The Museum Blog

Category: Family Learning

Shiny Penny Experiment

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

We were surprised by how excited kids got about cleaning pennies when we offered this experiment as a drop in STEAM activity at CMNH! It does seem like a magic trick when you first see the pennies getting shinier almost instantly. 

This experiment is a good way to practice making predictions and observations, and it’s an easy one to do with materials that are available at home! For kids learning about money and currency, this is a great way to practice counting and recognizing the different coins as well. 

Materials:

  • Table cover of some kind (a trash bag works!)
  • Several pennies
  • Other coins- quarter, nickel, dime, coins from other countries if available 
  • Vinegar 
  • Salt
  • Bowl of water
  • Bowl for vinegar and salt mixture
  • Q-tips
  • Paper towels 
  • Optional: lemon juice, soapy water, other liquids you would like to experiment with

Directions:

  • One way to set this experiment up is to use a muffin tin or small bowls to offer several different liquids for kids to try. A small pallet for paint works well, too! 
  • Put the coins on a surface you do not mind getting messy- plastic plate, paper towel, or directly on the table covering, but you will want some paper towels or dish towels nearby
  • Allow kids to experiment with the materials to see what would work best to clean the different coins by dipping the coins in the liquid, and brushing them with a q-tip
  •  Ask what they think will work best, and why?
  • After some experimentation, guide them toward the vinegar or lemon juice mixed with salt. The salt works as a mild abrasive, and the acid in the vinegar and lemon juice react with the pennies to make them shiny and new looking
    • Important: rinse the pennies in water after cleaning them if you would like to keep them nice and shiny! They will oxidize and turn green otherwise. 
    • Fun fact: this is what happened to the statue of liberty, and why it looks green today! Kids did not dip it into a bowl of vinegar, but the statue is copper, and it turned green because of oxidation over time. 
  • Ask why the acidic liquids cleaned the pennies, but not the other coins? What is different about them? The pennies are a different color because they are made of a different material: copper!

What’s Happening? 

 Pennies are made of copper, and copper is shiny, but over time it becomes tarnished and appears black or brown because of copper oxide, which is created when copper bonds with oxygen. Acids mixed with salt help break down the copper oxide on the penny. Vinegar may remove actual dirt from the pennies and other coins because it works well as a cleaner! 

Extensions: 

Science Bob offers a few more experiments you can try using the same materials.

Scientific American offers some ideas for different liquids to use, and a more in depth explanation and method for advanced experiment-ers.

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#PlayTogether

Children’s Museum Encourages Families to #PlayTogether

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, like every museum across the country, has closed its doors for the good of the community during this pandemic. “Luckily ‘PLAY’ can happen anywhere,” said CMNH Director Jane Bard. “Our mission is to actively engage families in hands-on discovery, and there is no reason we can’t continue to do that, even with our exhibits being temporarily closed.”

In order to continue to fulfill their mission, Museum staff and educators are working hard to create online videos, blogs, social media challenges and more. “We continue to offer our Wee Ones Wednesday program Wednesday mornings at 8am through a recorded video on all of our social media channels including YouTube,” shared Bard. “So, fans of that program can tune in and say hello to their friend ‘Octopus’, do an activity or craft, pause for snack time, dance around to some silly songs, and even enjoy a story. If you’ve never joined us for a Wee Ones program, now is a great time to test it out! It’s perfect for ages 2 - 4.”

Another popular program is “First Friends and Baby Storytime.” “Ms. Meredith, one of our educators, has been recording First Friends videos to share with families at 8am on Friday mornings,” said Bard. “First Friends is a great program for babies and toddlers to watch together with their caregivers, because it has silly rhymes and active songs perfect for that age group.” Ms. Meredith also shares Tinker Time Tuesday videos as well, which are designed for parents who are looking for creative ways to help their toddlers practice skills like sorting, building, cause and effect and more. 

The museum’s outreach efforts don’t exclude the older kids. “Much of the content we share can be modified for a wide range of ages,” said Bard. “We give tips and tricks on how to do that either within the videos or on our blog.” Other video topics have included art activities, storytimes, STEAM challenges, and simple science experiments. “Everything we share can also be utilized by educators, and we certainly hope they take advantage of them."

In addition to the online content, the Museum is offering a range of Museum Shop “Spring Fun Packs” and “Museum to Go Activity Boxes” for sale online. When ordering, people can choose from two pick-up dates, Thursday, April 9 from 4-6pm or Saturday, April 11, 10am-noon. The purchases will be available in front of the Museum for contactless pick-up. “These are great bundles of toys and activities, perfect for the upcoming holiday, or really any day,” said Bard. “After all, playing together can happen anywhere, anytime. And the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is here to be a community resource as we all try to parent through this pandemic.”

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First Friends Songs About Bugs & Insects

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Even if it’s rainy and gross outside, we can PRETEND it’s Spring, right? That’s why I shared songs/rhymes about bugs & insects this week! 

Hello Song:

Hello it’s time to play
Let’s have some fun today!
Let’s clap our hands
And wiggle our toes
A hug...and a kiss...and away we go!

Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
We’ll have so much fun...hooray! 

Open Them/Shut Them (action song)

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap-clap-clap

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap-lap-lap

Creep them, creep them, creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin-chin-chin

Open up your little mouth…
But do not let them in! 

Beehive (action rhyme)

Here is the beehive
But where are the bees?
Hiding inside where nobody sees!

Soon they’ll come buzzing out of the hive…
One! Two! Three! Four! Five!

Buzzzzzzzzzz!

I’m a little Beetle (bounce) 

I’m a little beetle and I wiggle all day
If you get too close to me I’ll FLY away!

I’m a little bumble bee and I wiggle all day
If you get too close to me I’ll FLY away!

I’m a little lady bug and I wiggle all day
If you get too close to me I’ll FLY away!

I’m a little dragon fly and I wiggle all day
If you get too close to me I’ll FLY away!

Sleepy Bumble Bees (song/movement)

See the little bumble bees sleeping ‘til it’s nearly noon
Shall we wake them with a merry tune?
They’re so still...are they ill?!
No! Wake up bumble bees!

Hop little bumble bees hop, hop, hop
Hop little bumble bees hop, hop, hop
Hop little bumble bees hop, hop, hop
Hop, hop, hop aaaaaaaand...stop!

“  “

Jump little bumble bees!

“  “

Dance little bumble bees!

Popcorn (prop song)

Popcorn, popcorn (Wave your scarf!)
Popcorn, popcorn
In the pot, in the pot (Hide your scarf in your hands)

Shake them, shake them, shake them (shake shake shake!)
Shake them, shake them, shake them
‘Til they pop! ‘Til they pop! (Throw scarf in the air!)

Scarf Opposites (prop song)

Wave your scarf up high,
Wave your scarf up high,
Wave it up high! Wave it up high!

Wave your scarf down looowwwwww
Wave your scarf down looowwwwww

Wave your scarf! Wave your scarf! 

Wave your scarf fast/slow

Wave your scarf in front/behind

Wave your scarf a little/a lot! 

Goodbye Rhyme (action rhyme)

This is big, big, big
And this is small, small, small

This is short, short, short
And this is tall, tall, tall!

This is fast, fast, fast
And this is slow, slow, slow

This is yes, yes, yes
And this is no, no, no

This is hi, hi, hi
And this is bye, bye, bye! 

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Ice Exploration!

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By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Materials Needed:

  • Bowl(s) or container(s) that are freezer safe
  • Fun items/trinkets to freeze (small plastic toys, rocks, coins, etc)
  • Food coloring (optional, if you want colorful ice)
  • Spray bottle
  • Salt

Directions (prep):

  • Collect small trinkets and items from around the house and place them in a bowl or container
  • Fill the bowl or container with water
  • Add food coloring, if desired
  • Freeze at least overnight (depending on the size of your container)
  • Fill a spray bottle with water & a few spoonfuls of salt, shake! 

Directions (activity):

  • Take the container out of the freezer and turn it upside down on a cookie sheet, tray, or large dish
  • Once the ice has unstuck from the container, remove the container and invite your young scientists to play!
  • Direct them to spray the ice with the spray bottle. You can also have some other salt available that they can use to help melt the ice. 
  • Try to free some of the trinkets! 

The Science:

  • There are so many angles that you can take for discussing the science of this project. 
  • The water: it changes from a liquid to a solid when we put it in the freezer! While you melt the ice with the salt water, it changes back into a liquid again! That’s two states of matter, can it become a gas? (Yes! Water vapor!) 
  • The melting: Salt lowers the freezing point of water. Ice melts faster when salt is added as the salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, this is known as freezing point depression. The more salt you add the lower the freezing point. This is why we use salt on roads in the winter to help melt the ice and make them safe! 

The following Wee Ones video is designed for preschoolers and is all about "Melting" and would make a good video to watch together while doing this experiment!

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Polymer Science MAGIC!

Materials Needed:

  • Large mixing bowl or container (a casserole  pan would work!)
  • Plastic bag (I recommend quart size) filled ¾ of the way with water
  • A bunch of pencils or colored pencils--the sharper the better! 

Directions (prep):

  • Fill your plastic bag ¾ of the way with water 
    • You may want to fill a few because this experiment is very fun!
  • Sharpen your pencils
  • Prep the activity area with the bowl or casserole pan

Directions (activity):

  • Ask your young scientists if they think you can poke a pencil through a bag of water without spilling a drop (they will probably say “No way!”)
  • Hold the bag up over the bowl or other container
  • Carefully twist a pencil through one side of the plastic bag and then continue to twist through the other side
  • No water will spill!
  • Try it with the other pencils

Invite your young scientists to try on their own using bags of water and pencils

The Science:

  • Plastic bags are made of something called a polymer
  • Polymers have long strings of molecules that are flexible
  • When you poke the pencil through the plastic bag, it wiggles in between these strings of molecules and the molecules seal up around the pencil so that no water is spilled!

Extend the learning:

  • Spend some time looking on the internet for other household items that are polymers - you’ll be surprised by what you find! 

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Baby Storytime: Songs & Rhymes about Food!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This week, I shared some of my favorite songs and rhymes all about food! Here they are so you can follow along and keep singing all week long! 

Hello Song:

Hello it’s time to play
Let’s have some fun today!
Let’s clap our hands
And wiggle our toes
A hug...and a kiss...and away we go!
Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
We’ll have so much fun...hooray! 

Open Them/Shut Them (action song)

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap-clap-clap

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap-lap-lap

Creep them, creep them, creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin-chin-chin

Open up your little mouth…
But do not let them in! 

Popcorn! (bounce)

Popcorn, popcorn, sizzling in the pan
Shake it up, shake it up
Bam! Bam! Bam!

Popcorn, popcorn, now it’s getting hot
Shake it up, shake it up
Pop! Pop! Pop! 

Sugar Babies (action rhyme) 

Roll, roll, sugar babies
Roll, roll, sugar babies
Push! Pull! Clap, clap, clap!

Roll, roll, sugar babies
Roll, roll, sugar babies
Hug! Kiss! Clap, clap, clap

Roll, roll, sugar babies
Roll, roll, sugar babies
Up! Down! Clap, clap, clap

NOTE: Feel free to add more opposites and keep this rhyme going for awhile!

SECOND NOTE: I realized (while recording this video) that Hug & Kiss are, in fact, NOT opposites, but it was too late to change them--this was a leftover edit from Valentine’s Day! 

Apple Tree (action rhyme)

Way up high in an apple tree,
Two little apples smiled at me!
I shook that tree as hard as I could,
Boom! Down came the apples…
Yum! They were good! 

NOTE: Feel free to change the words to this rhyme to reflect your child’s favorite foods! Way up high in a cupcake tree, anyone?! (Yes please!)

Shake Your Shaker! (prop song)

If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker--one time!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker--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 shaker...three times!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...four times!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...five 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 shaker!!!

NOTE: You can make your own shaker at home! I used an empty ibuprofen bottle and put some popcorn kernels inside - I like this option because it has the child safety lock top. You could also put popcorn kernels or beans inside a plastic egg and tape the egg shut! 

Give a Shake, Tap, Clap! (prop song)

If you’re happy and you know it...give a shake, shake, shake!
If you’re happy and you know it...give a shake, shake, shake!
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it...give a shake, shake, shake!

If you’re happy and you know it...give a tap, tap, tap!
If you’re happy and you know it...give a tap, tap, tap!
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it...give a tap, tap, tap!

If you’re happy and you know it...give a clap, clap, clap!
If you’re happy and you know it...give a clap, clap, clap!
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it...give a clap, clap, clap!

Goodbye Rhyme (action rhyme)

This is big, big, big
And this is small, small, small
This is short, short, short
And this is tall, tall, tall!
This is fast, fast, fast
And this is slow, slow, slow
This is yes, yes, yes
And this is no, no, no
This is hi, hi, hi
And this is bye, bye, bye! 

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Two Ingredient Snow Dough

By Colie Hahr, CMNH Educator

Our most popular drop-in STEAM activities at CMNH seem to involve making messy mixtures! From slime, to dough, to puffy paint most kids love getting their hands a little dirty, and enjoying a sensory experience while they play and create.

One of the easiest make-at-home messy projects is two ingredient snow dough. It’s part science experiment and part sensory play, and honestly just a  bit messy compared to the wild world of slime! 

Materials:

  • Table cover of some kind (a trash bag works!)
  • Corn Starch
  • Hair conditioner -white works well
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing spoon
  • Optional: food coloring, cookie cutters, placemat or tray for play, playdough accessories

Dough recipe: this dough has a one to two ratio of liquid to solid ingredients, so it is easy to double or halve the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups cornstarch

1 cup inexpensive hair conditioner

Food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  • Add the food coloring (optional) to the conditioner, then mix in a large bowl.
  •  Add the cornstarch to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Kids can take turns mixing. Keep mixing with a spoon until the consistency seems like playdough
  • If the mixture is too wet, add corn starch, and too dry add a little more conditioner. Avoid handling the dough until it looks nice and smooth- this will help contain the mess in the bowl until it is ready to be handled. 
  • Play with the dough using cookie cutters, stamps, small figurines, or other manipulatives of your choice. It is washable from most surfaces, but kids should be supervised as they would with playdough

What Happened? Once the dough is mixed together, a whole new material has been created, however, the reaction is complicated because the conditioner includes several mixtures and solutions in its ingredients. A mixture is when two substances are mixed together, but you can separate them back into their individual parts. Trail mix is a good example of a mixture. A solution is a substance where you mix ingredients together, and it’s not possible to separate them. Hot Cocoa is an example kids may understand: once you mix hot cocoa powder with milk or water, can you turn it back into milk or water again? 

For this activity, you mixed together two different ingredients to make something new. The corn starch is a solid, even though it is a very fine powder. It’s similar to the shape, size, and texture of sand, so making this comparison may be helpful for kids to understand that something can be solid, but also be made of very small parts. Corn starch is used to help make things thicker for cooking, and it also helped to make the dough thicker and more solid. 

The other ingredient is hair conditioner, which is a liquid even though it is very thick. The conditioner helped to make the dough softer and easier to mold. The dough you created is still a solid, but it is able to be sculpted and shaped! The ratio of conditioner to corn starch is what made the dough work. This recipe used a 2 to 1 ratio, so there was twice as much cornstarch as conditioner. Older kids can work on fractions, adding, measuring, and dividing as part of this project. 

One way to explain this experiment to kids is to ask them to think about making a cake. When you mix all of the ingredients together to make a cake, the ingredients go through a physical change and create a mixture.  When the cake goes into the oven to bake, a chemical change takes place, and the batter mixture turns from liquid into a solid baked cake. It would not be possible to take the eggs, flour, or milk back out of the cake once it is cooked, and that’s part of what makes it a chemical change rather than a physical change. For matter to change, usually something needs to be added such as heat or pressure. We didn’t add heat or pressure for this experiment, so even though the dough was very different from the two ingredients that we put together to make it, it is still a physical change. We did not cook it like a cake, AND it’s not edible, so don’t eat it! 

Physical Change: A physical change is a type of change in which the form of matter is altered but one substance is not transformed into another. For example, folding paper to make an origami crane changes the shape and size of the paper, but it is still paper. 

Chemical Change: A chemical change is any change that causes a new substance to be formed. For example, if an origami crane were to catch fire and burn, the paper would turn into ashes, a new substance. 

Mixture: A substance made by mixing other substances together. For example, trail mix. 

Storage: The dough should last for about a month if it’s sealed up in a container. Add a little water to the dough if it dries out, and it will last longer.  

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Children's Books for Grief

By Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director

When I first started working at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire, I knew my mother had only months to live. She had been diagnosed with cancer and we were in the process of saying goodbye. My daughter was four at the time. My mother, ever the educator, was the first to suggest that we look into some picture books that might help her grandkids understand what was about to happen. So, on top of starting a new job, parenting a four year old, being there for my family, and processing my own grief, I now had to find picture books to somehow help me try to explain death to my daughter. 

But Mom was right. She always is. I'm glad I took the time to find some of those books, because talking about death with anyone is not easy, but with kids...it seems even more complicated. Depending on their age, they don't necessarily have the vocabulary to understand what dying really means. And unless you've spent a lot of time pondering the process yourself, you might not be well equipped to explain it to them. My Mom would speak to her in her own religious terms, introducing the idea of Heaven, but with every new word comes a whole different set of questions. 

But in the end, those questions are what it's all about. Starting a dialogue with your kids about what death means to you, and encouraging them to ask those hard questions, helps prepare them for something that no one in this world escapes from. We will all be dealing with it, sooner or later, wether we have time to prepare for it or not. We were fortunate to have time.

Four years later, we still talk about Nana with the same language we learned from those picture books. We even have one of those audio picture books that Nana recorded so we could always hear her voice telling us a story. Recently I met Linda Dinndorf who is a Training and Education Coordinator for a NH non-profit called Friends of Aine. Aine was established to provide bereavement support services to grieving children and families. This organization was borne out of the tragic loss of Aine Marie Phillips (pronounced Ahnya) at age 8, and the recognition that bereavement services for Aine's surviving 5-year-old sister Bella, were sadly scarce. I told Linda about my Mom's passing and how it was a struggle to find resources as simple as picture books that would help my daughter process her grief, and she instantly said, "Oh, we have a great library of picture books for all ages! We'd be happy to share some info with you!" 

So thank you Linda for this wonderful list, which can also be found here on their website: https://www.friendsofaine.com/...

On this list of resources, I see some of the books that I used, like The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst, and Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley, both gentle, loving stories about how the people we love may leave this world, but their memories and influence remain constant. I hope this list helps you when you need it most.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Storm Cloud – by Leslie Evans

I Will Always Love You – by Melissa Lyons

The Memory Box: A Book About Grief – by Joanna Rowland

A Child’s View of Grief – by Alan Wolefeit

Badger’s Parting Gifts – by Susan Varley

Help Me Say Goodbye – by Janis Silverman

How It Feels When a Parent Dies – by Jill Krementz

In Mommy’s Garden – by Neyal J. Ammary

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children – by Bryan Mellonie

Saying Goodbye When You Don’t Want To – by Martha Bolton

Sesame Street – When Families Grieve Kit – by Sesame Workshop

Someone I Loved Died – by Christine Harder Tanguald

Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss – by Pat Schwiebert

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf – by Leo Buscaglia

The Invisible String – by Patrice Karst

The Mountains of Tibet – by Mordicai Gerstein

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney – by Judith Voirst

Turned Upside Down – by Karen Keesler

Waterbugs and Dragonflies – by Doris Stickney

What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? – by Trevor Romain

When Dinosaurs Die – by Laurie Krasny Brown

Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You – by Nancy Tillman


Learn more about Friends of Aine here https://www.friendsofaine.com/

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