By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator
Backyard birding is a great way for kids to practice making observations, and to learn about ecology and biology! Learn how to make 2 easy bird feeders to attract special birds to your yard, especially Orioles, who like oranges and other fruits.
If you have not tried backyard birding before, there are a few things to think about before you start. First, setting expectations for seeing birds. Even if you do a great job setting up a feeder with food that birds like, you may not see birds right away, or draw in unique birds right away. It’s a good idea to let kids know they may not see birds as soon as the feeder goes out. When scientists do research, they do a lot of observation and patient waiting to see results!
The food you provide is important, too, and birds need water! It may take some time to establish your backyard as a consistent food source for birds, so don’t give up if birds do not appear right away. All animals need water, so if you are able to provide clean water for your backyard animal friends, then you may see more of them more often. Birds do not have hands, obviously, so they use their beaks for many different things the way we use our hands. Different birds have different beaks that are adapted to where they live and what they eat. There’s a great book called Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard III that helps to illustrate this to kids. When you put out food for the birds keep in mind not only what they eat, but how they eat it and whether they can access it with their beaks.
Something else to keep in mind is the season. Some birds are only going to be around for a few months of the year because of migration, and others will be around throughout the year. Some birds migrate, or move, to warmer areas for the winter so that they can find more food. Migrating is a behavioral adaptation, or change in behavior, that helps an animal to survive. Some foods are harder for birds to find in the winter, like insects and fruits. The temperature gets too cold for some birds, but surprisingly many birds can withstand very cold winter temperatures. Spring is a great time to observe birds, and you may even get to see some nests being built.
Location is important, too. If there is not a lot of natural habitat near your backyard, you may see fewer bird species. To see “new” or special birds, you can try visiting their habitat, like a local conservation area. The Bellamy Preserve in Dover is a great place to see birds, and since there are open fields as well as the bay nearby, you can see shore birds and forest birds on the same trip. Ideal bird habitats may also be ideal tick habitats, so be mindful of your clothing choices, and in the springtime boots will be necessary for the mud.
Finally, bird identification can be really tricky even for grown ups! Instead of focusing strictly on bird identification, try setting up an observation chart that kids can use independently. This chart can include the day, time, number of birds, and what the bird was doing. For example, at lunch time Sally Scientist saw one bird that was hopping, and three birds that were flying. She didn’t see any birds that were eating or drinking, so they must not have known it was lunch time. All silliness aside, noticing whether animals eat when people eat is a great observation! A chart that kids can check off might work well:
Sally Scientist’s Observations:
Making the Bird Feeders:
In the video you will see 2 different ways to make a bird feeder. One style of feeder is made by adding seeds to a paper towel roll or a pine cone, and it is a little messy, but can be done outdoors to cut down on spills. The second style of feeder is made by using an orange as the food rather than bird seed, and this is done to attract Orioles because they like to eat fruit. This can be done by carefully attaching an orange half to a branch, or creating a small feeder that fits an orange inside of it, and has a perch for the birds to sit on while they eat.
- Paper towel tube
- Peanut butter, sun butter or crisco
- Pipe cleaners
- Hole punch
- Small jar or yogurt cup
- Stick for a perch (sturdy)
- Optional: jelly - this can be messy, and less messy oranges work well!
- Tube Feeder: The first feeder design is simple, but can be a little messy. For this feeder, you will need nut butter or crisco, a paper towel tube, string, and bird seed
- Use a tray or plate to hold the bird seed (a small mound should work)
- Cut a paper towel tub in half so that one tube makes two feeders
- Carefully add nut butter or crisco to the outside of the paper towel tube.
- Once the tube is mostly covered, gently roll it in the birdseed. The birdseed will stick to the tube, but keep it on a work surface like a plate until it’s time to hang it up
- Use a string to hang up your feeder by threading it through the tub and tying the two ends in a knot. Hang your feeder up in a tree
- Orange Feeder: For this feeder, you need an orange cut in half, sticks, a container, hole punch, and string to hang it up. The orange feeder is designed to attract Orioles because they enjoy eating fruit, especially oranges! Orioles also like jelly (not jam), but it is a little stickier and messier, so we suggest trying oranges first.
- First, cut the orange in half so that the birds can get to it
- The easiest way to make an Oriole feeder with oranges is to use a sturdy branch and poke the orange half directly onto a tree
- Another method is to use a small container, like a yogurt cup, to hold the orange. Use a stick to add a perch, add holes with a hole puncher, and use a pipe cleaner or string to hang it up.
The 6th annual NH Maker & Food Fest is fast approaching and our mouths are watering just looking at all the different food vendors we have lined up to join us on Saturday, August 25th from 10am-4pm! Not only is this day long festival (formerly the Dover Mini Maker Faire) a giant showcase of local maker talent, but also a great chance to try local food and sweet treats by our awesome food vendors! Mark your calendars, get your tickets early, or at the door, and bring your appetite!
Bloom’n Cow Ice Cream and Gelato – Ice cream with tons of flavors and toppings. Non-dairy Sorbetto offered as well. Accepts cash or credit.
Boogalows Island BBQ - In the mood for some Jamaican food? How does Jerk Dinner, Jerk-a-Rito, Mango BBQ Chicken Skewers, Pork on a Bun, or a Jamaican Beef Patty sound? Stop by Boogalows Island BBQ Food Truck for tons of mouth watering BBQ from the island of Jamaica! Accepts cash or credit.
Brother’s Concessions - Fresh squeezed lemonade. Accepts cash only.
Clyde’s Cupcakes - Offering cupcakes, cookies and ice cream sandwiches. Accepts cash or credit.
Curb Appeal Meals - Speciality sandwiches and American comfort food. Accepts cash or credit and they will have kid's menu options.
The Fuse Box Kitchen - Offering new American food and Spanish/Mexican favorites. Accepts cash or credit and they will have kid's menu items like hot dogs, hamburgers, grille cheese, fries and chicken tenders.
Kona Ice – Flavored shaved ice. Accepts cash or credit.
New England Biscuit Company - Traditional Scottish shortbread in a variety of flavors. Accepts cash or credit.
The People’s Popcorn – Tons of different flavored kettle popped corn. Accepts cash, credit or checks.
Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream - ice cream made on the spot with liquid nitrogen. Accepts cash only.
Thank you to all our 2018 NH Maker & Food Fest sponsors: The Unique College Investing Plan managed by Fidelity Investments, Prime Buchholz, Alexander Technology Group, Dover Emergency Room (a Campus of Portsmouth Regional Hospital), Great Bay Community College, Albany Engineered Composites, Beswick Engineering, The Rowley Agency Inc., Chinburg Properties, Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, LLC, Martel Plumbing & Heating, Inc., STEM From the Start, iheartMedia, 95.3 The Bull and Z107.
The Dover Adventure Playground just opened a few weeks ago and we hope you'll check it out! We have a few tips for families who plan on visiting.
Tip 1: For early risers, enjoy a visit to the playground before the Museum opens at 10am. It’s a great way to get outside before the heat of a summer day and will help you appreciate the cool air-conditioned Museum even more!
Tip 2: Make sure to bring towels, a change of clothes and sunscreen to the playground. Water and sand elements are sure to be a big hit for all ages (even you adults!) Museum members and visitors always have access to our bathrooms for changing during our normal business hours!
Tip 3: Bring your own refillable water bottles to the playground to stay hydrated. There’s not only a water fountain in the playground, but also a water bottle filler in the center of the park!
Tip 4: Plan to make a day of it! Your Museum admission is good all day, so you can visit the Museum, take a break for lunch and enjoy the playground, and come back inside the Museum to cool off and continue exploring our exhibits at the end of the day. The park is also home to the Cocheco Arts Festival. For a complete list of free concerts and events visit: https://cochechoartsfestival.org/
Tip 5: Speaking of lunch breaks, Henry Law Park and the Dover Adventure Playground house picnic tables and downtown Dover is home to many family-friendly restaurants. So pack a picnic lunch or ask to see our binder of restaurant menus at the Museum’s front desk. We even sell pre-packaged ice cream treats in the lobby!
A new family attraction several years in the making is opening in downtown just in time for summer fun. The Dover Adventure Playground at Henry Law Park will open to the public on Saturday, June 24 at 9:30 a.m.
The playground will feature a life-size flat-bottomed vintage gundalow; a net climber; swings and slides; a three-story Garrison Hill tower; a 1,200-pound, 3-foot by 8-foot climbable Alewife granite fish sculpture; a splash pad and water pumps; sand play area; musical instruments and more.
“The Children’s Museum of NH has been thrilled to partner with the city of Dover, its citizens and businesses to create the new Dover Adventure Playground,” said Jane Bard, Museum President. “It is sure to become a destination for seacoast families and visitors looking for outdoor play and exploration in a setting that is uniquely Dover.”
Dover Recreation Director Gary Bannon agrees. “The new playground is the result of years of planning and enthusiastic collaboration,” said Bannon. “This playground promises to be a significant attraction to downtown.”
After the playground opens, visitors to Dover will have one more reason to spend the whole day in the city, visiting the Children’s Museum, playing in the playground, having a picnic, shopping with downtown merchants or eating at a local restaurant.
“This playground is really unique to Dover and I don’t think there will be anything quite like it in New Hampshire,” shared Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director. “The history of the area is highlighted throughout the design.” The gundalow, a 32-year-old replica of the Capt. Edward H. Adams, is one of only two gundalows in the region.
Thoughtful touches abound in the new playground. The three-story tower was picked specifically to mimic the Garrison Hill fire tower in Dover. The climbable fish sculpture by Thomas Berger from Kittery is a nod to the alewife who spawn in the Cocheco River, bordering the playground. One of the swings is made for an older child and an infant to swing together, a highlight for parents with multiple children. The net climbing structure has a slack line and percussion instruments are installed nearby. Tree stumps provide balancing practice for children or additional seating. The splash pad will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. this spring and summer. Nearby is another play area featuring hand pumps and wooden sluices.
Two features in the works will debut after the June 24th opening. The Museum’s community teaching garden currently located on the riverfront adjacent to the Museum will relocate to the park for the next growing season. Also planned for the roof of the Dover pool bordering the playground, is an 18-foot metal “Whale’s Tail” sculpture created by artist Dale Rogers. The whale will appear to be diving into the pool building.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is holding a naming contest for the alewife fish sculpture, who is a female, throughout the month of July. The public can vote on the fish’s new moniker either by casting a ballot inside the museum, or on the museum’s facebook page. The public will then vote to narrow down the names to the 10 most popular. A judging panel will then choose the winner.
“Even though it’s a playground, it’s really designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages,” said Jane Bard. “I think I’m most excited that we’re bringing this right to the center of Dover and I really think it’s going to be a shining example of what Dover has been, and will be. It will be a safe, engaging, and joyful gathering spot for people of all ages.”
To learn more about the Dover Adventure Park, visit the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s website: www.childrens-museum.org/visit/dover-adventure-playground or contact Dover Recreation at 603-516-6401.
The Children's Museum of New Hampshire will hold its annual 5K Road Race/Walk & Kid-venture Course on Saturday, May 6, 2017 and is looking for participants. The Children’s Museum’s 5k is the first race in the Seacoast Road Race Series. Proceeds from all races in the series benefit non-profits like the museum.
“Our race is different from a lot of races in the area,” said Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director. “It is a certified course and is for runners as well as walkers, but on race day it’s like a giant party in Henry Law Park in downtown Dover. We have amazing food including a Tasty Toppings Yogurt Bar, sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets and featuring Stonyfield yogurt, music by our MC and local radio personality Mike Pomp, and a newly designed Kid-venture Course for kids who might be a little too young to run in the 5k just yet!”
The 5K for adults begins at 9am at the intersection of Central Avenue, Washington Street and Henry Law Avenue. The course runs up Central Avenue to Chapel Street, up Portland Avenue and back down to Henry Law Park. Post-race activities, including an awards ceremony and refreshments, will take place in Henry Law Park following the race. The 5K registration fee is $22 in advance and $25 on the day of the race. Walk-up registration for the 5k will be available at The Children’s Museum on race day starting at 7:30am up until 15 minutes prior to the start of the 5k.
Children ages 12 and younger can participate in the Kid-venture Course, which takes place at 10am in Henry Law Park. “The KidVenture Course will feature a series of zany, exhibit-themed challenge,” shared Jane Bard, CMNH President. “From crab walking under the ‘sea’ and crawling through caterpillar tunnels, to transporting dino eggs to their nest and crossing the (pretend) Cocheco River, there is something fun for everyone! We’ve partnered with The Works Family Health and Fitness Center to create this course and I think it will have children moving, grooving and stretching their creative muscles!”
All Kid-venture Course participants will receive a ribbon and t-shirt while supplies last. The entry fee for the Kid-venture Course is $8 in advance and $10 on race day.
Also new this year, the museum invites participants to raise donations through CrowdRise. “You can sign up to fundraise as an individual or a as a team through CrowdRise and the fundraising team who raises the most money by May 5 will get to enjoy an exclusive VIP hospitality tent on race day, stocked with food, beverages and attendants!” shared Cole. Visit www.crowdrise.com/ChildrensMuseumofNewHampshire5K to sign up to fundraise. Fundraising teams can raise money together, but cannot sign up to race in the 5k or Kid-venture Course as a team.
To learn more or to register, visit www.childrens-museum.org/things-to-do/events/5k-road-race-fun-run. The museum thanks it’s 2017 Road Race sponsors including Sprague, The Works Family Health & Fitness Center, Formax, Relyco, Weathervane, Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, PA, Willem Verweij Physical Therapy, Bob’s Discount Furniture and Hannaford Supermarkets.
What an absolutely boring topic for a blog! Parking?! Directions!? Meh.
However, it seems to be a thing preventing many of you from coming to visit us! So let's address some of the misconceptions about parking at and navigating to the Children's Museum of NH.
Misconception #1: No free parking
All city parking is free on the weekends and after 7pm. As an amenity to our guests we sell the city of Dover's pre-packaged bags of 26 parking tokens for $5 at no mark-up. They are for sale at the front desk during normal business hours as available. That will give you about a 30% savings off the current rate. You can also purchase these tokens at Harvey's Bakery and the Dover Chamber of Commerce.
Misconception #2: Metered parking spots have a time limit
The metered spots along Henry Law Avenue, as well as the spots inside the Dover playground parking lot do not have a time limit. You can get a parking receipt for ANY length of time up to 7pm...at which point, parking is free! Metered spots cost $1/hour and accept change or credit cards.
Misconception #3: Not enough parking
We beg to differ! In addition to all the "pay and display" spots in the parking lot, on-street spots along Henry Law Ave, Central Ave, Washington Street and Main Street there are also metered spots in Dover's new 300+ space downtown parking garage at 45 Orchard Street, which is only a 5 minute walk to the museum! This new (opened in 2016) garage has a Pay by Space system and costs $0.75 an hour. You can actually download an app that will allow you to pay for more time remotely without having to return to the garage. Learn more about it here.
Misconception #4: Getting there is confusing!
Well, we'll admit to this one. Downtown Dover can be a bit confusing to navigate on your first trip. We've tried to make it easier with the handy map below. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. One, put in 10 Henry Law Ave into your GPS, not our mailing address, 6 Washington Street. This will put you on the right road to find the parking lot!
The second thing to keep in mind is that Washington Street, Main Street and Henry Law Ave are all one way. No matter which way you are coming from, North, South, East or West, if you get to downtown Dover and pass by the museum (in pink), you can just follow the yellow triangle around and try it again till you make it to the parking lot (orange).
Let's break it down by direction:
If you are coming up Central Ave (otherwise known as Rte. 9 or 108) and get to the Central Ave/Washington Street lights, take a hard right onto Henry Law Ave. (OR, avoid the light altogether and just past the bus stop across from City Hall, take a right onto Williams Street which will take you right onto Henry Law Ave. Your next left takes you into the parking lot behind the museum!)
If you are coming down Central Ave (otherwise known as Rte. 9 or 108), stay in the left hand lane but don't take a hard left. Take the soft left, across Washington Street onto Henry Law Ave.
If you are coming down Washington Street, stay in the right lane, but don't take a hard right onto Central Ave, take a soft right onto Henry Law Ave past the intersection.
If you are coming from Portland Ave, you have to take a right onto Main Street. Take your first left and swing around onto Central Ave (otherwise known as Rte. 9 or 108). Then stay in the left hand lane but don't take a hard left. Take the soft left, across Washington Street, onto Henry Law Ave.
Here's a closeup of the intersection that seems to give people the most trouble.
And of course if you get lost, just give us a call: 603-742-2002. We'll talk you through it!
A Public Art Collaboration
Have you been by the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire recently? There seems to be a group of characters climbing . . . sitting . . . jumping . . . flying? Are they climbing up . . . sideways . . . down? Are they friendly or not so nice? Where did they come from and what are they doing on the front of CMNH?
Ascent or Descent is a collaborative public art project designed by the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire with six Seacoast area artists and craftspeople. This project is designed to make you curious and wonder what it is, exactly, that's happening with these figures upon our facade and what the different stories may be behind each one. We purposefully kept our description of a 'humanoid sculpture' request very broad when potential contributors were contacted. We wanted to show a diverse group of 'people' created in a variety of styles using a multitude of materials.
David Masse is a local blacksmith living on the southeastern coast of Maine who used this opportunity to design and construct something different than he would typically.
Masse decided to create a superhero and shaped it by using forged steel. He then added a fabric cape that blows in the wind. What do you think this superhero's codename is? What are his powers and how did he get them? What if he (or she!) isn't a hero . . . but a villain?!
You can check out more of David Masse's work on his website.
Rick Burns, a sculptor working based in Berwick, ME, describes his work as "creating Industrial Symbolic Abstractions using metal, wood, clay and mixed media".
If you look closely at his sculpture, you can discover some hidden objects! Do you see the wrenches that make up the arms between the elbow and the wrist?
What about the gears inside the chest? Do the gears help this character move? Does he have to be wound up like a toy? And, of course, you can't possibly miss the incredibly cool medieval helmet with pieces of chain mail. This "humanoid sculpture" is ready for anything!
You can find more creative works of art from Rick Burns at his website.
Adam Pearson is a New Hampshire based sculptor and craftsman. His child-sized figure is jumping . . . or is he flying . . . off the roof of the Children's Museum! Is this the first time he's opened up his wings and flown? Is he looking for food . . . or is he playing a game? Is he headed towards the park . . . or higher into the trees?
This sculpture, the highest piece in the installation, was created by Pearson cutting, bending and welding the metal and steel of the green body and the large red tail and swooping wingspan.
More of Adam Pearson's work can be found on his website.
Chris Wright is a local artist and Director at the Port City Makerspace. For Ascent or Descent, Wright designed and created a piece that is fashioned almost entirely from aluminum. This includes the frame, bones, ribs, head, and extremities!
Wright fabricated every piece of the sculpture, including all the individual vertebrae in the articulated spine.
There was a time not too long ago that Nate Walker's Giant Blue Crab sculpture was one of the only pieces of public art in the city of Dover. Now, Wright's piece joins five other pieces of public art looking down at art in several places in Henry Law Park!
Like Chris Wright, Jeff Gunn is also a Director at the Port City Makerspace and a local craftsman. Gunn began with aluminum to create the general form of the body for this robot . . . or is it astronaut . . . or is it robot astronaut?
He then heated and bent PVC boards to create the white outer shell around the aluminum. To design and produce the hands and other smaller parts for this piece, Gunn used some newer technology: a 3D printer!
One of the coolest features of this piece is one that can't be seen from the ground - but its effect can! On the top of right shoulder, Gunn installed a solar panel. The panel is connected to the "eye" bulb of the robot figure. So after a long day of bright sunshine, a cyclopean beam of light emerges as dusk falls. Is he guarding the museum . . . or is he guarding the park? Is he taking a picture with his eye . . . or shooting lasers?
Kali Ann Rocheleau is an artist who enjoys exploring many different mediums, including charcoal, watercolor, sculpture, and cartooning. She lives in Portsmouth with her fiancée and loves to create art whenever she can.
Rocheleau chose to make sculpture with a more whimsical, pencil-sketch like quality. She created this sculpture using bent and twisted pieces wire. One of the coolest part's of this central piece of the installation is that depending on where you're viewing it from, it seems to change shape. From one angle it appears to be a woman, but from another - a man. From the outside you can see its hands and fingers in great detail, while the feet and toes are better viewed from inside. This piece also blends in with the building almost perfectly. Is it because the figure has the ability to turn invisible? Is she made up of water . . . or is it air?
More of Kali Ann Rocheleau's art can be found on her Facebook page.
The amazing . . . or is it magical . . . or is it scientific . . . or is it fantastical figures that make up Ascent or Descent will be visiting the museum and Henry Law Park from June to the end of October 2015. For those interested in previous public art projects by the Children's Museum of New Hampshire, check out our look at Bryan Rutland's abstract art piece that adorned our building through this last winter and spring or at the journey of how artist Nate Walker and the Dover Middle School Art Club designed, created and installed the Octopus Bike Rack in front of CMNH.
A Strange Communication Arrived This Morning . . .
When CMNH Staff arrived to work this morning things were definitely . . . different. The exterior facade of our building and our roof had received . . . visitors . . . in the night.
Who are they? Where do they come from? What do they want?
All that was left for us was this video . . .