Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry & the Early Education Access Fund

Picture a classroom of three-year-olds. How would you go about teaching them what a magnet is, and defining what is and is not magnetic? When we spoke to Executive Director Nichole Myles, she described a lesson in which children were challenged to test this concept.
Starting with a worksheet, a magnetic wand and plastic bottles filled with rice and everyday objects, children in Early Headstart classrooms were asked to hypothesize about which objects the magnet would attract. Once they had placed their guesses, each child went about the classroom testing, waving the wands in front of plastic bottles with objects and when complete, reported back to the class on whether or not their hypotheses were correct. This is just one lesson plan that could be taught by an onsite Children’s Museum educator at any school in the Tri-County.
For the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, the power of play is much bigger than creating masterpieces in the art room, dressing up and exploring the Medieval Creativity Castle, driving a pretend fire truck or chasing around bugs in the Kids’ Garden. Play is the vehicle for learning about the world on a larger scale – a way to learn about building relationships as well as blocks. However, not every child has a family member who is willing to bring them to the Museum.
The Early Education Access Fund ensures that the benefits of play reach all members of our community. The museum is a grantee of many funds at Coastal Community Foundation, including the Benefitfocus Fund, the Fund for Special Children, the Lothmann Family Fund as well as the Fennell Family Endowment. The Fund for Special Children has specifically funded SuperStars, a program which the museum runs the second and fourth Sundays of every month, allowing children with special needs and their families to visit the museum for free. In 2015, this program welcomed more than 500 children and their families to the museum.
Baby Scholars, another EEAF program, is a prenatal endeavor with Florence Crittenton Residential Program of Charleston that encourages pregnant mothers (ages 21 and under) to explore healthy mother-child connections. Classes focus on healthy routines which give mothers the tools to connect and grow with their children – from sharing basic reading skills to providing access to the Museum as a place to learn as a family.
In 2015, the Museum also became the first museum in the State of South Carolina to join Museums for All, an initiative between the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Association of Children’s Museums. With Museums for All, families of up to six people are granted admission for $1 upon presenting an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.
Within the next year, CML plans to revamp its historic building – a chance to freshen exhibits, build a science wing and restore historic architecture. In this time, be on the lookout for Pop-Up Tinker Shop, the newest addition to the Early Education Access Fund.
Pop-Up Tinker Shop will take the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry on-the-go to children in underserved districts of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties. With this mobile ‘shop’, a museum on wheels, the museum staff plans to conquer the barriers of time, cost and transportation by bringing programming to schools, libraries, community events and child development centers.
With each of these endeavors, the Children’s Museum expands its reach to more Lowcountry residents. To learn more about the Early Education Access Fund, please visit CML’s website at www.explorecml.org.
To designate your year-end gift to this organization or any other in the Lowcountry, please submit your grant recommendation by Friday, December 16th. Call CCF at at 843-723-3635 with any questions.

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