Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scarecrow Stomp

Summer is finally over, and this past weekend we celebrated the transition into Fall in a big way! On Sunday September 19th, we had a lot of Fall-themed activities and projects to kick off the season. The biggest attraction was the Scarecrow Stomp, where families brought in their old and used clothing and turned them into some very creative scarecrows! There was plenty of hay to use (which created a miniature playground for the kids), as well as other arts and crafts materials to bring the scarecrows to life. At the end of the day, there was a whole collection of artistic scarecrows, and every family got to bring theirs home.

Next to the scarecrows was an all-time Fall classic: apple cider. No, not the kind you get at the store… apple cider made from freshly squeezed apples! While some of our volunteers cut up a whole bunch of apples, kids got to put the sliced remains into an antique pressing machine, then watch as the apples were crushed into a pulp, and the juices flowed into a container below. It was a delightful insight into how apple cider was made in the old days, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it! Nothing better than a history lesson that you can drink afterwards!

The other food-related blast to the past was Johnny Cakes, a Colonial delicacy. These cakes were made from corn and corn meal (ground corn kernels.) The Native Americans taught the early settlers how to make these corn-bread pancakes. These were very easy to make (because corn was easy to grow and grind) and the pilgrims used them at almost every meal.
The recipe is also very easy. The ingredients are:
-1 cup cornmeal
-½ teaspoon salt
-1 cup boiling water
-½ cup milk.

Mix the cornmeal and salt. Add the boiling water, stirring until smooth. Add the milk. Stir well. Grease a heavy, 12-inch frying pan. Set over the medium-low heat. Drop teaspoons of the batter onto the pan. Cook until golden, about five minutes. Turn the cakes carefully with a metal spatula. Cook the other side five minutes. Serve the first cakes hot with butter and maple syrup.

The third history lesson came from the Wringer Washer, an antique device used to do the laundry. The kids couldn’t stop playing with the device as they rolled socks in the dirt and mud, washed them in the basin, scrubbed them against the washboard, rolled them through the squeezer, then hung them up to dry… only to repeat the process again and again!

The last history lesson came from Annawon Weedon, who brought his fascinating Native American arts and crafts projects and games. Among the arts and crafts projects were corn dolls, easy-to-make dolls made from strands of corn stalk. There was also an old Native American game, a game that originated the common phrase, “What’s all the hubbub?” This game consisted of a giant bowl with colored seashells in it, and the idea was to shake and slam it on the table, and you’d get points based on which sides of the shells are facing up or down. The most interesting part of the game is that you played with an opponent, whose job is to distract you by shouting while you’re slamming the bowl.

What’s more frustrating than eating a messy, powdery donut? How about eating a messy, powdery donut hanging on a string- without using your hands? Kids delighted in this appetizing challenge as they attempted to devour a donut, hands-free. It’s not as easy as it sounds! Needless to say, there was many a satisfied, yet powder-faced kid walking away from that activity!

Hay is fun. Not many kids see it on a day-to-day basis, but it’s fluffy and interesting and makes you want to jump into it. That’s exactly what some kids did, as in between activities they could make a mad dash, jump through a hula hoop, and make a crash landing on a safety pile made of hay. It was a great way for many of the kids to let out some of their pent up energy, and always amusing to see some kids make very elaborate dives in the air.

The last of the activities was an interesting arts and crafts project. In order to prepare for the season, kids got the chance to design and make their own leaf-hanging decorations. Clear fabric pieces in the shape and colors of leaves were stuck together, and they could be brought home and hung in windows and elsewhere in the house.

The Scarecrow Stomp is only the beginning of the Fall events. Keep coming in on the drop-in days to see Trucks on Tuesdays, Exploring Music and Simple Science, Animal Happenings on Thursdays, and Friday Frolics. Mark your calendars for the Halloween Romp on Saturday, October 16th. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance!

-Josh Nyer
Public Relations Intern

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Music Making and Circus Acts!

We had two show-stopping Drop-in Days at The Museum last week! On Thursday we made soAdd Videome awesome rhythms and beats with our special, musical guests. Friday was also another entertaining day because we had amazing circus performances by AWESOME ROBB and performers, Jeremy and Jenn! We learned all kinds of cool circus tricks that I have always wanted to know how to do.

We made some funky beats last Thursday at The Museum! This Music Making Drop-in Day gave us a chanceto make some noise and learn all about different musical instruments. Tony Fonseca from All Hands Drumming started things off by teaching us how to play the drums. He set up all different types of drums in The Wild Place for us to bang on. His helpful color-coding system on the drums along with his instructions made it easy to learn how to

play them correctly.

So Tony got the party started, but Jenn Bliss and Jason Berube kept it going strong with their exciting exploration of the wonderful world of music! First, they gave us a little background on what makes music. They told us the history of how it progressed, and how there are all different types of ways to makes music, such as with our voices and with instruments. Like Tony, they also showed us how to play a few instruments, like the guitar and the recorder. After they taught us some awesome musical skills, they let us showcase them in our very own concert! Our jam session down in The Wild Place was a lot of fun, and a great way to practice the new things that we had learned throughout the day.

After Jason and Jenn’s musical exploration was complete, Annawon Weedon taught us about his Native American culture and how music is apart of it. He showed us some cool artifacts, like a deer rattle! This musical instrument is made from a deer’s foot and his tribe uses it during their musical routines. Annawon also taught us The Alligator Dance, which they use to get rid of gators! How it works is two people dance together with their arms intertwined, and the dance will ward off these unwanted creatures. Overall, each presenter’s take on music taught

us something different, which made this Drop-in Day filled with great musical knowledge and skills!

While it is usually more like a zoo down in The Wild Place, last Friday it definitely was a circus! Awesome Robb started

the day off with his circus routine. He gave us a little history on clowns and how things have changed over time, one being their shoes! Robb’s first pair of clown shoes was very heavy leather. Shoe cobblers made the shoes so durable because most clowns wouldn’t have time to get their shoesrepaired if they broke on the road! Modern clown footwear and clothing are more lightweight, which is nice when performing on hot summer days like last week.

Robb went to The Ringling Brothers Clown College in 1983 where he learned what it takes to be a clown. His experienced clown teachers showed him how to put on his clown makeup, what his wardrobe should be like, and what tricks get the most laughs! One trick that he performed involved and underwear tree, which certainly got some big laughs with us!

In the afternoon, Jenn and Jeremy taught us juggling, plate spinning, and hula-hooping down in The Wild Place. They started the show with a little trick for us: it involved 5 members of our audience and a hula-hoop. Seems pretty harmless, right? Jenn held the hula hoop in the air as Jeremy jumped

through the hoop and over the 5 volunteers!Lucky for them, Jeremy successfully cleared their heads and made a smooth landing.

With one trick behind them, Jeremy and Jenn continued with the rest of the show. Jeremy is a professional juggler! He showed us that there are all different ways juggle and different objects to juggle with. Jeremy juggled with the classic pins, flower sticks, a Chinese yo-yo, and even with these balls that he usually sets on fire!

But Jeremy isn’t the only one with tricks up his sleeve! Jenn is great hula-hooper. She can hula all over her body, including her neck! She let us in on a little secret: the bigger the hoop, the easier it is to hula. You would think that it would be more difficult with a bigger hoop, but it’s not because it doesn’t take as much hulaing to keep it going!

We have certainly learned many new things at the Museum this summer. Whether we are watching an animal show, listening to the history of clowns, or singing pirate songs, we all could learn something that we didn’t know before we went to a Drop-in Day. And best of all, it’s actually fun. I mean, I think that it’s pretty cool to learn how to be a poop detective! These are just a few of the many awesome ideas that came through the Museum this summer. If you only got to go to a few Drop-ins this summer, then don’t fret because there will be more fun Drop-in Days in the fall!

-Ashley Balerna
Public Relations Intern