Monday, June 28, 2010

Chalk it Up!

On Sunday, June 27th Please Touch Museum welcomed local artist Jeannie Moberly for our "Chalk it Up!" Sidewalk Chalk Event! Sidewalk chalk is a great summer activity for kids, as a way to get outside and exercise their creative potential.

Here are some pictures of the fun!

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week’s collections object is The Comet electric train! Produced by A.C. Gilbert Co. in the late 1930s as part of the American Flyer series of model trains. This toy train was a scale version of the actual Comet, built in 1935 by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Company for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

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 engaging your child in the conversation. For example: What sound does a train make? Where would take a train ride to? Or simply tell your child the story of your first train ride.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chalk It Up!

Happy Summer!
One of the best parts of summer is having extra time, and what better way to spend your quality time than creating art with your little one?

A friend of ours from the Delaware Valley Art Therapy Association, Megan Van Meter, LPC, ATR-BC, shared this helpful list of tips for Responding to Children’s Artwork:

“A piece of artwork is a piece of communication, not a piece of clutter. When a child (or anyone, for that matter) shows you her or his art, here are some guidelines for responding in a way that lets the individual know you are listening to her or him.

• Express appreciation that the work is being shared with you (“It’s really great that you wanted to share this with me.” In doing this you communicate that you are interested in your relationship with your child.

• Accept each piece of art as valid in as-is condition (“I see this must be about something important, or you wouldn’t have made art about it.”) In doing this you communicate you accept the child as having validity and worth

• Ask the child to discuss the work (“Can you tell me a little about this?”) In doing this you communicate you are interested in understanding the child’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions

• Recognize the effort that went into the making the art (“You used up the whole sheet of paper- that really must have taken a lot of work!”) In doing this you communicate that effort, not ability, is necessary for success.

Remember: appreciating a child’s efforts, not her or his ability, is what paves the road for the individual’s success. This applies to artmaking as well as behavior in general!”

This weekend at Please Touch Museum, chalk artist Jeannie Moberly will be participating in our first Chalk It Up! Sidewalk Chalk event to celebrate the start of summer! Visitors will be able to watch Jeannie as she draws a unique mural on the ground outside of the Carousel House. We can't wait!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Staff Favorites

I recently polled our Please Touch Museum staff and asked them about their favorite book, toy, and music from their childhood. I had the opportunity to sit down with Tory Kline, Collections Coordinator at Please Touch Museum, to talk about her experience with early literacy and memories of being young. Here is what she had to say:

What’s your favorite book from growing up? Teeny Witch and the Terrible Twins

Who would you read this book with? My Mom

Do you have a favorite part in the book?
My favorite part was that it was the first book I learned to read all by myself! I vividly remember reading and re-reading that book every night for weeks until mastering it. And as much as my mom tried to suggest other books, I always came back to Teeny Witch!

Why do you feel it is important for parents to read with their children?
Besides laying a firm foundation for literacy, I think that sitting down and reading a book with your child provides valuable one-on-one time. As much as I enjoyed the stories that were read aloud, I absolutely loved that uninterrupted time with my mom.

Make sure to keep an eye out for future staff picks! Staff members will have the opportunity to tell a little about themselves through some of their favorite childhood memories!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Play Collection Donations

Honorary Please Touch Museum “Employee,” seven-year-old Justin Brown, wore a full Firefighter Costume on Friday, accompanied by his dad, Andy. Andy is a real Philadelphia Firefighter from Engine 2! They generously donated a pair of authentic Fire Boots, which belonged to a Philadelphia Firefighter that will go on display in Pat’s Shoe Store in our City Capers exhibit. In addition to the boots, they donated several play firefighter kid costumes, which will be used in the Play Collection for all visitors to enjoy!

Winston joined Andy, Justin, and Justin’s little sister, Katrina to thank them for the greatly appreciated donation!

For more information about our Collections please click here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week’s collections object is a set of Flintstone Interlocking Building Boulders! Produced by Kenner in the early 1960s, these blocks were modeled after those used in the Hanna-Barbera Productions cartoon series, The Flintstones. Unlike the boulders Pebbles played with, these “boulders” are made out of Styrofoam.

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 engaging your child in the conversation. For example: How heavy are the boulders? What would you build with them?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Start the Summer Dance Party

It's the coolest way to kick off the summer break - join us for the "Start the Summer Dance Party" on Monday, June 21st at noon! Help us make our playlist of the best songs that capture the essence of summer. Just leave your favorite summer songs in the comments section below and they may be selected for the dance party on Monday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

“Books to Know, Books to Grow” Art Showcase

Last Thursday, I spent some time at the “Books to Know, Books to Grow” art showcase here at the museum! “Books to Know, Books to Grow” is Please Touch Museum’s literacy-based program that guides pre-school children ages 4 to 5 through educationally enriching programming that supports emergent literacy, math and art skills.

Books chosen for the program are selected from outstanding classic and contemporary children’s literature. Winners of Please Touch Museum’s Annual Book Awards and Pennsylvania’s “One Book for Every Young Child” program are included in the syllabus. The program is c onducted inside the classroom so that the student’s learning day is not disrupted.

Literature, math and art are incorporated into the program and each lesson is designed to offer activities that assist children in their development of basic academic skills. Post-activities are provided to parents and teachers for utilization after “Books to Know, Books to Grow” has been delivered. Participation in this program supports kids as they grow to identify, process, and demonstrate an understanding of topics that correlate with Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood.

The best part is at the end of the school year, all of the kids involved get to submit their art work to be displayed at Please Touch Museum! We celebrate with music, dance, food, and lots of fun for the children and their families! My favorite activity was making a Spoon friend, just like the one from the book, Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Scott Magoon.

For more information about Please Touch Museum’s Book Award winners, click here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

History of the Butter Sculpture

Butter Sculpture

Did you know the first recorded butter sculpture in North America occurred at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition? Sculpting in butter is actually an ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition for celebrating the Tibetan New Year and offering tributes to Buddha. Artisans would use yak butter and goat butter to sculpt objects or tell a story. The sculptures were then dyed with minerals to add color.
In other food history, butter sculpture was found
throughout Europe on the tables of the wealthy for hundreds of years.

In 1876, Caroline Shawk Brooks created the first butter sculpture in North America and it was exhibited in the Women’s Pavilion. It was a bas-relief portrait of Iolanthe, a character from a popular 19th century play King René’s Daughter by Danish playwright Henrik Hertz. The display of the sculpture was so popular that fair organizers invited her to demonstrate her artistry and technique in the Main Exhibition Building. Ms. Brooks went on to study art in France and Italy and created a variety of marble sculptures AND continued to sculpt in butter.

Since the 1876 Centennial sculptures in butter have become a staple of agricultural fairs and state fairs across the country. Butter sculptures at State Fairs typically are dairy related in subject matter, such as cows. Over the years, sculptors have introduced different subject matter. One butter artist, Norma “Duffy” Lyon began sculpting in 1959 until her retirement in 2006. Over her career, she created sculptures of John Wayne, Elvis Presley, country music artist Garth Brooks, her own design of “The Last Supper," and many more.

Image of 1876 butter sculpture. (Courtesy, Robby Cohen Collection)
On the reverse is written,
The Dreaming Iolanthe, A Study in Butter, by Caroline S. Brooks, Daughter of Abel Shawk. The tools used, were a common Butter Paddle, Cedar Sticks, Broom Straws, and a Camels Hair Pencil. Sculptured on a Kitchen Table without a Model, in a Milk Pan 15 inches in diameter, and brought from Helena Ark., a distance of 2000 miles to the Centennial.

You can read more about the ancient butter sculpture tradition by clicking here.

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week's collection's object is a Furby!

Introduced during the 1998 American International Toy Fair, this lovable furry robot quickly became the must have toy of the holiday season. Aside from their unique look, Furbies grew in popularity due to their ability to 'learn' English. In its first year, over 1.4 million were sold and by 2000 over 40 million had been sold.

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 engaging your child in the conversation. For example: What words would you teach Furby? What kind of animal is a Furby?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Silly Swap Weekend

On June 12 and 13 at Please Touch Museum, we celebrated our first ever Silly Swap Weekend! Kids received free shaped rubber bands at the door and met with each other twice each day to swap. Here are some pictures of the action:

Get Up and Grow!

I’m so excited the 10th Annual ABC Games presented by US Airways are in full swing! Did you know the ABC Games are part of Please Touch Museum’s Healthy Lifestyles initiative “Get Up and Grow,” designed to enhance the lives of families by promoting healthy living to children? In recent years, the initiative has grown to encompass many aspects of the Please Touch experience, such as: “No Smoking” signs and recycling containers throughout the museum; the physically engaging Flight Fantasy exhibit; and healthy eating options that comprise the menu in the Please Taste Cafe.

Max and Me, the museum’s exclusive on-site caterer, is committed to helping educate museum guests on the benefits of eating healthy foods to help the fight against childhood obesity. The Please Taste Cafe offers a number of alternatives to traditional kid fare. Some of the healthy menu options include:

• Whole/ fresh-cut fruits and vegetables with low-fat dips
• Salads with low-fat dressing
• Lean proteins
• 100% fruit juices
• Whole grain cereals and breads, cereal bars and steel cut oatmeal
• Vegetarian options

During your museum visit, keep an eye out for The Kooky Cooks Cooking Show. This show is an interactive performance series, modeled on the popular cooking show television format, which incorporates the wide variety of foods in the museum’s Supermarket. Performances are followed by extended character interactions for children in the exhibit with the performers, designed to encourage and support child-directed dramatic play within the exhibits.

Here are some tips for conservation in the kitchen:

Practice cutting down on paper product use. Try using washable dishcloths and napkins more often to reduce paper waste, and purchase recycled paper products when possible.

BYOB- Bring Your Own Bag, that is! Using a cloth or recycled shopping bag helps reduce the energy and resources used to make and transport paper or plastic bags. Invest in a bag that is durable and compact, and keep it handy in your car, coat pocket, stroller or purse.

And on August 29, the museum will hold its 1st Annual Stroller in the Park, a 5K family-oriented walk in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. This event will encourage families to remain active and will provide a fun-filled day of healthy lifestyle resources and activities to celebrate the end of summer. To learn more about Stroller in the Park, click here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Toys, Fads and Collecting Fun

Did you know Please Touch Museum collects toys? Best sellers, iconic, and loaded with lots of play value. A lot of toys offer open-ended play experiences so that you can come back over and over and they still remain fun. Toys and games your grandparents played with can be toys and games that your child plays with today: alphabet blocks, teddy bears, Monopoly and more. And then there’s some toys that come down the pike and EVERYONE simply has to have one! They are called fads and kids love ‘em!

The latest craze to hit the scene is a simple little silicone bracelet…known as Silly Bandz, Silly Bracelets, Zanybandz, Crazy Bands and even Rubba Bandz. They are colorful silicone bands molded into a variety of shapes with a variety of colors and designs. They come in themed packs, such as animals, dinosaurs, princesses, baseball, rock band and rainforest, just to name a few. They look like simple bracelets when you wear them, but pop back into their shapes when taken off.

Can you remember some of the fads from your childhood?

In the 1930s, Shirley Temple dolls from Ideal Toy & Novelty Company were all the rage. Fashioned in the likeness of the child actress, the dolls realized $45 million in sales by 1941.

1950s —The Hula Hoop made by Wham-O became THE toy to have. The company sold 25 million of them in four months.

1960s — What was the second top-selling doll behind Barbie? Troll dolls! Everyone loved them and everyone had to have them. Created by Thomas Dam of Denmark.

1970s — Advertising executive Gary Dahl spawned a fad with Pet Rock! They were rocks…marketed as if they were live pets.

1980s — Lots of toy fads…Rubik’s Cube, made by Ernö Rubik, sold 4.5 million in 1980.

Smurfs — They were first made in 1959, but became a popular collecting craze in the early to mid 1980s. The little blue figures are still made today.

Cabbage Patch Kids — Every child wanted one of Xavier Robert's baby-dolls from the Cabbage Patch of Coleco Products. They were originally introduced in 1978, but when Coleco began producing them in 1982, they exploded on the market and became one of the most popular toy fads of the 80s.

1990s — Tamagotchis or virtual pets. First sold by Bandai in 1996, these little toys took off like wildfire. The little computers “housed” virtual pets that you had to feed, pooper-scoop and play games with or else they would “die.” As of 2008, over 70 million Tamagotchis had been sold!

POGS — Bottle cap game that was popular in the 1990s. Kids collected hundreds and even thousands of these little round discs.

1993 — The introduction of the Beanie Baby by Ty. Millions were sold and people were trading, swapping and selling them left and right.

2005 — Webkinz became the toy to have. They are small plush animals with a special code that you can use on the Internet to play in the virtual “Webkinz World.”

2009 — What did all the kids want this past holiday season? Zhu Zhu Pets—the little crazy robotic hamsters with names like Chunk, Num Nums and Scoodles.

Lots more fads took off over the years. You might remember the Ant Farm of the 1950s, Tickle Me Elmo in the late 1990s, Superballs in the 1960s. Whatever the toy, whatever the fad…a must-have toy or a collecting frenzy over the latest new thing is a rite of passage for children everywhere.

What are/were your favorite toy fads?

Happy Birthday, Maurice Sendak!

Tomorrow, June 10, we'll be celebrating the birthday of popular author Maurice Sendak!

Come and share a special storytime and meet a Wild Thing at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 3:30 pm in the Story Castle. After you meet the Wild Thing, swing by the Program Room and design your own Wild Thing. And with that, let the Wild Rumpus start!

You can also celebrate Mr. Sendak's life and work by checking out the blog art project Terrible Yellow Eyes. Over five months, dozens of artists submitted their own reinterpretations of Sendak's artwork from his most beloved book "Where the Wild Things Are." The results are as unpredictable and wild as the book itself and include different types of art, from ink drawings to dioramas to paper cut-outs. The project finished on January 1, 2010, but you can still see all of the amazing artwork.

Can you make your own Wild Thing at home? Or can you look like a Wild Thing yourself?

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.