Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where should I go first?

One question PTM staff gets a lot from new visitors at the admissions desk is “Where should I go first?” Their answer is almost always, “Follow the kids!” They tend to know exactly where the fun should start.

However, it never hurts to be prepared! The museum is very big, and there’s a lot going on, so it can be useful for families to talk about what to expect and see what the exhibits look like before walking through the doors.

To give parents and kids a hand with this, there are a couple of nifty tools to help each and every visitor plan ahead of time, and maybe even practice for the big visit. Museum Stories are available in PDF format on Please Touch Museum’s website, and you can also borrow one at the front desk. You can study the museum map ahead of time, or pick one up on your way in to help guide your way. Also, make sure to check out the online calendar to see what kind of special events are happening the day you visit.

The “Museum Stories” include one page for each exhibit, so visitors can print them out and mix and match to build their own special pathway around the building. Love buses? Make a beeline to Roadside Attractions! Oobleck and Floam are more your thing? Get thee to the Program Room! The stories talk about the sights and sounds of each exhibit, and show lots of pictures of what to expect.

Got any more questions about your visit? You can always check out our “visiting tips” page or give us a call. We love hearing from you!

Have a wonderful visit!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ooey, Gooey Oobleck Fun

There is some ooey, gooey, and messy fun planned for the Program Room in October. Oobleck is a mixture of corn starch (polymer) and water that provides a sensory experience for kids. It has some interesting physical properties; it is both a liquid and a solid depending on how you play with it.

I sat down with Please Touch Museum's Arts Coordinator and she showed me how to make my own Oobleck at home. Here’s a recipe for Oobleck that is sure to get your little one experimenting!

* 1 part water
* 2 parts corn starch
* Large bowl or tin to play with your OOBLECK in
* Food Coloring or Liquid Watercolor (optional)


Hint: Grown-ups can help with measuring but allow your child to help you make the oobleck mixture then experiment with pouring the corn starch and water. Please note that oobleck is not an exact science; it is an experiment so don't worry if your measurements are not perfect.

* Add one part water (1/2 cup of water)
* Add 2 parts corn starch (1 cup corn starch)
* Mix the ingredients well with a spoon or your hands (whatever your child’s preference)
* Your mixture should change between a liquid and a solid when handled because it is a polymer. Try to make your oobleck into different shapes- how does the oobleck react? Does it want to stay as a solid or as a liquid?
* Experiment with the ratio of water to corn starch to see which consistencies your prefer. Ask them what they think will happen next. For example, if we add more corn starch, what do you think will happen?

For a video of different ways to play with oobleck- visit this video on YouTube!

Hope you enjoy your experience and don't forget: it's okay to get a little messy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

All aboard! The Touch-It Magnetic Railway Train is pulling into the station, destination Please Touch Museum! Produced by Toycraft Corporation, this six piece wooden train was one of the first train sets to use magnets to connect the train cars to one another. Gone were the days of fumbling to hook your passenger car to the caboose!

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’s your favorite kind of train? Where would you ride a train to? Or simply pretend you are going on a train ride!

Friday, September 24, 2010

National Day of Play

Hey everyone! This Sunday, Please Touch Museum, along with loads of kids and their grown-ups across the country, will celebrate National Day of Play! Can you believe there's an entire day dedicated to getting kids outside to play and stay healthy?! The mission of Please Touch Museum is to enrich the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play, making National Day of Play the perfect chance to explore healthy lifestyle choices and encourage learning through play.

You probably already know that keeping your body learning, growing and healthy is important, but did you know that you can do it through play?! National Day of Play is all about getting kids active but it's also about having fun! What are some things you can do to get outside and stay healthy this weekend? One way to stay active outside is to use your imagination. You can pretend you're a dinosaur, romping through the jungle! Or, maybe you're an astronaut, exploring the moon or even another planet!

For grown-ups, don’t forget to encourage curiosity by asking open-ended questions and engaging your kids in conversation. For example, what sort of everyday activities can you do to stay healthy?

Play the day away this Sunday and celebrate National Day of Play!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You, Me & Art: Guest Blogger Chrissie DiAngelus shares her experience

Hey everyone! I just finished participating in a You & Me Play date and it was awesome! In my class was my friend Chrissie and her son Mitch. I asked her all about her experience and here's what she said:

Pinky: How old is Mitch?

Chrissie: Mitch is two years old!

Pinky: What kinds of things did you and Mitch make together in art class?

Chrissie: Mommy and Mitch made some terrific pieces during our You, Me & Art classes. Mitch experimented with interesting paint brushes and paint tools such as a toothbrush as well as bright neon paints, resulting in very cool abstract creations. Mommy helped Mitch understand the gooey and sticky texture of glue when we explored the different textures of pom-poms, paper, and foam. Mitch loves the color orange and enjoyed using the orange marker to decorate a canvas bag and a beach ball.

Pinky: What were some of your favorite parts about the class? What activities did Mitch really enjoy?

Chrissie: One of my favorite things about the classes was seeing how simple Please Touch Museum (PTM) made art. I’ve had Mitch using watercolors and paints since he was 17 months but as a visual artist myself, I often unintentionally complicate things. I wonder, “Where’s the palette?” “Oh no, he doesn’t have any white gauche.” “He needs a flat brush.” My college level classes are a blessing and a curse! I love seeing how an egg carton gets recycled as a palette or how kids can use everyday objects to create textures or how a cookie tray can be used as an easel.

Mitch’s favorite activities were hands down the two painting projects – the painting with interesting textured tools and the Jackson Pollock drip painting. He’s like his mom – if he can stand over it and throw down and create a masterpiece, he’s in heaven. He was totally in his element and we wound up with the coolest, most abstract paintings that are now hanging in his room.

Pinky: When you are at home and getting creative- what is Mitch's favorite art activity?

Chrissie: We’ve tried so much – Play-Doh, paints, crayons, glue. Mitch is really open to trying new media (materials) and methods so I try to mix it up. Painting is his favorite. The mixing and the water elements hold his attention. We also use a lot of stickers and different colored and textured papers and just play.We use paint brushes, sponges, and interesting objects to make a shape or texture, and we make a lot of monoprints. My sister bought him a portfolio so I save almost all his work. The really abstract ones I frame.

Pinky: Art can be messy- how do you as a parent remain calm through some of the mess?

Chrissie: My mentality is – It’s supposed to be a mess. Mess = fun. It all cleans up. It all washes off. Even oil paints wash off with a little turpentine! Moreover, any amount of time we can carve out of our day to create is calming to me. That said, I’m mindful of what we’re wearing and where we are and to not approach it with a fussy attitude. We don’t paint in our holiday best or on the nice carpet. But we will hang out in PJs, on the deck or at the table – sometimes with a smock on or paper down but not always. I encourage him to stand over his work, get into it with his hands, etc. We generally use washable paints and supplies that clean up easily. When the weather is nice we create masterpieces on our back deck. When we are inside, I roll out craft paper on the table or floor.

Pinky: We are all about learning through play at Please Touch Museum. What learning values do you see in Mitch's play?

Chrissie: I value exploration, independence, and self expression and I see these values – and encourage them – in Mitch’s play, whether it’s in creating a painting or playing with blocks, with a pretend kitchen set, or with his cars and trains. With his art, he is able to use and explore motor skills, explore textures and media. Once I set him up and provide a lesson, I let him go. I want him to feel confident in his play to enjoy it on his own for as long as he likes. Ultimately any sort of play is a means of self expression. I feel like it’s my job as a parent to provide a nurturing environment for him to make discoveries and learn about himself.

I feel very lucky as a parent to have PTM in my backyard – not just as a fun place to take Mitch on a rainy day – but as a place that also shares my approach to art and play. There are so many other areas of our lives that are busy and “just so” but art has also been my “out” – the time and place where nothing had to adhere to a deadline or to a certain set of rules. Whether it’s through art or something else, I hope Mitch finds that same sense of peace and self worth that I did in painting, photography and ceramics. classes felt like a natural extension of my own artistic philosophy.

Chrissie DiAngelus is the owner of Piccadilly Arts, an artist management and consulting company. She manages the careers and tours of children’s theater artists and also offers marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. Her son Mitch is two years old and enjoys trains, blocks, art, music, and playing with balls.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

The Ladders are easy to climb, but watch out for those Chutes! Did you know that Milton Bradley's Chutes and Ladders is based on the English game Snakes and Ladders? Milton Bradley first introduced this game of rewards and consequences to the United States in 1943. As players travel through the game they encounter both ladders, allowing them to advance or chutes, sending them sliding backwards.

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's your favorite board game? Would you rather climb a ladder or slide down a chute? Or simply go home and play a game of Chutes and Ladders.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How to: Make a Paper Airplane

Hey everyone! I got really excited after my last visit to the Flight Fantasy exhibit. I love things that fly! But guess what? I don’t have to wait until the Rocket Room exhibit opens again to play with airplanes, rockets and parachutes. Please Touch Museum has a program called Portable Play that takes some of our exhibits on the road! Remember when I went on a visit with the City Capers kit? Well, this time, I tracked down Claudia, our Coordinator of Curriculum Development and Implementation, to show me the Flight Fantasy kit.

The kit has so many different things to play with, but I think my favorite part was the art activity we did at the end. We made our own paper airplanes! And guess what? You can too! I took some pictures, and I’ll show you how:

1. Take a sheet of plain old copy or construction paper. You can use any color you like!

2. Fold it in half like a hot dog. Make sure you make a nice crease!

3. Open up the paper again, and you’ll have a line right down the middle.

4. Make a triangle with the edge of the paper right up to the line.

5. Repeat on the other side. Now the top of your paper is one big triangle. It looks kind of like the roof of a house!

6. Flip your paper over, so you can’t see the flaps anymore. Then, fold it in half again. We’re almost done!

7. Now we’re ready to make some wings!Fold the flap of the paper in half by pulling it down to the edge.

8. Flip it over and do the same thing on the other side!

9. Now you can open those flaps. Your paper airplane is ready!

You can hold the bottom and try to make it fly.

How do you make your paper airplane? What do you think makes it fly better? What if I changed the wings? What if there was wind? Any ideas?

Pinky and Puppets!

Pinky learns about Marionettes in the first Please Touch Museum video blog!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Building with Super Acrobats

The Program Room will be temporarily closed for some scheduled improvements and maintenance. Program Room Fun will resume on Saturday, September 18!

Here is a building tool that you will find featured in the Program Room throughout this month that I love to play with! They are called Super Acrobats!

Open-Ended Play:
Super Acrobats are an Open-Ended toy! Open-Ended toys come with no instruction manuals or rules; the kids choose how to play with them. Many of the kids who visit the Program Room like fitting the acrobats together in a long line. Others enjoy building them up high in a pyramid. Some will build a circle of acrobats. It’s all about the learning process and the play experience.

Open-Ended Questions:
What is an acrobat? Would you like to be an acrobat? In what place would you be most likely to find an acrobat performing (hint: the circus)? Have you ever been to the circus? What did you see there? What kinds of movements do you think an acrobat uses?

Super Acrobats are made by an Italy based company called Ludus Toys. To learn more about Ludus Toys and the Super Acrobats, visit here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monkey Business!

In anticipation of his appearance this Thursday, Curious George arrived at Please Touch Museum a little early. Ever curious about the day-to-day operations of PTM behind the scenes, he offered to lend a paw around the office.

You can see some highlights from his week in the slideshow below, including George being bewildered by the office printer and kicking back on his lunch break.

You can come celebrate H.A. Rey’s birthday and meet Curious George in the Story Castle on Thursday, September 16th at 10:30, 12:30, and 3:30.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

What has all the colors of the rainbow and is always right side up? The Playskool Caterpillar pull toy! This simple wooden pull toy was created by Playskool in 1951. And do you know how much it cost way back then? Only $1.50! That’s right, only six quarters! If you look hard enough, you will find this colorful little guy curled up and hiding amongst ABC blocks and Snoopy.

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’s your favorite color? Can you show me how a caterpillar crawls? Where do you think caterpillar’s live?

Take Home Activity: Quilt Mosaics

Starting today through Friday, September 17 the Program Room will be closed for some scheduled improvements and maintenance. In the meantime, here's a studio art experience you can try out at home! With a new school year, you may have some extra artwork hanging on your refrigerator or piling up on your desk. What is a grown up to do? RE-USE it! Invite your child to see their artwork in a whole new way with recycled Quilt Mosaics.

• Old Artwork
• Scissors
• Glue Sticks
• Construction Paper

• Help your child to cut up their old artwork into different shapes. Explain to them that by taking their old work and combining it together- they are creating a new super work of art. Hint: You can trace the shapes onto your paper then cut or use a more freehand approach.
• Explain to your child how quilts are made (piecing scraps together) and used (as bedding, a throw, clothing, etc.). Show the children an example of a real quilt (from the Quilt’s of Gee’s Bend). Invite them to use their scraps and glue to create a quilt on paper.
• Practice fitting the pieces you’ve created together, side by side or overlap them.
• Remember to keep the activity child-directed by allowing your little one to be the boss! Art time is a great time to exercise your child’s ability to make independent choices and decisions.

Discussion and Information:
• Since fabric had to be woven by hand (this took a very long time to do), every scrap was precious.
• People held quilting parties so they could exchange scraps and fabric pieces to in order to obtain unique scraps and different colors.
• Colonists made the pieces into a patchwork, laying the pieces in pretty designs before stitching the whole thing together. From Colonial Kids – An Activity Guide to Life in the New World by Laurie Carlson
• Quilting is also a good way to reuse something that might otherwise have been thrown away. Try talking about other objects that might be used to create art or something useful – from trash to treasure. Other examples: Scrap Paper, Straws, Floral Foam, Leaves

Quilt Mosaic fun will resume on Saturday, September 18th!

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.