Monday, February 28, 2011

A letter from the Museum Director

The Museum has exciting news to share with you. This year, the Museum will be celebrating our 20th birthday. Soon we will announce our birthday party plans-so please keep a lookout!

Since opening in 1991, it has been our vision to offer children and families affordable, hands-on learning activities to enhance early learning as well as support family bonding through meaningful parent and child programs. Please accept our warmest and most heartfelt thank you for your help in making this vision a reality.

During the past 20 years, over 600,000 pairs of hands and feet have played at the Museum. Though our exhibits and building are well-loved, it is time for revitalization and renewal. The constant stress of nature and age, and the exuberant play of children have led to wear and tear on our beloved firehouse building and its exhibits.

The Museum is seeking funding to renovate and refurbish this heavily utilized cultural gem to enhance the public's enjoyment and use of the Museum for years to come. We need help from donors, volunteers, and partners to achieve this goal and live up to the promise to serve the learning needs of children and families. If you would like to join this effort, please contact me at (508) 230-3789. We could really use your help.

Again, thank you for your support.

I look forward to hearing from you!

- Paula Peterson, Executive Director

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Museum Serves Special Needs Students

You may not know . . . Since 2005, students from The Education Cooperative (TEC) in Dedham have worked as Museum volunteers. These students, with moderate to intensive disabilities, partner with Museum staff to teach arts and crafts, assist with science programs and offer special activities to Museum visitors.

TEC works in partnership with school districts to provide support and access to an array of services designed to address the needs of students with disabilities aged 3-22. TEC staff members are thrilled to partner with the Children’s Museum as well.

The Children's Museum is committed to making hands-on learning experiences possible for all children, regardless of their ability, economic status, cultural heritage, 0r family structure.

According to Thomas Bruffee, TEC transition teacher. . . “perhaps the greatest benefit our students receive is that it builds self-confidence and improves their self-esteem. All of our student volunteers have been made to feel welcome at the Museum and have been given a great deal of positive reinforcement.”

“They take their responsibility very seriously” says Steven Hill, the Museum’s Program and Volunteer Manager “and they love working with kids. In return, we hope to show them what a work environment requires of them. It’s been a win-win situation.”

Serving children of all abilities is a core component of the Museum’s mission. Over the last twenty years, the Museum has also partnered with the Bi-County Collaborative in Franklin, and individual school districts throughout the area.

Hannaford Helps the Museum

February has been full of fantastic family-friendly programming, made possible thanks to Hannaford Supermarkets - this post is to show our gratitude!

With winter outside and kids out of school, parents and caregivers are seeking fun, affordable activities for their kids. The Children’s Museum is a favorite choice for families from throughout Southeastern Massachusetts. Sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets, Valentine Sweets Week and February’s School Vacation Week provides kids and families with a variety of fun-filled and educational activities, games, and arts and crafts.

Since 2005, Hannaford Supermarkets has been a friend and partner of the Museum, providing gifts totaling more than $10,200 in grants and sponsorships. In addition to its sponsorships, the Hannaford Foundation provided a generous $5,000 grant in 2007 in support of the Museum’s Outdoor Learning Center, The Wild Place.

“Hannaford’s consistent charitable support demonstrates the priority they place on being a good corporate citizen,” said The Children’s Museum’s Executive Director Paula Peterson. “By supporting causes where they have stores, Hannaford significantly contributes to the quality of life in our community.”

This year, Hannaford’s Nutrition Coordinator Michelle Mix worked with Museum Program Manager, Steven Hill, to come up with creative “good-for-your-heart” snacks and treats for families to enjoy at the Museum. They also created healthy and fun family-friendly meal recipes for caregivers and children to make together at home.

“Hannaford is proud to once again partner with The Children’s Museum in Easton to make possible these two family-oriented events that are designed to encourage kids to enjoy learning, eat healthy and stay active,” said Mix. “Family bonding happens naturally when preparing healthy meals together. This is a wonderful example of businesses and nonprofits working together to support our shared goals of promoting healthy living among children and families.”

Hannaford Supermarket’s commitment to the Museum and to children and families in our community is greatly appreciated.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ahoy Mateys!

On Thursday, February 17th, the Children’s Museum hosted Awesome Robb’s very first Pirate Adventure! Robb took his young mateys on a journey from here to England, Hungary, and China. Some enthusiastic young pirates volunteered to help Robb overcome obstacles along the way, like finding his pirate flag and searching for treasure!

Here, special helper Rafaila helps Robb by naming some colors….

The children were even lucky enough to meet a special guest - a bunny named “Walk the Plank.”

Awesome Robb has been performing at the Children’s Museum for over five years, introducing new lessons and exciting magic to children of all ages.

“The Museum is one of my favorite places to perform. I always feel like I’m walking into a big room full of old friends. There are always great crowds and a festive atmosphere. It’s like a funhouse for kids!” – Robb

In case you missed Robb’s last performance, you can catch Awesome Robb's next Adventure on March 17th as he hosts his “Go Green” show. He will use magic, puppetry, and storytelling to teach kids how to reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep our environment clean.

To book a show with Awesome Robb:

Call: 617.818.7484


-Kerri, PR Intern

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Early American Espionage

Ruff Ruffman's not the only one who can teach us how to solve a mystery...our first president can, too! George Washington's days as a spy date all the way back to the 1700's, when he was a dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America. It was his savvy spying abilities that led the United States to victory in the Revolutionary War.

Tricks of the Trade:

One trick to sending a message during the war was to write a letter. I know what you're thinking - what if someone stole the letter and revealed the secrets inside? British General, Sir Henry Clinton knew that this was a possibility as well, so he created something called a mask letter. He would write a letter that seemed unimportant to readers unless you cover it with a mask to reveal the true message.

To view more spy letters from the Revolutionary War Visit:

Men weren't the only ones acting as spies during the war. Women would send messages using their clothing lines that would go completely undetected. Anna Smith Strong was one of the brave souls who sent messages to the Culper Ring (Washington's spies). If she hung a black petticoat on her clothing line it meant that another member of the ring, blacksmith and boatman Caleb Brewster, had arrived on his boat. The number of white handkerchiefs on the line indicated which of six coves Brewster and his boat were hiding in.

Codes were an extremely important means of communication during the Revolutionary War. Major Tallmadge invented a secret writing system that substituted digits for words.

Codes: "Long Island" - 728

"Arms" - 7

"January" 341

Words without codes were each given a cipher, which means each letter in a message was replaced by another letter or number.

Another tricky way to send a message was by using invisible ink. The spies would write their messages between the lines of a normal letter so that no one, except for those who knew to look for it, could see the writing. Often times the spies would place the letter in a bottle and leave it in a hole (known as a timed dead drop), for someone else to pick it up and read the secret message.

As you can see, George Washington and the men and women of the Revolutionary War thought hard to create ways to out-spy the British. In the end, their efforts were a great success.

If you're in learning some spy techniques of your own check out some of our upcoming events!

-Kerri, PR Intern

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Sweets

The Children’s Museum kicked off the weekend with all kinds of Valentine’s Day activities. Art Exploration (held most Fridays from 10-10:45am) kept kids busy creating all kinds of Valentine’s Day art at several stations.

Kids learned how to beautifully blend colors to paint their paper hearts and created their own 3D collage, made entirely out of red objects. There were also stations set up for making Valentine’s Day bookmarks and fingerprinted cards.

Two floors down from Art Exploration, Hannaford’s was sponsoring a Valentine’s Day event of their own. The children learned how deliciously fun healthy eating can be by crafting their own chocolate bark treat. Toppings included heart healthy treats such as Kashi Heart Healthy Cereal, dried cranberries, dried apricots, and Cheerios.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, each child was able to make two chocolate bark treats, one to enjoy and one to share!

~ Kerri, PR Intern

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dino-mite Dinosaurs

Museum Educator Michelle came by to teach a creative Dino-mite Dinosaurs arts and crafts class on Wednesday February 9! There were four tables of activities for children to have fun at and learn about dinosaurs.

During one of the activities the children used brushes, scraping tools, and their hands to maneuver through molds to find what was inside. Inside each of the molds was a little plastic dinosaur which represented something that an archaeologist would find while digging!

There was a play-doh station where the children could create their own dinosaurs. There were different play-doh molds in the shapes of dinosaurs for the children to make while learning the different names of each one.

Children also got to create dinosaur skeletons made from q-tips, glue, and black paper, based on the examples of skeletons on the table. Some children made their own design, while others used the examples to re-create their favorite dinosaur's skeleton.
At the last table was a dinosaur footprint search. The children got to dust off the fossils one by one to see what type of footprint was left behind. After dusting off the footprints they were able to use the plastic dinosaur toys on the table to see what dinosaur left which print!

The children had a lot of fun with each of these activities because they were able to search, scrape, and set-up skeletons to learn about their favorite dinosaurs.

If the footprint search is something that you and your child think would be fun, make sure to come visit us during February Vacation week (February 19-27) and use footprint investigation to find the culprit of FETCH!'s(TM) Case of the Roaming Gnome!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Laundry Basket Bonanza!

The snow was great for the first few storms. My kids were playing outside almost all day. In fact, they played outside so much that their ski pants and gloves are wearing out. Unfortunately the stores are no longer stocking winter items...but I guess that's a good's a sure sign that spring is on the way. I am really counting on that groundhog's forecast this year. In the meantime, amidst all this ice, it's time to get creative.
How do I get creative when it seems all I do is laundry? Let the laundry baskets inspire you and your child!

- Create a pirate ship or sailboat: Tape a wrapping paper tube to the side of a laundry basket. Tape a paper triangle to the top of the wrapping paper tube. Ahoy Mates! Ready to set sail! Use another wrapping paper tube for an oar and bring along your favorite stuffed animal. Is that rug a deserted island in the distance? Make paper towel tube binoculars to investigate.

-Run her own zoo, pet store or animal shelter: Flip some laundry baskets over to become instant cages for stuffed animals. Your child can care for the animals, feed them, take them out for exercise, and can tell you about each animal when you come visit the zoo. Be sure to ask lots of questions. She may need to rearrange a few cages if the dogs are too close to the cats!

Creative play stimulates your child's imagination, helping to develop the ability to adapt, solve problems, and discover his world. During play your child can practice risk-taking, trial and error, and social and language skills, all in the safe environment of your home, which helps him prepare for future learning.

Need something more physical (and want to sneak in some math)? Try shooting baskets: Place several laundry baskets in a line and label each with a point value. Make a starting line a few feet before the first basket. Toss beanbags, balls, balled-up socks, or butterflies (made by sticking a square scrap of colored tissue paper into a clothespin) into the baskets, keeping track of your points. Depending on his age, your child can learn to recognize numbers, write the numbers, or compare who got more or less points. Older kids can practice their math facts: throw 3 butterflies and add up your points, keep playing until you get to 50 points, or start at 50 and subtract your score until you get to 0. If your child needs a challenge, have a designated number to try to reach exactly by adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing your points on each turn until you reach the designated number.

Now who said laundry isn't fun?

Michelle Van Vorhis,
Museum Educator

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Family Arts Day

On Sunday, February 6th, The Children’s Museum welcomed families to admire the masterpieces of promising young artists, ranging from age 5 to age 18. Family Arts Day proved to be a huge success, from beautiful paintings & drawings, to hands-on winter arts and crafts activities.

Judith Murray Smith is the art teacher who makes visions come to life. She vividly recalls the start of her teaching career twenty-five years ago. “I had an old attic over the garage. I would teach up to 5 students at once, while the babysitter was downstairs with my own kids. From there it just took off!” After bouncing around from venue to venue, Mrs. Smith has found a wonderful studio in The Children’s Museum for the past decade.

(Photo: Mrs. Smith with students, Ashlee Griffith age 5 and Julie Do age 10)

“I started taking lessons because I love art!” Exclaimed 12-year-old Marissa, who has been taking lessons with Mrs. Smith for the past two years. She participates in the Talented Teens program, while her 7-year-old brother takes lessons with Kreative Kids.

Sammy Blindt is one of Mrs. Smith’s senior students, is a Boston Globe Scholarship winner. She has been awarded two gold keys, two silver keys, and an honorable mention. Her accomplishments in art have earned her an acceptance letter from Leslie University to study art therapy, proving to the young art students that, given the passion, your hobby can very well become your career.

“I always tell my students that I give them pearls of wisdom. Don’t drop the pearls!” - Mrs. Smith.

For information about art lessons:

Call: @ 508.941.2369


~Kerri, PR Intern

Friday, February 4, 2011

Celebrate the Arts this Sunday at Family Arts Day!

In anticipation of Family Arts Day, taking place this Sunday from 1:00-3:00pm, we thought we would give you a preview of some of the magnificent artwork you can see. The exhibit features work from artists of varying ages and showcases their talents in an array of mediums with a variety of subjects.

Don't forget also that the students of the Talented Teens Art Class, and their instructor, Judith Murray Smith, will be on hand to help us celebrate the arts.

Additionally, refreshments will be provided, and as this is a family event, all ages are welcome. Come immerse yourself in a world of art, make some new friends, and celebrate with the Children's Museum!

Enjoy the preview, and see you on Sunday!

~Liz, PR Intern