Friday, April 30, 2010

Día del Niño

Happy Friday Everyone!

This Saturday is Día del Niño (Child’s Day) at Please Touch Museum, an all-day celebration of Latin American culture - music, dance and folklore- in partnership with Telemundo Philadelphia! Everyone is very excited for this event because at Please Touch Museum we celebrate children 365 days a year and believe all children, no matter their background, have the right to a loving family, to learn with their peers, and of course to play!

Yesterday at City Hall, City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez presented a proclamation declaring Saturday, May 1, as Philadelphia’s Día del Niño! This is an amazing honor for all involved, the Latino community and children throughout the city!

On Saturday, visitors can observe dance troupes perform at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in Hamilton Hall, and then try out their own salsa dance skills with bilingual DJ Junior at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The Story Castle will feature an appearance by Dora the Explorer at 10:30 a.m. and a 3:30 p.m. reading of There’s a Coqui in my Shoe by author Marisa de Jesus. In this award-winning story, a young boy named Armando surprisingly discovers a coquí frog in his red shoe. Carlito the Coquí is lost and cannot find his way home to the rain forest. Armando befriends the coquí and takes him to San Juan with his mother to sell piraguas, with a plan to get Carlito back to his home in El Yunque. It’s one of my favorites!

Children will have the chance to make Milagros charms throughout the day in the Program Room, as well as play with percussion instruments and celebrate Cinco de Mayo with playful and fun tissue paper flowers activity. Milagros have been used for centuries in Latina America to ask for wishes, special intervention, and good fortune. These charms will answer questions like “what are your hopes, wishes, and dreams for the future for yourself, family, community, or world”?

Visit for all the event information.

¡Sábado es el día del niño en el museo del niño! Esto es una celebración de culturas de Latinoamericanas- con música, danza y folklore- en asociación con Telemundo Philadelphia. Nosotros muy emocionante para celebrar esto evento porque en Please Touch Museum celebramos los niños por todos los días, por 365 días del año. Creemos que todos los niños tienen el derecho a una familia quien es cariñoso, a comprender en un espacio segura con otros niños y por su puesto tienen el derecho a jugar.

¡Ayer en ayuntamiento de Philadelphia, una miembro del Consilio Municipal, Maria Quiñones-Sanchez presenté una proclamación que declara el sábado, el primer día del mayo, es el Día del Nino de Philadelphia! Es un honor asombroso para todo incluido: la comunidad Latino y los niños a través la ciudad.

En el sábado visitantes podría disfrutar la Danza Azteca por Fuego Nuevo sería a las 10.00 y Flamenco por Raíces Culturales Latinoamericanas sería a las 11.00 en Hamilton Hall. Sería fiestas de bailes por las 11.30 y 1.30 en Hamilton Hall. Dora the Explorer nos visitaron en el castillo de cuentos por 10.30 y la escritora de There’s a Coqui in my Shoe, Marisa de Jesús leía su libro en el castillo de cuentos por 3.30. En esto libro, un niño se llamaba Armando descubrió que hay un coquí en su zapato rojo. Carlito, el Coquí está perdido y no puede encontrar donde está su hogar en el bosque de lluvia. Armando conoce al coquí y viaja al San Juan con el coquí y su madre para vendar piragua. Él tiene una planea a hallar el casa del Coquí en El Yunque. ¡There’s Coquí in My Shoe es uno de mis libros favoritos!

Los Niños que visitar el Museo del Niño podrían crear Ornamentos de Milagros en el Program Room durante el día. También podrían jugar con instrumentos de percusión y celebrar el Cinco de Mayo cuando crear flores con papel. Milagros he usado en Iglesias en Latinoamericana para pedir deseos, intervención especial y Buena fortuna. Estos ornamentos responden a la siguiente pregunta “¿Que son sus esperanzas, deseos y sueños para su futuro para tú mismo, su familia, su comunidad y el mundo?”

Visita para toda la información sobre el evento.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A National Historic Landmark

Did you know Please Touch Museum's beautiful home, Memorial Hall, is a National Historic Landmark? I recently chatted with our Curator of Collections, Stacey Swigart, about just that. Read on for more!

"A grand Memorial Hall…A structure of perfect proportions…
The amount of details of such a building is stupefying."
The New York Times
Wednesday, September 20, 1875

National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction (Source).

Buildings can tell stories and Memorial Hall is full of them! Millions of people have stood inside the Great Hall (now Hamilton Hall) and have experienced being inside an architectural gem! It wasn’t always as beautiful as it looks today, though. Years of use took their toll on the building and by the time Please Touch Museum was ready to move—extensive renovations needed to be made.

Decorative plasterwork was damaged by water. Marble floor tiles were shattered and damaged. It took almost two years to complete, but Memorial Hall was restored as you can see today.

Check out some of these photos for more of the story:

This area above is the West Gallery, now known as Roadside Attractions. This space had to be completely stripped of scoreboards, bleachers and sound baffles that were on the walls. The sound baffles were used when the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded “Swan Lake” here in 1984.

Some of the floors in the Wonderland area were just dirt (above)! On the left you can see the base of the swimming pool where the ramp is now located. The old building systems of pipes and vents were removed and new systems installed.

The staircase above was discovered when drop ceilings were removed from various office spaces. The lower and upper portions of the staircase was removed many years ago, so the staircase literally goes to nowhere! Originally, the staircase was used in 1876 for visitors to climb to the roof and look down off the arcade and the garden that was located where the Kids Store now is. The staircase was not removed—it was shut off and walled in, so the original structure still remains in the building, hidden from view.

The Philadelphia Police Department had offices in what is now the Program Room (above). A drop ceiling had been installed here, so some of the architectural detail remained intact…but very dirty!

A mezzanine was built for extra offices above what is now Rainforest Rhythm. Scaffolding and the "Denka Lift" sit where the River Adventures water play area is now located. If you look closely, you can see the structure of the "wall" where the Walk in the Pennsylvania Forest mural by Eurhi Jones was installed above the ramp (behind the Denka).

The Kids Store used to house offices of the Philadelphia Police Department. There were four jail cells and many walls that were built below the drop ceiling—to accommodate the various offices of the police force. The walls were all removed, and for a time, piles of debris sat in the Kids Store before the windows were removed and all of the debris removed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Meet My New Friends!

I’m really excited to introduce you to my new friends Monica and her 6-year old son, Jesse, who is on the autism spectrum. The Simon family recently visited the museum for the first time during Variety’s Autism Access Night on Saturday, March 27th and wanted to share their experience with all of us. Read on for the full recap and stay tuned for more events like this later this year!

"An e-mail from Variety Club invited us to Please Touch Museum on a special night where it was just open for families with autism. I say "families" because truly not just the one person is affected but the whole family lives "autism." Variety Club definitely understands this and I know they would only plan events where they know the same philosophy is shared by all parties involved.

I thought about taking my three kids to Please Touch Museum when it re-opened at Memorial Hall back in 2008, but I didn’t really know too much about it. This event was the perfect opportunity. I was a bit concerned about a visit because my 6-year old son Jesse is autistic. His 11-year old brother and 16-year old sister are very patient with him, but would a whole crowd be that patient, too?
Some of our concerns were the crowds and how other kids would interact with Jesse since he does not speak, but uses a talking device. Worse yet, the stares from staff members we have experienced during visits to other locations…

From the moment we walked in the door and saw all of the staff in their purple shirts, I knew we would have nothing to worry about. You could feel the excitement and commitment throughout the museum. The staff was amazing and I would give them all a huge gold star. From the moment we parked the car they were there to greet us and even played ball with the kids while waiting in line, which I found to be so thoughtful and just a warm way to welcome these special kids. My mommy gut told me this was going to be a great place.

The staff could not do enough for us and it made the visit so much more meaningful. They really cared about my child and that he had a great time "like a regular kid." For three hours we saw smiles, heard giggles, gave lots of high 5's and went home pooped! I know that my son can't wait to see the SEPTA bus again, ride the Carousel, and go shopping at the Supermarket. My entire family can’t wait to visit again!

As a special needs parent, nights like this are often hard to come by. I so appreciate all that Please Touch Museum does for families of children with special needs."

Monday, April 26, 2010

25th Annual Book Award Ceremony

Last Friday, April 23, we celebrated our 25th Annual Book Award at the museum!

The 2010 Book Award Winners are:
Ages 3 & Under Category:
Higher! Higher! is a story about a little girl and her father visiting a park, and how even everyday activities like swinging on a swing can be transformed into something extraordinary in your imagination. Patricelli’s simple, repeated refrain is great for encouraging out-loud participation with kids. And by the time you reach the end, you'll more than likely no sooner find yourself back at the beginning.
Ages 4 to 7 Category:
Little Spoon isn’t happy with his lot in life. Or at least his lot in the cutlery drawer. He is envious of knife, who gets to cut through things and spread, and chopsticks, because they’re so cool and exotic. But what Spoon doesn’t realize is that everyone else is pretty jealous that he gets to stir things up in a cup of tea, and dive into a bowl of ice cream. A great story about appreciating who you are and what you have.

Look for these winning books in PTM's Kids Store!

We were very happy to have winning author Leslie Patricelli visit to accept the award and share a special story time with all of our visitors. Ms. Patricelli also appeared at our Storybook Ball on Saturday evening.

We would like to thank this year's Book Award judges: Isabel Baker, Jay Bevenour, Brian Biggs, Monique Durso, Joni O'Connor, and Joan Rosen. Picking just two books from over 100 is hard work, but this year's judges were thoughtful and deliberate and selected two amazing books!

For more information about the Book Award, visit our website.
The Book Award kicked off an entire weekend of Celebrate Stories programming, including appearances by Mother Goose and performances of Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" and Camille Saint-Saen's "Carnival of the Animals." Overall, it was a wonderful 25th Anniversary celebration that will surely be remembered by all!

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week's Collections object is a Diego action figure!

Extreme Rainforest Rescue Diego, especially designed for toddlers, comes ready for adventure with his snap on backpack. This Diego action figure is based on the character from the Nick Jr. television show Go Diego Go! The animated television series was a spin-off from the wildly popular Dora the Explorer, a bilingual cartoon geared towards preschoolers.

Put on your looking eyes and see if you can find it during your next visit! For more info about Hide and Seek of the Week, click here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrate our Earth!

Starting tomorrow with Earth Day (April 22) and all the way through Arbor Day (April 30), Please Touch Museum will be celebrating Earth Week with the goal of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship. By building for their own futures and understanding their role or place in the world, children grow to care for nature and learn about individual responsibility.

Join us for Earth Week themed Story Times in the Story Castle where families will receive "Creative Re-Use and Play for Everyday!" booklets, which are filled with wonderful ideas on how they can be "green" while playing with their children and having fun. The booklets are printed on recycled paper and offer tips on how to support environmental awareness by using recycled materials, reducing waste and learning to practice creative re-use at home. In addition, Earth Day Kits donated by Plan Toys will be given out tomorrow, April 22, specifically for Earth Day. Be sure to get yours!

Check out this list of educational programming:

• Recycled print making and 'decorate the museum' with high school ACES students in the Program Room on Saturday, April 24 by creating recycled collages on chairs to be used in front of the Kids Store.
• March, move, shake, rattle and roll using recycled musical instruments at the End of the Day Parades.
• Hide and Seek out author Dan Lipow's Original Prints from "I Love Our Earth" (pictured above and below).
• Take a trip to the great outdoors without even leaving the Program Room during the Creative Dramatics Camping Kids Playtime.
• Join the silly Chefs Charlene, Sean and Sheldon at the Kooky Cooks Recycling Show in the Supermarket as they discover how to renew, reuse, and remake using everyday household items, a little imagination, a very special cooking pot, and lot of laughs!
• Look for appearances from Corny the Acorn Puppet: Corny is often seen in the Exploring Trees: Inside and Out exhibit, making sure visitors are doing “Oak-Kay” while they play and learn about trees and nature.

Looking for ways to celebrate Earth Week at home?

• Read Dr. Suess’ book "Lorax" and Dan Lipow's "I Love Our Earth"
• Plant flowers
• Sign up for a park or community clean-up
• Create a family tree, literally! Get together with your family to spend the day outside and plant a tree. You will be able to watch it grow as your family grows!
• Enjoy the outdoors by taking a nature walk through Fairmount Park

Happy Earth Week!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2010 Book Award: Runner Up

As you know, we're celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Please Touch Museum's Book Award this month! Each year, the Book Award judges review over 100 books to find just two final winners for the Award. And each year, we are left with a small pile of books that, while not selected as a winner, we really think are of the highest caliber and deserving of recognition and commendation. From this pile, we've selected one book to acknowledge as this year's Runner Up. Drum roll please...The 2010 Runner Up is:
Ant and Bird are having a conversation about string. Just how long can a long string be, Ant asks? It turns out that a string can be exactly as long as you need it to be, and the ways that you can use a string are beyond numbers.

Baker's story, comprised almost entirely of simple questions, will encourage kids to look differently at the world around them, and to think creatively about how they can interact with that world. His illustrations are also lively and vibrant and full of surprises!

Be sure to come and visit this Friday, April 23, to celebrate the books we'll crown as this year's Book Award winners! Plus, you'll get to meet one of the winning authors!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Can't get enough of Please Touch Museum? The Centennial Guild is Please Touch Museum's Upper Membership Program. As a Centennial Guild member, you join other museum patrons who share your vision and commitment to the museum.

Centennial Guild Memberships provide you with all of the benefits of a Premiere Please Touch Museum Membership, in addition to exclusive benefits, such as personalized museum visits, special events, and invitations to exhibit openings and premieres! Your personalized visits will offer a more in-depth look at our museum and its many exhibits. It's the perfect way to delve into our museum's mission and understand why we do what we do.

Each Centennial Guild membership also includes a contribution to our Children’s Fund, which provides free admission to underserved families in the region. Through this program, Centennial Guild members enable valuable educational opportunities for children who might not otherwise have the resources to visit Please Touch Museum. Additionally, a portion of every Centennial Guild membership will support the museum, providing a firm financial foundation for our exhibits and educational programs.

For membership inquiries and information to join, click here!

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week's Collections object is the book I Love Our Earth!

Written by Bill Martin, Jr. and Michael Sampson, this poetic book celebrates the picturesque beauty of people and places all over the world. Each page features one of the many photos taken by photographer Dan Lipow on his travels across five continents.

In 2007, I Love Our Earth received Please Touch Museum's Book Award for children 4 to 7! The book also fits perfectly into Please Touch Museum's "Earth Week" programming, which kicks off this Thursday, April 22 for Earth Day and continues all the way through Arbor Day on April 30 in hopes of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship.

Put on your looking eyes and see if you can find it during your next visit! For more info about Hide and Seek of the Week, click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Leonardo da Vinci!

Today we celebrate the birthday of a very famous artist: Leonardo da Vinci!

Da Vinci is one of the world's most renowned painters, sculptors, inventors, philosophers, architects and brilliant thinkers and was born near Florence, Italy in 1452.

One of his most famous works is his painting of the Mona Lisa currently on display at the Louvre in Paris, France. Da Vinci was not only an artist, but a very talented inventor! He was a man ahead of his time as he pondered early concepts of mathematics, flight, robotics and engineering.

To honor Da Vinci's life, kids are invited into the Program Room today to our Inventions Studio filled with KNEX and blocks, which encourage experimentation in building, design and play. They will also have the opportunity to participate in our Mona Lisa Smile Expressions activity.

We will look at and talk about the ambiguous Mona Lisa Smile, then use expression stamps to explore a variety of facial expressions. This will allow of visitors to practice interpretation of feelings or emotions in art.

Today we celebrate Leonardo da Vinci as a man who was willing to imagine, experiment and most importantly, play!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crazy Hair Day!

Today at the museum we are celebrating our annual Crazy Hair Day!

Crazy Hair Day is based around the book by the same name, by author and illustrator Barney Saltzberg. In Crazy Hair Day Stanley Birdbaum wakes up early one fine morning because he can’t wait for Bald Eagle Elementary School’s Crazy Hair Day celebration. With some hair gel and rubber bands and coloring spray, Stanley makes himself into a living work of art. Stanley is so excited when he gets to class and his teacher announces to everyone that Crazy Hair Day is officially…scheduled for next week! And today is actually school picture day! Stanley is so embarrassed that he retreats into the boy’s bathroom and refuses to come out. That is, until his best friend Larry Finchfeather convinces him that the rest of the class has a surprise for him that may make this the best Crazy Hair Day yet.

There are plenty of ways you can celebrate your own Crazy Hair Day at home. Use anything you can think of, from pipe cleaners and combs to aluminum foil and egg crates. Allow your child to be completely free and creative with their decorating and even join in and have fun observing your follicular creations together in front of a mirror. Reading Barney Saltzberg’s book and making your own crazy hair fun is a unique way to create a special reading experience for a child.

In our Program Room you can come visit our Crazy Hair Salon and try on a wig or use all manner of clips, ties, and other materials to design your own contorted coif! There will also be readings of Mr. Saltzberg’s book in our Story Castle at 10:30, 12:30, and 3:30.

You can find more about Crazy Hair Day at Barney Saltzberg’s website:

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 Book Award: Visitor’s Choice Award

This past weekend, our visitors perused a selection of past Please Touch Museum Book Award winners and voted on their all-time favorite. Thanks to everyone who voted!

The winning book is…I Love Our Earth by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Dan Lipow.

I Love Our Earth was selected as the winner of the 4 to 7 year old category for the 2007 Book Award. In this book, Martin and Sampson’s text celebrates the natural splendor of our Earth and the diversity of its inhabitants (both human and animal). While simple on the surface, their rhyming text conceals a great love and appreciation for our planet. Lipow’s photographs are varied in subject and traverse the globe; from alpine mountains to the backyard. They prominently feature not only our world’s beauty, but also kids from around the world, showing that no matter how different our daily lives are, we all have pretty much the same stuff on the inside.

Original photographic prints, on loan from the book’s illustrator Dan Lipow, are currently on display at the museum and will remain in the Etch-a-Sketch Display Case until May 4, so be sure check them out during your next visit!

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week's Collections object is a Mechanical Aquaplane! This tin lithograph wind-up airplane with pontoons was produced by J. Chein & Co. in 1932. When the wind-up key on top of the plane was turned, the plane’s large yellow propeller would spin around and around!

Put on your looking eyes and see if you can find it during your next visit! For more info about Hide and Seek of the Week, click here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Celebrating 25 Years...

book award logo color horzAs you know, 2010 marks the 25th Anniversary of Please Touch Museum's Book Award! This year will also be the first time that the Award will be presented in our new location at Memorial Hall. And we couldn't be more excited!

The first award was given in 1985 to just one book, What’s Inside? by Duanne Daughtry, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in 1984. A decade later, in 1995, the Book Award was expanded, and the decision was made to honor two books each year: one book for children ages 3 and under, and one book for children ages 4 to 7. Since its inception, we have honored over 35 books from authors as varied as Byron Barton and Tana Hoban to Lucy Cousins and Laurie Keller.

Check out the full list of our winning books since 1985, a large selection of which you can find in our Kids Store, by visiting our website here!

YOU can help us celebrate the history of our Book Award this weekend! Come visit our Kids Store where you can peruse a selection of Book Award winners from the past, then select your favorite one, write your choice down and enter it in a raffle for a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to our 2nd Annual Storybook Ball, on Saturday, April 24!

And don't forget to come and find out this year's winners at our Award Ceremony on Friday, April 23 at Noon!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Book Award 2010: Kid’s Choice Award

2010 is a milestone year for Please Touch Museum’s Annual Book Award:

This year is the Book Award’s 25th Anniversary!

We’ll be celebrating this anniversary through a variety of literacy programming throughout the month, leading up to the announcement of this year’s winners at the Book Award Presentation Ceremony at the museum on Friday, April 23 at Noon.

This year’s Kid’s Choice Award recipient was selected by students at Philadelphia's Overbrook School for the Blind. The book they chose is: How Do You Wokka-Wokka? by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by Randy Cecil. In this book, a multi-ethnic cast of city kids dance, shake, and wokka down the blokka! The rhymes and rhythms in this book are clever and infectious, and the illustrations are vibrant and joyous.

We had a reading of How Do You Wokka-Wokka? in the Story Castle last Friday, which kids highly enjoyed. Special thanks to Overbrook School for the Blind for participating as this year’s Kid’s Choice judges!

Be sure to stay tuned for the Visitor Choice Award Winner to be announced later this week, with a special story time Friday, April 9 in the Story Castle!

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.