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Inspired by the Museum: Creek Stomping

This post was written by Children's Museum Blog Ambassador, Katy Mann. Follow Katy's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @indywithkids.

From the day it opened, my children have loved splashing around in The Creek water feature in Playscape at The Children’s Museum. I don’t know exactly what they think they are doing when they play there, but I do know that they believe that it’s very important work. Now that Lulu can reach some of the water features in ScienceWorks, we’re happy to spend some time in that exhibit letting her try new “water jobs.”

The last few weeks it’s been so hot in Indianapolis that we’ve spent a lot of time seeking out places where we can play in cold water. One of our favorite summer pastimes is creek stomping, which is where you do exactly what the name suggests, stomp in a creek. We spend time in many creeks and as the girls have gotten older, the nature of our activities has evolved.

When we went creek stomping last time, we met up with a group at Marrot Park. Our group made our way through the creek and out towards the river. My husband swam across the river, fighting the current and the kids spent time finding treasures, such as shells, discarded and worn down glass, pretty stones and rocks.

The water jobs that usually keep them busy at the Children’s Museum kept them very busy in the real creek. They made discoveries about what types of matter will float and sink, how items might skip or travel across the water, what types of things make very large splashes and how the water moves. Catching things in the water added a level of excitement that was met with squeals and laughter: sticks, bugs, swimmy things (perhaps fish or tadpoles).

One activity that was a great teaching moment that carried over into bathtime and other water activities later that week was building a dam. The girls worked hard with their friends to create a way to stop the water. Little sister had the most fun moving rocks so that water rushed through quickly and big sister enjoyed finding the biggest and best rocks to fit the spaces.

A large storm had recently rolled through our area so the water was higher than usual in some places on our hike and trees had fallen down. We climbed through and over big obstacles, which was a lot like the climber in Playscape or the rock wall in Scienceworks. In one area, a downed tree made a dam on its own, stopping the water until finally it rushed over the top and spilled down the creek, making a nice knee-high wading area.

Our water shoes were discarded as we reached certain areas of the creek, the ground below the water was soft and fine and our shoes and feet sunk right in. As we approached rocky areas or areas we needed to climb debris, our shoes become necessary. Activities like creek stomping or exploring creek areas bring to life the lessons and information our children’s brains are gathering and collecting during their museum experiences. No one really needs special equipment to do this, just take precautions and do things that you are safe and comfortable with. Wear shoes and clothes that can get dirty and be sure to visit the museum soon after you creek stomp so you can help your children recall their real life experiences and apply them to what they are learning.