This new permanent play space features areas for manipulatives and dramatic play as well as
a reading nook, weaving station, and oversized chalkboard
Dallas Heritage Village opens a new permanent early childhood interactive play space this fall called “The Parlor” in the previous Law Office building on the Village’s Main Street, located at 1515 S. Harwood. Inspired by Dallas Heritage Village’s smallest next door neighbors, the children from Vogel Alcove, this 924 sq.-ft.-transformed space features a reading nook; a dramatic play area where children can dress up and interact in a faux parlor setting with a tea set, food, and more; a hands-on manipulatives area with blocks, cars, animal figurines, and more; a weaving station; and a chalkboard across the back wall.
The Village’s desire for an early childhood learning space accelerated in the spring of 2014 when Vogel Alcove moved into the City Park School across the street from Dallas Heritage Village. As soon as Dallas Heritage Village President and Executive Director Melissa Prycer learned the nonprofit was coming to the neighborhood, she contacted Vogel’s Executive Director Karen Hughes, asking her to please consider the museum as an extension of their classroom, and a special friendship began. Since then, the two nonprofits have partnered in numerous ways, while working together to create experiences that accommodate Vogel Alcove’s specialized needs of trauma-informed care while providing developmentally appropriate cognitive, physical, social, and emotional learning opportunities for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
“Vogel’s toddlers and infants are the busiest users of Dallas Heritage Village,” added Prycer. “Some classes come at least once a week while others make impromptu visits. It soon became clear that it was time to create a special space for our smallest learners. We wanted a space that could be the home base for Vogel children when they visit, providing a familiar starting point before they explore other parts of the museum complex. We hope to have at least one weekly class in The Parlor for the Vogel Alcove kids, and our family visitors will also be able to enjoy the space. Kids will have a place to play and explore and parents, a place to relax.”
“The homeless children we serve do not have a true community to belong to – but because of Dallas Heritage Village, they have a wonderful place to call their own,” said Karen Hughes, president and CEO, Vogel Alcove. “We are so excited to partner with Dallas Heritage Village to provide exciting enrichment activities for our children. The new Parlor will add a new way for our children to enjoy the visits across the street. We are blessed to have Dallas Heritage Village as our neighbor and our partner in serving these children who are working to overcome the traumatic effects of poverty.”
The Parlor became a reality in 2016 when Dallas Heritage Village received a Community Anchor grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) for $93,033 over a period of three years. Additionally, Thompson & Knight Foundation is providing $25,000 over a period of three years, and The Hoglund Foundation has made a $10,000 gift.
“The IMLS grant and the support of our generous donors have enabled us to create this exciting new space which increases our ability to provide effective early childhood education programs,” added Prycer. “No other history organization in the area provides preschool programming, and it is our hope to continue to expand our offerings. Since we began Barnyard Buddies Story Time program over a decade ago, our stroller traffic has increasingly grown with about 33 percent of our child visitors age 5 and under. The building will be incredibly active, both with children from Vogel Alcove and family visitors.”
In addition to Vogel Alcove, The Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) at Southern Methodist University is also a partner in the exhibit. CORE is creating surveys for visitors to evaluate the programs while establishing tools, guidelines, and best practices for early childhood education within museums.
“Museums have much to offer young children, but their unique learning needs can be at odds with traditional museums,” added Yetunde Zannou, Ph.D., Evaluation Project Manager, CORE, SMU. “Since starting our evaluation of the Community Anchors partnership between Dallas Heritage Village and neighboring Vogel Alcove in 2016, CORE has greatly anticipated completion of The Parlor, a dedicated space for The Village’s youngest visitors. In the short run, CORE hopes to see The Parlor become a home-base for quality early learning activities at this unique history museum; in the long run, we anticipate The Parlor being an example within the larger museum community of what’s possible when need and partnership opportunity are met with creative solutions and commitment to bring an idea to life.”
The space will open to the public during all Barnyard Buddies preschool story time programs as well as at all educational events. Please refer to http://www.dallasheritagevillage.org/the-parlor to confirm dates The Parlor will be open.