Associative Play

Ahhh connection!  This is one of my favorite stages of play.  You know, when children begin chatting with one another.  Sometimes even in their own language.  So cute!  The stuff that great memes are made of.  Associative play begins usually around the age of 3 until 5, however, every child is different, and you could see this stage as early as 2 and even extended through preschool.

Children in this phase have already established the comfort of playing next to another child, as discussed in the previous blog post “parallel play”, but now they begin to play WITH other children, interacting and even conversing.  However, their play doesn’t necessarily have a common goal, they are just learning to share, or interchange toys even.  For example, you may see one child join another child in play and begin to talk or copy each other.  This is the early stage of what we as human do called “mirroring”, an important component in connection and socialization.

Another example may be children riding tricycles next to each other engaging in talk and eye contact, with nowhere to go, at least no plan or destination in mind.  There are no rules, just play and interaction.  It’s important to encourage children in this type of play, as it helps them develop a sense of self-discovery among peers and inclusion in connectedness with others.  It builds confidence in sharing and self-advocacy as well as problem-solving skills through cooperation.

So, schedule that play date with your community and allow our children to connect, which will play an important role for them all the way into adulthood.  Plus, it allows a time of connectedness with other adults, also an important component of your own mental well-being.  Parents, allow for this kind of play to happen in a safe environment.  You are still the center of their universe, but they are exploring others and realizing there is more out there in the world.  Find your people, while they find theirs.

Fun kids educational activity with fruit.

Parallel Play

Here we are again with another type of play for children.  Parallel play is typically the next stage of play after onlooker play.  You will often find your child playing NEXT TO another child, but not necessarily WITH them.  This is important as it shows that the child is comfortable being around someone outside of their own family.  Connecting with others takes time and will come in stages, parallel play shows that your child is getting ready to connect and interact with other children.  They are allowing other children into their space.  However, this is also during the “mine” phase, where children haven’t completely grasped the sharing concept.  No need to worry, that will come with time and connection.


Allow your child to explore this phase with toys that are durable and easy to use.  This phase is the last step before your child actually makes that connection in play with other children.  They are testing the waters and feeling out their surroundings, with a sense of security in mind.  Enjoy this stage, their independence is also being tested, and can allow for a small moment of peace for you.  However, they will want to see you nearby for the feeling they are in a safe space.



Onlooker Play

Onlooker play is a very observant type of play for children.  It begins around the age of 3 and is where children learn from watching other children play.  They are engaged mostly in the observation of how other kids play.

This is an important beginning stage for learning how to play with other children.  However it is not limited to just observing children play, children also are learning how to play by watching adults play. 

One way to help encourage this type of play is to take your child to a park where other kids are playing, or engage in a group playdate.  Of course watching siblings play is a great way for them to learn the concept of playing. 

Solitary Play

Welcome back to the discussion of the different types of play that are important for a child’s development.  Last time we discussed Exploratory Play, which could also be considered Unoccupied Play.  This is the most basic type of play and usually between 0-3 months of age.  Now we are going to dive into Solitary Play which occurs 0-2 years old.

This type of play is exactly what it sounds like, or what you could consider “alone time”.  Playing by themselves is a great way to teach children to build confidence in themselves and their abilities.  Children who are more extroverted and thrive on social interaction can still learn to play by themselves and should.  Encouraging solitary play can serve them well throughout their lives as they will learn to be content with themselves and their surroundings. 


Children who are in solitary play are interacting with toys and objects around them.  They typically don’t concern themselves with others around them.  Great ways to encourage this type of play are with toys such as toy kitchens, walks in nature to teach them to pay attention to their own surroundings, interactive books, or a play gym. 

My son as a child was always seeking for a connection with others, whether through eye contact or touch or play, but it was important to teach him to find ways to entertain himself for even short periods of time.  Solitary Play is also referred to as Independent Play, which is a great way to teach your child independence.  Letting them explore their world around them on their own will teach them courage, confidence in self and independence for the rest of their lives.

Types of Play

Part 1

Let’s talk about the different types of play that you can observe in children.

Exploratory Play is a great place to start this discussion. Kids in exploratory play will use several of their senses to explore their world around them.  For example, using touch gives them an opportunity to feel objects and use gross motor and fine motor skills to develop.  They will also use their sense of smell and taste.  This is why you will often see young children put everything in their mouths, they are exploring the textures and tastes of their world.  Stopping to smell the roses is not only a way for adults to slow down from the busyness we experience, but it offers children the opportunity to explore more around them.  It’s a win, win for kids and parents to interact with each other and explore everything around us.


It usually starts with babies, when they start to explore their own bodies.  Then they graduate to objects within their reach, and of course as they develop and grow they will wander beyond their own reach to explore.  There are many opportunities for us to allow for this type of play.  Providing an environment with many different colors, textures, smells and taste will help them engage in exploratory play and allow or proper growth and development in their play universe.




We would love to introduce you to Alissa Rupp with FRAME Integrative Design Strategies based in Seattle! With over 20 years experience with children’s museums, we were fortunate to become acquainted with Alissa in 2019. She has family in the Magic Valley and had been following our journey early on.

Our board held a 3 day workshop with her in October 2020 to develop our implementation plan for the museum. Her expertise was key as we worked through the various details. In March 2021, we were ready to begin our next steps of hiring our exhibit design team with Alissa as the lead. She is a joy to work with! She helped create the perfect team. We participated in another 3 day workshop with them to kick off our exhibit design. They lead us through not only what we wanted, but why. Our Design Committee continued to meet via zoom bi-monthly with their team going over the various drafts until we “got it right.”

We are excited to continue working with Alissa and the rest of the exhibit design team as we begin the Schematic Design phase in the coming months.

Full STEAM Ahead

Summer Outreach is “Full STEAM Ahead” for the Children’s Museum of the Magic Valley!
We love being able to imagine, create, and discover with children throughout the Magic Valley. After cancelling several of our Spring 2020 events and not being able to host events through summer 2020, we were ready to provide fun, interactive opportunities for children this summer! We enjoyed collaborating with the community to be part of a few summer school sessions and summer camps around the area. By the end of the summer, we participated in 17 events around the Magic Valley, serving just over 1,100 children and caregivers.

Funding Through Grants

Having invested $48,000 so far in our STEAM programming, we are grateful to our community partners who have believed in our vision to provide fun, interactive hands-on learning for the children of the Magic Valley.

Thank you!

It is an honor to accept the funds from our community partners…


Board Education & Involvement

CMMV organized our first Board of Directors in November 2018 as we became a 501(c)(3). One of our core values has been to strive to “do it right”. As an emerging museum, we believed one of the ways we could do that was to learn from industry experts. 

Early on, we joined the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM). We have been fortunate to attend their annual Interactivity Conference they hold each May. Board President Bethany Bell attended ACM’s Interactivity Pre-Conference for Emerging Museums in Raleigh, North Carolina May 2018 while visiting her sister. She learned valuable information to get us started on the right path.

We felt it was important to attend ACM’s 2019 Interactivity Conference held in Denver, Colorado. Tennille Adams and Bethany Bell, Co-founders, attended the Pre-Conference for Emerging Museums. Meghan Scoresby joined for the remainder of the conference. Having multiple board members there allowed us to participate in several sessions happening simultaneously. We made valuable connections to other children’s museums and took detailed notes to share with the rest of the board upon our return. 

One of our connections at the Interactivity Conference led us to learn about the Northwest Association of Youth Museums (NWAYM). In November 2019, Tennille Adams, Board Vice President, participated in the NWAYM Conference in Burlington, WA. She was able to talk one on one with the Executive Directors from Hands On Children’s Museum, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Gilbert House Children’s Museum, and Children’s Museum of Skagit County. These museums, along with Portland Children’s Museum, KidsQuest Children’s Museum, and Imagine Children’s Museum came together to share their successes and challenges over the past year. We love these opportunities to learn from other children’s museums.

In November 2019, we joined the Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce, participating in their Twin Falls Today Lunch and Business After Hours as often as we can each month. We have enjoyed getting to know community leaders and collaborating with them. 

In January 2020, two of our board members, Chris Kun and Bethany Bell, attended Idaho Nonprofit Center’s Board Bootcamp in Boise!

ACM’s Interactivity Conference was cancelled in 2020, and was held virtually in 2021. Five of our board members were able to participate in zoom sessions during the two week conference. We are appreciative of the collaborative nature of children’s museums. We find ways to reciprocate with others, sharing what has worked for us.

Between fundraising and outreach events, we also try to attend other various trainings that help us develop professionally. Three of our board members had the opportunity to participate in the first annual Idaho Business Summit. It was phenomenal! Our board spends countless hours working to bring the children’s museum to life.

Idaho Gives 2021

Idaho Gives – a program of the Idaho Nonprofit Center – is designed to bring the state together, raising money and awareness for Idaho nonprofits. Due to the increased need of support to the nonprofit sector, because of COVID-19 the online giving period has been extended! Donations were collected from April 23-May 7.

Joining together, 16,091 donors raised $3,873,823 for 646 Idaho nonprofits. We felt very fortunate to be the recipients of $3,490.

View our Idaho Gives Profile here