The Museum Blog

Category: Outreach

Science Magic: Dancing Popcorn!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

We had a great response to our last science magic video (Plastic Bag Polymers!) so decided to share another! 

Dancing Popcorn Magic

Materials Needed:

  • Clear plastic cup/tall container or clear glass cup/jar
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Unpopped popcorn
  • A spoon

Directions (prep):

  • Fill your clear container about ½ way with water
  • Put vinegar in a smaller cup
  • Put baking soda in a small cup with the spoon
  • Place unpopped popcorn in another small bowl

Directions (activity):

  • Tell your young scientists that today you are going to make some popcorn DANCE using science! 
  • Invite them to put a few spoonfuls of baking soda in the cup of water and stir until it has fully dissolved
  • Add a couple spoonfuls of popcorn to the baking soda mixture. Is it dancing yet? 
    • Make a hypothesis--what will happen when we add the vinegar?
  • Carefully & slowly add the vinegar to the baking soda solution
  • What happens?!
    • You will notice that the popcorn starts to DANCE!

The Science:

  • This science magic is created using a simple chemical reaction. When we add vinegar & baking soda together--we create carbon dioxide. 
  • You can see this at work! If you watch the popcorn carefully, you’ll notice that it gets covered in little bubbles and it bobs up and down. 
  • Those bubbles are made of carbon dioxide. As they collect on the popcorn, it lifts the popcorn up to the top of the container. Once it is at the top, some of those bubbles “pop” and bring the popcorn back down again. 
  • This up and down motion is what makes the popcorn look like it is dancing!

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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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Tinker Time: All About Spring!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Sorting:

  • Place a variety of colors of plastic eggs in a container
  • Place pieces of colored paper, or paper with a color drawn on them, around the container
  • Invite little ones to sort them by color!
  • Want an extra challenge? Try making some plastic egg patterns! 

Cause & Effect:

  • Find something to make a ramp
    • I used a 3-ring binder, but you could find a piece of wood, cookie sheet, or piece of flat cardboard
  • Collect a few books to add to the ramp and give it some additional height
  • Find a car or two
    • I tied a tiny bunny stuffed animal to my car--this is fun, but not necessary!
  • Gather a variety of different textured materials
    • Tin foil, bubble wrap, felt, sandpaper, etc. 
  • Invite little ones to experiment with the ramp! 
    • Try racing the car down the ramp without any texture on it
    • Add different textures and see how the movement of the car changes
    • Add some height to the ramp and try again with the different textures
  • Ask questions!
    • What is happening?
    • How does the movement of the car change?
    • Why do you think it changes?
    • What else could we add/change?

Sensory:

  • Gather a bunch of plastic eggs
  • Fill up the eggs with a variety of materials 
    • Unpopped popcorn, coins, buttons, paper clips, etc
    • As an extra precaution, you could put a small piece of tape to keep the eggs closed during investigation! 
  • Make sure each egg has a sound match, aka two eggs of each sound
  • Invite little ones to try and match the sounds!

Art:

  • Find a paper towel tube
  • Cut it into three pieces
    • Leave one piece a circle
    • Smoosh the other two pieces to make ovals
  • Use the paper pieces to make a bunny stamp! 

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Lincoln Financial Foundation Grant Supports NH Teachers

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The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has been awarded an $8,000 grant from the Lincoln Financial Foundation to support three educational opportunities for New Hampshire’s struggling schools and underserved students. This grant will allow the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire to offer free school trips to the Museum (Museum InReach or MIR), more Focused Group Visits (FGV) as well as Traveling Focused Group Visits (TFGV) all of which were designed to respond to educators’ requests for more in-depth curriculum-based experiences.

“We recognize that schools and educators are struggling to access curriculum-based experiences for their students,” explained Paula Rais, Vice President of Development and Community Engagement at the Children’s Museum of NH. “We’ve developed these programs to not only help bring the students here to the Museum where they can experience our unique educational exhibits and programs, but also to help bring our knowledge into their classrooms.”

FGV and TFGV are flexible and portable learning experiences for pre-K through 5th grade students that explore art, science, history, ecology and world cultures, all of which align with state and national educational standards. These programs are based in STEAM education, an expansion of STEM learning concepts that integrate the arts into technology, math, engineering and science.

One hundred 1st grade students from McDonough School in Manchester, NH visited the Children’s Museum of NH recently as part of the Museum InReach program. “Thank you for letting us go on a field trip for free,” said Zachary. “My favorite part was the mind ball, kitchen and submarine.” The response from teachers has been equally positive. “As teachers, we really appreciate when students are involved and engaged,” said one teacher after her students participated in a Focused Group Visit. “The Physics of Flight program ties in beautifully with our curriculum.”

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Children’s Museum of NH Alzheimer’s Cafe featured on NHPTV

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 2.50.18 PMThe Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s Alzheimer’s Café was recently featured on New Hampshire Public Television’s new series, Changing Aging in the Granite State. The episode premiered on Thursday, January 15, 2015 and featured Judy and Woody Sponaugle of Rye, NH who attend the museum’s free, monthly Café.

AlzCafe_Oct2012_Group4CropThe Alzheimer’s Café at the museum started in 2011 and meets on the third Thursday of each month from 2–4pm. The Café is a supportive and welcoming place for people living with dementia and their care partners to spend an afternoon of conversation and socializing. Refreshments are provided and reservations are not required.

In 2012, the CAlzCafe_June2014_HatGroup_HiReshildren’s Museum of NH received the Leaders in Innovation award from the New England Museum Association for the Alzheimer’s Café program. The Museum is partnering with the Keene State College Nursing Department to research the benefits of attending an Alzheimer’s Café for caregivers and people living with dementia. We will be sharing more details on this as research continues.

The Changing Aging in the Granite State Alzheimer’s Café episode can be streamed online at http://www.nhptv.org/aging/

Paula with Alzheimer's Cafe attendees at a recent Alzheimer's WalkPaula with Alzheimer’s Cafe attendees at a recent Alzheimer’s Walk

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Collaborative Bike Rack Project

Throughout 2014, the Dover Middle School Art Club collaborated with CMNH Artist-in-Residence Nathan Walker to create two Bike Racks for Henry Law Park in downtown Dover, NH. Made possible by the generous sponsorship of Kennebunk Savings, the bike rack design & completion process has been one of the most fulfilling and exciting projects that Children’s Museum has been involved in since moving to Dover in 2008.

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At the beginning of the year, the Art Club – led by Dover Middle School Art teachers Marie Robicheau &P1130908 Jo-Ann Gardella, met with Walker in his workshop in the lower level of CMNH. Before starting down the path of artistic collaboration, Walker wanted to show the students how he approached design. The students were able to see a large spectrum of Walker’s work in various stages of completion. Many of the sculptures viewed that day had P1130899one of Walker’s hallmarks: repurposed materials. From the Volkswagen Beetle hood that forms the back of the Giant Blue Crab in the front of CMNH to the various spiders, jellyfish and insects comprised of gears, hubcaps and Christmas Tree stands, the Art Club saw that their imagination was truly the P1130902limit in creating a bicycle rack for P1130898families visiting Henry Law Park. Walker also reinforced that the design process, where the eraser P1130896can sometimes be used just as much as the pencil, was equally as important as the building process.

The Art Club continued to meet under the guidance of Robicheau & Gardella while the students formed groups that would meet to discuss their ideas and draw up plans for their respective group’s vision for a bike rack. In addition to their design on paper, the groups were also tasked by Walker to create 3-D prototypes and models to better show how their bike rack design would work.

In April, Children’s Museum 0f New Hampshire President Jane Bard, Brendan Markey of Kennebunk Savings, and Walker met with Robicheau, Gardella and the assembled Dover Middle School Art Club as they prepared P1130918to pitch their completed ideas to the group.

Though the initial plan was to select one of the team’s ideas to make a single bike rack, Walker liked all of the ideas so much, that the choice was made that two racks would be created with each incorporating pieces of each group’s design ideas.

Three of the teams ideas would be incorporated into becoming the Steampunk Octopus Screenshot 2015-01-19 13.42.11Bike Rack, while two other teams would see their designs overlap to become the State of New Hampshire Bike Rack. After the Art Club members decided on which NH landmarks to include on the state themed rack, CMNH volunteer Barbara Albert got to work painting the finer details. Meanwhile, Nate began work on the foraging, welding, and color experimentation for the large steampunk cephalopod.

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In October, the Art Club returned to the Museum with their original prototypes to see the final product of their combined visions. Dover Mayor Karen Weston joined Bard, Walker, the Art Club and their family and friends for the grand unveiling of the first bike rack, Steampunk Octopus, in upper Henry Law Park near the entrance of the museum.

 

This spring, the New Hampshire Bike Rack will be unveiled in lower Henry Law Park near the entrance of the Dover Indoor Pool.IMAG2269

January in New Hampshire isn’t the best weather for families to ride their bikes, but we look forward to a few months from now when families visiting Henry Law Park will have two highly creative options for storing their bicycle while they visit the park, museum, stage, pool, river walk, picnic areas and playground.

We thank the incredibly imaginative and skilled members of the Dover Middle School Art Club, their teachers and mentors Marie Robicheau & Jo-Ann Gardella, the generous support of Kennebunk Savings – without which, this project would not have been possible – and, of course, Nate Walker, who took the inventive visions of the Club and made them a reality.

B-r-r-r-r-r-r! See you all - and your bikes - in a few more months!B-r-r-r-r-r-r! See you all – and your bikes – in a few more months!

 

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Bringing Public Art to Henry Law Park

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Bryan Rutland, a local Dover artist, has created a new piece being displayed on the facade of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Perspection, part of Driven to Abstraction - the current Gallery 6 installation – was originally one piece of abstract art that Rutland split into two distinctive pieces. As CMNH’s Director of Exhibits, I contacted him in November about creating a vibrant piece of abstract art that would bring color to Henry Law Park for those dark and dreary winter months.

“The way that I like to approach my painting is to have no preconception or final image in my mind,” Rutland shares.

“I want to create intuitively and I feel in working this way I can be true to myself and not over think the process. I like to take a more natural approach,” he admits. “I start the creation process with a color palette in mind and just start throwing colors around and whatever ‘feels right’ at the time. I like to just let the painting work itself out and lead me in the direction it wants to go in.”

Bryan joins over 15 other artists in showing their version of abstract art. For many museum families and visitors, this is their first exposure to any kind of abstract art. As in any form of art, each artist approaches their process differently. Rutland looks to his natural surroundings for inspiration.

The abstract process for me is more of a therapeutic and physical exercise. I allow things to just happen the way they do in nature,” he says.

“Just like a stream will meander and create its own path over time I allow my paintings to do the same. I tend to be more of an instrument in the creation of the work as opposed to the overall creator. I really feel the painting is already there I just need to let go and let it be what it was meant to be. I think we need to create things that are true and honest to ourselves, with all of our strengths and weaknesses.”

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Born in Paterson, NJ in 1974, Rutland has always believed in doing what you love. He moved around a lot in his early years and he often looked towards his creative mind to keep him company. He tried to absorb any and all information he could sink his teeth, and by extension his creativity, into. He is a true admirer of art in all its forms and has worked in many different mediums.

He has designed for fashion labels like L.A. based Eisbar and Kangol NYC. He has also worked with L.A. bands The Nikhil Kohrula Band, The Distants and Apes of the New Millennium, as well as NYC based rap artist Little Vic and Orena Records. Rutland’s paintings have been exhibited in galleries and venues in Los Angeles, and he has had mural work shown on walls and ceilings in New York City. Bryan currently operates Rutland Studios in downtown Dover creating artwork in all different mediums.

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If you don’t have a chance to view Rutland’s Perspection by day, we’ve set up a colored lighting system to make it viewable in the evening as well.

Driven to Abstraction is currently up and running through the end of February. Driven to Abstraction has given the museum a chance to show some non-representational work that children and adults will find really interesting. Abstract art challenges people to look even deeper at the artwork to try and solve or decode the puzzles in the artwork.

abstractionIn abstract art, there are no wrong answers because it’s all about the unique things each person sees, feels, and thinks about each piece.

All CMNH Gallery 6 shows are free to view for Adults. Simply request a Gallery 6 Visitor Pass at the Front Desk of the museum.

Perspection is merely the latest piece of public art commissioned by CMNH. Last winter, we installed Erebos on the front of our building, which was a collaborative effort between myself and our Gallery 6 Coordinator Tess Feltes.

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During the day, Erebos – named for the Greek God of Darkness and Shadow – would create shadows on the building as the sun moved across the sky, and at night Erebos was lit up by color changing LED lights to create an ever-changing display of light and shadows.

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In the spring, we installed a recycled hanging garden created by cutting, gluing and painting plastic bottles.

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This was our most time consuming project because each flower or vine was individually cut and painted. Amy Tilton and Eryn True, two of our 2014 exhibit interns, were invaluable in helping us to complete this project.

Hi Mom, Susan PerrineHi Mom, Susan Perrine

During the summer, our Gallery 6 Enchanting Gardens exhibit extended out into Henry Law Park and included a handful of sculptures sprinkled throughout the park.

There were nests, figurative sculptures, a tree house, a metal Pterosaur and individual pieces made of both plants and clothing.

Hammer Headed Pterosaurus, Jill NooneyHow Do You Spell Your Name? - Sarah HaskellHow Do You Spell Your Name? – Sarah Haskell

We hope you’ll have a chance to see our latest public art, Bryan Rutland’s Perspection, in person before visiting the rest of Gallery 6 to fully appreciate all the incredible and varied pieces of abstract art in our Driven to Abstraction installation.

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CMNH & Libraries Walk Hand in Hand

Promoting Literacy in Alternative Educational Environments

by Meredith LaMothe

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has been committed to promoting literacy with children for over thirty years. We share numerous goals with libraries that foster a love of reading, including exploring and learning in a fun and safe environment, making our services available to all people through library membership programs, promoting activities that pull in a wide range of audiences and bringing those activities to different locations through our outreach program. The Children’s Museum offers a variety of programs from our Summer Library Outreach program and Books Alive events to our weekly Storytime Sundays and our Library Membership Program that offers museum discounts through libraries. All of these programs aim to promote literacy and strengthen relationships between the museum and our neighboring libraries.

CMNH Educator Meredith leads the Summer 2013 library program about bioluminescence at Wiggin Memorial Library in Stratham, NHCMNH Educator Meredith leads the Summer 2013 library program about bioluminescence at Wiggin Memorial Library in Stratham, NH

We are entering the third year of offering our fantastic annual library outreach program that relates to the ALA summer reading theme. The summer 2014 theme of “Fizz…Boom…Think!” will focus on recycling, saving the earth and learning about the human footprint through hands-on projects, demonstrations and fun! Programs in the past have been “Up All Night in New Hampshire!” and “Dig Into the Deep Sea: Fish Aren’t Afraid of the Dark.”

One of the participants shares his homemade underwater creature with MeredithOne of the participants shares his homemade underwater creature with Meredith

We travel to libraries all over New Hampshire, Maine, and northeast Massachusetts to present an hour long program. We’ve received much positive feedback from host libraries and cannot wait to begin another summer of bringing the museum to you!

You may want to call this a Rainbow Jellyfish but its real name Ctenophore or,You may want to call this a Rainbow Jellyfish but its real name Ctenophore or, “Comb Jelly” for short.

Since 2006, our Books Alive program brings beloved costumed storybook characters to the museum three times each year. Recently we’ve had visits from Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat, Clifford and Emily Elizabeth, The Lorax and Corduroy! These events are very popular.

Books Alive! with CorduroyBooks Alive! with Corduroy
Books Alive! with Meredith & Sister Berenstain BearBooks Alive! with Meredith & Sister Berenstain Bear

Stories about these characters are read, activities that related to the books are available and – of course – children can meet these storybook friends and have their pictures taken with them or just give a quiet high five. These events bring books to life as children step into the story and meet characters that are their friends. We also use this program to promote libraries as a resource and place where families can find the books we read and have on display for each Books Alive.

CMNH Experience Guide Riley meets Clifford the Big Red Dog & Mer . . . er, Emily Elizabeth during a Books Alive! event at CMNHCMNH Experience Guide Riley meets Clifford the Big Red Dog & Mer . . . er, Emily Elizabeth during a Books Alive! event at CMNHBooks Alive! with Curious George & The Man in the Yellow HatBooks Alive! with Curious George & The Man in the Yellow Hat

We also host a weekly program called, “Storytime with Meredith & Stu”. Our storytime is hosted by me – CMNH Educator Meredith Lamothe  – and local musician Stu Dias.

Storytime with Meredith & Stu - every Sunday @ 2PM at CMNH!Storytime with Meredith & Stu – every Sunday @ 2PM at CMNH!

I read several stories on a theme – sometimes incorporating puppets or felt boards and Stu sings a few songs and sometimes joins in reading the stories. He will usually write a song specifically to suit the theme and is recording an album of these songs later this year!

Meredith & Stu prepare for a Royalty themed Sunday StorytimeMeredith & Stu prepare for a Royalty themed Sunday Storytime

Storytime is a great opportunity for families to get together and relax while enjoying books and music. We find Sundays to be a convenient time for families that might not be able to get to a weekday storytime at their local library.

Storytime duo Meredith & Stu will shout from the rooftops about how much they love reading to kids!Storytime duo Meredith & Stu will shout from the rooftops about how much they love reading to kids!

We hope to meet many of you through our outreach program this summer or during your visit to CMNH. If your library doesn’t currently participate in our membership program, we’re always happy to explain the different levels of participation available for those communities that are interested in their libraries working with the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.

Stu & Meredith celebrate their Fall themed Storytime in Henry Law Park in front of the museum in Dover, NHStu & Meredith celebrate their Fall themed Storytime in Henry Law Park in front of the museum in Dover, NH

We feel strongly that libraries and children’s museums walk hand in hand in their goals to foster a love of reading and promote literacy with visitors of all ages.

Meredith is a museum educator at CMNH. She is one half of, “Storytime with Meredith & Stu” and an original presenter of our summer library outreach program. She is also a MLIS candidate at Simmons College and reference librarian at Scarborough Public Library. Parts of this piece were originally published in, “Granite State Libraries” Newsletter from the New Hampshire State Library.

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