Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Disneyland Edutainment Part 1 of 10 ~ An Introduction ~ Reprised

Disneyland Edutainment Part 1 of 10
~ An Introduction ~ Reprised

It’s Teaching Disney Tuesday!

I am revisiting and reposting some of my original blog posts for my new readers. For the next 5 weeks Tuesday and Thursday will be Teaching Disney Days.

Can you really use Disneyland as a classroom? Yes, it can be a classroom!! We homeschooled our daughter until 8th grade and we would go to Disneyland often for school time. For a long time we went an average of twice a week to the park and for several hours we would take time to talk about what we saw.

So what can you learn at Disneyland? Would you be surprised if I said Reading, Art, Science, History, Math, Literature and Sociology. Add to this life skills like, dealing with people who are kind or rude, handling money, map reading, talking to adults, judging what behavior is acceptable in different situations and interacting with people of all ages.

This is the first of several installments talking about edutainment, the mix of education and entertainment. Walt Disney himself said, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” Don’t you learn best when the subject or at least the lesson is entertaining and enjoyable? I know I do. Why should it be different for a child?

Reading assignments are easy. When the child is young you can ask them to identify letters. As they grow they can identify words then read signs and schedules. Give the child a schedule and give them the responsibility of finding the times for shows and parades. Have them read the rules for the ride. This helps them remember the safety rules and teaches them to read.

Art is all around Disneyland. I suggest you bring drawing supplies and take a few moments and sit and draw what they see or maybe even their favorite Disney character. At Disney California Adventure they have a “show” where they teach you how to draw a Disney character.

Science is a fun one to teach. You may need to read up before going into the science of how a rollercoaster works. It is a wonderful thing when you child gets off a coaster and asks, “Why do I feel like I’m going to fly at one point but then seconds later I feel like I’m being pushed down?” Learn about the body as well. Stop by the Animation Building at DCA and see how animation is done and talk about how the eye and brain work.

History is all around Disneyland. Walk down Main Street and you are taken back to 1905-1920. You can talk about all the exciting changes in the world at that time and the explosion of new technology. Stop in at the market and listen to a 1908 party line phone call. Listen to a dentist tell his patient about the newest developments and medicine available. Frontierland is a good place to talk about the Wild West. DCA has a lot of California history.

I remember the earliest days when our daughter was just learning to count. We would have her count the steps between the rides. When she was secure in counting we started teaching her to add and subtract the steps she took. When she got older still it was onto counting the cars that a ride had and multiplying that by how many people each car could hold to see how many guests could ride the ride at one time.

Literature was an amazing subject for Disneyland!! Once we read the original Peter Pan then we watch the movie. Our next trip to Disneyland we rode the ride and talked about how the story was told differently. What parts of the story were missing and how would you have done it differently?

Our family is mixed. We are white and our daughter is adopted and biracial black/white. We have family of different ethnic heritage married into the family. We are truly an All American family. We wanted our daughter to learn that people are different but emotionally/physically needs are the same. Disneyland is a great place for that. She got upset one time when a Japanese family sat very close to us when we were waiting for the fireworks. She asked me why they were so rude. I told her to look up information on Japan. She saw that the island was small and that there were many people there so they were use to a crowded space. She realized they were not rude they were just doing what is socially normal and acceptable for them.

This is just a taste of what you can teach and learn at Disneyland and other Disney Parks. In future installments I’ll share more of our family adventure in learning the Disney way.

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