‘Museum in a Box’ connects loved ones through meaningful activities


BROOKINGS – During a time when a nationwide pandemic is often keeping people apart, the Children’s Museum of South Dakota has released Connectivities, a “Museum in a Box” designed to bring people closer, even if they are physically distant.

The idea behind the box is simple: It is filled with curated activities that keep connection top of mind. Boxes, designed primarily for ages 6 and above, can be purchased to be shipped to a loved one or picked up in the museum’s gift shop.

“Our first Connectivities box is all about reaching out,” said Carrie Benson, director of education and one of the program’s designers. “The activities in the box are not only fun, but they also inspire the children receiving the box to share what they are doing with loved ones. Fostering these connections is so important for emotional well-being.”

While the museum’s outdoor prairie, café and gift shop have reopened since the start of the pandemic, the indoor exhibits remain closed. The Connectivities box has also connected the museum itself with the members and guests who are not able to play in person at this time.

“We designed Connectivities to mimic the imagination and play we see on our museum floor,” said Benson. “It’s been so fun watching aunts and grandparents purchase Connectivities for their loved ones and hearing their response.”

East-Central CASA, an organization that advocates for children who have been abused and neglected, recently purchased kits for their volunteers to use when engaging with children.

The organization has continued to advocate for children in innovative ways during the pandemic and has evolved how this contact looks while social restrictions have eased. CASA volunteers have found creative ways to connect with the children they serve, from online games, stories and songs, to porch donut drop-offs. Connectivities adds another way to suit a child’s unique needs.

“The Connectivities boxes will allow the volunteer and the child to spend time together with hands occupied and minds free,” said Julie Wermers, East-Central CASA executive director. “We are so proud of our children for showing resiliency despite the difficulties they are facing and we wanted to find a way to honor and celebrate them and give them a way to connect, whether in person or distant.”

The Children’s Museum plans to unveil a new themed box every two months. Quantities are limited. Proceeds from the sale of the boxes directly support the Museum’s mission to spark imagination and learning for children and their grown-ups.

The boxes can be purchased on the museum’s website www.prairieplay.org. Proceeds from the Connectivities boxes directly support the mission of the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. A portion of the research and planning of Connectivities was funded through a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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