Friday, October 29, 2010

Spooky Stories and Some Program Room Artwork!

Halloween is fast approaching (in fact, it may be RIGHT BEHIND YOU!) and there’s no better time to enjoy a good spooky story. We thought we would share with you some of our favorite books for this time of year:

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex
In this hilarious book Mr. Rex writes poems about the everyday trials and tribulations of the more famous monsters, and illustrates them in a variety of styles. In this book, the Wolfman’s pet dog Dynamite leaves him a stern letter about considerate behavior; the invisible man gets a hair cut; the Creature from the Black lagoon learns an important lesson about swimming after eating; and Dracula’s minions are reluctant to tell him that he has a leafy green vegetable stuck between his teeth.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Most of the monsters you read about tend to be the ones that are really and truly terrifying. Leonardo is not one of those monsters. He just can't find it within himself to be scary: he really is a terrible monster. Leonardo decides what he needs is to find the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world, and then he'll finally scare someone. When he discovers Sam, he finds something other than the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world.

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
In this classic book, Mr. Emberley allows kids to confront their greatest fear, the horrible scary monster, in a fun way. In the first half of the book, each die-cut page reveals another horrifying feature of the monster’s appearance—his eyes, his nose, his fangs—while in the book’s second half kids get to banish each of these features away from the book until the monster is entirely gone.

There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer
Another great story about kids confronting their fears. The young boy in this book is scared of the monster that lurks in his closet, spending each night hiding under his sheets. This continues until the night he decides to take control and frighten the monster instead. This can be a good book to reassure kids that may share this fear that there’s really nothing in there except our old clothes—although, sometimes those can be frightening enough.

And to further the frights, here's some artwork made by visitors in our Program Room at our "Painting with Creepy Crawlies" activity:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

What glows in the dark and is covered in stars? P.J. Sparkles’ Sparklins puppy! Sparklins were introduced by Mattel in 1989 to be sold in conjunction with the popular doll P.J. Sparkles. Today you can find this cuddly puppy hiding out amongst Mr. Potato Head and Silly Bandz!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trick-or-Treat Treasure Hunt

Boo! Hey everyone, want to see my costume?! Look! I'm a pumpkin!

Halloween is right around the corner! Do your kids have pre-Halloween jitters or are they super excited?! Plan a Trick-or-Treat Treasure Hunt in the comfort of your home!

What you’ll need:

· Your Halloween Costume

· A pillow case or treat bag

Everyone loves trying on their Halloween costumes and why not let the fun take place for more than just one day?! Ask open-ended questions about their costume: for example, what do they like most about their costume? What kind of voice do they think their costume character would have? Can they pretend to be that character? Where will they travel to as that character? Who will they meet? Invite your little “pumpkin” to practice their trick-or-treating skills!

Play a game with your child to pretend that you are going trick-or-treating. If your child has never been trick-or-treating before explain the process to them. Then go through your house to each doorway and step inside to find your treat. Collect one item from each room in your house and place it in your pillowcase. You may find a rubber duck in the bathroom or your favorite sippy cup in the kitchen. Once you and your child have collected your “treasures” find a clear spot in your house where you can talk about all the fun things you’ve found. Extend your trick or treat treasure hunt by returning all the items to the rooms you found them in because a part of play is learning to put your things away!

Hope you enjoy this activity at home with your princess, super hero, ghost or goblin and don't forget to visit us for a Safe and Healthy Halloween Month at Please Touch Museum!

Hide and Seek of the Week

The leaves are falling and the weather is getting colder! Do you know what that means? It’s almost Halloween and the McNugget Buddies here at Please Touch Museum have been busy getting ready! These plastic McNugget characters were first introduced by McDonalds in the late 1980s as an addition to the Happy Meal Gang. Characters included Cowpoke, Sarge, Sparky and Rocker.

Monday, October 18, 2010

NEW Space Station Exhibit!

Hi everyone! This past Friday a new exhibit opened up at Please Touch Museum that should get all your space cadets in a frenzy. One of our most popular exhibits has been transformed into an out of this world adventure!

The Flying Machine exhibit has been transformed into the Space Station where kids can build their own rockets and explore through space. They can dress up as engineers, pilots, or astronauts and play around in front of a blue screen as they pretend to walk around in space or fly their very own rocket ships. Astronauts-in-training can also practice their skills at the Mission Control Board as each lever produces a different space-aged effect!

Your children are sure to be stimulated by the many hands-on activities in the Space Station and might never want to leave. There are many different ways they can explore the workings of space ships and outer space including an 18-foot steel sculpture called the RING TOWER that kids can attempt to shoot their space ships through. In this exhibit you will also find space-themed toys from the museums contemporary toy collection including Star Wars and Clone Wars action figures.

Here are some great books to read at home with your children related to space traveling:
  • Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
  • I Want to Be an Astronaut by Byron Barton
  • There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz
  • If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Steven Kellogg
  • Stars! Stars! Stars! by Bob Barner
  • Baloney (Henry P.) by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

Picture This

Hi, everyone! Today, my friend Brian Rafter, Literacy Coordinator at Please Touch Museum, is here to talk about reading as a family and the value of picture books.

Last week, the New York Times’ Julie Bosman published this article, reporting the diminishing popularity (and profit margin) of picture books. While it seems that hardly a week goes by without a different literary genre or print format being declared extinct, the article has provoked replies and rebuttals from a number of educators, booksellers, and authors.

Ms. Bosman’s article paints a grim picture of declining sales and decreased production for picture books, and shrinking royalty payments for their authors. The article’s premise is that parents are graduating their children to chapter books earlier, considering picture books to be “too easy.” Ms. Bosman avers that while some blame for the smaller market share of picture books may be attributed to the economy, parents are feeling increasingly pressured by standardized tests and other looming measures of academic achievement to promote their children to books with greater perceived reading difficulty.

The article’s veracity has already been questioned by some – including Amanda Gignac, who was interviewed for and quoted in the piece. Ms. Bosman does, however, encourage us to think about the purpose of picture books, what they offer, and how they help children learn to read.

The idea that chapter books are intrinsically more challenging and rewarding than picture books is an underestimation. As others in this debate have pointed out, picture books can often contain vocabulary, themes, and concepts that are relatively complex and enable children to think and perceive differently. Picture books offer a reading experience that is not only textual, but visual, and the conjunction between text and image can deepen a child’s experience of a book while also exerting their brain’s processing capabilities in new ways. Every reading experience a child has is important and has the potential to change the way they see the world, regardless of what kind or level of reading experience it is.

Another response that we’re particularly taken with is from the director of Kansas State University’s Program in Children’s Literature Phillip Nel. Nel’s blog post examines the article’s, and the culture at large’s, implicit marginalization of the picture book illustrator, and advocates for picture books as a “portable art gallery.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

When I Was Your Age...

Please Touch Museum wanted to find out what their staff’s favorite things were when they were kids. I decided to ask around!

First I sat down with Courtney Ridley, Membership & Reservations Assistant at PTM.

Pinky: Good morning, Courtney! Tell me, what 3 words best describe what you were like as a 7 year old?

Courtney: Precocious, Dainty (I was very girly…), and Cheerful!

Pinky: You’re still very cheerful! So, Courtney, tell us…when you were a kid—what was your favorite book?

Courtney: Without a doubt, my favorite book was Santa Calls by William Joyce.

Pinky: Can you give our blog readers a little synopsis, or really what you loved best about this book?

Courtney: Well, it’s a story about a brother and a sister and their cousin on Christmas. They wake up one morning and find this flying machine in their backyard, which leads to a bunch of adventures involving Santa Clause—including the sister being kidnapped by the North Pole Witch, but rescued at the end by her brother! My favorite part was at the end, which I don’t want to tell in case anyone chooses to read the book…but it’s a very sweet ending!

Pinky: Speaking of Christmas, I know your birthday is in December…sort of near that time. What was the best birthday gift you ever received as a kid, Courtney?

Courtney: Kitty Surprise! They don’t make Kitty Surprise anymore, but it was a very popular toy. It was a stuffed animal cat with a belly they you could open with Velcro, and inside were 3, 4, or even 5 stuffed animal kittens! I was very sad though, because I actually lost one of my kittens, and I only had 3 to begin with!

Pinky: Sounds like a lot of fun. Speaking of which…rumor has it your favorite song when you were a kid…was “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. Can you confirm this rumor?

Courtney: Oh yes, yes that was my favorite song. However, I was not aware that it was Cyndi Lauper who originated it—because the version I liked was on my Barbie cassette-tape.

Pinky: Ah yes, the extinct cassette-tape…way to show your age Courtney! Great song selection though, a definite slumber party classic. Courtney, this has been very informative. Thank you for your time! It sounds like you were a pretty cool kid.

Courtney: My pleasure, Pinky!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Fun: Pumpkin Plate Collage Activity

Hey everyone! Here is a fun Pumpkin Plate Collage activity that’s easy to do at home but most importantly fun for kids to make!


· Orange Paper Plate

· Black or Yellow Construction Paper (any color will work)

· Glue stick

· Scissors


· Invite your child to use the scissors to cut different shapes. If they are just learning to cut, feel free to help them along the way. Encourage independence by asking for their opinions: what shapes would they like to use? How do they think we could make that shape?

· Once they have cut the shapes they like- encourage them to use their glue stick to attach their black collage pieces onto their pumpkin. Discuss the different parts of the face. Where are their eyes, ears or teeth? Where will they place those facial features on their pumpkin? Will they give their pumpkin 3 eyes and 6 ears?

· Feel free to get a little kooky when creating your pumpkin. Having fun with your child and being a little bit silly is all part of the art experience!

· Once your pumpkin has dried, find a place in your house to display your child’s artwork. It can be placed on your front door, on your refrigerator or you can even let your child choose where they would like to see their new pumpkin pal displayed!

The Pumpkin Plate Collage activity will be offered in our Program Room during the Monster Mash at Please Touch Museum!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hide and Seek of the Week

This week’s collection’s object is simply out of this world! This mechanical Moon Creature was produced by Marx in 1968. When the key on his side was turned, he would roll forward to explore his new planet!

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: Can you dance like a robot? What do you think is in Outer Space?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Design for Kids

Hey everyone! Today I sat down with Please Touch Museum's Arts Coordinator, Nora Banks, to talk her about Design Philadelphia and how kids can get involved with design.

Pinky: So I've been hearing a lot about Design Philadelphia at Please Touch Museum- what do people mean when they say Design Philadelphia? And how is Please Touch Museum celebrating?

Nora: Great question Pinky! Design Philadelphia is a city-wide celebration of all types of design that takes place from October 7-17. People are celebrating by offering special exhibits, programs, lectures and parties throughout the city.

If you visit the Program Room this month you will find our Fashion Design & Storybook Time Activity.

Pinky: I like Fashion Design and I like Storybooks, so what kinds of things will I be able to play with?

Nora: Fashion Design & Storybook Time has some of the most beloved storybook characters of all time (Madeline, Max, Corduroy, Peter Rabbit, Max & Ruby). With the help of Design Exploration and Creativity Kits donated by The Design Center at Philadelphia University, I created world cultural clothing for these characters to try on. Kids can dress the characters in new and different ways with kilts, kimonos, mud cloths, kente cloths and even sarongs. We also hope that families will take the opportunity read together as they play.

Pinky: Last year for Halloween, I dressed up as a mummy! I loved that costume AND I designed it myself! How can kids be designers?

Nora: Children are natural born designers and design is all around them! Design was the start of the strollers they ride in; it's part of clothing they wear; it's in the toys they play with; and even in the schools they learn in.

Do you have a kid who always has suggestions how to re-decorate their bedroom or play room? Do they like to pick out their own outfits for school in the morning?

If so, you may be able to encourage their love of design by allowing them to make those independent design choices (when feasible). If your child requests to transform their room into a pirate ship, this may sound like an impossible task but try to work as a team to think of inexpensive ways and manageable steps that can help transform the room. Artwork is one way to decorate a child’s room and make them feel proud of their accomplishments. Bring out the art supplies and let them design whatever they would like. It can be a pirate ship, an eye patch, or even the signature red and black striped patterns that pirates wear.

Pinky: Maybe I could redecorate my room with lots of pink and some trees and some stripes and…oh wait, how old do I have to be to start designing my own things?

Nora: You are never too young to start experimenting with design and art materials. Allowing a child who is as young as 18 months old to use a washable crayon, marker or other writing utensil allows them to build the muscle memory necessary for development of early writing skills. Supply them with a large, blank piece of paper and many parents will be surprised by the results! Always try to recognize the effort that went into making the art. In doing this, you communicate that effort, not ability, is necessary for success.

Pinky: Thanks for meeting with me today and I hope to see you at some of the DesignPhiladelphia Events!

Nora: Thank you, Pinky. I'm looking forward to seeing how you re-design your room!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

DesignPhiladelphia: Fashion Design & Storybook Time at Please Touch

Please Touch Museum is celebrating DesignPhiladelphia throughout the month of October in our Program Room with the Fashion Design & Storybook Time activity! Children are encouraged to dress up their favorite storybook characters in pre-made flat panel world cultural clothing including Scottish Kilts, Indian Saris, Japanese Kimonos, Ponchos of the Americas, Mud Cloths of Mali, and African Kente Cloths.

For example, kids may choose to dress up Madeline in an African Kente Cloth then read Madeline Says Merci with their grown-up. In addition, visitors may share their design ideas or concepts using our Fashion Design Log book.

Fashion Design for Kids

World cultures use different fabrics when creating clothing. The cloth used is also known as a textile. Textiles can be designed for one article of clothing, such as a dress or for all kinds of clothing. For example, the Scottish Kilt textile has a plaid pattern; this plaid pattern can also be seen in shorts.

Start a conversation about Textiles with your child: let's think about what lines, shapes, and colors you see on what you are wearing right now. Are the lines straight or curvy? Do you see circles, squares, triangles or flowers? Are the colors dark or bright? What textiles do you think are best for shirts, pants, skirts, shorts or dresses?

Take Home Activity: Design Your Own Textile


· Small Squares of Card Stock (about 4”x4”)- any size will work

· Colored Pencils (we use Crayola Color Sticks; they are colored pencils without the wood so there is no need to sharpen them and they are safe for tiny fingers to use)


· Brainstorm together to choose what lines, shapes and colors they would like to use to make their fabric sample.

· Invite them to draw whatever comes to mind- encourage them to use their unique design ideas (there is no wrong or right way to design a textile)

· Once they have created their textile square- start to think about what kind of clothing they would use this textile on. Would the heart textile they created make a great dress? Would the zebra stripes make a nice Winter scarf?

We hope you will design away with us during this exciting time as we celebrate DesignPhiladelphia!

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.