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Opening February 10, 2024

Pink cherry blossom photo over a red background that describes the PLAY exhibit with the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series photo

Play Around the World is designed for children and families to explore different types of play—role-play, narrative, symbolic, and constructive—around aspects of Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean cultures.

Anchoring the exhibit are immersive activities children can engage with, including feeding pandas at a preserve, attending a cherry blossom picnic, or “diving” to explore an under-the-sea area inspired by the story of the Jeju mermaids. There is an element of play that can inspire any child while simultaneously educating them on the richness and diversity of Asian cultures.

This exhibit is located in Leo’s Learning Lab and is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to close.

Explore Asian Cultures with SCM!

A girl and a woman smile and play together, over the text 'Play Exhibit' and the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series logo on an orange background


Put on your doctor’s coat and journey to a Panda Preserve in China to learn more about caring for these fascinating creatures. After your vet shift, head over to a traditional Chinese street snack stall and try your hand at building the city of Beijing in magnetic miniature!

South Korea

Learn about Haenyo divers in this area and gather fresh seafood straight from the ocean! Afterwards, take your catch to sell at a market modeled after the Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan.

A boy smiles at the camera while swimming with orange fish underwater, all over the text 'Play Exhibit' and the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series logo
A woman and her baby look up at pink cherry blossoms, all over the text 'Play Exhibit' and the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series logo on a blue background


It’s a Springtime frolic in Japan! Pack your own bento box to view the cherry blossoms in the hanami area, then try your hand at traditional crafts like kigumi and making temari!


Loved the exhibit and want some ideas to continue learning at home? Check out some ideas below!


Read – Explore and guide children through Asian literature, allowing them to see images depicting culture and hear stories of tradition and differing ways of life. Read a children’s book featuring characters from Asia or created by Asian authors or illustrators. Books are a great way to introduce children to new cultures, celebrations, and people’s unique life experiences. The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) has an extensive resource of children’s literature categorized by different grades—including K-3 and 3-5—with a focus on narratives from China, Japan, and South Korea. Ask your local librarian if they have these titles for your next storytime!


Explore – Go on a virtual adventure through Asia to learn about its diverse countries and cultures. No need to pack your bags for these virtual adventures! The Asia Society Texas Center has designed these at-home lessons and activities to help spark your child’s curiosity about Asia and begin to foster cultural empathy while exploring seven diverse Asian cultures.


Celebrate – Discuss the significance of an upcoming cultural celebration in Asia and participate in a related activity. Make harvest prints to celebrate Chuseok in September or a red envelope to celebrate the Lunar New Year in February—with the Asian Art Museum’s extensive group of resources, people of all ages can participate
in cultural celebrations from across Asia all year long. Be sure to educate your young learner about each celebration and its cultural importance before engaging in an art activity, virtual storytelling, recipe making, and more! 


Discover Learn some of Japan’s most popular stories in a mini kamishibai (“paper play”). Children of any age will be mesmerized by the beautiful imagery and unique characters in Japan Society’s kamishibai mini library. These paper plays featuring Japanese-English bilingual narration will open your child’s eyes and ears to the Japanese language and culture through stories about folklore heroes, magical princesses, and brave young fishermen!

Book Lists


  • “Dumplings for Lili” by Melissa Iwai
  • “Giant: A Panda of the Enchanted Forest” by Xuan Loc Xuan
  • “Grandma Panda’s China Storybook” by Mingmel Yip
  • “Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes” by Nina Simonds, Children’s Museum Boston and Leslie Swartz
  • “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin


  • “Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories: Anniversary Edition” by Florence Sakade
  • “Sushi for Kids: A Children’s Introduction to Japan’s Favorite Food” by Kaoru Ono, Peter Howlett and Richard McNamara
  • “Japanese Traditions: Rice Cakes, Cherry Blossoms and Matsuri” by Setsu Broderick and Willamarie Moore
  • “When the Sakura Bloom” by Narisa Togo

South Korea

  • “All About Korea: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids” by Ann Martin Bowler
  • “K is for Korea” by Hyechong Cheung & Prodeepta Das
  • “My First Trip to Korea” by Yeonsil Yoo
  • “The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story” by Tina Cho & Jess X. Snow
  • “Bee-Bim Bop!” by Linda Sue Park
SCM Family Pride

Regular Operating Hours

We're currently closed. We're open again on Tuesday () from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Member – Only Hours

Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

General Admission

Tuesday- Friday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Saturday & Sunday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Leo’s Learning Lab will be open
Thurs/Fri – 10:00 am – 2:00 pm &
Sat/Sun – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm