Scout it Out at the DMA

If you have a Brownie or Cub Scout in your life, you know all about the quest for more badges or belt loops. But for those of you uninitiated into the life of scouting, let me tell you about the call of the merit badge. To a kid, a merit badge is like a mini-trophy, proving to the world all the cool things you can do. A little circle of fabric declares to everyone “I can cook!” or “I can tie knots!” And the best part is, anyone can earn them—there are no winners or losers when it comes to badges. There are badges for just about everything, from archery and coin collecting to babysitting and geocaching. The only grown-up equivalent I can think of is a résumé (which isn’t nearly as fun and doesn’t work as an accessory).

Evidence of my own love affair with earning badges

From my experience as a Girl Scout, badges are a way to help children explore new ideas, work towards a goal, and make memories. As the lazy days of summer draw near, why not use those same objectives and take a “scouting” approach to your summer fun? Make up your own family fun badges for the summer as a way to plan out things to do to keep the kids busy. And use the Dallas Museum of Art as your go to place to earn your badges (after all, we have really great A/C here!)

How to make a badge in 4 easy steps:

  1. Make a list of activities your family wants to do, places you want to visit, skills you want to learn, books you want to read, and so on.
  2. For each item on your summer to-do list, think of 2 or 3 “requirements” that your children must accomplish in order to earn a badge. Where possible, think of activities that will require the kids to try something new, stretch themselves, meet new people, or work as a team.
  3. Do it! (Here’s where all the fun happens!)
  4. Use art supplies, photographs, or materials around the house to craft the actual badge and create a way to display all the badges your family has earned—perhaps create a summer scrapbook, a badge bulletin board, or keep track of your progress on a family blog.

The library, museums, swimming pool, nature preserve, and zoo are all great places that offer plenty of opportunities for creating your own family badges. Here are some ideas to get you started for scouting out summer at the DMA:

• Animal Safari badge: Search for animals in the paintings and sculptures on display. Bring a sketchbook and make a safari journal of all the creatures you discover.
• Around the World badge: See how many different countries you can “visit” by finding works of art from around the world. Level 3 of the museum is a great place—you can visit Africa, Indonesia, China, and Japan!
• Artsy-Pants badge: Visit the Center for Creative Connections on Level 1 and see what art materials are available at the Space Bar. Challenge everyone in the family to create something, then share your works of art with each other.
• Budding Botanist badge: Investigate the silver collection on Level 4 and search for signs of leaves, berries, and vines in the silverware on display. To really challenge yourself, bring along a nature guide and see if you can match what you see in the art with actual specimens.
• Collector Connector badge: Choose one or two galleries in the museum and have your child select works of art that she would want to add to her own collection. “Collect” your pieces by taking digital photos of the works of art (remember to turn your flash off and follow any signs regarding photography). At home, have your child create an additional piece of her own for the collection. What is the same? What is different?
• People Pleaser badge: Investigate the many portraits featured on Level 2 or Level 4 of the museum, then imagine a story about the person in the painting, or create your own self-portrait.

Disney’s Family Fun Magazine has been challenging families all year long with their own Badges of Fun program that puts a scouting spin on family fun. Check out their badges for more inspiration and start planning your own summer o’ scouting.

Posted by: Leah

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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, In the galleries, Just for Fun

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