For years my family has gotten accustomed to my gift-giving strategy. Sure, you may get something from me that you want (like a certain brick building toy) or something you need (like socks and pajamas), but thrown into the mix has always been the “experience gift.”
No one in my close circle can avoid these treasures – from tickets to a concert, theatre, attraction or sporting event, to a Museum membership, day of skiing, weekend of camping or day-trip adventure with several destinations, always including a stop for food, of course.
I always thought I was being sly, giving gifts that brought my family together for shared experiences, creating new memories. Is it still considered “giving” when what you receive back is just as valuable as the gift you give?My sons, age 2 and 6, at the Boston’s Children’s Museum.
I recently asked my boys, ages 12 and 16, what their favorite gifts were from years’ past. I was surprised how few toys they could name or really remember, especially given how excited they were about them at the time.
But my teenager did remember the awe of sitting in the front row to see his first live theatre performance at age 4, and how much fun he had exploring the Museum in this picture at age 6. And my 12-year-old remembers the thrill of night skiing with a glow stick strapped to his jacket and learning how to start a campfire by a lake.
As my children get older, I may not always be the person chosen to enjoy these experiences with them. You can be sure that my experience gifts will keep coming nonetheless.
This year, consider giving your friends and family the gift of a year-long membership to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire or our top-level Clubhouse Membership that includes free and reduced-priced admission at 400+ museums around the country.
The 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.
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.
Beany & 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.
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 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.
Scooby 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Dora & 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.
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!
We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer! July is a very special month in the history of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. It’s always been a month of beginnings and, because of that, cherished anniversaries.
In July of 1983, the Children’s Museum of Portsmouth opened its doors at 280 Marcy Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the old South Meeting House.Children eagerly cut the ribbon(s) to open the Children’s Museum of Portsmouth
Twenty-five years later on July 23, 2008, CMOP transformed into CMNH, as the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire opened its doors in an old Armory Building – and former Butterfield Gym – in Henry Law Park at 6 Washington Street in Dover, New Hampshire.The colorful ribbons come out again for a brand new chapter!
To celebrate six years of being CMNH, our move to Dover, and becoming an even bigger, vital part of the New Hampshire community, we’ve interviewed six staff members who were part of the process of moving, designing, creating and launching the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.
Help us dive into the future! Our fundraising effort for the next phase of the famous Yellow Submarine is in full swing!
Happy 4th of July from the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire!
We hope you have a fun and safe holiday with friends and family.
Below, you will find a selection of patriotic drawings made by some of our museum visitors.
[Reminder: CMNH is closed on the 4th in observance of the holiday but will be open from 10-5 on Saturday the 5th and 12-5 on Sunday the 6th. The fireworks in Dover, NH have been rescheduled to Sunday night, July 6th.]
At the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, we’re lucky enough to have both a gallery and a studio. Sometimes those words are interchangeable. However, at CMNH, their purposes often and intentionally overlap.
Gallery 6 features four to six installations a year curated by Tess Feltes. For the last few years, every spring, Gallery 6 focuses on a theme we’ve named, “Mosaic: Our Multicultural Neighborhood”. Spotlighting art and culture from around the world, last year the focus was on clothing, toys, photographs and stories from many different countries. This year’s Mosaic installation tightened the focus to just photography from over a dozen different countries.
The Muse Studio is a place where children and their families can create take-home art projects, play games, conduct experiments, among myriad fun activities. Our Studio projects can change daily, weekly or monthly. However, written into the mission statement of Gallery 6 is the following: The Gallery space is designed to blend into the museum’s Studio space . . . connecting the playful creativity of children to the serious investigations of artists.
And what better way to blend, to complement, to unify the many pieces of the Mosaic gallery installation than to actually expose our visitors to art they can make and culture they can study right in our Muse Studio!
Starting in early March, we spotlit a different county each week. Not only did our visiting families learn about art and culture from all over the world, but so did our staff.
In the following twelve weeks, we explored the art, language, geography, folklore, and clothing of Mexico, Japan, Ireland, India, Sweden, Greece, Indonesia, Morocco, Native America, & Australia.
As we welcome our next Gallery opening and Muse Studio theme of “Enchanting Gardens” for the summer, I’ve asked our Museum Educators – those tireless people that you see engaging families with these projects while simultaneously refilling gallons of glue and boxes of popsicle sticks – what their favorite activity has been these last few months. Please enjoy a look back at the 2014 edition of, “Mosaic: Our Multicultural Neighborhood”.
As much as I liked making and wearing the laurels with our visitors during our week of Greek art and culture, I’m going to have to pick the bandolier bag making as my absolute favorite activity! When we were setting up the projects for the Native American week in the Muse Studio, I realized I hadn’t even seen bandolier bags before and I certainly didn’t know that were connected to Native American tribes. We used a lot of textiles and fabrics that kids had already made at CMNH with our weaving looms. So the project also had a great sustainability and green angle to it. Plus, the bags were very fashionable which the kids and I very much appreciated!
Two projects I enjoyed immensely were during the time we devoted to Australia and Ireland. Teaching the kids how to write their names using the Ogham alphabet was using a subject – linguistics – that we don’t touch upon too often in the Muse Studio. Of course, my Irish heritage may make me a bit bias here! That said, I have to give the #1 spot to the Aboriginal Dot Art that we did while focusing on Australia. It was something accessible to all ages and it was a unique way of creating a picture, using guidelines, precision, and focus, but also allowing for imagination. No two were alike!
I was definitely partial to the Viking Helmets we created while exploring Sweden! They were easy to make for a wide range of ages and even though the instructions were pretty clear cut, they left open room for interpretation that let the children expand their design if they felt inspired. Plus, I think it was one of the most popular projects with parents and grandparents during the entirety of the Mosaic theme. I saw quite a few adults walking the around the museum as vikings during Sweden week!
I really liked the dreamcatcher project from the week we spent learning about Native American art and culture. First, it was easy to make at home with simple materials (paper plates, yarn or string, beads, etc.) but the end product was three dimensional and could be continued to a much bigger and detailed level for older kids. Plus, it tied in the folklore of many Native American tribes so we were educating a lot of our younger visitors on this subject for the first time.
I was excited when we selected Morocco as one of our countries to spotlight this year, but was also a little nervous because I wasn’t very familiar with a lot of Moroccan art and culture. Which makes me even happier to say that my favorite project came from the week we spent creating Moroccan art! I LOVED the sand art projects. Were they messy? Sure. But when you’re working in a art studio inside of a children’s museum, it comes with the territory. The sand art consisted of us picking some bright paper as a background, placing down some fun designs or patterns in glue and then shaking brightly colored sand on the glue. Then we let it dry. Simple! But our visitors made so many different kinds of creations through the sand art activity. Toddlers to grandparents seemed to enjoy this activity and I can’t wait until we do it again.
I had a hard time deciding which craft project was my favorite and then I finally realized it wasn’t an active project that stayed with me the longest, but two of the displays that we made for the Studio during the Mosaic theme. The map of New Hampshire that Meghan made during the week we focused on Native American culture was really informative for kids and adults and showed them how many places throughout all of New Hampshire – towns, lakes, river, mountains – have their origins in the different Native American languages. I was also a big fan of the “Greek Gods in Pop Culture” poster that Crystal created during our Greek week. It helped take mythology, which might seem boring and uninteresting for some kids, and show them how much they likely already knew from movies, television, and advertising. It was an interesting angle to take and I saw quite a lot of families pointing at it and discussing it.
We’re so happy that the Mosaic gallery and studio pieces were such a big hit with our staff and our visiting families! The educators are already brainstorming what countries we’ll be focusing on next year.Take Our Poll
We now look ahead to our summer theme in Gallery 6 / the Muse Studio: Enchanting Gardens. The studio has undergone quite a transformation from top-to-bottom to embrace this new wild theme and the Gallery 6 art pieces are so incredible for this installation that we did something that we’ve never done for any of our past installations. I’ve . . . said too much. Stay tuned to the blog to find out the magic we have in store for you this summer!
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!
CMNH Educator Meredith teaches us how in this short how-to video!
A few weeks ago, I ran the 29th Annual Children’s Museum of New Hampshire 5K Race & Fun Run. Full disclosure: I didn’t run the Fun Run. I’ve aged out of that bracket.
This was my sixth CMNH 5K and, unlike the first five that I ran, I approached the sixth much, much differently.
My preparation for my first five museum races broke down something like this:
2009-2013 Race Prep
- Don’t eat or drink something stupid the night before
- Go to bed early and get plenty of sleep the eve of the race
- Eat some dry toast and maybe a few bites of banana for breakfast
- Load up my ipod or cell phone with a good race tracklist for the run (usually heavy on songs with strong, steady beats, like Daft Punk and Talking Heads) – something I find essential to a good running experience
- Walk down to Henry Law Park early enough to get in plenty of stretching time (say, 30 minutes or so) pre-race
- Find a place among the racers that keeps me as far away from the parents with strollers as possible. It’s great that they’re running with their kids, but they’ll just get in my way
- Get ready for the starting gun and focus on the goal of beating my time from the previous year
Simple enough, no?
This year’s list was going to need a little tweaking – some voluntary, some involuntary. Why? Well . . . I wasn’t racing alone this year.
2014 Race Prep
– Go to bed after I finally eat dinner which won’t happen until we finally get the 5 1/2 month old baby – who happens to be teething – down for the night
– Wake up at 5:30 AM because that’s what time the baby has decided he’s going to be awake
– Stand at the stove half-asleep and make eggs for breakfast because the baby has decided that he wants Daddy and he to race in matching Captain America shirts and that we should use our Captain America spatula while making breakfast. Therefore, eggs
– Decorate our racing bibs in special Captain America stickers that the baby insisted Daddy buy for the race
– Walk down to Henry Law Park the long way so Mommy can get a coffee at Adelle’s and Daddy can stress out about potentially not getting to the race on time
– Meet up with the baby’s Nana, Memere, two cousins, Aunt, and Grandfather at Henry Law Park – all of whom are either running, walking or volunteering at the event
– Rush, with the baby in the stroller, to get in line
– Check on the baby to make sure he’s ok for the 47th time in the last half hour
– Forgo any headphones or music because I’ll obviously need to be listening for every sigh, gasp, squeak and titter that the baby makes
– 25 seconds before the gun goes off, realize I have no idea what a running belt is, that I have nothing on my person to strap my son’s stroller belt into, that this is all some sort of horrible mistake and will likely end with me on the side of the road with a sprained ankle, two full diapers, and lots of crying
– 20 seconds before the gun goes off, panic. A lot
– 15 seconds before the gun goes off, remember that your race time doesn’t matter and that you’re just in this for you and the baby to have a good time
– 10 seconds before the gun goes off, hear your baby start laughing at the fact that he just stuck his whole fist in his mouth
– 5 seconds before the gun goes off, smile and remember that this is the last time you’ll be able to take your baby on his first race
It wasn’t my easiest race. But, my goodness, it was the most fun race I’ve ever run. Our volunteer staff is always awesome when it comes to cheering the racers on and this year was no different – but, for me, it felt different. The cheers seemed louder. The adrenaline seemed stronger. In addition to the volunteers, you also have many citizens of Dover who come out to watch the race. Yes, it stops traffic for a bit. Yes, there’s detours. Yes, it can be a brief inconvenience. But all the bystanders have huge smiles on their faces and – especially in the last mile – they’re yelling out encouragement, they’re telling you it’s not that much longer and they’re yelling at the top of their lungs that you – yes, YOU – are going to make it! They’re having fun and whether we runners and walkers look like it, I promise you, we’re having fun too! But this year? This year was different.
The biggest difference? The talking. Oh, the talking. Listen, I was voted Most Talkative so many years in a row in middle and high school that they retired my jersey. And my baby and I? We talk. A lot. All the time. Heck, I even talk to pictures of my baby when he’s at daycare. Is that normal? I don’t know. Maybe. Despite working with children for over a decade, this is my first time at the Dad Rodeo.* But the talking! The talking! I’m not referring to the baby. I’m referring to me! It’s one thing to regulate your breathing during a race. But it’s another thing to try to regulate your breathing while you’re talking to your tiny little son for 3.1 miles. Despite my verbose nature, I’m not used to uttering one word during a race. Maybe a cough or a vocalized wince, but certainly not sentences. Certainly not elaborate conversations.
* – (At the Dad Rodeo, you win if you can change a diaper in the dark without waking up the baby in under 8 seconds. But you’re still likely going to be a clown.)
Things I verbalize to Cap Jr. during the CMNH 5K
– Believe it or not, we haven’t even officially gone over the Starting Line yet.
– We don’t have to wait for the walk sign this time. Just trust me.
– Whoa. Pal, look at that guy over there. I think he’s still out from last night. No. Don’t stare.
– Yeah. It’s slow moving at first. But we’ll break away once we get to Portland Ave.
– Hmmmm . . . maybe Dad should have investigated sun screen?
– But seriously, you’re fine? Because I can’t really see you that well.
– He actually prefers Cap Jr. or Lil’ Cap! (in response to someone yelling, “Go Baby Cap!”)
– Stu! Don’t throw water at my baby! (in response to the water station volunteers’ exuberance)
– Daddy’s going to say a bad word. The other side of this cul-de-sac is &%#$@!
– If you want to yell, “Wheeeeee!” as we go down the hill, Dad totally signs off on that.
– Wheeeeeeeeeeee! (in response to Cap Jr’s failure to do so as we go down the Cocheco St. hill to hit Mile Marker 2)
– I think that’s your cousin Garrett up ahead. No . . . we’re not catching up to him. Because Daddy’s more than 20 years older than your cousin, that’s why.
– Yup. That’s what horses do sometimes, pal. Yup. Sometimes right in the street.
– Don’t yell “on your left” to Nana! It’s rude!
– Yes, those guys are running in the opposite direction. Because . . . they . . . already finished and . . . are circling back to run . . . a 10K.
– There’s Grampa! Wave to Grampa!
– No, Grampa! We can’t stop for a picture! Meet us at the finish line!
– Yes, that volunteer is on a unicycle.
– No, I don’t know why that volunteer is on a unicycle.
– Aarrrrgh! (Translated: “I can’t believe your Aunt Kate just snaked by us in the last 2 seconds of the race!”)
The first thing I used to do after a race (once my vision came back, my inhaler patched my lungs over, and I wrung the sweat out of my eyebrows) was to stretch. And I made sure to stretch this time too. Once I checked on the baby and finally looked in his eyes for the first time in over a half hour and made sure he was fine. He was actually exhausted and pretty much out cold. Wouldn’t you be after flying all around Dover and listening to your Dad endlessly spout at you? And if you woke up and watched your mom cross the finish line and then she brought you to meet a giant alligator named Albert, wouldn’t that just be the best day ever?
One of the most magical things that happens at the CMNH 5K & Fun Run each year is the sense of community. Former and current employees and board members and long time volunteers return to help or participate in the event. Families run together. Elementary school classes run together. Scout groups run together. Co-workers, trivia teams, running groups – they’re all represented.
There was a runner there that told me that morning that this was his 100th race. Cap Jr. still has a bit more mileage to hit before he enters the triple digits. But I won’t care what his race times are. Or if he ate the right protein bar beforehand. Or what music he listens to when he runs. As long as he has fun.
At 32 minutes and 44 seconds, it was my worst 5K time ever. But who cares? I wouldn’t change a thing. (Well, maybe next year, we’ll aim for a bit more sleep the night before. I’m going to assume Cap Jr.’s teeth will finally be in by then.)
Tuesday was April Fools’ Day. While this whimsical “holiday” can be celebrated anywhere, a children’s museum is perfectly suited for foolish fun!
First, Educators Crystal and Meredith decided to fashion a Giant Yellow Mustache for our friend the Giant Blue Crab!These three jokers, “mustache you a question”!
Our horse friend C.J. from the Dover Mounted Patrol even joined in on the fun!Even police horses join in on April Fools’ tomfoolery!
Our exhibits even got in on the act!
And that’s when we unveiled our
V̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶S̶i̶l̶l̶y̶ Extremely Serious Scavenger Hunt!
The Granite State is very proud of these wild animals that are native to our state! Our visitors – big & small – had quite a lot of fun hunting down all the wild subjects!
We were also kind enough to share some AMAZING TRUE FACTS with our visitors about the First Day of April!Shhhh! Kanagaroo is learning how to stay calm in Mindball!Ah, yes – a royal rhino inside Pattern Palace.Dodo Bird takes this high perch in our Mexican Cafe.Snow Leopards and Submarines are a perfect mix.Abraham Lincoln was hoping to relax inside this cozy tree.Chameleon learned all about Air Mail in our Post Office.Just your normal everyday hammerhead shark checking out the Dino Detective exhibit.Toucans love the vehicle construction in Thinkering Lab.Armadillo was curious about the River Model.Ring Tailed Lemur was curious about the children who used to work in the mills.
Dragon was hanging out at the top of our Cocheco River Map!