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Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center


Mission Statement of SEEC’s Center for Innovation in Early Learning (CIEL)

The mission of CIEL is to share its museum-based approach to learning in an effort to positively influence the practices used in educating young children in early childhood and museum settings.

Get Connected (info on how to connect with our listserve)

Join the SEEC Educational Outreach Program listserv to receive information on upcoming trainings and other opportunities related to early childhood education. To join the listserv simply send an email with your email address included in the text section to

Calendar of SEEC Professional Development Programs

Through educational outreach, the museum education team shares its expertise in using museum exhibits and artwork in conjunction with children’s literature and everyday objects to teach young children. SEEC offers information about its museum-based approach to learning through seminars and professional training classes, written materials, teaching kits, and customized consulting. Watch our website for upcomign dates and program information.


To see what professional development opportunities we have upcoming please go to:

Teachers Learning Together

Click here to download a flyer showing all of our professional development opportunities

For more information about any of these seminars please contact Betsy Bowers at 202-633-9587 or

Professional Development For Educators at Your School or Museum

Creating Collections with Young Children

SEEC will bring this one day seminar to your museum or school to help your educators discover new ways to assist classroom teachers in creating and using classroom collections and exhibits that combine literature, art and objects to introduce children to the magic of museums.

Museum Magic: Museum-Based Approach to Teaching
History, Math, and Literacy to Young Children

This four-part series introduces educators to SEEC’s method of teaching through actual museum visits and encounters with real objects, children’s literature, and art. In this course, participants learn to plan effective museum visits and classroom-based lessons to support learning in content areas such as literacy, math, and history.

Two Hour Workshops at a Location of Your Choice ($650 for up to 20 participants):

Inspired by the Greats: Process Art Experiences for Young Children – Effective art experiences for young children offer opportunities to develop both receptive and expressive language. A discussion of current theories in art education for young children, emphasizing process-oriented art making, will focus on the value of this approach and how this contributes to a child’s learning. Teachers will be introduced to artists and their techniques, children’s books about artists, and art making experiences. Session leaders will model techniques for engaging children in talking about art, using examples of fine art in reproductions for the classroom.
o Inspired by the Greats: In Gallery Curriculum Connections and Extensions
Teachers that have participated in the Inspired by the Greats workshop can enrich their experience at the National Gallery of Art for a 1.5 hour museum based workshop. Participants learn to make multi-disciplinary connections by using masterpieces from the NGA collection.

Connections and Collections: Engaging Young Minds in Math – Basic mathematical thinking is natural for children in that they sort, organize, and classify from a very early age. This type of thinking is integral to understanding math concepts. This session will build an understanding of how children use sorting and classifying to understand their world and how to nurture this inclination in the classroom. The concept of developing collections in the classroom as a teaching strategy will be introduced.

Bringing the Museum to Your Classroom - Young children begin to explore their world through objects even before they begin to learn through language and books. The concrete nature of objects enriches the process by engaging a young child’s mind through sensory exploration. Museums are known for housing large collections of interesting objects. In this workshop, participants will learn how to make connections between the kinds of objects found in a museum and everyday objects that can be explored by children in the classroom.

Never Too Young: Approaching Culturally Sensitive Content with Children – In today’s global society it is important that children learn about others and their cultural traditions. This session will illustrate universal themes that are common to all people and cultures as a strategy for thinking about others, and will then offer an approach that honors differences while being careful not to promote stereotypes. Although many artifacts and works of art offer authentic experiences for children to become acquainted with diverse cultures, some objects need to be presented with an awareness of culturally sensitive content. The idea of developing a positive and accepting attitude about differences will be part of the conversation.

Spaces that Inspire Learning – A child’s environment can play an important role in building critical thinking and social emotional skills. Teachers will consider how the classroom environment can be viewed as an active teaching tool but also a tool for communicating to children, parents, and visitors.

Customized Consulting

SEEC offers consulting that is customized to each client’s needs. SEEC works with a wide range of organizations, from museums planning early childhood initiatives to community-based organizations seeking expertise in early childhood learning. Consultants from SEEC also support schools interested in implementing more effective field trips or districts seeking an arts-based or object-based approach to learning in their curriculum. We offer a wide variety of services that are customized to fit the needs of organizations interested in teaching young children in the museum environment or using museum-based methodology.

Customized consulting may include, but is not limited to:

  • Utilizing the SEEC resource, Museum Magic, in your school or museum
  • Conceptual planning and analysis for the development of new programs
  • Docent training
  • Museum program development
  • Helping your museum be more inviting to families with young children
  • Development of thematic resource kits
  • Professional development for museum educators
  • Customized lesson plans
  • Designing and Implementing Field Trips
  • Model lessons with a SEEC master teacher
  • Teacher training or in-service training (early childhood and elementary school levels)
  • Exhibit evaluation (from the point of view of preschool children)

Costs are determined by the scope of the project. For more information on SEEC’s consulting services, please contact Betsy Bowers, Director of the Center for Innovation in Early Learning, at 202.633.9587 or

Museum Magic Early Learning Resource Guide

Museum Magic is a unique museum-based set of activities that serves as a resource for the SEEC program. The guide is useful for museums interested in doing programming for young children or schools providing classroom experiences for young children. Museum Magic is currently being revised and individual units will be available for purchase in coming months. The revised resource guide will include examples of activities in community resources outside of museums as well as experiences that can be found in museums outside of Washington, DC. It is also possible for SEEC to custom design resource materials to support a new educational initiative at your museum or school. For more information on Museum Magic, please contact Betsy Bowers, Director of the Center for Innovation in Early Learning, at 202.633.9587 or by sending an e-mail to