Friday, May 22, 2009

Teddy Bear Faire!

This Memorial Day (5/23- 5/25) weekend at Please Touch Museum is going to be our Teddy Bear Faire!

I just talked to my friend Ann Goering, one of Please Touch Museum’s Music Coordinators, about all the fun things happening this weekend. Read on…

Pinky: So, what is Teddy Bear Faire?

Ann: Teddy Bear Faire is a fun-filled celebration of some of our best-loved friends: our teddy bears! There are lots of fun activities all around the museum that are “beary” fun! We will have special times where we sing bear songs, act out bear books and even go searching far and wide for a big bear!
In addition to the special program, everyone can make paw print artwork in the Program Room and even see the Bernstein Bears musical show in the Please Touch Playhouse. And keep your eyes open for Goldilocks and Papa Bear!

Pinky: Can I bring my Teddy Bear?

Ann: Yes, please bring your Teddy Bear! Sometimes our bears don’t get out much and I’m sure they would enjoy a special celebration in their honor. Plus, you can show your bear your favorite play spots around the museum!

Pinky:Thanks Ann! I’m really excited to show my Teddy Bear around. I hope to see you all there this weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Toddler Storytimes

One of the foremost educational influences on the programming we do here at Please Touch Museum is the Harvard-educated psychologist Howard Gardner. Gardner is most well known for his theory of multiple intelligences, which postulates that there are eight categories of intelligence which comprise the totality of human intelligence. One area of intelligence proposed by Gardner is that of linguistic and verbal intelligence, or language skills. In our programming we seek to address this area through the Toddler Storytimes we hold in our Fairytale Garden.

One author that is featured regularly in Toddler Storytimes at Please Touch Museum is the beloved Eric Carle. In addition to the originality and artistic brilliance of his books, they have many other qualities which make them ideal for story times in a toddler setting. Carle's stories are simple and engaging, while his collage-style artwork is unparalleled in children's literature for its inventiveness and brilliant colors.

Another thing about Eric Carle's books that make them unique is that in addition to being an artistic and literary experience, they are also a tactile one, with numerous fold-out panels, flaps, and other devices to explore.
Here are some simple ways to help make reading together with your family more fun and engaging:

• Don't be in a rush to get through the story, picture books are designed to stimulate young readers in a variety of ways, so give them time to absorb the illustrations
• Encourage your child to actively participate in the story reading session by asking them questions about the story and illustrations, or asking them to make predictions about the story, or having them act out scenes from the book
• Many children enjoy the use of props (for instance, toys or stuffed animals) that relate to the story, this helps children to make connection between the words of a book and the outside world
You can attend Toddler Storytimes in our Fairytale Garden at 10:00 AM, Monday through Friday.

Here are some helpful books that grown-ups can use as resources:

Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner
How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
Reading Magic by Mem Fox

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meet my new friends!

Hello everyone!

I want to introduce you to my new friends, Allison and her son Scotty who recently visited the museum. Scotty, who is a 4 year old boy with moderate cerebral palsy, and his mom Allison have some great insights and tips to share with other visitors who may be visiting Please Touch Museum with a child in a wheelchair.

Pinky: Tell me a little bit about your overall experience with Scotty at the museum.

Allison: Scotty had a wonderful time at Please Touch and we got to do a lot of great activities throughout the gallery floor. First, I'd like to point out how great the staff was! They were extremely approachable and helpful; if they were unsure of the answer to my questions, they made sure they found someone who knew how to answer them correctly. The staff made us feel welcome and Scotty had a blast!

Pinky: Could you describe some of the activities Scotty was able to do in each exhibit zone?

Allison: We started off in Roadside Attractions. Scotty was able to roll up to the gas station car, which had nice access. All pieces were a good height for a small wheelchair, as was the SEPTA Bus. He was able to get in the bus via the ramp in the rear, but unfortunately did not have access to the driver’s seat and controls without being transferred.

Another great space was the little City Park, where Scotty had access to everything. In addition to the park, the Wonderland exhibit had nice roll up ability at the table to have tea with the Mad Hatter. The hedgerow maze is wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through, as long as there is no one else in the way. Also, the Busy Build truck has easy access for a wheelchair bound child to drive.

As for River Adventures, the area is great as long as the child can transfer from the wheelchair and be supported or stand independently next to the water tables. Finally, the carousel was also accessible as it had a nice bench cutout for a wheelchair. If the child is able to transfer, he/she could also choose one of the animals on the carousel. Oh, and of course the Playhouse! Scotty was able to easily access the theater and enjoy the show!

Pinky: What were some of the areas Scotty had some difficulty accessing?

Allison: In the Flight Fantasy exhibit, the seat where you can pedal to make the toys go around on the track is not accessible. Hand pedals would be more accessible here. The film cameras in the Captain Noah display were unfortunately too high for a wheelchair to see through them. And finally, the Rainforest Rhythm exhibit was not really cutout for a child in a wheelchair—the drums on the top of the branches were too high, and Scotty couldn't access the drum set on the ground because the stools were attached to the floor and not removable. He was able to use the drum set that was wheeled out by a staff member, but not the drums that are attached.

Pinky: What are some general tips you have for parents/guardians visiting with children in wheelchairs?

Allison: I think it's important for parents to know that most of the museum is generally very accessible for children in wheelchairs—there is a great ramp outside, and all the bathrooms are wheelchair accessible, along with the Please Taste Cafe. A good day to visit is on Mondays when there are no school groups in the building; it makes the entire experience more pleasant for your child. Weekends may be tough due to large amount of visitors.

Generally speaking, I think parents need to know that accessibility will vary with not just the disability of their child, but with the age of the child, size of the wheel chair, ability to be transferred out of the wheelchair etc. But even with these little challenges, I think any child can have a wonderful experience at the museum!

Pinky: Thanks so much for your great insights, Allison! I can't wait to see you again soon here at Please Touch Museum!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Berenstain Bears are coming to our Playhouse!

Live on stage May 19- June 8

Please Touch Museum is excited to present the premiere of
Walnut Street Theater for Kids production of
"Berenstain Bears' Family Matters: Junk Food Edition"

Based on the children's book, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Stan and Jan Berenstain, with book, music and lyrics by Michael Borton, the show finds Brother and Sister Bear (and even Papa!) are enjoying a few too many snacks and have been putting on some extra 'fluff.' Mama Bear, through love, laughter and the help of Doc Grizzly, is there to encourage the family toward a healthier lifestyle.

The musical will be staged Mondays through Saturdays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and is FREE with museum admission.

Just like Mama Bear, parents may have picky eaters at home who'd rather snack on "junk" than healthy snacks. Here's an easy formula, provided by one of the museum's sponsors, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, on how to make healthy choices every day with your child:

  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day (Pack some grapes in the lunchbox!)
  • No more than 2 hours of TV each day (Find other fun activities, like a museum trip!)
  • At least 1 hour of physical activity each day (Go for a family walk or play Frisbee in the park!)
  • 0 sweetened beverages (Drink water or milk instead!)

With this simple approach, families can work together—just like the Berenstain Bears—on better nutrition and healthy lifestyles!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ahoy, and shiver me timbers!

Arrrree those brussels sprouts on ye dinner plate? Have no fear! Captain Cook is here and calling all hands on deck to show young mates how veggies and other healthy foods are friends, not foes!

From now through May 17, Please Touch Playhouse is proud to present "Eat Like a Pirate," a fun and interactive show designed to help parents and kids learn about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of good nutrition and exercise.

Aboard their trusty ship, The Flying Lunch Bucket, brave Captain Cook and his crew, the Low-Sodium Dogs, sail past the Sandwich Islands up to the Great Food Pyramids a-searching for good nutrition, the proverbial free lunch and the ever elusive Berry Treasure! The show runs approximately 25 minutes.

***Showtimes are Mondays-Saturdays 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Sundays 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. unless otherwise noted.***

For those of you who don't have a crew of hilarious puppets or a wealth of catchy songs at home, there are tons of other ways that parents and children can have a great time while practicing healthy habits when they aren't playing here at Please Touch Museum!

Here are just a few ideas for ways that parents and children can play their way to healthy eating:
  • Cooking doesn't have to be a job just for parents. It can be a fun and exciting activity for kids too! Invite your child to help you prepare meals and let him or her wear a chef's hat and apron and pretend to be a real chef! Recipes that involve tossing, mixing, or mashing are especially fun and encourage physical activity. Let your child shake up a zip-lock bag full of salad ingredients while an adult cooks up the main course or turn on some music and dance around the kitchen until dinner is ready! Activities like these can help make everyday meals an occasion for play.
  • Parents can also make a big adventure out of the grocery store by letting kids help out with the shopping. Make a grocery list for your child using pictures of healthy foods instead of words. At the store, let your child take charge of finding those items. This activity will help keep them busy, active and engaged.
  • As summer approaches, there are more opportunities for families to get outside and enjoy the nice weather. If you aren't playing with us at Please Touch Museum, we encourage you and your child to go outside to get your daily exercise. Bringing healthy snacks like fruits or trail mix along with you are great for when you're ready to take a break from playtime and might even curb your child's enthusiasm at the sound of the ice cream truck.

We're all about learning through play.

Join Pinky, one of Please Touch Museum's resident puppets, on an inside look into all the fun, educational things happening at Philly's Children's Museum. This blog is not just about what we do at the museum, but about the educational philosophy behind why we do what we do.