Interview with Megan, Director of Atlantic Gymnastics at the Dover location.
By Kelly Sorge, CMNH Marketing Intern
Q. What do you like about teaching children?
A. I like teaching kids because they’re excited about everything! Everyone is always ready to learn which makes teaching so much fun!
Q. What are the benefits of kids learning gymnastics?
A. Kids learn important body movements like balance, strength, and coordination. They also learn lifelong skills like discipline, confidence, responsibility, the ability to work with others, and taking correction.
Q. What is your favorite part of your job?
A. My job is always different. I teach kids 18 months - 18 years so I get to see different faces and teach different skills every day.
Q. Why/how did you get involved in gymnastics? What has the impact of gymnastics been on your life?
A. I started learning gymnastics when I was three years old with my mom as my coach; she’s still coaching now! At thirteen I started assisting her at coaching in the gym and I started working for Atlantic my sophomore year in college at UNH. Gymnastics has been part of my whole life. My mom and my sister are both involved and it’s a part of who I am. I love the challenge!
Q. So what do you have planned for Gymnastics Day at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire on Saturday, April 29, 11am-3pm?
A. The activities for Gymnastics Day will be a small version of the classes we teach here. We will bring in a balance beam and ball and teach kids how to use their body to balance. We will also be talking about some of the summer programs we have going on.
By Neva Cole, Communications Director at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
We all know that kids have boundless energy. Keeping up with them can be exhausting and sometimes, impossible. My daughter hasn’t stopped wiggling since I gave birth to her. We here at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire are constantly surrounded by that energy. We’ve been open for over 32 years and in that time, millions of kids have come running, hopping, jumping, skipping, or bouncing through our doors. And when it’s time to go home, despite all the excitement they’ve experienced inside, the parents are still the ones trying to keep up with their exhilarated kids.
All that movement and chaos was one of the hardest things for me to get used to as a parent. My daughter, five years of age, still sometimes just falls over while standing, because she never stops wiggling. I’ll see her out of the corner of my eye, just falling over, and then of course, bouncing back up again. But now, having worked here at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire for almost 2 years, I can see, that I am not alone. And parents, let me tell you, kids are the new renewable energy source. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Instead of telling her to be careful with that paintbrush as she windmills around the living room, I’ll make sure the paint is washable.
Instead of yelling at her to sit still while she watches a movie, I will let her flail around like an octopus.
Instead of getting irritated because she’s incapable of sitting on her bum while eating a meal for any length of time, I will let her graze as she roams throughout the kitchen.
Because I know that the day will come when she won’t have this energy. It escapes us all at some age, perhaps recycling back down to fuel the next generation. And when my grown-up self is exhausted from trying to keep up, I will lean on places that embrace the energy, like the Children’s Museum, like our local playgrounds, and if I can borrow them for a day, another child!
by Meredith Lamothe, Early Childhood and Literacy Coordinator
We were making shaky eggs the entire first week of our Toddlerfest celebration. Shaky eggs or egg maracas are a great first percussion instrument for little ones and a fun way for them to feel included in making music as well as get a good introduction to rhythm, which is an important early literacy skill!
There are lots of songs that can be used with shaky eggs—actually, you can shake along to most any song you like or listen to---but there are a handful of songs that I use regularly in Baby Storytime here at the museum that highlight shaky eggs and are a lot of fun.
Here’s a few you can try at home!
Counting Shakes: (Tune: "If You’re Happy and You Know It")
If you’re happy and you know it shake your egg—one time!
If you’re happy and you know it shake your egg—two times!
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it, if you’re happy and you know it shake your egg—three times!
(Keep going for however long the focus lasts!)
Shake, Clap, Tap! (Tune: "If You’re Happy and You Know It")
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake! (etc)
If you’re happy and you know it give a clap!
If you’re happy and you know it give a clap (etc)
If you’re happy and you know it give a tap (tap your egg on a surface or part of your body)
If you’re happy and you know it give a tap (etc)
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake! And a clap! And a tap!
Shake Your Shaker! (Tune: "London Bridges")
Shake your shaker way up high, way up high, way up high
Shake your shaker way up high
Shake your Shaker
Shake your shaker…
Way down low
To the left
To the right
On your foot!
On your head
Shakers can also be used as an early reading and literacy tool. Bump them along the pages of a book to point out the different words, sound out familiar words and names using the eggs to accentuate the different syllables, or read a book that lends itself to music (Pet the Cat anyone?) and have your shaky eggs ready for the grooviest parts of the book!
How will you use your egg shaker at home?! Let us know!
Teddy Gets a Checkup at Our Teddy Bear Clinic
By: Amanda Girard, CMNH Intern
It's that time of year again! Our Teddy Bear Clinic is coming up on Friday, August 5 2016. This is one of our favorite events that we’ve been doing for over 25 years! At last year's clinic we talked to many families who have made it a tradition to come every summer. One family we talked to has actually cancelled hair appointments to go to our Clinic!
“It’s the cutest idea!” was something that I heard a lot during the last clinic as visitors checked in their patients. After getting an ID bracelet with their name on it (names ranging from "Stuffy" and "Bunny" to "Who Who" the owl and many, many others) and a short wait in the waiting room, each animal was ready to visit one of our volunteer doctors from Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
Stuffed animals were weighed and measured and some got stitches, Band-Aids and stickers too. Last year, we even had a patient named “Doggie” become a Mom to 4 puppies, a first for our clinic!
Even though it’s called a “Teddy Bear Clinic,” visitors brought more than just bears! Tigger, a giant frog,
colorful birds, Clifford the Big Red Dog, a cat mermaid, Pluto, horses, unicorns, and even Dr. Who were just some of the many unique patients!
“The variety is always something that gets me,” said Zach, a Museum staff member. “I mean, there are plenty of Teddy bears, but also snakes, cats, dogs and more. Dr. Who is a first though!”
The event also helped kids who may be a bit anxious about visiting the doctor. “It makes kids more comfortable with the idea of going to the doctor,” one of our volunteer nurses explained. “Seeing that a needle doesn’t hurt Teddy can help kids who may be afraid of needles.” If their stuffed friend can make it through a trip to the doctor, then they definitely can!
Afterwards, visitors played with their dogs, Teddy Bears, cats and bunnies throughout the Museum until our Teddy Bear Picnic where everyone enjoyed juice, fresh fruit and animal crackers on a beautiful day in Henry Law Park!
We hope you can join us for this year's Teddy Bear Clinic!
By Meredith Lamothe
We’re always excited about literacy here at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Sure, we were thrilled that we were going to celebrate Family Literacy Month this November, but really—we focus on literacy all the time!
We recently hosted a well-attended Jumpstart To Read event; we host Books Alive! events several times a year where costumed characters bring favorite stories to life, and we have weekly Baby Storytimes as part of First Friends Playgroup, where we can teach early literacy skills to the caretakers of our youngest visitors. So a whole month dedicated to literacy? It was a no brainer!
What does family literacy month mean at CMNH?
It means that we’ll have literacy tips posted around that you can peruse as you play. We’ll have multiple activities throughout the week that highlight literacy—and how easy it is to promote and explore at home. We’ve also made up some great handouts, have several guest speakers planned, and will have weekly crafts and games in our Muse Studio—all related to literacy!
We also have our museum. Our museum is a literacy gold mine! Literacy goes so far beyond reading books. Yes, that’s an important part—but literacy, specifically family literacy, is so easy to incorporate into your daily life—or your museum visit!
When you’re playing with your kids in the submarine—make it a story. Does that story have a beginning, middle and end? DING DING DING! LITERACY ALERT! Choose a favorite color when you walk in the museum and then as you play, find that color in each of the exhibits! DING DING DING! Visit the Muse Studio and have your child explain to you the steps they’re taking in making a craft or playing with the magnet table! DING DING DING!
Any conversation, any question, any exploration can easily be made into a rewarding literacy experience. If you have questions, we’re happy to help.
We’re always excited about literacy!
About the Author: Lead Educator Meredith Lamothe has always been a book nerd, library lover and fan of acting out and telling silly stories. She has a blast hosting the Museum’s weekly First Friends Playgroup and has her Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science with a focus in Children’s Programming from Simmons College.
By Amanda Girard, Marketing Intern
“I thought it would be a fun thing for their age,” said Mrs. Weilbrenner, their teacher.
The students definitely thought so. Many of them had visited the Museum before. One girl told me she had been here “like, 40 times!” But for other students, this was their first time experiencing the Children’s Museum. They marveled at the new exhibit outside of the building, Ascent or Descent, laughed as they tried on silly costumes in front of the green screen and launched objects into flight with “Build It, Fly It.”
One thing’s for sure, no one was bored on this field trip.
But focused group visits to the CMNH are not just about exploring the exhibits, though there is plenty of time for that. Part of the group’s time is dedicated to an educational workshop led by Museum educators. The group can pick from fourteen different topics ahead of time to learn about, everything from mask-making to recycling to deep-sea creatures.
Smyth Road Elementary School decided to learn about nocturnal animals from educators Meredith Lamothe and Sarah Terry. The lesson took place in the Deep Sea Classroom, where all sorts of painted sea creatures can be spotted on the walls.
Activities in the lesson included listening to animal sounds and matching them with pictures of nocturnal creatures, learning about animals sense of hearing by concentrating on the sounds around them, and dissecting owl pellets.
The students were especially excited about the owl pellets. Exclaimations of “I got a skull!” and “It’s a hip!” were heard around the room during the activity. They were also given a chart so they could identify the animal bones they had found.
“The kids are always excited because it’s something new and special to them,” Museum educator Meredith Lamothe explained. “Being in school, they are used to having the same teacher and learning setting every day. It’s nice to be able to offer a new and enriching experience that gets students excited about learning.”
In the end, Smyth Road Elementary School left the Museum after a day of learning and a lot of fun!
If you are interested in the Museum’s focused group visits and would like to learn more, please visit this page. To book a visit, please contact Caitlynne Soule at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-742-2002.
by Amanda Girard, Marketing Intern
We often hear that children, toddlers in particular, learn best through repetition. An article from Parents MagazineParents Magazine highlights that “while adults crave variety, a toddler needs repeated confirmation that things stay the same.” This may very well explain why your child delights in watching the same movie over and over again or asks for the same story every night at bedtime. And have you ever noticed how repetitive songs like “Old McDonald Had a Farm” and “B-I-N-G-O” are hits with young children? The early love of repetition explains it all.
So what may seem to us as boring or predictable is not only helping toddlers learn, it’s a lot of fun for them too. Knowing what’s going to happen next in the story or song is comforting.
So what does any of this have to do with the Children’s Museum? Many of our exhibits encourage this sort of repetitive learning. Pattern Palace gives kids an opportunity to discover different patterns and predict what colors and shapes come next. Our Pinscreen exhibit allows visitors to see imprints of their hands, faces, etc. over and over again.
Another important element of repetitive learning and the ways younger children learn is the need for variation. The same article from Parents Magazine uses the example that kids may start by simply banging a wooden block on a table and observing the sound it makes. Then, they may hit it harder and see what that does. They could also pick up a plastic hammer and hit the block that way to hear the difference. Though it may seem repetitive to us, to a child it is a new and exciting discovery.
CMNH supports this need for variation with our exhibits as well. The activities in our Muse Studio change every week to fit a new theme chosen by our museum educators. Build It, Fly It also promotes this kind of learning, where visitors can see how the way that they construct and launch different foam creations affects how their inventions fly. Kids get to tinker with their building methods to see what works best.
The Museum as a whole supports both repetitive and variation learning with its programs and exhibits. In general, kids and families can expect the museum to look similar to their last visit, with most of the same exhibits to interact with, providing a sense of comfort and memory for kids. But we work very hard to create an environment where they feel encouraged to explore and experiment in new ways.
So whether your child is in need of the comfort of repetition or the new world of variation, the Children’s Museum has something to offer everyone!
By Amanda Girard, Marketing Intern
Worried about bringing older kids to CMNH with their younger siblings? Afraid they might just stand there moaning, “I’m bored?” The Children’s Museum does offer exhibits and events that older kids can enjoy alongside their younger siblings so that the whole family can have some fun!
“The Muse Studio is a place that caters to all ages,” said Sarah Terry, one of the Museum’s educators. “We make a lot of the crafts open-ended, so you can make them as simple or as complex as you want.” Museum educators come up with new themes every week, like New England books or Super Heroes, and plan craft projects based around that theme.
The Thinkering Lab is another exhibit that encourages guests to create anything they want, no matter how simple or how complex. Here you can build things with LEGOS, design vehicles and tracks, and create ball mazes.
Finally, Mindball is a fun exhibit that many older kids and even adults enjoy! The game is simple: try to stay as relaxed as you can while an electronic headband monitors your brainwaves. See if you can beat your opponent and if you can stay more relaxed. (You could even switch up the game and see who can be the most un-relaxed!)
“A lot of our events are geared towards all ages too,” said Sarah Terry, “like Super Hero Week or our Mini Maker Faire.” If you’re an adult, you probably have great memories of discovering super heroes in comic books, and what better way to introduce your kids to those same super heroes than to take them to Super Hero Week here at the Children’s Museum. Maker Faire (coming up on August 29) is also an event that is for everyone. Some of our Makers this year are as young as 12 or 13 years old and older kids will get a chance to learn more about topics like robotics, engineering, music or art. Maker Faire has a lot to offer everyone.
So, if you are looking to bring the whole family (including older kids) to the Museum, a special program or some of our tried and true exhibits may be a good opportunity to get everyone engaged and involved!