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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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!
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.
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 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 crock-pot support to one of our visitorsCrock-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: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!
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.
“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 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 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 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 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.
The 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.
Every year CMNH holds a 5K Road Race and Fun Run and every year we have a different logo T-shirt which runners and kids can get. For the past 2 years we have crowdsourced the design from people like YOU! We love the idea that one of our friends’ designs would be featured on our official Race T worn by over 800 people!!
We have extended the deadline for entries because of the snow day to this MONDAY MARCH 26 2013. So don’t delay. Be inspired by any of our logos, or by something else that makes you think Running, Health, Museum, Kids, Family, Fun. The winning design will be on the Museum’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Homepage as well as on all the race T’s.
What You Could Win:
*Grand Prize Winner – $100 dollars plus YOUR DESIGN on all T-shirts and race related press and 2 Shirts!
*Best Design for artist age 10-18 years old – $20 Gift Certificate to the CMNH Gift Shop.
*Best Design for artist age 9 and under – $10 Gift Certificate to the CMNH Gift Shop.
How to Enter:
Complete and submit the Entry Form and Under 18 Contestant Release Form (if applicable).
Because of the snow day last week we are EXTENDING the deadline to MONDAY MARCH 26, 2013!
All submissions may be sent as an attachment to email@example.com
or on a CD to:
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
Attn: Road Race Logo
6 Washington Street
Dover, NH 03820
Hand-drawn designs should be mailed to the Museum and we will scan the image.
How to send us your images:
Your design may contain a maximum of three (3) colors (white space is not considered a color).
The logo will be printed in full color on GREEN T-shirts and will also be printed in black & white for some print materials, so keep this in mind as you are designing.
The logo should be at least 4”x4” inches (printed) but should not exceed 6”x6” inches (printed).
It is best to create your design in a professional design program such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. Your design should be no less than 600dpi and submitted as vector art and as a JPEG file.
If your design is hand-drawn, your design must be created using MARKER ONLY (no crayons or colored pencil). Note: Hand-drawn designs should not include writing —“the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s 5K Road Race and Fun Run” will be added as type by CMNH.
For more information visit
A new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of NH
Guest blog by Tess Feltes, Gallery 6 Coordinator
I love my job as curator of Gallery 6 and shamelessly confess that every show is my “favorite” show. But I felt compelled to write about the MOSAIC exhibit because this show touched a very special chord which, I believe, will have repercussions in my life and hopefully in the lives of some of the unbelievable people I have met.
It is well known that children in our world, now more than ever, are living in a diverse society, even in places where there was once a fairly homogeneous population. We truly live in a cultural mosaic right here in New Hampshire. This fact was driven home to me as I reached out to members of our multicultural community to participate in an exhibit called MOSAIC: Exploring our Multicultural Neighborhood.
The diversity I found has been astonishing and the outpouring of generosity, warmth and enthusiasm of people has been incredible! I feel I have made wonderful new connections … and, most importantly, friends!
Families from The Azores, Belarus, China, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco and Rwanda have shared photographs, stories, traditions, art, music and customs that interest children everywhere. The list of nationalities here in New Hampshire could go on … it was hard to limit it to the wall space that we have.
The exhibit shows how people of these cultures live, eat, dress, learn, play and engage with each other. The most heartening aspect of the project was the reinforcement that people are all amazingly similar, despite regional or cultural differences.
Immigrants arriving in the United States tend to share at least two experiences: they look forward – trying to become American – and they look back, trying to maintain some traditions from their homeland. Each individual brings his/her own unique personal, meaningful cultural background and their own way of dealing with the unending demands of life. We all need to cultivate an attitude of respect, acceptance and inclusion in order to break down the barrier of our “shyness” or reticence in approaching individuals that seem different.
I wanted to avoid a tourist approach of presenting culture through celebrations and food only. Instead, I wanted to share personal stories, achievements and comparisons in familiar and recognizable aspects of children’s lives – showing how people of diverse cultures live, eat, dress, learn, play and engage with each other. What does a school, a playground, a park or museum look like in another country? How is it the same? How is it different?
Throughout the project I kept in mind the words of Kenyan storyteller Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story that becomes the only story.”
This rings true. I began interviewing people with a preconceived idea about each country, perhaps formed by the media, whether National Geographic magazine or headlines in the news. Over and over again, my preconceived notions were wrong. The stories that were shared were far richer and diverse than I could have imagined.
For me, this project has underlined the truth that stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories can empower, humanize and help foster feelings of community, celebrating different cultures and their contributions in order to position each other as friends rather than strangers.
I hope that visitors to the Children’s Museum of NH will take the time to explore Gallery 6 to learn and appreciate the cultures presented there. I hope they will share their own stories with family and friends, make new friends and make a small difference in how we appreciate each other as we all face the challenges everyday living.
I also want to mention the fascinating artwork by Portland, Maine artist Jeannie Dunnigan. It is titled BAJ and features just the eyes of a child created using recycled print material. This seemed to encapsulate the idea that we all make up a part of the whole and reminds us that the eyes of our children are on us.
It is my hope the artwork of the MOSAIC project promotes deeper understanding of ourselves, our culture and our place in the world by exploring what brings people together rather than what keeps us apart.
The MOSAIC exhibit is on display at the Children’s Museum of NH through May 27, 2013.
- 20 LEED projects in New Hampshire
- 8 LEED Silver projects in the state
- 14 LEED children’s museums in the country
- 6 LEED Silver children’s museums in the USA
Many things that LEED certification encourages, or even requires, are good business practices and the right decision. For instance, there is a minimum required amount of construction waste recycled during building process. In our case that translated to over 54%, or more than 65 tons of waste that we kept out of landfill or the waste stream.
LEED also encourages using natural light and ventilation. So we choose to open up formerly blocked windows including the two tall arched windows in the South wall. Natural light reduces our reliance on utilities and lowers operating costs. A high performance heating and cooling system, as well as double-paned, energy efficient operable windows, help reduce our need for air conditioning .
Some of the decisions we made when thinking about LEED also resulted in delightful and impactful visitor experiences.Finished Cocheco Systems exhibitRear extension during construction
Adding the glass extension to the back of the building brought in light and allowed us to create an exhibit about the social and natural history of living on the River which is on the River and allows children to make connections between their play and the real thing.
As in all construction projects we had to put money into infrastructure, such as our 2,000 gallon cistern which captures rain water and eliminates all use of potable water for irrigation. This is not something visitors will ever see. It can also be hard for visitors to appreciate the low-key landscaping done with New England Conservation Wildlife Mix which is designed to maintain native vegetation, increase biodiversity and wildlife habitat and reduce water usage.Monarch Butterfly Teacher’s Network conducts butterfly release in Museum’s “back yard”
You probably have taken notice of our-low flow faucets and dual-flush toilets – did you know they save us an estimated 43% in water use, reducing our water consumption from 127,642 gallons per year to 72,721 gallons per year?!
That is just the infrastructure! We have cabinetry built of fast-growth bamboo and natural plant fiber cellulose used for insulation and acoustic damping. There is recycled content in the rubber and cork floor tiles, the bathroom countertops, and the carpet tiles. And we choose low-voc paints throughout the museum, as well as non-volatile finishes on floors.
Here are some fun facts:
The diner furniture came from a diner in Gardner MA that went out of business, and the Panelite ramp railing and the classroom wood flooring panels were reclaimed from a furniture showroom in Manchester, NH
Our exhibits were also done as “green” as possible. To us this meant reuse, repurposing, upcycling, being local, and making sure we used real things.
Here are some examples:sea life murals were painstakingly removed, restored and re-installed in our new museumSubmarine portholes and hardware salvaged from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in our Yellow SubmarineBench seating and passenger counters in the Trolley came from real, retired, equipment. Bobbins, spools, looms, and the carder are all reused from discarded factory equipment.Mill machinery called adjustable warp beam heads used as part of donor signs throughout the museum
I have talked about the importance of being green for the Children’s Museum before, and each time I say being green is not just the right thing to do, it is mission-driven for us. After all, the Children’s Museum is about the foundational skills kids need for success over their lifetime. Sustainability and stewardship are part of that. They are part of our overall health and wellness, how we relate to the land and built environment, as well as how we relate to one another. We believe that it is our responsibility to set a living example, and to model our values of responsibility and good citizenship.
The environment of the Museum is also designed for learning – that is our expertise. It is a best practice to provide a non-toxic, safe, and sustainable environment for kids to explore. A significant portion of our visitors are physically on or close to the floor, might put something in their mouths, and their brains are still developing. Kids learn in multisensory ways and we don’t want them to feel inhibited about exploring something through all their senses. We want them to have an environment which best supports their development. It is respectful of kids to be green.
“With each new LEED-certified building, we get one step closer to USGBC’s vision of a sustainable built environment within a generation . . .The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is an important addition to the growing strength of the green building movement.” – Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, USGBC