Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Hey Everyone! I want to wish you all a safe and fun Halloween!

Do you like my costume? I'm a mummy! Me and my friend Buster are very excited to trick-or-treat tomorrow. Hopefully we'll see everyone in their costumes tomorrow at Please Touch Museum!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Introducing: Hide & Seek at Please Touch Museum

Do you know what one of my new favorite games to play at Please Touch Museum is? I'll give you a hint. You have to look up, down and all around…give up yet?
It's Hide and Seek of the Week!

Hide and Seek of the Week invites kids and their grown-ups to actively engage their curiosity and imagination, all the while encouraging our young audience to engage with the museum's ever-growing collection of objects. Part of what makes Please Touch Museum so unique is that we actively collect and display objects that reflect the work of childhood-play! Our Collection consists of over 12,000 objects, the majority of which are toys. We collect toys, not just because they're fun, but more importantly because they guide play, spark the imagination and encourage critical thinking.

Our objects not only provide a simple introduction to museum collections, but provide kids a tangible and relatable link to begin understanding the differences and similarities among cultures and time periods. Collections support and encourage kids and their grown-ups to connect and talk with one another by using toys as a jumping board. "When I was a little…," "What was your favorite toy?” or "One year for my birthday…"

So put on your looking eyes and getting ready to search high and low for the new Hide and Seek of the Week!

Hide and Seek of the Week features are located throughout the gallery floor at the bottom of the Today's Fun Signs. Check out these cool past Hide and Seek of the Week items:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Healthy Lifestyles, Healthy Eating and Safe Halloween

Hey guys!

October is our “Healthy Lifestyles, Healthy Eating and Safe Halloween” month presented by PECO! While Halloween candy is something to look forward to (you can even come trick-or-treat with us at the museum on October 31st!) it’s a good month for kids to learn that healthy food can be delicious, too. If they practice making good choices today, they are more likely to follow a healthier lifestyle into adulthood!

Just look at our on-site food options in the Please Taste Cafe! It doesn’t sacrifice flavor for nutrition even though their wholesome meals will energize you for more playtime in our exhibits.

I sat down with Scott Swiger, the general manager on-site for Max & Me Catering, and asked him a few questions about the food in our Cafe.

Pinky: So what’s special about the food in the Please Taste Cafe?

Scott: We try to emphasize healthy eating without limiting options. So, for instance, we have the choice of whole wheat pasta and even our soft pretzels have a higher whole wheat percentage than most. We also have fresh fruit and Kashi snacks. The one thing we don’t have is fried foods. Our kitchen doesn’t even have a fryer! And you can always follow up with a tasty dessert. We have everything from ice-cream sandwiches to frozen yogurt to one of our best-selling cookies. It’s gluten, dairy and egg free! We do have soda, but also a wide selection of juices, including Froose!, an organic, fiber-enriched juice that comes in delicious flavors like “Perfect Pear.”

Pinky: Is the Cafe parent-friendly?

Scott: Absolutely! We have some delicious salads and all our pasta is made to order. So while an eight-year old may want his pasta with cheese sauce or just plain butter, mom or dad can get it with all kinds of fresh vegetables.

And, to make sure everyone can enjoy their meal, all prepared foods are nut-free.

After you finish your meal, you can go visit the Supermarket in our City Capers exhibit, where kids can decide for themselves what’s healthy and delicious. Then they can go to the nearby kitchen and let their imaginations create whatever they like from their recent “purchase.”

It’s important to learn that nutrition is important and that healthy food is yummy. That way kids grow accustomed to loving good food at an early age! After all, one of the museum’s mottos is “The choices we make today create our future.”

Pinky: Thanks for all the great tips, Scott! Well, I’m going to go get a snack, but I hope to see you soon! Stay healthy!

For more info, visit

Friday, October 23, 2009

What is big and bright and spins all day...?

It's the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel!

Today I'm excited to tell you about one of my favorite parts of Please Touch Museum. And who better to tell us about the historic Dentzel Carousel and its wonderful story than the museum's Curator of Collections, Stacey Swigart? Read on to get the full scoop from Stacey…

"For many years, Please Touch Museum planned to grow into a big museum with lots of really amazing things to play with and have fun. We wanted to build a shiny new carousel with many different characters that children (and their Grown-Ups!) could ride. But then we found out that a historic carousel-- one that was built and operated in Philadelphia-- was available if someone was willing to bring it back to spin once more. That carousel was no other than the original, historic Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel!

As Curator of Collections, I was lucky to get the job of finding out all of the history of the carousel and to figure out how we were going to get it spinning again. I spent many hours researching Woodside Park in West Philadelphia, and learned that it was built in 1897 as a final stop for the Fairmount Park Transportation Company trolley line that traveled through Fairmount Park and dropped people off at Woodside. It was a wonderful amusement park with lots of rides like roller coasters and a Ferris Wheel.

When Woodside Park closed in 1955, all of the rides were dismantled and either sent to the trash, or sold for other amusement parks. The Dentzel Carousel bounced around for a couple of years: From Rockaway Park (New York), Lambertville Music Circus (New Jersey) and then the Smithsonian Institution bought it and put it in storage. Almost 35 years later, they gave all the parts and pieces to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission who turned around and loaned it to Please Touch Museum! In 2006, the restoration process began and finally, in 2008, after 40 years in storage, the carousel was back in operation and found a new home at Please Touch Museum!"

You can find historic images and more info about the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel here.

Be sure to take a spin on your next visit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Celebrating Birthdays!

Please Touch Museum is celebrating the birthdays of two very important artists this week!

Today, October 20, we celebrated the work of Crockett Johnson. Mr. Johnson is probably most famous to kids as the author and illustrator of the Harold and the Purple Crayon series of books. The first Harold book was published in 1955 and since then he has become an emblematic figure of children's literature, one of its most recognizable and beloved characters. Harold's adventures are wonderful depictions of the elaborate dramas and complex imaginative play that can arise from simple materials.

Mr. Johnson was also the creator of the comic strip Barnaby, which was a very popular comic in the 1940s and 1950s about a 5-year-old boy named Barnaby and his friends and family.

To celebrate the legacy of this wonderful author, some of PTM's artists created their own stories at our "Purple Crayon Drawing" activity. Here are some examples of their great work:

And on Thursday, October 22, we will be celebrating the birthday of artist Robert Rauschenberg! Rauschenberg was an American artist born in Texas in 1925. He was a pioneering artist in the use of non-traditional materials and found objects in art, especially in his combines. By using objects from the everyday world in his art, Rauschenberg gave ordinary things a new and interesting meaning.

On Thursday, to celebrate this important artist, kids can explore their own creativity and create their own mixed media artworks in our Program Room! Be sure to stop by!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Please Touch Museum's Wild Rumpus

Did you know Please Touch Museum used to house a Where the Wild Things Are exhibit?

I sat down with Laura Foster, Please Touch Museum's Executive Director, who recalls the very day museum staff met with Maurice Sendak himself to plan the wonderful exhibit. Read on to get the full scoop!

Pinky: So how did all of this come about?
Laura: In the mid 1990's, the museum worked with Maurice Sendak to develop and design an exhibit based on Where the Wild Things Are, and some of Sendak's other books. We used Sendak's original artwork as backdrops to set the scenes, adding interactive elements such as Max's bed and the boat Max sails to get to the Wild Things; a jungle made of vines to swing on, and child activated "wild rumpus" sound effects. The exhibit followed the narrative of the story so that children could act it out and the entire exhibit was developed by Please Touch exhibits staff in consultation with Maurice.

Pinky: That sounds like so much fun! I love Sendak!
Laura: It really was! We actually made regular trips to Sendak's home in Connecticut to show him the plans as they evolved. The exhibit was also developed in collaboration with the Rosenbach Museum and Library, which has the original artwork. Maurice even met with our staff the day of the exhibit opening party to discuss his creative process. I still remember the excitement that day in our theater where the staff gathered to meet him!

Pinky: How long was the exhibit part of Please Touch Museum?
Laura: The exhibit opened on April 29, 1995 and remained at the museum until we moved to Memorial Hall in fall 2008.

Pinky: Thanks for all the great info, Laura!

Spike Jonze's film adaptation of Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are opens in movie theaters tomorrow; a highly anticipated project that has been in development for almost a decade! And to celebrate the legacy of this wonderful book, Please Touch Museum will host its own Wild Rumpus! Check out all the details below and be sure to stop by!

All day fun in the Program Room:
- "Make a Wild Thing" open-art activity
- Where the Wild Things Are storytimes at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Wild Rumpus Dance Party at Noon & 2 p.m. in Hamilton Hall

Let the wild rumpus start!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Fall Fun" Creative Dramatics

Hi everyone! Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be a farmer, picking your apples from the orchard for the coming harvest? Or a tree swaying in the fall breeze, dropping all of your colorful leaves before winter? With the "Fall Fun" program here at Please Touch, you can do just that!

"Fall Fun" is part of the Creative Dramatics playtime program here at the museum and it allows kids to use their imagination by exploring different fall themes through open-ended, dramatic play activities. Creative Drama activities complement a variety of learning styles and support Please Touch Museum’s "learning through play" philosophy by encouraging imagination, physical movement, improvisation, creativity, and cooperation.

In our "Fall Fun" program, Kids can discover how animals and trees prepare for winter by interacting with different objects and props, explore and act out the story of the first Thanksgiving and how families get ready for this annual feast or imagine what it's like to be a farmer as you pick your harvest and race to complete your chores before winter.

"Fall Fun" provides opportunities to open up your imagination through creative, pretend play activities. Many of these activities can also be done after you leave the museum and can be the perfect opportunity to "learn through play" at home by encouraging creativity and improvisation!

So as the weather gets cooler and the leaves start to fall, come to Please Touch Museum and let your imagination wander in our "Fall Fun" Creative Dramatics program! Check the "Today's Fun" signs on the gallery floor for performances.

Here are some book suggestions that you're sure to 'fall over!'

Wild Child by Lynne Plourde
Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelly
How Do You Know When It’s Fall? By Allan Fowler
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing
Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pinky's Pals: PTM and Puppets!

Today I want to tell you about the Puppet Pals at Please Touch Museum. The Puppet Pals are all very special. I should know because I’m one of them!

People of all ages, especially children, enjoy puppets because we offer an element of magic. Puppets personify make believe—we cannot exist without someone imagining us to life. While people sometimes disagree on where exactly puppets originated, evidence indicates we have been around for millennia throughout the globe! People have made puppets out of all sorts of things: animal hide, wood, clay, fabric, paper, foam, etc. An easy puppet to make at home is the classic sock puppet. Just take a sock, put it on your hand, and use markers to decorate it. Instant puppet! Remember, your hand is a puppet without a sock, too. Everywhere you travel, two puppets go with you!

Here at PTM, our Playhouse Theater performers are puppeteers as well as actors. They use puppets to delight kids, and to nurture imagination, improvisation and pretending skills. While most kids love puppets, sometimes children can be wary or frightened of puppets, the same way they may be scared of an unfamiliar pet. PTM puppeteers are skilled at gauging a child’s comfort level with puppets and will adjust an interaction as needed. Many PTM puppet appearances are listed on the Today’s Fun signs, but often puppets pop up unannounced for a visit on the gallery floor. So, keep your peepers peeled for Pinky (that’s me!) and other PTM Puppet Pals! Here are a couple of my friends that you might see:

Winston is a “wizard in training” but is already an expert on making friends with PTM visitors! With his trusty wand by his side, Winston is sure to make any PTM visit even more magical.

A little grizzly and a lot green, PTM’s Pickle likes to nap and take it easy. Tickle his furry feet, however, and he’s sure to give you a giggle.

PTM’s in-house physician, Dr. Penny makes her rounds in the PTM hospital. She reminds kids to wash hands often and that the baby patients in the ward need love more than anything else!

Penelope the Princess of Play, Winston the Wizard’s little sister, works hard to be a good princess, but still needs more practice. Her favorite color is purple and she is perfecting her curtsy. Princess Penelope enjoys dancing and talking to other princesses at the museum.

See you soon!!

If you can't make it to the museum, Please Touch Museum's Play Patrol and Pinky will be at the Michener Art Museum for Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit on Friday, November 6th from 6-9 p.m. with a fun "Make a Puppet" activity.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fantastic Black Light Theater Show Premieres TOMORROW!

Please Touch Museum will boldly glow where it has never gone before with the debut of this illuminating new theater show!

Fly/Fishing, a Black Light Show presented by PECO, is a fantastic tale of a little girl who genuinely learns the old adage 'there is no place like home.' On stage October 10 through December 6, 2009, "Fly/Fishing" will be the first Please Touch Playhouse show to utilize black light as a major storytelling element!

The show incorporates elements of fantasy, props and puppets to take the audience on a journey to the most interesting of places. The audience follows Quinshaya, a four-year-old girl, who goes on a quest to find her lost plush bunny rabbit. Through the magic of black light, she travels from the bottom of the sea to the tops of the clouds, flies with the whales and swims with the birds, until she lands in the most surprising place of all. It is a tale of loyalty, friendship and having a never-give-up attitude.

Showtimes are Monday-Saturday 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The show is FREE with museum admission. Please check our online calendar for the most up-to-date listings.

Here's some recommended reading that goes along the themes of the show:

- Flying by Kevin Luthardt
- Dream Big (an Olivia book) by Ian Falconer
- Only in Dreams: A Bedtime Story (Julius!) by Paul Frank Industries
- Cat Dreams by Ursula K. Le Guin
- The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream by Stan and Jan Berenstain
- Dreams by Ezra Jack Keats

And after you see the show in the Playhouse, be sure to check out these fun activities and info about the stuff that dreams are made of by clicking here!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

DesignPhiladelphia kicks off today!

Hello everyone! Remember when I told you about Please Touch Museum's participation in this year’s DesignPhiladelphia week? Well, it officially kicks off TODAY and I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am! The exhibit runs through Tuesday, October 13, 2009 and I wanted to give you a little sneak peek of what to expect. Below is a selection of some of the amazing hand-made dollhouses on display. Be sure to stop in before it’s too late!

The exhibit is a great way for kids to see that anyone can make art, as long as you let your imagination run wild! Dollhouses come in all kinds of shapes, colors and sizes, and there's no one specific way to create and decorate your dream house. Please Touch Museum's hands-on philosophy is colorfully exhibited in the highly innovative dollhouses children, adults, artists and students created. Creative thinking and exploration are promoted, and the exhibit is sure to inspire other kids and their grown-ups to get crafty at home and learn through play!

After viewing the DesignPhiladelphia exhibit, kids can create their own buildings in our Program Room! Some of the open-ended play opportunities include:

Building Houses with Books and Cards:
In this activity, kids can build structures and houses from two different sets of materials: Jumbo-sized playing cards and clips that hold them together so that kids can make elaborate houses of cards; or a stack of books and blocks, which kids can use as building objects in conjunction with the blocks to make their own imaginative buildings.

Architecture Blocks:
These are block sets that build famous buildings. The blocks are shaped like architectural pieces, as opposed to regular blocks, which resemble regular shapes. Although they contain the pieces to make the prescribed building, the activity is open-ended in that kids can use the blocks to create their own works of architecture.

For more information about DesignPhiladelphia, click here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Centennial Exploration

Take a trip back in time with me and explore the history of Memorial Hall and the 1876 World's Fair in the Centennial Exploration exhibit here at Please Touch Museum!

Centennial Exploration lets kids explore what life was like in Philadelphia in 1876, with features on the architecture, exhibits and inventions debuted at our nation's 100th birthday party. Did you know that root beer and bananas were offered for the first time at the Centennial? The exhibit features fun, interactive ways to connect with history and let your imagination wander.

History is taught in a fun way-- fit for kids, of course, with lots of hands-on features. The big highlight is the magnificent 20x30 foot model of the Exhibition Fairgrounds, created in 1889 by John Baird in 1 in 192 scale. Not only will kids have fun locating Memorial Hall and the Statue of Liberty's Arm & Torch, but they will also learn about what buildings looked like and how people traveled during the time. Kids will have the opportunity to learn about different means of transportation, like railroads and waterways. It's one big history lesson!

Kids will also get to learn what life was like during the late part of the 19th century by being introduced to Daisy Williams, a 9-year old girl who visited the World's Fair. Daisy was fascinated by the exhibits the Centennial had to offer, and our exhibit contains a variety of items that Daisy brought home with her, including a Centennial bracelet, teacups and a red walking suit! Can your child spot all the souvenirs? This is the perfect opportunity for parents to ask questions and engage their child. "Can you imagine what life was like before light bulbs were invented?" and "Which invention that you learned about here is your favorite one?"

So be sure to stop by and take a trip into the past with me!

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.