Monday, May 31, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week's collections object is a set of French Alphabet blocks!

This set of 32 basswood embossed blocks were produced by Uncle Goose Toys. Not only do these blocks help little ones learn their ABC's and 123's, the also introduce them to the French language. Each block features a beautifully illustrated picture of an animal, with the French name written below.

Put on your looking eyes and see if you can find it during your next visit! And while you are looking high and low, don't forget to encourage curiosity by asking open-ended questions and including your child in the conversation. For example: What do you like to build with blocks? What’s your favorite letter of the alphabet? What other letters to you see around the museum?

And of course, Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Teddy Bear Faire is this weekend!

Get ready for a bear-y good time this Memorial Day at Please Touch Museum! From Friday, May 28 through Monday, May 31 we will be celebrating our annual Teddy Bear Faire. The Teddy Bear is perhaps the world's most pervasive, recognizable, and successful toy. They are a universal and indelible icon of childhood.

While the 'Teddy Bear' appellation in U.S. culture is traditionally, and correctly, attributed to President Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt's popularity, the actual toy was created almost simultaneously in the U.S. and Germany. A display of generosity by President Roosevelt toward a black bear while hunting inspired Brooklyn confectioners Morris and Rose Michtom to create a stuffed bear toy which they referred to as 'Teddy's Bear.' The subsequent demand for these bears led to the creation of the first teddy bear manufacturer in the U.S.: the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.

Meanwhile, in the same year, German toymaker Richard Steiff's company produced a stuffed bear toy, designed after his sketches of bear cubs at the Stuttgart Zoo. When an American investor saw these stuffed bears at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903, he ordered several thousand to be shipped to the U.S., hoping to capitalize on the nascent teddy bear craze. The confluence of these two inventions led to the rise of the teddy bear in the U.S., and it remains a widely popular today.

Visit our online calendar to see how we're celebrating the history of these wonderful toys!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Higher! Higher! in the classroom

Hey everyone! I want to introduce you to Monique Durso. She is a 1st Grade teacher at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. She was part of the Judging Panel that selected this year’s Book Award winners, and was in attendance at the presentation ceremony on Friday, April 23rd at Please Touch Museum. I wanted to share Monique’s account of her experience teaching one of the winning books, Higher! Higher!, in her classroom and of meeting the book’s author, Leslie Patricelli, at Please Touch Museum:

"Our words are powerful," has been the main teaching point of my reading and writing workshop for the past five years. Whether we are writing a story, a letter, or conversing with friends, our words have an impact on others. One of the things I love about stories is that they have the power to transport us to different times and places, and transform the way we view ourselves, others, and the world around us.

This year, my first grade class followed my journey of being a Children's Book Award judge for Please Touch Museum. After independently reading stacks upon stacks of books, the panel of judges came together and we decided on one book to be deemed Please Touch Museum's 2010 Children's Book Award selection in two categories: Ages 3 and Under, and Ages 4 to 7.

The book we chose in the younger age category was Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli. I then read this winning selection to my first grade class and opened up the conversation to any comments and questions from the students. And did they have a lot to say! They asked great questions and offered insightful comments. One first grader asked, "What material did the author use for her illustrations? It looks like cut paper, but I can see that it's not..." Another wondered, "Why did she only choose to put a few people in the windows of the apartment building?" After many comments and questions, it was clear the students were curious and invested. If only Leslie could hear their words.

Then, on April 23rd I was fortunate enough to meet Leslie Patricelli, and relay all of the positive feedback and intriguing questions about her book. Leslie was thrilled that the class had taken such an interest and began to answer each question in order (she uses canvas paper and then paints brown on top of it; it was more realistic to have people and pets in just some windows). Additionally, Leslie was gracious enough to write a letter to the first graders in my class.

When I returned to school and shared the exciting news of our meeting, I could see my first graders eyes light up. They were overwhelmed to hear that their questions were answered, and that their words and ideas meant something to Leslie Patricelli. The satisfaction was written all over their little faces. Deep down, I was satisfied as well. For it was clear to me at that moment that whether we write words down for others to read or we share them in conversations or on blogs--our words certainly do matter.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week's collections object is the Fisher Price Cuddly Cub!

Manufactured throughout the 1970s, this bear is the perfect combination teddy bear and chime ball, two childhood favorites. With a rounded chime ball base, Cuddly Cub simply rocks and chimes when pushed.

But Cuddly Cub isn't the only Teddy Bear hiding out in our collections cases. Teddy Bear Faire is fast approaching (Friday, May 28th to Monday, May 31st) and everyday there seems to be more and more teddy bears hiding throughout the museum.

So keep your eyes peeled and see how many bears you can find on your next visit! And while you are finding all those bears, don't forget to encourage curiosity by asking open-ended questions and including your child in the conversation. For example: What is your favorite teddy bear? How old do you think this teddy bear is? What games do you think this teddy likes to play?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Mary Cassatt!

This Saturday, May 22, we'll be celebrating Artist Mary Cassatt's Birthday (May 22, 1844 - June 14, 1926)!

Kids will get to create their own Family Portraits in the Program Room using brightly colored oil pastels. We will draw connections between Cassatt and our young aspiring artists by using materials, techniques and subject matter that are characteristic of Cassatt's artwork.

Although Cassatt was never a mother herself, she is well known for her warm and heartfelt portraits of Mother and Child. We hope that these Cassatt inspired portraits will help foster a love and appreciation of family. Kids will have the chance to answer the following question through art: How can a portrait depict the love that you and your family share? It’s the perfect opportunity for parent-child interaction.

Cassatt was never afraid to learn, and she found traveling to study other artists would help her build her own unique style. We can even say Cassatt was able to play with her art and experiment with conventions. She was affiliated with a group of artists known as Impressionists.

The Impressionists refused to accept the standards set forth by the Salon, the official art exhibition of the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, for what art should look like; they wanted more inclusion of new art forms, and thus created their own style of art, which illustrated ordinary life using visible brushstrokes, light colors, open composition and an emphasis on light.

Stop by the Program Room to celebrate a great female American artist this Saturday, and create your own masterpiece!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week’s Collections object is a pair of Hustler Speed King Roller Skates! These metal skates used leather ankle straps and a skate key to size the skate to fit the skater’s shoe size. Manufactured by the Frantz Manufacturing Co. from the late 1930s to the early 1970s, Hustler Speed King Roller Skates were sold in large department stores across the country and were one of the leading brands of roller skates.

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, May 14, 2010

Día del Niño Recap

Hey Everyone! I want to share with you some of my pictures from Día del Niño, our all-day celebration of Latin American culture - music, dance and folklore- in partnership with Telemundo Philadelphia which was held on May 1st! I had so much fun and got to meet so many entertaining people. See for yourself:

The Puerto Rican Folklore Music Duo/Trio from Raíces Culturales Latinoamericanas performed and were a huge hit.

GOYA gave out some delicious treats all day long and were joined by many other friendly sponsors.

Dora the Explorer from Storytime Live! stopped by for a storytime in the Story Castle!

A Flamenco Dance Group from Raíces Culturales Latinoamericanas performed a cultural and entertaining show for all the visitors.

Marisa de Jesús Paolicelli visited us to read her popular book There’s a Coqui in My Shoe in the Story Castle!

Thanks to all that participated and made this event so wonderful!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

On Stage Friday: "Pinch Bear"

Beginning on Friday May 14th, Please Touch Playhouse presents Pinch Bear. This exciting show will run until May 31, 2010.

Today, I had the chance to talk with David Hutchman, our Theater Experience Manager, to tell us a little bit about this show.

Pinky: What is this show all about?

This show is about a little tiny bear. She’s so tiny that some people even have trouble seeing her. But even though she’s very small she manages to do big things, very big things!

Pinky: Do the kids in the audience get to do anything in the show?

Well, none of our shows at Please Touch Museum lets you just sit there. Where’s the fun in that? Our kids in the audience always get into the act. For instance, in this show they get to help a number of times. They help us look for Pinch Bear and they help us guess what’s in the river when Pinch Bear goes paddling in her canoe. They also get involved in another way. At one point, Pinch Bear becomes a high diver in the circus. Every time she jumps off her high dive perch and into her tank of water there’s a big splash and…well…let’s just say that water has to go somewhere.

Pinky: What themes or "lessons" can children (and adults, too!) take away from this performance?

People are always telling Pinch Bear she’s too small to try things. It’s very frustrating for her. One day Pinch Bear hears about a seemingly fearsome giant. When everyone else is too afraid to even leave their houses, Pinch Bear sees her chance to finally prove herself and sets out to become a giant fighter. What she discovers when she confronts the “monster” reminds Pinch Bear what she should have known all along: that you shouldn’t judge a person by how they look or what others say about them. The story of PINCH BEAR takes aim at how we judge each other and how wrong we can be without even knowing it.

Pinky: After kids see the show on stage, how can they create a similar performance at home with and for their family?

Pinch Bear may start out as a very tiny bear, but she soon grows up to be the size of a Teddy Bear. If you have a Teddy Bear at home and a couple of simple props you could probably do your own version of the show right in your living room. Please ask your big person first before you splash any water around.

Click here to download the "Pinch Bear" activity flyer.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week's Collections object is a set of Kindergarten Building Blocks!

These embossed ABC blocks were first patented on June 20, 1876 by the Hyatt Brothers of Albany, New York. Manufactured by The Embossing Company, each wooden block featured a slightly raised image, number or letter on each side.

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, May 7, 2010

Centennial Day 134th Anniversary

On May 10th, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant stood near the front steps of Memorial Hall to formally open the Centennial Exhibition and invite the world to see how much America had grown since 1776. The Centennial Exhibition served not only as America’s 100th birthday party, but more importantly was the third World’s Fair to be held in the United States! Did you know that bananas, kindergarten and the telephone were first introduced to many Americans at the fair?

Opening day of the Centennial Exhibition, May 10, 1876
View from the steps of Memorial Hall, looking toward the Main Exhibition Building. The bleacher seating was for the VIPs—Centennial Commission members, U.S. and foreign political figures and special guests.

Image Courtesy, Robby Cohen Collection

In addition to introducing America as an industrialized nation, the Centennial Exhibition also introduced the world to numerous new and exciting discoveries and inventions. The Centennial closed on November 10, 1876, and in those short six months over 10 million people had come to Philadelphia to see and experience the excitement and grandeur of the Centennial Exhibition!

On Monday, we will be celebrating the 134th anniversary of opening day with special Centennial themed programming throughout the museum. The day’s programming is intended to highlight major themes of the Centennial Exhibition, while introducing our young audience to the concept of history through age appropriate, familiar, and fun activities.

Kids will be able to paint, explore transportation of the period, and play with reproduction Froebel blocks throughout the day in the Program Room. The Story Castle will feature carnival themed stories at 10:30 and 3:30. Visitors will get the opportunity to interact with collections objects during a stereograph themed KidGlove Program at 1:00 in the Centennial Train Station. In addition, there will be parades in the Centennial Train Station at 12:00 and 2:00.

And grown-ups, don’t worry we didn’t forget about you, we will be offering special $10 guided Centennial Tours at 2:00 Saturday, May 8th to Monday, May 10th.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Strings Music Weekend

It’s time for Spring Strings Music Weekend! This Friday, May 7 through Monday, May 11, Please Touch Museum is celebrating all things strings. We will be taking a special look and listen to instruments that use strings to make their sound-- like the violin and the guitar!

Come check out the special ballet performances by the Rock School on Saturday, May 8, as they dance to music made by string instruments, or listen to the Run of the Mill String Band perform on Sunday, May 9. This special music weekend will engage children (and adults!) of all ages by providing unique learning opportunities. We will learn the importance of being gentle with musical instruments, hone our fine motor skills while strumming the auto-harp, and practice new vocabulary, such as vibrato and forte. Plus, in celebration of Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 9, all moms will receive FREE admission!

Music is the perfect tool for independent and cooperative play, so come join us for Spring Strings! For a detailed schedule, please visit our website here!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week's Collections object is a Buzzy Bee pull toy!

The Buzzy Bee was first introduced by Fisher Price in 1950 and it was the first Fisher Price product to use plastic. Since then, Buzzy Bee has charmed his way into the lives of countless children with his twirling wings, bobbing antennas and "buzzing" sound.

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.

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.