A lot of us adults admire kids’ curiosity– their penchant for learning and staying open to the unknown. And, as it turns out, this tendency of theirs is a really beneficial one. Research tells us that curiosity in children is linked to increased brain activity, empathy, and social networks. However, as we adults know, curiosity easily dims with age. This month’s POP-UP Mini Box aims to reinforce and inspire the curiosity for you and the children you love.

Curiosity is a key component to building empathy and good relationships. People who are genuinely curious about the situation of others are more likely to start conversations, make new friends, and forge deep connections. Curiosity means talking about more than just the weather; getting to know a person better means going beneath the surface.


Kitchen Table Question:

“What’s a question you could ask someone you just met to get to know them better?”

Curiosity is a habit that dims with age, but it is a vital tool for personal growth, building relationships, and optimal learning. How do we encourage the continuation of curiosity?
This exercises encourages both kids and the adult to explore a familiar task with curiosity. 
1. Plan your “Curiosity Mission.” Choose a task/ routine you do often– it could be going to the grocery store, cleaning up after dinner,  taking a walk in the park, etc. Your Curiosity Mission will be to find how many ways you can do things differently than you normally would. But first, you need to…
2. Make your curiosity glasses. Using paper, pipe cleaners, or any other materials you have on hand, make some “curiosity glasses” for each participant (child and adult!) that will be completing the Curiosity Mission. Explain that while you are wearing these glasses, your focus will be on doing things differently than they’ve been done before– once you put them on, the Curiosity Mission has commenced!
2. Do your common task/ routine in new ways. Encourage the children (and yourself) to find new ways of doing things. For example, can you open a car door facing away from the car (backwards)? Take a different route to the park? Get down low–what does the kitchen look like if you sit on the floor (from your child’s eye level)? Follow you and your children’s curiosity to see where it takes you.
3. As the adult, notice how you encourage or discourage curiosity. In particular, you can pay attention to how you communicate fear vs. safety and disapproval vs. acceptance. Of course, keeping you and your children’s safety in mind, become personally curious about what you say “yes” to and what you say “no” to. How do you decide what is “safe” and what is “not safe”? Did you know that many times, adults constrain children’s curiosity through 1) fear, 2) disapproval and 3) absence. How can you encourage more curiosity? Learn more.  
3. Take a picture of you and your children in your curiosity glasses and share your Curiosity Mission with everyone on Facebook or Instagram!
How did it feel to explore your common task in curious ways?
How can you make your life more filled with curiosity?
For the adult(s)– in what ways do you encourage or discourage curiosity with the children in your life?
Picture Books
by Kobi Yamada
This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult.
 by Mary-Louise Gay
Stella and her little brother are spending the day at the sea. Stella has been to the sea before and knows all its secrets, but Sam has many questions. “Where do starfish come from? Does a catfish purr? Does a sea horse gallop?” Stella has an answer for them all. The only thing she isn’t sure of is whether Sam will ever come into the water.
Chapter Books
In this witty historical fiction middle grade novel set at the turn of the century, an 11-year-old girl explores the natural world, learns about science and animals, and grows up. A Newbery Honor Book.

Each month we will be featuring the story of a past POP-Up Festival host. Meet Denise Debartolo, a POP-UP Super-host who has held nearly twenty(!!) POP-UP Festivals.


1. In what country were your POP-UP Festivals held? They were held in southern Italy, in Calabria and the last one in Padoa, which is a city in the region of Veneto, in northern Italy.


2. How many POP-UP Festivals have you hosted?  I’ve hosted 19 pop-up festivals, from November 2017 to April 2018.
3. How many children attended your festivals?  I believe that at least 600 children attended my festivals and almost 200 parents. 
4. What do you love about the POP-UP Festivals? First of all, the collaboration among the teachers for the organization of the festival. Having presented 8 of them in the same school, the teachers shared the materials and all tried to do their best in order to achieve good results. Many parents participated as well and they were very enthusiastic about helping facilitate the activities and spending some time with their own children. Many times they came up to me to thank me for this wonderful experience because they were able to get to know their children better. What I love the most are the wonderful memories of the festivals that I was able to capture in the thousands of photos that were taken. 
5. What is a tip you would give to a new POP-UP Festival host about holding a festival? The preparation of the festival is very important. It’s good to have at least one adult that facilitates the activity, especially when primary children are involved. It’s important to send out the instructions for each activity a week before the event so that the parents already know what needs to be done. It’s best if the kids experience the activities in small groups (maximum 5 per each group). Be sure to have enough materials for all the kids and, above all, remember to cut out some extra medals so that nobody is left out.
 Would you like your POP-UP Festival story to be shared here? E-mail Maria at [email protected]

Share your Curiosity Mission and glasses on Facebook or Instagram!


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