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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When Ice is Nice

Embracing the cold . . . all year long

The weather in New England is always interesting on any given day, but this winter has been especially memorable. When it’s not snowing close to two feet of snow causing people (and cars, buildings, Giant Blue Crabs, etc.) to be totally buried in the fluffy white stuff, it’s in the mid-50’s with families walking, jogging and playing outside.

At CMNH, we offer a safe and warm facility for families to enjoy – especially on those sub-zero Polar vortex days we’ve recently experienced. On moderate winter days, one of our favorite activities is guiding families into Henry Law Park in front of our building and creating Snow Art!

Our visitors use spray bottles full of non-toxic watercolor paint and water to decorate the landscape in Henry Law ParkOur visitors use spray bottles full of non-toxic watercolor paint and water to decorate the landscape in Henry Law Park

But whether the weather is freezing, windy, hailing or sizzling, one of the most popular indoor activities we run at CMNH is Ice Art. When we set up larger Ice Art projects (consisting of several tubs of ice) they can be worked on in the Muse Studio, while our smaller ones (usually one tub with one large or several smaller pieces of ice) can be found in the Naturalist Study near the CochecoNature exhibit on the first floor of the museum.

Parents & children (and staff!) experiment with cups of colored saltwater to see how their actions affect the ice.

– Does the salt make the ice melt faster or slower?

– What is the advantage of using a pipette to administer the solution?

– Do colors mix the same way on ice/water as they do on paper?

– How does an items density affect how it freezes inside the ice?

– How much time do you think it will take to free a trapped treasure from the ice?

– How do you make stripes of color – or a rainbow – in the ice without the colors mixing?

Through the help of our visitors, here’s some knowledge we’ve gleaned thus far in our years of ice exploration:

– Some dice floated to the top before freezing while some sunk.

– Glitter always floats before freezing.

– We had to weight the plastic sharks so they would freeze in the center of the ice.

– Ribbon is fun to freeze. Fabric is not fun to freeze.

– Pencils are fun to freeze. Pens are not fun to freeze.

– Plastic bugs look cool trapped in ice. Plastic food looks gross trapped in ice.

– Colors that slowly drip from one section of ice to another can create cool swirling effects. Too many colors in the ice at once causes brown and gray water. Yuck.

– Freezing different colors side-by-side takes a few days as each color must be frozen on its own first.

– The plastic human brain mold was our most popular ice shape. (Sadly, human brain mold developed a crack last year and had to be retired.)

– Visitors most favorite trapped ice objects are – hands down – plastic dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes.

Ice Art is an inexpensive, fun activity that can be done at home with Plastic containers, small cups, pipettes or paint brushes, table salt and watercolor paint or food coloring (but we recommend the paint as it washes off easier). The bigger the shape that you’re freezing, the more time it will need in the freezer. Museum Educators often set up their ice projects at the end of the museum day to be ready for the following morning.

Enjoy this short video of some of our most interesting ice art that we’ve seen at CMNH!

Zach once ate so many coconut flavored popsicles in a row that everything he ate for six months tasted like coconut.

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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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CMNH FoodWorks – Mini Iron Chef: Pizza Edition!

Later today, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire will host our third Mini Iron Chef Challenge as part of FoodWorks, our partnership with Hannaford Supermarkets. Museum Educator Meghan, who led our last FoodWorks event, is back at the helm again.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.12.04 AMThe original Iron Chef started in Japan in 1993, with the dubbed versions airing in the United States on The Food Network becoming so popular that Iron Chef America debuted on the network in 2005 and is still producing episodes today. A hallmark of each episode of Iron Chef in all its incarnations is the secret ingredient.

Secret ingredients from the history of the television series include such diverse selections as Asparagus, Eggplant, Lobster, Tilapia, Beets, Ostrich, Mango, Apples, Squid, Coconut, Wild Chinook Salmon and Zucchini.

Ripe mango fruit isolatedLobsteraubergineostrichCoconut

 

 

 

 

 

During past CMNH FoodWorks Mini Iron Chef challenges, the secret ingredients were revealed to be applesauce and vanilla yogurt. What will today’s secret ingredient be? We can promise you that Ostrich and Wild Chinook Salmon will definitely NOT be revealed to be this year’s secret ingredient!

Each Adult/Child pair will be making pizza for our panel of judges. The teams have been given a list of ingredients that will be available to them. How will they react when they find out the secret ingredient? How will they adapt it to the recipe they’ve been practicing at home?

Stay tuned for pictures, the Judges’ Results, and a report on all the delicious fun!

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CMNH FoodWorks – Crock-pot Cooking for Kids!

My name is Meghan and I am an educator at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. I want to tell you about a great event I recently led as part of our FoodWorks series.

Foodworks Banner

Every two months, CMNH – in partnership with Hannaford Grocery Stores – hosts an edition of our FoodWorks series. In the past, we’ve focused on creating quick and nutritious meals, educating families about food allergies, and hosting our own Local Roots Food Fair. FoodWorks is a great series that focuses on healthy eating for the whole family. There are many reasons that we love the FoodWorks events, but what I enjoy most about it is getting to work with Heidi Kerman, Registered Dietician for Hannaford. Having Heidi on hand to answer the many questions museum families have about nutrition makes a fun event extra educational. (It’s ok, you don’t have to tell the kids that’s it’s educational! That can be our secret!)

The ever-helpful HeidiThe ever-helpful Heidi

Heidi has given CMNH visitors great tips for picky eaters, exciting ways to introduce children to new food, and pointers for how to make your meals as healthy as they are tasty.

CMNH Educator Jenaya offers crockpot support to one of our visitorsCMNH Educator Jenaya offers crock-pot support to one of our visitorsCrockpot Lasagna is a great and easy meal on a cold day!Crock-pot Lasagna is a great and easy meal on a cold day!

Our most recent FoodWorks event was, “Crock-pot Cooking for Kids!” I had never cooked in a crock-pot before so I was a little anxious. I decided on three recipes to cook up for the event. I spent the day before the event preparing the ingredients for one recipe that people typically associate with crock-pots – chili – and two recipes that people definitely do not associate with crock-pots – lasagna and applesauce! Despite my initial worries, I found out pretty quickly that I had nothing to worry about! The recipes were simple and tasty, and were loved by adults and children alike.

I’d like to share with you some of the recipes we made at our Crock-pot Cooking for Kids event:

LasRec

Rec

Our crockpot applesauce made the whole room fill up with wonderful apple scents!Our crockpot applesauce made the whole room fill up with wonderful apple scents!

These recipes are allergy-friendly and easy to change to suit your family’s needs.

We all had so much fun. Our visitors even got in on the action, helping us make a new batch of our delicious chili! I hope that if you missed this awesome event you will be able to join our next CMNH/Hannaford Food Works event in March where we will be having our own Mini Iron Chef competition! This year it’s a special pizza edition!

Meghan B. (and the whole CMNH Team!)

Meghan prepares for some Crock-pot Cooking!Meghan prepares for some Crock-pot Cooking!

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New leadership moves the museum forward

Children's Museum of NH President Jane Bard and Vice President Paula RaisChildren’s Museum of NH President Jane Bard (left) and Vice President Paula Rais (right)

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is tapping into the strength of long-time staff members to lead the organization’s next phase of growth and development.

The Museum’s board of directors has announced the appointment of Jane Bard to the role of Museum President, and Paula Rais to the newly created position of Museum Vice President of Development and Community Engagement. Together, Bard and Rais will be managing Museum operations and the implementation of a recently completed strategic plan for the organization.

CMNH_JBard_PRais_BlueCrab“This is the Children’s Museum’s thirtieth year of operation and we could not be more pleased to have this new leadership team in place,” stated Eric Gregg, President of the Museum’s board of directors. “Five years after moving to Dover, the Museum is thriving with great new programs, excellent community connections and more than 90,000 visitors a year. We have chosen two passionate and experienced professionals to continue expanding and deepening our impact with families, schools and under-served populations. Jane and Paula have our full confidence and we look forward to working with them to achieve the Museum’s goals.”

Jane Bard checks blueprints during the renovation of the Children's Museum of NH in 2008.Jane checks blueprints during the renovation of the museum in 2008

Jane Bard, who holds a master’s degree in education, has been with the museum for 19 years, and served as the Museum’s Associate Director for several years and Director of Education for more than 10 years. Bard has developed and directed the organization’s education-based programming, served as co-chair of the New England Museum Association’s children’s museums professional affinity group, and presented at numerous regional and national conferences. She is currently working with the Dover Chamber’s Business and Education Committee and has served on the Dover Kids’ Cabinet, among other organizations.

Jane at work as Education DirectorJane at work as Education Director

“Jane has done a remarkable job as the Director of Education for the Museum,” said Gregg. “Coming off her recent planning and execution of the highly successful Dover Mini Maker Faire and her consistent leadership of a thriving education program, Jane is especially well suited to being elevated to the role of Museum President.”

Paula accepts the Leaders in Innovation Award from the president of the New England Museum AssociationPaula accepts the Leaders in Innovation Award from the president of the New England Museum Association

With a background in education and the arts, Paula Rais joined the Children’s Museum staff 12 years ago. She created the Museum To You program in 2003, taking a miniature version of the Museum across the state and beyond to bring a children’s museum experience to under-served communities. More recently, Rais created the Museum’s Exploring Our Way Autism Partnership Program and the East Coast’s first Alzheimer’s Café, which won the Leaders in Innovation Award from the New England Museum Association. She has been a featured speaker at national conferences, has facilitated professional workshops, and is involved in museum industry leadership.

Paula with Alzheimer's Cafe attendees at a recent Alzheimer's WalkPaula at a recent Alzheimer’s Walk with friends from the museum’s Alzheimer’s Cafe

Gregg explained, “Paula’s history with the Museum, particularly her successful development of the Exploring Our Way and Alzheimer’s Café programs, and the wide range of relationships she has with the education and business communities, make her the ideal person to head up the Museum’s development efforts, in addition to retaining her role as Director of Community Engagement.”

Jane and Paula are now working together with the board and staff move forward with implementing the museum’s strategic plan, focused on creativity, learning and collaboration.

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CMNH Brings Mini Maker Faire to New Hampshire!

Dover_MMF_logo_squareThe Maker Faire is coming to New Hampshire! The first annual Dover Mini Maker Faire is scheduled for Saturday, August 24, 2013 in and around the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover. This is the first time a Maker Faire event has been held in the Granite State.

“We are over the moon about bringing Maker Faire to our state,” said Justine Roberts, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of NH. “This event aligns perfectly with our mission to ignite children’s creative potential by challenging them to think big. What better way to bring our mission to life than with this amazing event that showcases our community’s creativity, engages children’s imaginations and inspires them to be the makers of tomorrow.”

The Dover Mini Maker Faire takes after its enormous parent event, Maker Faire, which hosts 110,000 visitors in San Mateo in May. The Dover Mini Maker Faire will be a smaller, community-focused event, but will follow the Maker Faire model of celebrating do-it-yourself creativity and tinkering.

“Make, create, craft, recycle, build, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology.”

Featuring both established and emerging local “makers,” the Dover Mini Maker Faire is a family-friendly celebration featuring rockets and robots, DIY science and technology, urban farming and sustainability, alternative energy, bicycles, unique hand-made crafts, music and local food, and educational workshops and installations. A Call for Makers will open on Monday, May 6.

In developing plans for the Dover Mini Maker Faire, the Children’s Museum of NH gathered a group of key advisors from New Hampshire and beyond to be part of the steering committee. Individuals and groups currently on the Dover Mini Maker Faire include: Angela Sheehan, Clint Crosbie of Port City Makerspace, Alex Nunn of Seacoast Makers, Lindsey Wright of Seacoast Robotics, Richard Cecchetti and Tara Hicks Johnson of the Sea Perch program, Mark Critz of FIRST Robotics, Tim Tabor and Taylor Poro from the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Wayne Moulton of New Heights Adventures for Teens and Sages of RPG, artist Nathan Walker, Rob Worobey of Black Sparrow Industries, local maker John McColley, Karrah Kwasnik of Genius Switch Studio, Doug Ridley of Vital Design, Dylan Haigh and Kristy Martino of Haigh & Martino, Jim Harvey of Letgo Your Mind and Chris Evilsizer of Metis Networks.

The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2012 celebrated its seventh annual show with some 800 makers and 110,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire New York, the other flagship event, has grown in three years to 500+ makers and 55,000 attendees. Detroit, Kansas City, Newcastle (UK), and Tokyo are the home of “featured” Maker Faires (200+ makers), and community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world. Dover Mini Maker Faire is independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc.

Follow the development of the Dover Mini Maker Faire on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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