Improving Access with The Inventor’s Yard

We have two months to go until breaking ground for The Inventor’s Yard outdoor renovation at Gilbert House Children’s Museum.  We have great anticipation for the new play and learning opportunities Phase 1 of this build will introduce for our visitors, and are thankful for our many supporters who are making this possible.

Excitement is quickly growing for the addition of a new bubble exhibit and Nature’s Workshop on the property, but we’d also like you to know about the many improvements to accessibility that Phase 1 will bring to the Museum.

First, we have plans to remodel our Museum entrance with improved ADA ramps making it easier for wheel chairs, strollers, and walkers to access our buildings.  Visitors will also appreciate the addition of more paths and “rollable” surfaces throughout new playscape features.  Astroturf will be incorporated, allowing greater wheelchair access throughout the playground.

“We see mobility challenges all the time in orthopedics.  Mobility is huge for children,” shares CEO of Hope Orthopedics, Lorissa Addabbo.  “Learning for them includes being able to touch and see how things work.  If mobility is restricted that directly impacts how they learn and how active they can be.”

We are grateful to have Hope Orthopedics on board as our Play for All sponsor, and appreciate their advocacy for childhood learning.

Throughout the entire planning of our outdoor remodel, it has been a priority to incorporate experiences that children of all mobility levels can participate in.  All new structures will feature accessible doorways, and overhead obstructions will be limited throughout the playground.

“I see it having a big impact, as it will allow kids to have a creative space that encompasses so much sensory exploration (including bubbles!),” Addabbo adds.  “It’s a unique opportunity for the Museum and will be a treasure for Salem.”

Learn more about The Inventor’s Yard project

‘Nature’s Workshop’ Coming 2020

Introducing a forthcoming exhibit  Nature’s Workshop!  We’ve been in cahoots with our generous sponsor, C&R Design Remodel, as we look forward to breaking ground in January 2020.

Nature’s Workshop is within Phase One of our larger Inventor’s Yard construction project to transform the Museum’s outdoor space.  You can learn more about these big-picture plans here.

Nature’s Workshop will be located adjacent to our Sensory Garden and a music exploration path.  This area will delight the senses, and visitors are encouraged to pick, touch, and smell the herbs we’ll be growing, while also incorporating these plants into crafts and creations that will take place inside the Nature’s Workshop structure.

“As owners of C&R Remodeling, we were delighted to participate in creating the vision and design for Nature’s Workshop,” share Andrew Lethin and Beth Rhoades.  “When we began working on the project, we felt it was important to incorporate design elements from the existing structures at Gilbert House.  So, we specified the materials used, the pitch of the roof, and the color scheme to be a part of the overall environment.”

Andrew and Beth (and the C&R team) are supporters of The Inventor’s Yard because they know the value of outdoor play, and the importance of sensory play that supports language development and fine motor skills.

“Opportunities for outdoor play in the winter months can be hard to find – and yet it is so important for children to experience the stimulating environment of fresh air, hands-on activities, and active play,” comments Andrew.

This portion of the outdoor playground will encourage children to use their imaginations as they interact with natural elements:  mixing and manipulating plants, bringing elements into narrative play, and making their own observations through their senses.  In addition to self-led play, the Museum plans to facilitate seasonal garden creations within Nature’s Workshop for visitors, such as rosemary wreaths, pressed flower bookmarks, scent sachets, etc.

Initiatives to provide increasing nature-based play opportunities at the Museum are supported by current research in child development.  Children who interact with nature have been found to gain a greater ability to concentrate, have reduction in stress from life situations, and experience increased motor skill function (Louv, Wells, & Evans*).  Children with access to outdoor play and contact with nature also experience lesser rates of physical and emotional illness (Louv).

Stay tuned as we continue to unveil each project initiative within The Inventor’s Yard.  We are grateful for the sponsors who continue to make these goals a reality!

“The Gilbert House has long been an organization dear to our hearts, and for two generations our family has enjoyed all that Gilbert House has to offer,” shares Andrew.  “It is a very special place, and we feel honored to help continue the legacy of imaginative play for future generations.”

¹Evans, G. & Wells, N. (2003). Nearby Nature: A Buffer of Life Stress Among Rural Children. Environment and Behavior, 35(3).
²Louv, R. (2006.) Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.