes to a close, we sat down with Wendy Blackwell, the National Children’s Museum’s Vice President of Visitor Experience, to learn how she and the Museum have worked to make young children a focus and priority.

Why is it so important to focus on early childhood education (ECE)?
ECE sets kids up from the very beginning and prepares them for the rest of their lives. In addition to the academic benefits, it’s a critical time where children learn the fundamental skills needed for success – how to listen, how to interact with others, how to speak in public. Without that foundation, it’s like building a house on sand.

Do you think enough attention is given to ECE?
There can never be too much attention given! Resources today make it possible for parents to empower their children to learn more than ever before.

How does the National Children’s Museum focus on ECE?
Young children have needs regardless of their backgrounds or socioeconomic status, and NCM should and will continue to offer programs that support all children and families. Our 3 & Under gallery directly supports the development of our youngest visitors, catering to children as young as six months. Additionally, we are in the process of developing programs that support the needs of military children and special needs children. We also recognize the importance of empowering teachers to better support their students – in addition to recommended reading lists and other resources, the Museum plans to offer a certificate program for teachers that provides training on family literacy.

What inspired you to pursue your current career?
I began working with young children while employed by a school district in Baltimore, where I developed and designed the Transition Academy, an educational program for failing middle school students about to enter high school. The program, piloted at Port Discovery Children’s Museum, won the 2002 Promising Practice Award presented by MetLife Foundation and Association of Children’s Museums. My experiences working in the school district and with Port Discovery led me to working in museums ever since!

Faces of NCM!

Photo credit: Adam David Kissick

Photo credit: Adam David Kissick

We’re excited to introduce Faces of NCM, a recurring column designed to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the inner (and sometimes outer!) workings of the National Children’s Museum. In our inaugural post, we’re profiling Veronica Szalus, NCM’s exhibit director. Veronica has worked on many projects with NCM, including exhibit design and fabrication at the Capital Children’s Museum as well as project conceptualization, exhibit development and art direction for the newly opened National Children’s Museum.

You’ve been with the Museum for a long time. Tell us about your position and what you do.

I’m responsible for developing the look and feel of our exhibits. I also work with our education team to make sure our exhibits relate closely to our visitors’ programmatic experience.

What’s your favorite part about your job?

Working with wonderful people, and having an opportunity to think creatively about our space. Also, designing ways to interpret educational content is very exciting!

What types of experiences led you to where you are today?
I’m also an installation artist and have always been interested in art. I started as a jewelry designer and then went to Pratt to study industrial design. Industrial design is a field that relates to consumer goods, and I had an opportunity to do a lot of work with space design, which I grew to love. From that point on, I sought out opportunities where I could combine looking at art and space – installation and exhibit design became the natural manifestation of what I love to do.

Back to NCM, you, of course, played a heavy role in designing our 3 & Under gallery. Who’s your favorite Sesame Street character?

Big Bird! Although Oscar’s pretty alright too.

What should NCM visitors look forward to?

Definitely the integration of exhibits and programs. Our exhibits have a lot of richness and depth, and truly immerse visitors into different micro environments, like Our World‘s world culture and civic engagement components. But we also look to take that experience one step further, using programs (like our roaming actors) and educators on the floor to serve as a platform for providing additional interaction with our exhibits.

Do you have a favorite children’s book?
I love The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

What’s your favorite vegetable?

Fresh farm lima beans.

If you could be any animal, what would it be?

Perhaps a dolphin; I love the ocean. And there’s an awful lot of unchartered oceanic territory to explore!


Welcome to Spotlight, the official blog of the National Children’s Museum! Whether you’re a parent, caregiver or educator, we look forward to using this space to provide you with a variety of unique resources to better inspire the children in your lives to learn through play.

On this blog, you can expect to find behind-the-scenes looks at the Museum, fun tips and tidbits to make the most of your NCM visit, our thoughts on the relevant issues impacting children today and more! We’re also excited for the opportunity to learn more from and about you, and what you consider to be an ideal museum experience. Please feel free to start a dialogue with us through the comments sections on this blog, and connect with us via Twitter and Facebook.

If you’re one of the 75,000 visitors who spent time with us since we opened our doors in December 2012, thank you so much for welcoming us into your circle. If you’re considering a visit to NCM, we hope to see you here soon!