family in touch-it room

Welcome! We’re glad you’re planning a visit to Winterthur with a child in your life. With your involvement, a visit to a museum can provide your child with a chance to develop his or her powers of perception, practice sharing thoughts and feelings, and the creation of lasting family memories.

Planning Ahead

Consider the age of your child(ren) when planning your visit. With babies and toddlers, it’s probably best to limit your visit to approximately an hour or so, depending on the interest and energy level of your children. One way to keep children interested in your visit regardless of their age is to include them in what they are seeing and doing. If a child becomes bored or restless, consider taking a break or moving to another space for a change of pace.

Consider a family or contributor-level membership so you can come back and visit as many times as you wish per year.

See the Calendar for public programs designed especially for young children.

How to Encourage Learning in the Museum

Sometimes the things you least expect will interest your child the most on their museum visit. Young children especially may find the shuttle bus ride or the  staircase to the Galleries the most interesting part of their visit! Almost anything can be made into a learning opportunity.

Here are some ideas for how to better engage your child on your visit to the Galleries or special exhibitions:

Recognizing Colors, Shapes, and Features

Young children learn through their senses and like to group things together. With children ages 2-4 try strolling the Galleries and exhibitions hunting for particular shapes or colors. How many ovals or squares can you find? What colors do you see?

Reinforcing Your Child’s Observations

Make a point of reinforcing your child’s efforts at observation with positive, meaningful feedback—“That looks like Grandma’s chair to you?” Oh yes, I remember that chair too. Grandma loves was once her father’s too.” This will help your child gain the confidence to express his ideas in the future and the opportunity for you both to find meaning in what you are seeing.


Older toddlers and pre-schoolers love to count. How many animals can you find in Edward Hick’s The Peaceable Kingdom (1st Floor Paintings Gallery)? How many chairs with spindle backs can you find?  How many tea pots are in the room?  The possibilities are endless! Try making a game out of it and use the opportunity to introduce new vocabulary words for objects.

I Spy & Seek & Find Games

Museums are great places for playful explorations. Try a game of “I Spy” (“I spy a painting with an animal…” or “I spy something you can eat with…”) or Seek and Find (“Can you find something that you might use to sleep on?)  Games like these encourage kids to look closely and to develop their powers of observation and critical thinking. Be flexible—if your child wants to stop and look at something other than what you had in mind, stop and look. What you see may surprise you!

Imagination & Storytelling

Children, especially pre-schoolers, have active imaginations. Help them tap into their critical thinking skills by asking them to explain what is going on in a work of art or how an object might be used. Create a story together about the objects you see.  Who used them?  What were they used for?  What might the objects tell us if they could speak on their own?

Follow the Leader

As your child matures, let him/her take more control over your museum or garden visit.  Help them make connections between what they see and aspects of their own lives or your family history. Relate what they see to things they’ve learned in school.

Drawing & Picture-Taking

Photography and drawing with pencil are welcome in the museum’s first floor galleries and some other museum spaces. Drawing requires careful observation and enhances fine motor skills. Together, take photographs of objects.  When you go home, put them in a scrapbook and have your child create the captions.

kids at enchanted summer day

kids at maypole at enchanted woods on enchanted summer day

making an ashtray craft

preschool kid paintingAre They Really “Learning” at the Museum?

Yes! Museums are an important informal learning setting that can serve as a springboard to excite your child’s interest in a variety of topics and ideas and serve as a platform for lifelong learning. Your child might gain the following from visiting museums with you or another trusted adult.

  • Perspective & Awareness: Self-confidence, independence and autonomy, and positive attitudes and perspectives on learning
  • Social Development: Interaction skills with others—peers and adults
  • Interests: growth of personal interests
  • Knowledge & Skills: growth of personal knowledge and skills learned outside of school
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