The Museum Blog

Category: Art

Tie-Dye Butterflies

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

I love this art activity. It’s easy to do with items you probably already have at home. It’s such an interesting and fun process-art activity that your young artists will probably want to try it again and again and again!

Materials:

  • White basket coffee filters
  • Washable markers
  • A binder clip 
  • A pencil/straw/craft stick
  • Clothespin
  • Small pieces of colorful paper or pipe cleaners

Directions:

  • Give each young artist a coffee filter and invite them to create a circular design on it using washable markers
  • Once finished, fold the coffee into a triangle
    • Attach a binder clip to the top/wide end of the triangle
    • Slide a pencil through the top of the binder clip
  • Put a tiny bit of water into a glass or jar
  • Place the triangle in the jar
    • The pencil will help to hold the triangle in place across the top of the cup or jar so that it does not fall in
    • There should be JUST enough water that the tip of the triangle is barely touching
  • Watch closely as the water climbs up the coffee filter triangle!
    • What happens to the designs?! 
  • When the water has climbed all the way up, carefully remove the pencil and binder clip and unfold your triangle
  • Place it on a drying rack and let it to dry fully
    • This should take about 20 minutes

Assemble your butterflies!

  • Scrunch the coffee filter up to make wings
  • Clip a clothespin in the middle to make the bod
  • Add small pieces of colorful paper to the top to make some antennae 
  • Draw a happy face on your butterfly! 

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Make Recycled Paper Beads

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This is such an easy and fun project and is a perfect one to do during Earth Day week! 

Materials Needed:

  • Magazines or other scrap paper
  • Pencils
  • A glue stick
  • String
  • Mod Podge or DIY Mod Podge (white glue mixed with water)
    • This is optional!

Directions:

  • Prep this activity by cutting magazines or other scrap paper into long skinny triangles
    • Cut the paper vertically to make the longest triangles possible!
  • Starting with the wide end of one of your triangles, start rolling it tightly around a pencil
    • Sometimes little ones need help with this beginning step!
  • Keep rolling until you are about 2” from the end of the triangle--it should just be a skinny little strip left
  • Cover that strip with glue and continue rolling to complete your bead
  • Wiggle the bead off your pencil
  • Make more beads!
  • String your beads to make a necklace or bracelet. 

If you’d like, when you’re finished with your beads--you can paint them with Mod Podge and let them dry. This will make your beads more secure and sturdy and also make them shiny!

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Upcycled CD Scratch Art

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This is a super cool activity that can be done with materials you have at home that you may have thrown away otherwise! 

I like this activity because it also introduces an easy way to talk to your little ones about recycling and upcycling. You could start this activity with a short discussion. What does it mean to recycle? What do we recycle in our house? 

What do you think it means to UPcycle? This word will probably be new to them! When we recycle, we take items like plastic bottles and send them to the recycling center. From there, they are melted down to become the same item again or something new and different! Did you know plastic bottles can be recycled to become fleece jackets, carpets, and sleeping bags?!

UPcycling is taking something just as it is (in our case here, a CD) and turning it into something fun and new using just our hands and our creative minds! Upcycling projects tend to become beautiful works of art. Ask your little ones if they have upcycled anything before? Or maybe projects you’ve done together as a family? Projects they may be familiar with would be things like tire swings or milk carton birdhouses. 

Enjoy exploring upcycled CD scratch art together!

Materials Needed:

  • Old CDs or DVDs (it’s fine if they’re all scratched up!)
    • Check out your desk for old computer software--the CD I used was an ancient program from the digital camera I had in college!
  • ACRYLIC paint! 
    • I know it’s not washable which is tough with little ones--but it does need to be acrylic for this project so it sticks to the CD. 
  • Items to scratch the CD with
    • Chopsticks, forks, keys, paperclips, etc. 
  • Some kind of string or ribbon if you would like to hang up your scratch art CD!

Directions:

  • Invite little ones to paint their CDs! 
    • Be sure to paint on the shiny side of the CD, not the side with writing/text. 
    • It’s best to paint the CDs one color, or blocks of color. Since the idea is to create scratch art on the CDs, if you paint pictures of flowers or dogs or houses---they will look odd after you have also added scratch art to them. 
  • This is the hard part--wait for the paint on the CDs to totally dry. 
    • If you have enough CDs, you can experiment with scratching them while they are still wet and then compare with the CDs you scratch when they are dry. 
  • Once the CDs are dry, use the scratch tools to create designs on them!
    • Add a string or ribbon and hang your CD in a window to create a beautiful suncatcher! 

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Bunny Art - Two Ways!

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Hi everyone! I have a fun springtime bunny painting project to share with you today. This is a typical example of an activity we would do at the museum as part of our Wacky Art Wednesday program. 

I tend to pick activities that are process based instead of product based. This is something you could keep in mind when choosing activities to do with your young ones while you’re home, too and try to alternate some between process and product based activities. Here’s how you can tell the difference...

A product-based activity is one where you have a clear end product in mind. Activities that fall in this category are typically more “crafty”. An example would be something like this (very cute!) paper chick craft: 

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You (the adult) would have the pieces ready to go, and your child would go through the steps of assembling them to look like the example. 

There is NOTHING wrong with doing product based projects once in a while! It’s a terrific opportunity for little ones to follow directions, achieve a goal they have in mind, and usually make something very cute! 

A process-based activity focuses mostly on...the process! These tend to be a bit on the messier side and align more closely with “art” rather than something that is “crafty”. An example would be something like this project where they explored painting with cleaning brushes: 

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It’s all about the process and the unique experience! While I think the painting above came out looking very cool--that’s not the goal. The goal is to explore and create and focus on what you’re doing and how it works, rather than the end product. These kinds of projects foster creativity, promote conversation, and also tend to take a bit more time than a product focused activity. 

Our activity today - Bunny Art two ways - does a nice job combining process and product. You can either do this as a collage project with magazine strips or as a painting project - it’s up to you! 

Here’s what you will need to begin:

If you’re painting...

  • A piece of cardstock or construction paper
  • Clothespins & cotton balls
    • This is just a unique way to paint. Clip the cotton ball onto the clothespin and use it to “dot” paint all over your paper. You could, of course, also use a paintbrush! 
  • Paints
  • A cut-out of a bunny 
    • I printed a bunny silhouette from the internet and then just cut out the silhouette part so that my paper was left with just the shape of the bunny
  • A stapler or tape
  • A glue stick or white glue
  • A cotton ball

If you’re collaging…

  • A piece of cardstock or construction paper
  • Magazines cut into small strips
  • A glue stick or Mod Podge 
  • A cut-out of a bunny
    • See note above about the bunny!
  • A stapler or tape
  • A cotton ball

The activity:

  • Have your child paint or collage all over a piece of cardstock
  • They can decorate the whole thing or just a section in the middle
  • When they have finished creating and their art has dried, put the negative cut-out of the bunny on top of their paper
  • Part of their art will show through behind the bunny and make a very lovely piece of art!
  • Glue on the cotton ball to make the bunny’s fluffy tail! 

These could be used as special springtime cards for loved ones, or used to decorate windows! 

Watch the video above to see examples of both kinds of projects! 

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Make a Bird Kite!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

The craft I have to share with you today is making a bird kite! This is a really simple activity that you can do with a handful of household items - and it will (hopefully) supply your little ones with a whole bunch of fun.

This awesome activity was found on www.krokotak.com - browse their website for a variety of other fun activities that use simple materials you can find at home, mostly paper! 

Materials Needed:

  • Piece of 8.5 X 11 paper 
  • 2-3 Sticky notes 
    • Or pieces of colorful scrap paper and a glue stick or tape, I like the sticky notes because they are self adhesive!
  • Stapler, scissors, hole punch
  • Markers, stickers, any other decorations you’d like
  • String/ribbon/yarn

Instructions:

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half 
  2. Gently “swoop” down both sides to form the wings of your bird and attach with one staple
  3. Punch a hole on the bottom for the kite string
  4. Cut a sticky note to make a beak and tail feathers--feel free to add other decoration using markers
  5. Add some sticker eyes
  6. Attach the string - you’re ready to fly! 

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A Colorful Array of Flying Birds

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Next time you are in our Muse Studio, take a look above you and enjoy the colorful array of flying “birds”. South Berwick resident and artist Peter Flynn Donovan donated a flock of his birds to be enjoyed by all our visitors. In the spring of 2018, Peter was in a group art exhibition at the Portsmouth Public Library, called “Of a Feather.” His contribution to the show was a sculptural installation entitled: “Tah Dah!”

This art installation consisted of a five-foot cartoonish green duck who held in his hand an orange magician’s hat, out of which170 of these birds flew. Unfortunately, the majority of these birds were destroyed since being displayed in Portsmouth. But  thankfully the surviving birds have found a new home here at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.

Peter is a folk artist whose work is a narrative of the personal and universal conversation of what it is to be alive. He is strongly influenced by mythology – personal, world & religious. He makes art because it is one skill he feels has contributed to the vast experience and existence of Humanity. He is inspired by other artists and creators. He is honored to participate in this challenging avocation, and to be part of an often-invisible royal lineage whom make the world a deeply richer place.

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Family Literacy Month 2018

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Using “Seacoast: The Seasons of New Hampshire” Photographs by Bob McGrath - with children!

November is Family Literacy Month here at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire and we were very fortunate to get a large donation of a stunning photography book this fall, given to us by local artist (and the book’s author!) Bob McGrath. His beautiful book “Seacoast: The Seasons of New Hampshire” is a fabulous tool to use for facilitating conversations while reading with children.

Here are some ideas of how to use this lovely book with your little one:

1. This book focuses on the seasons of the year. As you flip through each season--chat about them!

  • Which season is your favorite? Why?
  • What is your favorite thing to do outside in (Autumn/Winter/Spring/Summer)?
  • Which one of these places would you like to visit? Why?
  • What items in these photographs are familiar to you? Are there any items that are new and unknown to you? Let’s chat about them!

2. Find picture books at your local library that match each of the seasons shown in this book.

  • Look for scenes that are similar in the picture book and the photo book.
  • Compare and contrast these images.

3.  Get artsy!

  • Pick a favorite photo in the book and paint/draw/color your own masterpiece inspired by the scenery or item in the photo. When you have finished, chat about how the images are alike or different.

4.  Plan a road trip!

  • Find a spot in the book that is close to where you live--or a little further away!
  • Go on a road trip and find the scene in the photo shown. Take your own photos of the special spot!

More than anything else, simply looking through the book (or any other book!), chatting and spending time together reading as a family is the most beneficial thing you can do during Family Literacy Month and throughout the year.

Have a wonderful Family Literacy Month this November and enjoy this gorgeous photo book by Bob McGrath. We are so thankful for his generous donation and know it will become a beloved keepsake full of happy memories for museum families.  

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Art Celebrating Diversity

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Every spring, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover creates a special art exhibition for our Gallery 6 space that aims to promote appreciation and inclusion of other cultures through the arts. This year’s “MOSAIC: Exploring Our Multicultural Neighborhood” art exhibition, on view through May 27, 2018 focuses on the stories, background and aspects of the cultures of recent immigrants and individuals from the community whose ancestors immigrated to this country in the past.

The exhibition, entitled “Immigrant Alphabet” uses the letters of the alphabet as a frame of reference for the museum’s young visitors. The art focuses on the unique contributions these families have made to the community and the richness derived from having a diverse population.

Each work of art in this exhibition was created by the students and faculty of the Dover Adult Learning Center, area artists, as well as friends and staff of the Children’s Museum of NH.

“M is for Mexico” features the smiling faces of Monica Ramirez and her three children. “My dream is that children around the world would be happy, healthy and smart,” says Ramirez in a statement next to her art. “We need to make a better place and help one another, no matter the difference.”

“G is for Greece” highlights the family history of CMNH Education Director, Xanthi Gray, going back to her Great, Great Grandparents, Zaxo and Vasilios Manias.

“P is for Perseverance” is a collage of photographs intermixed with small hand written notes telling the story of great grandparents from Kiev who “had to come to America to escape persecution. They arrived via Ellis Island and settled in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York. Their families spoke four languages: Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish, and later, English.” This piece ends with this loving observation: “I am named after my great-grandparents, but I can only hope that at least an ounce of their chutzpah runs in my veins. 

The exhibition’s introduction text says “Here are stories of love, family, courage, perseverance and determination as well as a celebration of the vast beauty of other lands. Together, they make up a fascinating MOSAIC. Perhaps this exhibition will inspire you to investigate more about your own Immigrant Experience.”

The public is invited to an opening reception on Friday, May 4 from 5-7pm. The opening reception coincides with the Dover Art Walk. Visiting any art exhibition in Gallery 6 does not require museum admission. 

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire would like to give a special thanks to Lien Harris, Deana Strand, Dalia Ahmed, Gracia Watkins, Jing Xiong, Nattawan Murphy, Sandra Cordoba, Sara Kazemiha, Monica Ramirez Echeverria, Laura Frincu, Marianne Torino, Bhuvanans Siddalingachar, Anu Onkari, Rani Sip, Xanthi Gray, Eric Erwin, Taylore Kelly, Julia Kirchmer, Susan McClure, Rebecca La Cain, Jane Niles, Nancy Hotchkiss, Ana Garnica and Kimberly and Kasey Tarr for helping to make this exhibition a success. This exhibition is sponsored by the generosity of The Jack & Dorothy Byrne Family Foundation, The Fuller Foundation, The Georgia-Pacific Foundation, Abbie F. Moseley Trust, Newburyport Five Cents Charitable Foundation, and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. The museum’s MOSAIC program is supported by the Eastern Bank Foundation.

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