August 09, 2019

Creating engaging learning materials isn’t child’s play…

Museum learning has a vital role to play in the cultural education of all children and young people. Children throughout the country benefit from the unique learning environment that museums and galleries can offer, using their collections and stories to encourage interactive experiences.

Learning materials and resources play a key role in engaging with children and families to enrich their experience at a visitor destination. From families looking for an experience together to teachers wanting to engage their class in hands on activities, formal and informal learning resources are a truly essential part of the visit.

Even before the visitor arrives they can be encouraged by downloadable activity materials presented in a way that can enrich their experience. And of course during the visit the communications are a companion to learning, development and an opportunity to create a deeper connection with the visitor.

With a depth of experience creating inspiring learning resources here are a few of our own learnings:

Set a visual style
The visual style of your learning materials is key to building familiarity and recognition with your museum or gallery. It is a chance to build your brand and engage with a younger audience. Your learning visual style should evolve your visitor facing brand in a way that is playful, relevant for the younger audience and importantly fun.

To communicate different activities, iconography is important to highlight themes in your learning material – icons to suggest a drawing, sensory, making or imaginative exercise work well to help navigate the different activities.

Be inventive with formats
It’s important to maximise budgets for communications in the arts, but it is still possible to be innovative and inventive with your learning materials. If you create something that people want to keep, they are more likely to remember their experience and make a return visit. Think about how the format can add to the interactivity of the material, for instance cut out windows that can act as a view finder or even a simple fold out can feel more exciting and capture the imagination of young visitors and their accompanying adults.

Before, during and after communications
Give the visitor as many opportunities as possible to engage with you before, during and after their visit. Downloadable or digital resources work well for the visitor to use before and after their visit, to continue their experience with you. If they are downloadable these can be low cost, single colour and easy to print, this can work well for temporary exhibitions to highlight new content.

Everyone loves an incentive…
…even if it’s a sticker! Yes this may sound super simple but can make a child’s day. If they’ve successfully filled in and completed all of the activities that were set, collecting something at the end that could be as simple as a sticker or a certificate endorses their experience. In our experience this also works well to encourage multiple visits, for instance over the summer holidays, if you have multiple family workshops or activities, you could think about a sticker or stamp for each attendance or completion of activity and give a bigger incentive at the end to encourage them to visit each session.

Easily updatable
We know your learning team will always be working hard to re-interpret museum or gallery content for relevant learning materials. Once you have an established learning communications style, you can create updatable resources to support one off events, workshops or promotions. For instance on a significant day, such as international women’s day, producing a downloadable activity to reflect your collection and the theme of the day can work well to keep your content relevant and meaningful for your learning audiences.

Fun, fun, fun
Keep it fun! Vary the activities, keep it playful, thoughtful and exciting for the audience. This is something that is completely unique to your institution and you have creative content control, make use of this and put yourself in the visitors shoes.

We hope this is useful to you when interpreting your wonderful collections into learning resources for the future generation of visitors.

If you want to talk about learning and educational resources, give us a shout.