Learning Through Play


This is where lifelong learning begins!

Everything we do is designed to promote creativity, imagination, deductive reasoning and critical thinking.

Our visitors (and not just the children, mind you!) learn about family dynamics, encouraging cooperation, and developing social and practical life skills. Lessons about language and literacy, and nature and neighborhood, are woven into the Please Touch experience. We lead you and your children on an exploration of self, family, community and world.

Daily educational programs include theater shows, story times, sing-a-longs and interactions with our contemporary toy collection, as well as special programs based on science, technology, engineering and math—generously mixed liberally with the arts (drama, painting, sculpture and more).

Value of Play

Play provides the foundation for basic life skills such as building relationships, cooperation, negotiation and compromise, as well as providing opportunities for children to find out who they are and what they enjoy doing.

Play offers an emotional outlet, develops the imagination and creativity and cultivates problem-solving skills.

Children’s active play consists of hands-on behavior (manipulating objects and constructing new creations), large-motor behavior (releasing physical energy and developing large muscle skills), and pretending (role-playing for mastery and expressing emotions). Repetition of play activities is an integral part of learning, which gives children an opportunity to direct their play and learn mastery and self-understanding.

Types of Play

Sociologist Mildred Parten identified five types of play. Do your children exhibit one or more of these?

  • Solitary Play: Child plays alone and takes no notice and makes no effort to be close to other children.
  • Onlooker Play: Child spends most of the time watching other children play, at times asking questions and giving suggestions, but not participating.
  • Parallel Play: Child plays independently beside or nearby other children, but not with them.
  • Associative Play: Child plays with another child and converses about their common activity, and borrows and loans toys. Each child acts on his/her own, and the children to not have a shared goal.
  • Cooperative Play: Children play together and help one another in an activity that engages both of them. There is a division of roles and a sharing of goals.

As children grow older and become more sociable and socially skilled, there is a decrease in solitary play and an increase in associative and cooperative play. It is important to remember that children engaged as onlookers may be doing a lot in their minds, even if that is not apparent. Watching other children is a legitimate form of play, especially for younger children.

Parallel play predominates at age 2, but 3- and 4-year old children may still play this way, especially in a museum setting where they are likely to be interacting with children they do not know. Unless children are playing with a child they already know, it is unlikely that they will engage in much cooperative play, particularly 2-year-olds who are not yet capable of sharing.

Museums offer unique opportunities for both adults and young children to learn and discover something new together through play.

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Hours of Operation

Monday - Saturday: 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday: 11 am to 5 pm
Christmas Eve: 11 am to 3 pm
New Year's Eve: 9 am to 3 pm
Thanksgiving & Christmas Day: CLOSED

Contact Information

Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park
4231 Avenue of the Republic
(formerly North Concourse Drive)
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Click here for directions.

Phone: 215-581-3181
Email: info@pleasetouchmuseum.org

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