Sidewalk Surprises: A Creative Adaptation of a pre-COVID Plan

Children hopping through a course in Madison Children's Museum's Sidewalk Surprises program
Children take advantage of the Madison Children's Museum's Sidewalk Surprises games early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) had an ambitious plan to celebrate its 40th anniversary: to bring the museum to the community with 40 outreach events through the MCM Roadshow, which was supported by a Community Impact grant from MCF.

The Roadshow was just getting ready to go when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, putting a stop to the Museum’s original plans. But the creative staff at MCM didn’t let that keep them down. They knew that the stress and isolation caused by the pandemic made their work even more important. So the Museum retooled its plans for the Roadshow, and in late May, Sidewalk Surprises rolled its way onto streets and sidewalks all over town.

In this community-wide exhibit, museum staff and local artists used spray chalk designed to last for several weeks to create hundreds of temporary hopscotch courses, mazes and labyrinths. Using dozens of game patterns from around the world, MCM’s Sidewalk Surprises infused physical play with math and cultural learning.

Sidewalk Surprises is the first popup play experience planned as part of the MCM Roadshow. So keep your eyes and ears open to see what they roll out next.

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