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September 7, 2015

Doodle Bugs!It’s not every day that a teacher pulls out a dinosaur bone for children to hold, or shows off a live painted turtle to touch, or sets up a teepee to explore, but these are exactly the experiences children ages 3 to 5 receive during the Virginia Museum of Natural History’s long-running “Doodle Bugs!” program.

In its twelfth year, this early learning opportunity continues to give children the chance to experience science first-hand with hour-long programs that include imaginative stories, fun activities, games and crafts that spark creativity and curiosity.

“The world is full of wonder for children at this age,” said Dr. Denny Casey, director of education and public programs at the museum. “Everything is new. Nothing has been interpreted for them already and they haven’t developed strong impressions yet about how to look at things and how to think about the world.”

“Doodle Bugs!” programs are popular in large part because of their specific focus on topics of interest to young children and the hands-on experiences help make the activities unique and meaningful for children.

“You can show children pictures of dinosaurs in books, or on a tablet, or a computer, but it’s a rare opportunity to be able to show children actual dinosaur bones and fossils that they can see and touch,” said Christy Deatherage, outreach education coordinator at the museum. “The museum has these types of resources available to incorporate into our education programs and share with the children.”

One of the unique features of “Doodle Bugs!” is the requirement for a parent or guardian to join their child in the program.

“We’ve found that the learning experience can be more meaningful and enjoyable for children when a parent or grandparent is learning right there with them,” said Lecia Smith, museum educator. “Parents also get to see the wonder in their children’s eyes when they experience something they’ve never seen before.”

The museum also offers “Doodle Bugs!” programming to daycares across the region. Daycare providers can bring their children to the museum, or they can have a museum educator bring the programs to the daycare. The programs can be scheduled at a day and time convenient for daycare providers.

“The daycare initiative is just one more way we’re trying to reach this young age group with unique educational programming,” said Casey. “It’s a wonderful way for daycare providers to give their children a new experience by bringing their children to the museum, or having one of our educators visit them on-site.”

Pre-registration is required one week prior to each event by contacting the museum at 276-634-4185 or discover@vmnh.virginia.gov. A minimal fee of $6 per child is required.

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