A Peoria Park District Facility

An Approach To Play

The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum believes in the fundamental importance of children's play for a healthy community. To ensure a healthy and vibrant future for Peoria, and opportunities for all children, we advocate for the importance of play as essential for children's learning, health, and development.

Who are our learners? Everyone in our museum community is both a teacher and a learner - child and adult visitors, staff, and collaborators. Children often learn quickly and visibly in a children’s museum, inspiring us and reminding us of all of our ongoing learning journeys. In turn, adults engaged in continuous learning are role models for children.


How do we learn?

  • Learning is a continuous journey and is not bound by age or time. The learning journey, and learning strategies, are different for everyone.
  • Learning at the PlayHouse is joyful and intrinsically driven.
  • Generally speaking, we learn by doing, and by reflecting on doing, as well as through all of our senses.
  • Learners of all ages reinforce what they know by teaching others; we are all co-teachers and co-learners.
  • Learning is often collaborative.
  • We focus on three areas of learning at the PlayHouse:
    • Growing knowledge and skills through exploration, along with the curiosity and critical thinking that motivate and facilitate ongoing learning;
    • Developing creativity through problem-posing, problem-solving, and invention;
    • Building social and emotional understanding.

What are the characteristics of PlayHouse programs and exhibits that foster this learning?

  1. They are process-focused -- they emphasize approaches, choices, and skills rather than the end product.
  2. They encourage experimentation.
  3. They are physically, cognitively, and economically accessible to all learners, and are scaffolded to make sure that learners of varying interests and abilities can learn together and concurrently.
  4. They present one or more skill, process, or information goals.
  5. They encourage collaboration and, when possible, adult-child interaction, encouraging parents to understand and respect children’s decision-making.

Tip: Asking open-ended questions stimulates conversation and encourages children to express their ideas. On your next trip to the PlayHouse, try prompting your child to tell you about what they are doing and how they are playing. Use sentence starters like "I notice...", "I wonder..." and "Tell me more about..." to help spark conversation!

Tip: Whether your child is making a work of art, putting on a puppet show, or telling a story, allow them to take the lead! They might need you to clean brushes, hold masking tape, become a character in a puppet show, or just listen. This allows your child to exercise their imagination and creativity!

Tip: Spend time listening to your child and responding. Sometimes this can be a game - like peek-a-boo or follow the leader. Sometimes this is a conversation; listen to what they have to say and demonstrate that you've heard them through follow-up questions and comments, or just showing them that you are attuned to how they are feeling, and helping them put words to it.   

Play Tips

The PlayHouse aims to understand, support, and promote play in the fullest sense of the word, both at the museum and at home! Watch these videos with tips from play and parenting experts to help encourage free play with your child.

Scientific Thinking


Emotional Support

Early Math

Early Literacy

Physical Activity

Creativity and Problem Solving

PlayHouse Play Tips are supported in part through PNC's Grow Up Great initiative!