Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Play Patrol

Hey friends!
Now that summer is officially over, I talked to Nick Viggiano, Marketing Coordinator at Please Touch Museum, about the museum's Play Patrol and all the fun they had this summer. If you haven't seen the Play Patrol out and about at a community event, stop by this Saturday, October 3 from 8 a.m.- Noon as we'll be outside at Eakins Oval across from the Philadelphia Museum of Art's East Entrance for the American Diabetes Association's "Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes."

Pinky: Hey Nick! What's the Play Patrol all about?
Nick: Our Play Patrol brings the essence of the museum out on the road and into the Greater Philadelphia community. Play Patrols include arts and crafts projects, ABC Games-themed activities, and other open-ended, child-directed play activities. With every Play Patrol appearance, the museum gives away lots of goodies such as Please Touch Museum temporary tattoos and band aids. The Play Patrol is a great way for us to introduce our museum's philosophy of open-ended play experiences and the value of play to parents and caregivers who may not be familiar with what we do here at Please Touch.

Pinky: What kind of activities can kids participate in during a Play Patrol?
Nick: Bubble wands, hula hoops, ABC Games weight sets and sidewalk chalk are all fun and exciting activities that the Play Patrol brings to events when appropriate. As with all Please Touch activities, we want to make sure kids are learning through play. Bubble wands and sidewalk chalk let kids engage their imaginations, while fostering creative thinking and expression. The hula hoops and weights are a great way to teach a healthy and active lifestyle to kids. What more fun could exercising be than lifting giant “barbells” or staging an impromptu hula hoop contest with other kids?!

Similar to the hands-on activities part of the museum's Play Patrol, here are some fun activities fit for fall that you can do at home with your child!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Please Touch City

Hey everybody!
Today, I wanted to tell you a little about one of my favorite spaces in the museum: City Capers!

This exhibit resembles a child-sized "city" in the museum, which lets kids explore a realistic urban environment of Philly skyscrapers, while getting to know the people, places and businesses that make city life so fun and dynamic. Interacting in our Medical Center and Pat's Shoe Store gives kids the chance to expand socially, while exploring the world around them in a safe environment. Plus, they can playfully learn what it's like to be a doctor, nurse, sales associate or shop owner!

One of Please Touch Museum's most popular exhibit spaces is also part of City Capers: The Supermarket! Here, kids get to "purchase" items and role-play as a cashier, while developing problem-solving and motor skills using the cash register and check-out station. And what better way to learn that part of play is putting things away, than by re-stocking the shelves in the market? It's so much fun!

In the Busy Build construction area, kids have the opportunity to role-play as an architect, construction worker or city planner while interacting with "kid friendly" tools and equipment used in these different jobs. And of course, there's Front Step, where our youngest visitors can play in an area specifically designed for them. Before you leave City Capers, be sure to visit the original display of the set and props from the beloved Philadelphia children’s TV show, Captain Noah and his Magical Ark!

So come explore the city like never before! And if you see me shopping away in the Supermarket or singing Captain Noah's "I Can Sing A Rainbow," be sure to join in!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Degas' Dancers

We are right in the middle of our Dancing Days celebration here at Please Touch Museum. There are still some pretty exciting events and performances coming up that will have you looking for the nearest aisle to dance in!

In addition to offering kids opportunities to dance, Dancing Days also provides other ways to be creative. In our Program Room, kids can use oil pastel crayons to create their own beautiful portraits through an activity called Degas’ Dancers. Edgar Degas, the famed French Impressionist, is well known for his oil pastel portraits of ballerinas and dancers, and examples of his work can be seen at the activity table.

Here are a few dancers that have been drawn by some of our visitors so far this month:

What kind of dancer would you draw? Can you show me how they would dance?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Creative Dramatics Playtimes

Interaction and exploration are central to Please Touch Museum's mission of creating learning opportunities through play. Today, I spoke to Alice Gonglewski, Creative Dramatics Manager at Please Touch, about our Creative Dramatics playtimes, which run every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. throughout September.

Pinky: What are Creative Dramatics playtimes?
Alice: These fun playtimes create an opportunity for kids and their grown-ups to participate in facilitated dramatic and imaginary play activities. The playtimes are designed to offer special in-depth dramatic explorations of a topic or subject. The interactions are always adjusted to complement the child's interest in and reaction to the props and games.

Pinky: What can kids (and adults!) learn during the programming?
Alice: That you don't have to be a trained actor to enjoy drama! The same way that anyone can benefit from making art, anyone can benefit from drama games and exploration. Everyone is invited to participate in playtimes for as long (or short) a time as they wish! The activities incorporate many different elements of drama such as movement, pretending, improvisation, role playing, sensory exploration, and emotional awareness. We use props, costumes, books, stories, and pictures to explore the subjects or themes of the playtime. We pretend to do or be different things using our bodies and imaginations.

Pinky: That sounds like loads of fun! After taking part in a Creative Dramatics playtime, what can parents take home and do with their kids outside of the museum?
Alice: Encourage movement and pretending with your child! Young children love to "be" animals, machines, or people doing different jobs. Kids also benefit from dramatic exploration that develops emotional awareness. Acting out familiar stories can help a child understand human behavior and develop communication skills. Above all, cultivate your child’s imagination. Allow plenty of time for open-ended play. Challenge your child occasionally to look at things from a different perspective: What do you think it would be like to live inside a pumpkin? Or encourage them to dream big: What will cars be able to do when you are a grown-up? Thinking outside the box is often what solves the world’s problems, so it’s our job as adults to nurture the next generation of creative thinkers!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Author Birthday

Today, Please Touch Museum is celebrating the birthday of a wonderful author: Jon Scieszka!

Jon Scieszka is most familiar for his work as a writer of irreverent children's books. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, his first picture book, was published in 1989 and he has since published numerous books, picture books and middle grade books, that have garnered critical accolades and several awards. Scieszka is also a prominent reading advocate: he founded the non-profit literacy organization “Guys Read” and also serves on the board of 826NYC, a non-profit that introduces children to the pleasures of writing. Last year, Scieszka was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress.

We will be celebrating his birthday in our Program Room today with a special activity called "Build a House with Straws, Sticks, and Bricks." The activity is based on Scieszka's book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, which is a retelling of the story of the three little pigs from the wolf's point of view. At this activity, kids can try building a structure from three different building materials: straws, Lincoln logs, and blocks. By experimenting with the different types of materials, kids can intuitively learn about how each different piece fits together.

Here are some of our other favorite books by Jon Scieszka:
  • The Stinky Cheese Man, illustrated by Lane Smith
  • Smash! Crash!, illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon
  • Cowboy and Octopus, illustrated by Lane Smith
  • Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Mary Blair

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dancing Days Art!

Throughout September, Please Touch Museum will be celebrating Dancing Days! This month-long series of activities and special performances are designed to introduce children to different types of dance and encourage them to find their own way to dance.

Dancing is a fun and creative way for children to express themselves, while promoting an active and healthy lifestyle. Dancing is something anyone can do in their own unique way. It also offers children a special way to learn about the parts of the body and practice and further develop their balance, coordination, and gross motor skills. The activities in our Program Room this month are based around the idea of moving our bodies, and exploring and exercising all of these areas of development.

In our Program Room, there's a ton going on during Dancing Days. At our Degas' Dancers activities, kids can view the artwork of French painter Edgar Degas, who is famous for his portraits of dancers, and then use oil pastels to create their own drawings. Once they've drawn a dancer, it will be high time they danced themselves, which they can do at our Dress Up Play table! With a tutu, boa, fairy wings, or foot taps kids can creatively express themselves through movement and motion. Kids can also learn about the parts of the body while making their own Pipe Cleaner People. Acrobats are a manipulative toy that can be attached, detached, reattached, re-detached, bent, structured, and swiveled in near infinite combination. And our visitors can also enjoy two of our favorite activities, blocks and Floam.

I hope to see you hear during Dancing Days at Please Touch Museum, but the fun doesn't have to stop once you go back home! The great thing about dancing is you can do it ANYWHERE!

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.