Children's Museum adds to offerings

Ashley Jackson of Charleston and her daughter, Molly, 2, paint a picture during a recent Mini Masters art class at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.

People who visit the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry for the exhibits will have more to do starting this month.

The museum is putting more emphasis on programs, tripling its regular offerings starting in April. The new classes include French, yoga and more.

"We're just keeping in line with the national trend among children's museums and meeting a growing need in our community," says museum Director of Education Robin Berlinsky. "All children's museums are moving toward doing this."

She says the exhibits are the "hardware" of a children's museum, and the programs are the "software."

"Our expanded educational programming allows us to serve a wider range of children and provide more accessible and flexible times to our guests," says Berlinsky.

A former educator who was a founding board member at the museum and its first director of education from 2001-03, Berlinsky returned to the position in November.

She says the expanded programming started in January with a program called Meet and Greet.

"Each month, we encourage children to come in and meet their inner 'blank,' with the blank filled in based on what's going on in the world," she says. So far, programs have centered on authors/illustrators, athletes and actors. In honor of Earth Day, April's program is "Meet your Inner Gardener."

"We wanted to bring in more children who could come weekly and have a new experience every time they come," Berlinsky says.

Another focus is on programming for older children, "so families who have kids who are 2, 4 and 7 can have experiences for every child. We want them to go home every time with something that they can use or make again."

More special events, such as performances by local school groups and community organizations, have been added recently. Many of them take place on the outdoor stage built by College of Charleston volunteers in January.

In addition to special events and the programs led by staff, the museum is bringing in community experts to lead weekly programs and classes.

"Those are an easy expansion because they are no strain on our staff and provide our members with more bang for their buck," Berlinsky says.

The cost of each class is $5 with museum admission. Accompanying adults are complimentary. The lineup includes:

--Petit Francais: Led by Summer Landrith of Petit Francais, children will learn French and experience French culture. 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. Tuesday. Recommended for ages 2 to 5.

--Yoga Benefits Kids: Children's yoga instructor Caryn Antos takes children and their parents on an adventure that changes with each lesson. Children improve motor skills as they journey through different lands around the world, learning through movement, song and meaningful play. 11 a.m. Tuesdays. Recommended for ages 2-5.

--RBC Bank Baby Scholars: A four-week series developed by kindergarten and first-grade teachers that highlights the first three years of a child's educational development. From number concepts to reading lists, learn what teachers expect your child to know on the first day of kindergarten. 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays. Recommended infant-2 years.

--JumpBunch!: Introduces school-age children to a wide range of sports and fitness activities in a noncompetitive manner. Each week, kids learn about a different sport. 4 p.m. Wednesdays. Recommended for all ages.

--RBC Bank Toddler Time: Sing, dance, make music and play while exploring themes such as colors, the seasons, animals and more. 10 a.m. Thursdays. Recommended ages 6 months-2 years.

--Little Iron Chefs: Using all-organic ingredients from the CML Kid Gardens, create treats such as smoothies and salads your children will want to eat. 3:45 p.m. Thursdays. Recommended ages 3 and up.

--Mad Scientists: Explore Earth science experiments from cloud formation to volcano dynamics. 11:30 a.m. Fridays. Recommended ages 3-6 years.

The museum, which has eight hands-on and interactive exhibits, also offers several weekly programs that are free with regular admission.

For the lineup of programs, visit www.explorecml.org.

To register, call Berlinsky at 853-8962, ext. 208 or e-mail Robin@explorecml.org.

The museum is at 25 Ann St. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is $7, with babies under 12 months free.