The Museum Blog

Category: Family Learning

Dynamic Duos

PCThe award-winning duo Peg + Cat visited the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire yesterday. Curious Peg & her hilarious best friend Cat get into math-related hi-jinx each day on their PBS program. While they are ably assisted in their adventures by characters such as Ramone, The Pirates, Richard the Space Alien, and even George Washington & Cleopatra, Peg & Cat and their delightful wordplay and songs are the reason families keep tuning in.

With the news that Saturday Morning Cartoons are now officially a thing of the past, let’s take this opportunity to look at some famous dynamic duos from the world of children’s television shows.

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Chip ‘N’ Dale made their debut in 1943 in a series of animated shorts that pitted them against either Pluto the Dog or Donald Duck. While often taking background roles in many Disney shorts and specials, a new audience met Chip ‘N’ Dale in 1989 when they anchored their own cartoon with “Chip ‘N’ Dale Rescue Rangers” as part of the Disney Afternoon block of programming.

beanie-and-cecilBeany & Cecil began as a Puppet Show in 1949 created by famed Warner Brothers animator Bob Clampett. Beany had the ability to fly using his patented beanycopter while the childlike Cecil the Sea Serpent often stayed in water and was so large that his tail was rarely seen as it would continue “off screen”. It relaunched as an animated show in 1959 and then was relaunched again in 1988 as the “The New Adventures of Beany & Cecil” cartoon.

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Rocky & Bullwinkle were the stars of their own variety show that ran from 1959-1964. Created by Jay Ward, the show was responsible for introducing not only the legendary title characters, but Dudley Do-Right, Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale, Mr. Peadbody & Sherman. Many of the characters were given life by voiceover legends June Foray, Paul Frees, Bill Scott and Daws Butler. The show was popular with children as well as adults due to its clever wordplay and intelligent writing.

Bert_and_ErnieBert and Ernie debuted on Sesame Street in the summer of 1969. They were the first of Jim Henson’s creations to appear on the show – a part of it from the very first episode, pre-dating Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird. Best friends Bert and Ernie are meant to represent the curiosity and behaviors of 6-7 year olds. Ernie, famed for his dedication to his rubber ducky, loves pulling tricks on the pigeon-loving Bert, the most popular (and absurd) of which is pulling off Bert’s nose for comic effect.

Screenshot 2014-09-26 16.09.43Scooby Doo & Shaggy premiered in the Saturday morning cartoon, “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” in the fall of 1969. The two perpetually frightened – and hungry – best friends have starred in a large variety of tv shows, comic books and movies since their debut. Each generation seems to rediscover Scoob, Shag, Velma, Daphne and Fred solving supernatural capers in their Mystery Machine.

Dangermouse

Danger Mouse & Penfold first premiered in the United Kingdom in 1981, but saw their popularity reach even greater heights when US markets (most notably Nickelodeon) imported “Danger Mouse” – a cheeky take on James Bond – in 1984. Danger Mouse occupied the role of the heroic British spy while Ernest Penfold is his consistently nervous hamster sidekick prone to yell out, “Crumbs, D.M.!” or, ‘Oh, carrots!” before falling to pieces in the face of danger.

TickThe Tick & Arthur are two lovable – if not often highly ridiculous superheroes – who live in The City. Originally created by Ben Edlund in 1986 for New England Comics, The Tick & Arthur were exposed to a much larger audience when their 1994 Saturday morning cartoon debuted on Fox. Fox was the home of the next incarnation of The Tick as well when a live-action version debuted in 2001. The Tick embodies several of the most popular mainstream superheroes in his origin, powers and behaviors (a healthy mix of Superman, Batman & Spider-Man) though his catchphrase (“Spoooooooooon!”) is wholly his own. The much more responsible and down-to-Earth Arthur is often getting him out of jams – some caused by supervillains, some caused by The Tick.

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Wallace & Grommit, the brainchild of Nick Park from Aardman Animations, made their debut in 1989 in the Oscar-nomniated short film, “A Grand Day Out”. Their next two shorts – “The Wrong Trousers” & “A Close Shave” – and their first full-length feature, “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” all won Academy Awards. Though Wallace is an inventor – specializing in Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions – most would agree that the silent Grommit is the smarter of the two, getting Wallace out of trouble or helping his inventions go more smoothly when he’s not busy knitting, playing chess or drinking tea. Though their adventures and occupations change with each outing, one thing that never changes is Wallace & Grommit being the best of friends.

DoraDora & Boots have been inseparable since their introduction in 2000 with the premiere of “Dora the Explorer”. Boots, who’s always sporting his trademark red boots, assists Dora during her adventures as they solve riddles and and figure out puzzles while often focusing on a strong bilingual component. Dora & Boots’ adventures proved so popular that they not only spun off their own books, video games and stage shows, but a brand new show as well: 2005’s “Go, Diego, Go!” which focused on animal rescue and environmental concerns with Dora’s cousin Diego.

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Peg & Cat from Peg + Cat have only been entertaining families since 2013, but they’ve made such a favorable impression that the show won three Emmy Awards for its first season! Created by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson, based on the book “The Chicken Problem”, the math-focused adventures of Peg & Cat bring them in contact with an incredibly large array of characters and showcases some of the best songwriting ever created in the history of children’s programming. Peg & Cat are deeply loyal, deeply hilarious and deeply curious. These qualities make the show an absolute joy for children and parents alike. Thank you again to New Hampshire Public Television and PBS Kids for making it possible for Peg + Cat to be a part of CMNH’s big day!

Were you familiar with most of these dynamic duos? Do your children know any of them? Who did we forget? Let us know your favorite duo in the comments!

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Make Your Own Watercolor Paint

 

Over the years, you’ve likely accumulated some less than stellar magic markers. Caps are missing, colors have run dry, and you don’t even know where that random Zayres brand green marker came from!

So what to do? Instead of just chucking all those old markers, why not teach your family about sustainability and recycling by converting those old markers to brand new vibrant watercolor paint!

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CMNH Educator Meredith teaches us how in this short how-to video!

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“I Watched It a Million Times!” – CMNH Staff Picks Their Favorite Childhood Movies

The film “Muppets Most Wanted” opens nationwide in theaters this weekend.

I’ve had this weekend circled on my calendar for a long time. I am a Muppet lover. A Muppet freak. A Muppophile. Not that I need to prove my Muppet cred, but let me share with you a few incontrovertible facts:

#1. I use Muppet band-aids exclusively.

#2. The vows I spoke to my wife on the day of our wedding were the lyrics from “Movin’ Right Along“.

#3. Kermit the Frog and The Muppets are the theme of my infant son’s nursery.

#4. I’m currently listening to Muppet songs while I write this blog.

I won’t bore you with numbers 5-100.

But how does such an o̶b̶s̶e̶s̶s̶i̶o̶n̶ appreciation of all things Muppets begin? Quite easily. 1979’s “The Muppet Movie” was my favorite movie as a small child. And as an older child. And as a teenager. And as a young adult. And as an adult. I didn’t know who the majority of the humans were in Jim Henson and company’s debut film, but I knew what I loved: Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo – heck, everyone from Bunsen Honeydew & Beaker to each member of The Electric Mayhem, house band of “The Muppet Show” (1976-1981). I already knew and loved these characters from the television show and seeing my felted best friends get in to bigger budgeted adventures (Frogs and Bears don’t drive studebakers on the cheap, you know) only sweetened the pot.

Was it the first movie I ever saw in a theater?* No. I was only 10 months old for the original release of the film. I likely saw it either on a film projector at the local community center, on VHS or on television. Once the technology made it possible, my parents recorded the movie – commercials and all – off of WLVI 56 (Channel 10 where I grew up). One day, the tape stopped working. I brought it to my mother. She explained to me that the tape had become rundown and asked me if I had any idea how that might have happened.

“I watched it a million times,” was my matter-of-fact answer.**

At five months old, my son is too young for me to bring him to see the Muppets eighth cinematic foray while it’s playing at theaters. (No matter what I might say to convince my wife otherwise.) But I’m confident he’ll fall in love with it in time. But it might not be his favorite childhood film. That honor may likely go to a movie that hasn’t even been dreamed up yet. And who knows? Maybe his love of that future film will end up being the theme of my grandchild’s nursery.

* – The honor for first movie I ever saw at the theater goes to “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” at the Colonial Theater in Laconia, NH when I was 4-years-old.

** – The only other movie I came close to watching as many times as “The Muppet Movie” was 1987’s “The Chipmunk Adventure”.

We polled the staff at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire to find out what their favorites were when they were kids. Do any of their picks match yours?

(1939) - Doug's pick / Caitlynne's 2nd pick(1939) – Doug & Caitlynne’s pick(1942) - Carol's pick(1942) – Carol’s pick(1960) - Katie's second pick(1960) – Katie’s pick(1964) - Heidi's pick(1964) – Heidi’s pick(1965) - Sarah & Meredith's pick(1965) – Sarah & Meredith’s pick(1967) - Heidi's second pick(1967) – Heidi’s second pick(1972) - Katie's second pick(1972) – Katie’s second pick(1977) - Jane's pick(1977) – Jane’s pick(1979) - Zach's pick(1979) – Zach’s pick(1982) - Jenaya's pick(1982) – Jenaya’s pick(1984) - Mark's pick(1984) – Mark’s pick(1984) - Crystal's pick(1984) – Crystal’s pick(1985) - Riley's pick(1985) – Riley’s pick(1985) - Crystal's second pick(1985) – Crystal’s second pick(1986) - Meghan's pick(1986) – Meghan’s pick(1986) - Caitlynne's second pick(1986) – Caitlynne’s second pick(1989) - Beth's pick(1989) – Beth’s pick(1989) - Sam's pick(1989) – Sam’s pick(1995) - Riley's second pick(1995) – Riley’s second pick(1999) - Annie's pick(1999) – Annie’s pick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some quick observations about the Staff Picks:

– Nine of the twenty films were based on children’s books or fables.

– The Walt Disney Company is responsible for six films on the list.

– Steven Spielberg is associated with three of the films. (Spielberg directed “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, contributed the story for, “The Goonies” and produced, “An American Tail”.)

– George Lucas is associated with two of the films. (Lucas wrote and directed “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” and wrote “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”)

– Jim Henson is associated with two of the films. (Henson produced and starred in “The Muppet Movie” and produced, co-directed and wrote the original story of “The Dark Crystal”)

– The most popular years for favorite childhood films of the CMNH staff were 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1989 – each year boasting two films.

What film did you watch a million times? What were some of the oft-watched family favorites growing up in your home? Brag about the movie that had the honor of being the favorite of your childhood in the comments section below!

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A Skinnier Shamrock

Tomorrow, March 17th, is St. Patrick’s Day. In a horrifying affront to my Irish heritage, I grew up loving the Shamrock Shake at McDonald’s. Irish or not, chances are you’ve tasted the bright green concoction that the fast food giant has been selling annually during the month of March since it was first introduced as the St. Patrick’s Day Shake in 1970 and then changed to the Shamrock Shake in 1978. (I can only speak for the New England area. The Shamrock Shake wasn’t available nationally until 2012!)

What's a shamrock taste like anyway? Answer: MintWhat’s a shamrock taste like anyway? Answer: Mint (apparently)

I haven’t had a Shamrock Shake since I swore off fast food years ago, but when my son is old enough, can I really deny/insult his Irish heritage by withholding this seasonal mint treat? Yes and no.

Yes, I can absolutely stop him from having one. For several reasons. #1. A large Shamrock Shake is an astronomical 820 calories. That’s equal to almost 2 Big Macs or 3 Egg McMuffins. #2. It contains ingredients that are not good for a young child (let alone an adult), such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Heavy Cream #3. It includes ingredients that are so scary I can’t even pronounce them, such as Carrageenan, Monoglycerides, Guar Gum, & Polysorbate 80. In total, the Shamrock Shake has over FIFTY ingredients!

No, I will not deny him the deliciousness of the Shamrock Shake because I’ve found a healthy – but, and here’s the key: still very tasty – Shamrock Shake alternative!

The geniuses at Skinny Kitchen created a Skinny & Fat-Free Shamrock Shake that will quickly become a St. Patrick’s Day tradition in our home and most likely yours. It’s 16 ounces and clocks in at only 184 calories! Quite the difference, no? Plus, it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients for Shake:

¾ cup fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt

½ cup fat-free milk

⅛ teaspoon peppermint extract or mint extract

5 drops green food coloring

2 packets Truvia, Stevia, Splenda or your favorite sugar substitute

3-4 ice cubes


Ingredients for Topping:

Fat-free or Light whipped cream, optional


Instructions

1. Combine all shake ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.  Stop blender and stir with a spoon to help blend everything.

2. Pour into a 16 oz glass. Top with light whipped cream, if desired and enjoy immediately. You really don’t need the whipped cream. It still tastes great without it!

The Skinny Kitchen site has a lot more healthy recipes that the whole family will enjoy.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

ps – Don’t forget to check out this vintage television commercial of Grimace’s “Irish” Uncle O’Grimacey shilling the early Shamrock Shakes!

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Pi Pies Pie Chart

Happy Pi Day everyone!

Pi Day is celebrated each March 14th. Get it? 3.14? I don’t want to get too bogged down in the origins of Pi Day or how the mathematical constant known as pi works, because I want to get to the part we’re all waiting for: PIE!

Because pi without the “e” is far less delicious than the kind with the “e”, many people celebrate Pi Day by baking pies! Sadly, we didn’t have a chance to bake and eat all of our favorite pies here at CMNH, so we did the next best thing: Conduct a Pi Day Pie Survey! We surveyed our staff, volunteers, and two school groups – one from Sanford, ME and one from Kennebunk, ME – and asked them a pretty simple question.

“What’s your absolute favorite pie?”

{Click on the chart to see a bigger version!}{Click on the chart to see a bigger version!}

Here are the very scientific (and questionably nutritious) results! How did your favorite pie fare?

A few pies only garnered one vote. They were: Peach, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Pear & Gouda(!), Chicken Pot, Raspberry, Blackberry, Peanut Butter, & Butterscotch Pudding.

We hope you’re all having a delicious Pi Day!

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MOSAIC: Our Multicultural Neighborhood

A new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of NH

Guest blog by Tess Feltes, Gallery 6 Coordinator

I love my job as curator of Gallery 6 and shamelessly confess that every show is my “favorite” show. But I felt compelled to write about the MOSAIC exhibit because this show touched a very special chord which, I believe, will have repercussions in my life and hopefully in the lives of some of the unbelievable people I have met.

Mosaic_WoodenMask

It is well known that children in our world, now more than ever, are living in a diverse society, even in places where there was once a fairly homogeneous population. We truly live in a cultural mosaic right here in New Hampshire. This fact was driven home to me as I reached out to members of our multicultural community to participate in an exhibit called MOSAIC: Exploring our Multicultural Neighborhood.

The diversity I found has been astonishing and the outpouring of generosity, warmth and enthusiasm of people has been incredible! I feel I have made wonderful new connections … and, most importantly, friends!

Families from The Azores, Belarus, China, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco and Rwanda have shared photographs, stories, traditions, art, music and customs that interest children everywhere. The list of nationalities here in New Hampshire could go on … it was hard to limit it to the wall space that we have.

Mosaic_Clothing2

The exhibit shows how people of these cultures live, eat, dress, learn, play and engage with each other. The most heartening aspect of the project was the reinforcement that people are all amazingly similar, despite regional or cultural differences.

Immigrants arriving in the United States tend to share at least two experiences: they look forward –  trying to become American – and they look back, trying to maintain some traditions from their homeland. Each individual brings his/her own unique personal, meaningful cultural background and their own way of dealing with the unending demands of life. We all need to cultivate an attitude of respect, acceptance and inclusion in order to break down the barrier of our “shyness” or reticence in approaching individuals that seem different.

Mosaic_Mexico2I wanted to avoid a tourist approach of presenting culture through celebrations and food only. Instead, I wanted to share personal stories, achievements and comparisons in familiar and recognizable aspects of children’s lives – showing how people of diverse cultures live, eat, dress, learn, play and engage with each other. What does a school, a playground, a park or museum look like in another country? How is it the same? How is it different?

Throughout the project I kept in mind the words of Kenyan storyteller Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story that becomes the only story.”

Mosaic_ChinaThis rings true. I began interviewing people with a preconceived idea about each country, perhaps formed by the media, whether National Geographic magazine or headlines in the news. Over and over again, my preconceived notions were wrong. The stories that were shared were far richer and diverse than I could have imagined.

For me, this project has underlined the truth that stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories can empower, humanize and help foster feelings of community, celebrating different cultures and their contributions in order to position each other as friends rather than strangers.

I hope that visitors to the Children’s Museum of NH will take the time to explore Gallery 6 to learn and appreciate the cultures presented there. I hope they will share their own stories with family and friends, make new friends and make a small difference in how we appreciate each other as we all face the challenges everyday living.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also want to mention the fascinating artwork by Portland, Maine artist Jeannie Dunnigan. It is titled BAJ and features just the eyes of a child created using recycled print material. This seemed to encapsulate the idea that we all make up a part of the whole and reminds us that the eyes of our children are on us.

It is my hope the artwork of the MOSAIC project promotes deeper understanding of ourselves, our culture and our place in the world by exploring what brings people together rather than what keeps us apart.

The MOSAIC exhibit is on display at the Children’s Museum of NH through May 27, 2013.

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Gingerbread Houses: A great family activity for the holiday season

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One of our favorite family workshops here at the Children’s Museum of NH is making and decorating gingerbread houses. This past weekend, we welcomed 34 families – some with grandparents, cousins and friends – to this annual holiday tradition. Never does our classroom smell so sweet as when filled with the aroma of baked gingerbread. And if you want to see smiles, it is amazing what a table full of colorful decorations and baggies full of icing can do.

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Although you will have to wait until 2013 to make a gingerbread house with us, here are our top five tips for creating a similar fun experience at home:

1.  It doesn’t have to be as complicated as building a full-sized gingerbread house. For younger children, you can start simple with constructing small houses, or anything else their imaginations come up with using graham crackers. Another great no-bake idea – decorate ice cream sugar cones to make a forest full of trees!

Image2.  If you are using candy decorations, expect that kids will want to eat them while they decorate. Serve a healthy snack of cut fruit or veggies with dip before you even think of taking out the candy. Even serving a small portion of a sweet treat while they are decorating, such as our choice of a simple sugar cookie and apple cider, keeps the desire to munch on candy at bay.

Image3.  Think outside of the box when choosing decorations. Many cereals that you might already have on hand have interesting colors, textures and shapes. Waffle pretzels can make interesting windows and doors. Dried fruit, shredded coconut and snack treats you already have at home can all make great decorations without breaking the bank.

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4.  Icing matters, especially when building 3-D objects like houses. Regular frosting that you purchase or make does not stiffen fast enough or get hard enough to glue your creations together. Our favorite recipe that has the added benefit of drying like concrete is:  2 pounds of confectioner’s sugar, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar and 6 egg whites. Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer for 5 – 7 minutes until stiff peaks form. Instead of buying expensive pastry bags, a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped works well to spread your frosting.

Ginger2012_Family115.  It’s all about having fun together! Will your children care about creating a symmetrical design or have the willpower to resist the urge to taste while they create? Probably not. Will it be messy? Certainly yes, but once dry the icing is easy to sweep or wipe up.

We hope you’ve been inspired by these tips and photos from our recent Gingerbread Workshop to try this project at home. Happy Holidays!

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