Monday, August 31, 2009

Music to my ears!

Today, I talked to Francis Coates, one of the two Music Coordinators at Please Touch Museum, who shared insights about the importance of performing and musical arts for children.

Pinky: So why are music and the performing arts so important for kids?

Francis: Music, dance, and theater teach us to be creative and think out of the box. Please Touch Museum is very dedicated to this, and my job as Music Coordinator is to provide an atmosphere in the museum where children can express themselves creatively through music.

Pinky: I love music! What new music programs are going on this month?
Francis: We just started a Drum Circle in Hamilton Hall! About 3 times a week, we meet in front of the torch and play different drums. Kids get to experiment with all kinds of cool instruments from around the world! Some of these include hand drums like the Djembe ,Congo, and Bongo from Africa. The drum circle provides children and adults an opportunity to play together as an ensemble, and everyone gets a solo! This means that we start with one person in the circle and everyone gets an opportunity to be a "featured performer" in the ensemble. Not only does this allow children to learn about drums and creating different rhythms, but it also supports the museum's mission of creating learning opportunities through play by letting kids explore their imagination, creative thinking skills and interpersonal relationships in an interactive, fun environment!

Pinky: Wow, I can't wait to check out a Drum Circle! How can visitors see what's going on the day they visit?
Francis: The easiest way is to check the "Today's Fun" signs located throughout the museum floor to see the time and location of different musical events. Music programming is at 3 p.m. in various locations throughout the gallery floor. You can also check our online events calendar.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Hi Everyone! I recently sat down with Jemella Flamer, Youth Programs Manager at PTM, to discuss Please Touch Museum’s ACES program and all the fun the students had this summer.

Pinky: Hey Jemella! What is the ACES program all about?

Jemella: ACES stands for “Achievement through Community Service, Education and Skill Building” and has been a part of Please Touch Museum for the past 14 years. It is a program designed to help develop students in the Philadelphia area for post-high school life and focuses on experiential, student-directed learning, which is supported by every program at Please Touch Museum. Students in the ACES program are woven into the fiber of the museum through a mentoring program, summer employment and work with various departments in program planning. And it’s a ton of fun!

Pinky: This sounds like a great program for students! Can you tell me more about what activities the students take part in?

Jemella: Our ACES students are exposed to a wide variety of services aimed at preparing them for the next steps in their lives. Students are taken through SAT test preparation, college selection processes and resume writing, and will develop an expertise in presentation planning and preparation, time management, and public speaking through research-driven projects. One of the many goals we have for the students by the end of the ACES program is that they are able to develop an appreciation for themselves and the confidence to be able to compete with their peers in all areas of their lives.

Pinky: This program sounds like a lot of work. Do the students have fun?

Jemella: Of course, Pinky! We’re all about fun here at Please Touch Museum. During the summer, our ACES students took part in a team building activity and learned to play lacrosse together. It was really fun to watch!

Pinky: That does sound fun! I can't wait to see what the ACES do next!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wonderland and Fairytale Garden

Hi everyone, I wanted to take the time to tell you about our exciting Wonderland exhibit here at the museum. Make sure to come in and check it out!

Fall down the rabbit hole and re-live the excitement of Alice and her adventures at Please Touch Museum’s Wonderland exhibit.

Weave your way through a circular maze and find yourself running down the Hall of Doors and Mirrors. Or take a seat with the Mad Hatter for a cup of tea, after you’ve joined the Dodo for a wild caucus race.

In each of our exhibits we emphasize the value that play provides our young visitors. Wonderland provides a great opportunity for parents to read to their children the fantastic story of Alice in Wonderland before visiting the museum. The Wonderland exhibit creates an atmosphere for children to use their imagination, dress up and role play as Alice, the Mad Hatter or the White Rabbit. Role playing increases social interaction and helps children to safely explore the world outside of their familiar environment.

Associated with Wonderland is Fairytale Garden, the toddler play area. There, parents can read excerpts from popular nursery rhymes, like Jack and the Beanstalk and Sleeping Beauty, as their children reenact the scene.

Leave the real world behind and explore the wonder of your imagination and enter the topsy-turvy world of Wonderland.

Also, enjoy the following books that are sure to stretch your child’s imagination:
· Open Me, I’m a Dog by Art Spiegelman
· Things that Sometimes Happen: Very Short Stories for Little Listeners by Avi, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
· My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie, illustrated by Rosemary Wells
· The Stinky-Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith
· An Undone Fairy Tale by Ian Lendler, illustrated by Whitney Martin

Monday, August 17, 2009


September is bringing “Dancing Days” to Please Touch Museum with tons of different tunes to groove to! Ann Goering, Music Coordinator at PTM, sat down with me to talk about the month long boogie sessions.

Pinky: Ann, what’s with all the dancing going on at the museum? What can I really learn from it all?

Ann: Like all forms of art, and like the museum itself, dancing inspires children and people of all ages. Through dancing, we want young children to use their bodies as another form of expression of their feelings and fresh ideas. Children learn the meaning of different vocabulary through the dance programs: fast, slow, jerky, gallop, and tempo are words they might not otherwise experience at such a young age outside of a dance environment. Our programs support Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences by providing kinetic programming that offers opportunities to improve: loco motor skills (skipping, hopping, etc.), muscle control, body awareness, and balance. All of which is beneficial to the youngsters discovering how far their legs, arms and feet will take them. Dancing encourages social interaction, improves listening skills, and provides opportunities for dramatic play.

Pinky: What sort of programs will I be able to attend?

Ann: You’ll be able to travel the world with all of the programs we have lined up. Dancing is a fun, wonderful way to introduce different cultures from around the world to young children. On our schedule for the month of September are performers and classes including ancient Mesoamerican dance, Puerto Rican bomba, ballroom, Spanish flamenco, Dominican, salsa, ballet, tap, hip-hop, modern-the list goes on and on! We even have on board Irish dancing and Brazilian capoeira! All of the programs run approximately 20-30 minutes, but you will find yourself dancing from the moment you get into your car all the way home.

Pinky: I love it all! I can already feel my toes tapping…

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New theater show opens today!

A Please Touch Playhouse favorite returns to the stage today, with the opening of "From the Sea to the Sky." On stage through October 4, this show is an original interpretation of traditional Vietnamese folk talks. I sat down with Alice Gonglewski, Please Touch Museum's Creative Dramatics Manager, who adapted this show for the museum's young audience.

Pinky: What's this show all about?
Alice: "From the Sea to the Sky" is a show is based on two Vietnamese folk tales. The First Dragon is the story of how the Vietnamese water dragons from early myths were created. Why the Monsoon Comes Every Year is the story of Princess Mi Nuong and what happens when she meets Sea Spirit and Mountain Spirit. They both are exciting stories with lots of audience participation.

Pinky: What are some special items used in the show?
Alice: There are several different styles of puppets in the show. We use large rod puppets with Vietnamese masks and clothing, as well as animal puppets and shadow puppets. Special dramatic lighting effects are also used in the show, including some beautiful lanterns decorating the theater.

Pinky: What themes or "lessons" can children (and adults, too!) take away from this performance?
Alice: Well, the first story teaches that's it's important to work hard and do your best, and that people should be honored for trying. The second story demonstrates how people throughout history invented myths about things like thunderstorms or earthquakes. Since the monsoon season happens in many areas of Vietnam, this story was a creative and imaginative way for people to explain it.

Pinky: After kids see the show , how can they create a similar show at home for their family?
Alice: Lots of kids go home and act out the stories they see here in Please Touch Playhouse. Shadow puppets are a great and easy activity to do at home with a grown-up's help. All you need is a sheet with a light directed on it and you can make shadows with your hands, body, cut-out cardboard shapes, or other objects. Or, try using stuffed animals, dolls, or toys around the house as puppets or props and put on a play on your living room floor or kitchen table. Find a story or folk tale that you enjoy and make your own version of it. It’s a lot of fun!

Show times are Monday-Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 & 3 p.m.; Sunday at 1 & 3 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free with museum admission.

Check out some great "From the Sea to the Sky" themed activities to do at home!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our visitors' masterpieces

Today I'd like to share some really cool pieces of art that kids made in our Program Room recently. Be sure to stop by next time you visit!
You won't find a license plate that looks like this just about anywhere in the Keystone State. This was created at our "License Plate Rubbing" activity.

Lune's map from our "Make a Map" activity traipses through South America, Gallia
(which was located near present-day France), a cartoon desert, and North America.
That is going to be some summer vacation!

Created with tempera paint, this picture shows a lone brown house with bright windows
against a bold blue sky. What a lovely place to live that would be!

In this picture, our friend Cade used a lot of bright tempera paint for vibrant colors, circles and lines to create a wonderfully imaginative football. Or maybe a flower? Or ferris wheel? Or a jelly fish?
What do you think?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kindergarten Mixer

New faces, new places-- I get the shivers just thinking about starting Kindergarten! So I sat down with Beth Schnapp, Community Programs Specialist at Please Touch Museum who fortunately eased my nerves and told me all about the Children's Museum's awesome Kindergarten Mixer, held this coming Saturday, Aug. 8 at Please Touch Museum!

Pinky: Beth, tell me about the Kindergarten Mixer and how it helps with the "big step" jitters?

Beth: The 8th Annual Kindergarten Mixer is done in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, Kindergarten is Key Initiative and United Way, so lots goes into the event. The purpose behind the mixer is to bring together families with soon-to-be kindergarten students for an afternoon filled with fun; and it's all free! There's both entertaining and informative activities available all afternoon. Kids will get to enjoy snacks and a great opening ceremony, along with the opportunity to make new friends. It's a great way to help kids feel comfortable in mixing with new people and getting excited about a new stage in their lives.

Pinky: How does the mixer benefit parents?

Beth: there's tons to do and learn for parents, too! Parents will have the opportunity to speak with School District representatives and learn about different educational resources available through the Franklin Institute, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Academy of Natural Science, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and many others. Parents will also get a feeling for what it will be like on the first day of school. It's never a dull moment at our mixers!

Pinky: Thanks Beth! I can't wait to see how many new friends I make at the mixer!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Program: Poet's Corner

If you'd like to hear a poem
While you're at Please Touch Museum,
You might just be in luck
Because we have a place to see 'em.

If you do feel so inclined
I have to think that you may find
Our new program Poet's Corner
A pleasure most refined.

A quatrain from Shel Silverstein
About some lady named Maureen
Who had a talking pet, a
Border-Collie named Colleen.

Or even better, for my money,
A lyric for the baby bunny
Who drives the bus I take to work,
That might be kind of funny.

But, in the end, I will assume
I've caught your interest, and those of you whom
Would like to come and maybe see it
Can see it in the Program Room!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Poet's Corner takes place on Tuesdays & Thursdays at 1 p.m. in the Program Room.

Also check out these fun sites that can help you and your family learn about poetry:

The Poetry Foundation’s Page on Children's Poetry
Shel Silversteain: The Beloved Children's Poet
Jack Prelutsky: The First Children's Poet Laureate
Mary Ann Hoberman: The Second (and Current) Children’s Poet Laureate

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The River Adventures Exhibit

Hey everyone! I sat down with Jen Bush, Director of Education at Please Touch Museum to talk about our exciting water exhibit called River Adventures.

Pinky: Hey Jen! What is River Adventures and what fun can kids expect with this exhibit?

Jen: River Adventures is a huge water play station where kids can explore science, nature and weather. Kids can create river currents, build and race boats and steer them safely into harbor. Also, a lighthouse gives kids a chance to light up a beacon under interactive storm clouds that children activate themselves. Like all the exhibits here, River Adventures teaches children through “purposeful play.” Children use natural elements like wind and water to steer their boats into the canal or to power the massive water wheel. The exhibit encourages investigation in buoyancy, hydrodynamics and fluid mechanics.

Pinky: That sounds like so much fun! But what can the little kids do if they can’t reach the knobs and levers?

Jen: Nature’s Pond is a toddler play area in River Adventures specifically designed for children ages 3 and under. This toddler zone provides a safe place for crawlers and early walkers who will enjoy exploring and discovering animals nestled in the high grass and lily pond. When stepped on, each lily pad makes a distinct animal sound and a fallen tree makes for a great slide and tunnel.

Pinky: That sounds like the perfect place for the museum’s littlest visitors! What water activities can I do with my family when I'm not at the museum?

Jen: A great way to spend time with the family is by taking a “fishy” field trip! Take a trip to your local pet store, zoo or aquarium to look at the colorful fish and aquatic life. Also, check out these great water related books,

For ages 3 & under
  • Flotsam by David Wiesner
  • McElligot’s Pool or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema
  • In the Swim by Douglas Florian
  • A Drop of Water by Walter Wick
For ages 4 to 7
  • I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry
  • Water by Frank Asch
  • Red Rubber Boot Day by Mary Lyn Ray
  • Elephants Swim by Linda Capus Riley
  • Rain by Robert Kalan

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.