A new family attraction several years in the making is opening in downtown just in time for summer fun. The Dover Adventure Playground at Henry Law Park will open to the public on Saturday, June 24 at 9:30 a.m.
The playground will feature a life-size flat-bottomed vintage gundalow; a net climber; swings and slides; a three-story Garrison Hill tower; a 1,200-pound, 3-foot by 8-foot climbable Alewife granite fish sculpture; a splash pad and water pumps; sand play area; musical instruments and more.
“The Children’s Museum of NH has been thrilled to partner with the city of Dover, its citizens and businesses to create the new Dover Adventure Playground,” said Jane Bard, Museum President. “It is sure to become a destination for seacoast families and visitors looking for outdoor play and exploration in a setting that is uniquely Dover.”
Dover Recreation Director Gary Bannon agrees. “The new playground is the result of years of planning and enthusiastic collaboration,” said Bannon. “This playground promises to be a significant attraction to downtown.”
After the playground opens, visitors to Dover will have one more reason to spend the whole day in the city, visiting the Children’s Museum, playing in the playground, having a picnic, shopping with downtown merchants or eating at a local restaurant.
“This playground is really unique to Dover and I don’t think there will be anything quite like it in New Hampshire,” shared Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director. “The history of the area is highlighted throughout the design.” The gundalow, a 32-year-old replica of the Capt. Edward H. Adams, is one of only two gundalows in the region.
Thoughtful touches abound in the new playground. The three-story tower was picked specifically to mimic the Garrison Hill fire tower in Dover. The climbable fish sculpture by Thomas Berger from Kittery is a nod to the alewife who spawn in the Cocheco River, bordering the playground. One of the swings is made for an older child and an infant to swing together, a highlight for parents with multiple children. The net climbing structure has a slack line and percussion instruments are installed nearby. Tree stumps provide balancing practice for children or additional seating. The splash pad will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. this spring and summer. Nearby is another play area featuring hand pumps and wooden sluices.
Two features in the works will debut after the June 24th opening. The Museum’s community teaching garden currently located on the riverfront adjacent to the Museum will relocate to the park for the next growing season. Also planned for the roof of the Dover pool bordering the playground, is an 18-foot metal “Whale’s Tail” sculpture created by artist Dale Rogers. The whale will appear to be diving into the pool building.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is holding a naming contest for the alewife fish sculpture, who is a female, throughout the month of July. The public can vote on the fish’s new moniker either by casting a ballot inside the museum, or on the museum’s facebook page. The public will then vote to narrow down the names to the 10 most popular. A judging panel will then choose the winner.
“Even though it’s a playground, it’s really designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages,” said Jane Bard. “I think I’m most excited that we’re bringing this right to the center of Dover and I really think it’s going to be a shining example of what Dover has been, and will be. It will be a safe, engaging, and joyful gathering spot for people of all ages.”
To learn more about the Dover Adventure Park, visit the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s website: www.childrens-museum.org/visit/dover-adventure-playground or contact Dover Recreation at 603-516-6401.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire participated in the 2nd annual NH Gives program, an initiative of the NH Center of Nonprofits, and within 24-hours raised a total of $1890, exceeding their goal for the day.
NH Gives is designed to bring the state together as one community, raising as much money and awareness as possible for New Hampshire’s nonprofits within a 24-hour flood of donations. The museum’s goal for the day was to raise $1,000.
“With the support of 25 generous donors, we managed to smash that goal!” said Paula Rais, CMNH’s Vice President of Development and Community Engagement.
The day started at 6pm on June 6th with many non-profits vying for cash prizes handed out by NH Gives for honors such as “Most Raised 6pm to 9pm” or “Most Donors.” “We’re really proud of how we did in comparison to other non-profits,” shared Neva Cole, CMNH’s Communications Director. The museum came in 23rd in terms of number of donors, tying with Wentworth-Douglass Hospital and Polaris Charter School. “The Center for Non-profits makes the day very easy to promote, and they even manage to keep this amazing community of non-profits competing in a friendly way!”
What does this money go to support? “We want everyone to be able to learn and grow with us,” said Cole. “We’ve had generations of children visit our exhibits, and many have returned with their own children. The donations we receive through NH Gives go to support the families who might struggle to pay our admission fees. Over 30% of our families are only able to visit because of our ‘Museum Access for All’ programs.” A few examples of that program include subsidized bus visits for Title 1 Schools, families paying only $1 per person when they present an EBT Card, and even free programs for families with children on the autism spectrum.
“This museum is not just a space for kids to come on a rainy day,” said Jane Bard, President of the museum. “It’s a community of educators, parents, children, artists, sponsors and donors who believe in the power of play. We are so thrilled and thankful to have this community support to further our mission of inspiring all to be the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers.”
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is offering a wide range of summer camps. One of the newer camps, Eco-Explorers, will be taught by the museum’s newest educator, Colie Haahr.
Eco-Explorers is a 5-day camp scheduled for Monday, August 14 through Friday, August 18, 9:15am-1pm, for children ages 7-11. The camp will give kids an opportunity to learn about the wonders of the natural world. “Kids will be introduced to animal communication and adaptations, as well as local plants, animals, and ecosystems through nature exploration, games, and art projects,” shared Haahr, CMNH’s STEAM & School-Aged Programs Coordinator.
Colie has joined the museum recently and is excited to spend her first summer at CMNH. She joins the education team after teaching for Nature’s Classroom, an outdoor education company with different sites all over New England, and traveling the world while leading YMCA leadership trips. She has her BA in English and Secondary Education from Alfred University and recently completed her Masters degree in Recreation Management and Policy at UNH. Through her teaching experiences she has gained a genuine love and respect for the environment.
“Some of my favorite topics will be incorporated into this Eco-Explorers Camp, and I’m really excited to share my knowledge and experience with the kids,” shared Colie.
Eco-Explorers is just one of 8 camps being offered at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire this summer. Topics and more information can be found on the museum’s website at www.childrens-museum.org/things-to-do/camps-classes. To register for Eco-Explorers or any other camp, please call 603-742-2002. Registration for camps closes one week before they begin.
T-Rex Takes over CMNH
A visit to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover just got a bit more Cretaceous! A life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex skull cast, along with a life-size footprint cast, have been loaned to the museum for the summer and now live in the popular Dino Detective Exhibit.
Generously loaned to the museum by Shawn Warren of The PAST, and made possible by the love and support of June Marie Warren and William Donald Warren of Neillsville, Wisconsin, the T. Rex specimens (known as AMNH 5027) join an augmented reality sand table, Triceratop fossil casts and an area to dig for fossils and make ammonite fossil rubbings.
“We’re very excited to have these replicas on loan to the museum,” said Eric Erwin, CMNH Exhibits Manager. “They make a great compliment to the hands-on pieces that make up our Dino Detective exhibit, and I have a feeling the kids will love posing with this giant skull and footprint!”
Specimen AMNH 5027, the fossil of an adult Tyrannosaurus Rex, was discovered over 100 years ago in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana in 1907 by Barnum Brown. The T. Rex, while living would have measured 20 feet in height, 50 feet in length and weighed 7 tons. The original skull fossil was on display at the American Natural History Museum in 1915, where it fueled a generation of imaginings about this towering and impressive carnivore. There have since been many additional discoveries of T. Rex specimens, and the AMNH mount is no longer the only or most complete T. Rex around. But, it was the first.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is now open seven days a week for summer hours. Guests can visit anytime Mondays through Saturdays, 10am-5pm and Sundays, noon-5pm. Fun in all the exhibits is included with museum admission which is $10 per person for everyone over the ages of 12 months. Seniors 65+ pay only $9.
Interview with Megan, Director of Atlantic Gymnastics at the Dover location.
By Kelly Sorge, CMNH Marketing Intern
Q. What do you like about teaching children?
A. I like teaching kids because they’re excited about everything! Everyone is always ready to learn which makes teaching so much fun!
Q. What are the benefits of kids learning gymnastics?
A. Kids learn important body movements like balance, strength, and coordination. They also learn lifelong skills like discipline, confidence, responsibility, the ability to work with others, and taking correction.
Q. What is your favorite part of your job?
A. My job is always different. I teach kids 18 months - 18 years so I get to see different faces and teach different skills every day.
Q. Why/how did you get involved in gymnastics? What has the impact of gymnastics been on your life?
A. I started learning gymnastics when I was three years old with my mom as my coach; she’s still coaching now! At thirteen I started assisting her at coaching in the gym and I started working for Atlantic my sophomore year in college at UNH. Gymnastics has been part of my whole life. My mom and my sister are both involved and it’s a part of who I am. I love the challenge!
Q. So what do you have planned for Gymnastics Day at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire on Saturday, April 29, 11am-3pm?
A. The activities for Gymnastics Day will be a small version of the classes we teach here. We will bring in a balance beam and ball and teach kids how to use their body to balance. We will also be talking about some of the summer programs we have going on.
The Children's Museum of New Hampshire will hold its annual 5K Road Race/Walk & Kid-venture Course on Saturday, May 6, 2017 and is looking for participants. The Children’s Museum’s 5k is the first race in the Seacoast Road Race Series. Proceeds from all races in the series benefit non-profits like the museum.
“Our race is different from a lot of races in the area,” said Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director. “It is a certified course and is for runners as well as walkers, but on race day it’s like a giant party in Henry Law Park in downtown Dover. We have amazing food including a Tasty Toppings Yogurt Bar, sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets and featuring Stonyfield yogurt, music by our MC and local radio personality Mike Pomp, and a newly designed Kid-venture Course for kids who might be a little too young to run in the 5k just yet!”
The 5K for adults begins at 9am at the intersection of Central Avenue, Washington Street and Henry Law Avenue. The course runs up Central Avenue to Chapel Street, up Portland Avenue and back down to Henry Law Park. Post-race activities, including an awards ceremony and refreshments, will take place in Henry Law Park following the race. The 5K registration fee is $22 in advance and $25 on the day of the race. Walk-up registration for the 5k will be available at The Children’s Museum on race day starting at 7:30am up until 15 minutes prior to the start of the 5k.
Children ages 12 and younger can participate in the Kid-venture Course, which takes place at 10am in Henry Law Park. “The KidVenture Course will feature a series of zany, exhibit-themed challenge,” shared Jane Bard, CMNH President. “From crab walking under the ‘sea’ and crawling through caterpillar tunnels, to transporting dino eggs to their nest and crossing the (pretend) Cocheco River, there is something fun for everyone! We’ve partnered with The Works Family Health and Fitness Center to create this course and I think it will have children moving, grooving and stretching their creative muscles!”
All Kid-venture Course participants will receive a ribbon and t-shirt while supplies last. The entry fee for the Kid-venture Course is $8 in advance and $10 on race day.
Also new this year, the museum invites participants to raise donations through CrowdRise. “You can sign up to fundraise as an individual or a as a team through CrowdRise and the fundraising team who raises the most money by May 5 will get to enjoy an exclusive VIP hospitality tent on race day, stocked with food, beverages and attendants!” shared Cole. Visit www.crowdrise.com/ChildrensMuseumofNewHampshire5K to sign up to fundraise. Fundraising teams can raise money together, but cannot sign up to race in the 5k or Kid-venture Course as a team.
To learn more or to register, visit www.childrens-museum.org/things-to-do/events/5k-road-race-fun-run. The museum thanks it’s 2017 Road Race sponsors including Sprague, The Works Family Health & Fitness Center, Formax, Relyco, Weathervane, Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, PA, Willem Verweij Physical Therapy, Bob’s Discount Furniture and Hannaford Supermarkets.
Vicky Haft was a longtime volunteer of the Children's Museum of New Hampshire. She recently passed away in 2016 and we miss her dearly. Museum staff took some time to reflect on Vicky's legacy as a dedicated volunteer and a wonderful person. The museum was lucky to have her as part of its history.
Jane Bard, CMNH President
"I remember Vicky calling me 'honey,' in fact, I think Vicky called many people she encountered 'honey.' Young, old, male, female, she had a way of making you feel like you are precious, that you are family. The Museum can be a hectic and energetic place, and I always remember Vicky being a calm presence, someone who no matter what was happening around her, she was able to focus on whatever child needed her help in our project area in Portsmouth. She was a friend to all and was part grandmother/part mentor to the young staff and volunteers."
Xanthi Gray, Education Director
"There are many fond memories of Vicky as she was an important part of the museum's volunteer program for so many years (in Portsmouth & in Dover). Vicky had a way of greeting all visitors with a warm & sparkling smile, making them feel important and welcome. She enjoyed chatting with children & adults alike and getting to know their stories. She was open & warm which made everyone feel comfortable in her presence, visitors and staff!
I always remember that Vicky loved projects. Whether it meant cutting out 50 paper bear masks for Teddy Bear Clinic or making sewing repairs on a soft sculpture fish head, she was eager to help and enjoyed the work as she conversed with visitors. Having never driven, once the museum moved to Dover, it was no longer possible for Vicky to walk to the museum from her home. She was still eager to volunteer, so staff members took turns giving Vicky rides to and from the museum each week so she could continue her volunteer work. On many occasions, I had the opportunity to drive her. I so enjoyed getting to hear the stories of her family members, who she loved dearly and lit up when she spoke of them. And, in typical Vicky fashion, she never forgot to ask about my family and seemed to also enjoy hearing about them.
Each year Vicky would leave us for a winter break in Florida. She would always return with a treat for the staff. But truly the best treat for us was having the opportunity to be in Vicky's presence and enjoy her friendship. She touched so many of us and we will never forget her!"
Paula Rais, VP of Development & Community Engagement
"I met Vicky when the museum was still in Portsmouth. She was a fellow New Yorker, though she lived in the city and I was from Long Island. We talked a lot about New York, art, families, and pets. Vicky and her husband Bob had King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, and my parents also had that breed of dog and grew up in NY, so that really bonded us! Vicky was soft spoken, called everyone 'Honey,' but she also had sass and a NY toughness. Despite being a very petite woman, you wouldn’t want to mess with her!"
Doug Tilton, Director of Visitor Services
"Vicky Haft was my friend. I want to be clear about that because everything I say will be biased. She was one of the closest and dearest friends I’ve ever had, and that’s because it was pretty much impossible to be Vicky’s friend and not see and feel about her that way. We worked together all of our Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for nine years and then for at least four hours a week off and on for another couple of years after we moved from Portsmouth. Seeing Vicky walk through the front door was quite literally the highlight of our workweek, no exaggeration. It is no overstatement to say she transformed the project area each day with her presence. Anyone who worked with Vicky will tell you she had that special ability to meet the child (or their moms, dads, grandparents or caregivers) on his or her level and then gently guide them through their experience. I’ve never met anyone who used her 'people skills' so effectively. Vicky was an exemplary volunteer and teacher of children and she gave of herself unconditionally all the time. I don’t think the Children’s Museum has ever had any better emissary, myself included. I use Vicky as a guide star to help us keep the Museum as the kind, welcoming and nurturing a place as it was when she was with us.
When the museum was located in Portsmouth, volunteers earned a gift membership for every fifty hours they served. We had only a couple of volunteers who earned them at the rate Vicky did and some of them would turn their gift back to us to donate them to families in need through our funded membership program. Vicky always took hers and enjoyed finding and identifying those families she thought could benefit from the Museum. She was a native New Yorker and didn’t drive so she walked everywhere. Because of that Vicky met people all the time. She took a genuine interest in everyone and took the time to learn their stories so she had no trouble finding people to give her earned memberships to, or even to just invite to check out the Museum for an initial visit. I was frequently being introduced to some young mom or dad with a toddler Vicky had introduced to the Museum.
She had an amazing memory for detail and always remembered the names of the visitors, not to mention details of their lives and she always added an invaluable personal touch to the Museum. Vicky took a great interest in the Museum staff's children’s birthdays and would always remember us at birthday or holiday time. One time I came home to find a beautifully wrapped package at my back door with a note. It was more than a month from my birthday but she was going to be away and wanted to make sure I got my birthday gift on time, a thoughtfully chosen book on a subject I had once mentioned in passing.
There were a few issues that kept Vicky from continuing to volunteer with us on a regular basis once we left Portsmouth. In Portsmouth, she lived only a few thousand feet from the Children’s Museum. But, like I mentioned, she didn't drive, so it was a bit complicated to get her here to Dover. But she did help out here when she could. Vicky was one of only two people to twice receive our annual Florence Coughlin Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. If we hadn’t created the award in Florence’s name there is no question we would have named it for Vicky because she was so deserving of the honor. She was intelligent, sensitive, deeply committed and without a doubt one of the kindest and gentlest persons I’ve ever known. She was also a very positive and forward thinking person with a great sense of humor. Nothing I write can do Vicky’s memory justice, but her person and her actions and what they meant to us does live on."
by Rebecca Scheinberg, CMNH Intern
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from.” – Billy Joel
Music has an incredible power to imprint memories into our brains that can last a lifetime. Music has the ability to transform a mood, to lift a spirit, to bring people together. My morning routine includes music and coffee. These are the essentials. I am not a morning person so music serves as a necessity, equal to my morning coffee, for waking up. While I was getting ready for my internship [at the Children’s Museum] one morning, I was listening to the Harry Belafonte station on Pandora. The songs were upbeat and may have inspired an impromptu dance party in my kitchen while making coffee. Then the song, ‘When I’m 64’ by the Beatles, started. I love the playfulness of this song and I remember listening to it with my dad when I was a kid. My father is a big music and Beatles fan. It prompted a vivid memory of listening to the song from the tabletop jukebox in the mid-90s with my family at a New York diner. My parents would give me three quarters and let me choose the songs, at least one of which would be a song by the Beatles.
This memory sparked an idea. I wanted to learn more about what songs parents shared with their children. I spoke with a few people including Neva and Taylore (the two incredible humans who run the Communications/Marketing department at the CMNH) and my dear, wonderful friend Marsha. They shared some musical memories with me.
Taylore Kelly, Communications Specialist and Development Assistant
I Ran by the Flock of Seagulls
My son Yoso was delayed in speaking. He would hum and so I would play him music a lot and he started singing in the car in particular. I think it may have been the acoustics and the stereo itself. So he could sing before he could talk. The first song he picked up was the song “I Ran” by flock of seagulls. He sang that song after the second time of playing it for him, and danced in his car seat. It was the first song I had ever recorded on my boombox in the 80’s. So it’s very nostalgic to us both.
Marsha, CMNH Patron and Mom
“I make sure that I sing both kids a handful of lullabies before it's lights out. I love this part of the day, when they are quiet and succumbing to sleepiness, and it's pretty much the only time of day when they are still. Like most people, I love sleeping children - they almost seem to glow with innocence and goodness. I also have nice memories of my mom singing me German lullabies before I would go to bed, which was pretty much the only time I let her speak German, her native language, so I think she loved that time of day. At any rate, we had all sorts of songs in our repertoire in the beginning, but because James (my husband) and I tag team with the bedtime responsibilities, and because both kids are stalwart in their little routines, the songs we routinely ended up singing needed to be songs that both of us knew. James doesn't know many songs. One of the few songs he does know is Silent Night. It was never a song that I was particularly interested in, as it has fairly obvious connotations and I'm a cynical atheist, but we sing it each and every night throughout the year, and I have come to deeply appreciate its message of peace, a gentle world, a good night's sleep that is wished upon innocent children, and I often confess that I get a bit choked up as I sing it. It's exactly what I wish for my children: peace, both through sleep and through a good and kind world. It's beautiful, and it makes me so grateful that I have these little hellraisers to look after and try to help them pave a safe path through their travels.”
Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director
“My daughter, Lila has never really tolerated my singing. When she was about 2 or 3, we’d be driving in the car and a great song would come on the radio and I’d start belting out the lyrics, only to have her scream at me “Mama! STOP!” Even when I’d play her toddler music, she refused to let me sing along to the ABC’s, insisting that she should be the only one singing and dancing around.
Now that she is five, she’s a bit more tolerant. We’ve had some successful dance parties in the kitchen to Taylore Swift’s “Shake It Off.” After seeing the animated movie “Sing” however, we’ve taken it to a whole new level of enthusiasm. Now, when we are making cookies, or eating lunch in the kitchen, the request for music is very specific. “BAMBOLEO, please!”
Neither of us know most of the lyrics, but we dance around waiting for the chorus to kick in. Then, at the top of our lungs, shout it out: “BAMBOLEO! BAMBOLEA!” Thank you Gipsy Kings for getting my daughter to finally let me get my dance on!”
Thank you all for sharing a beautiful glimpse into your stories. I hope that you find time in your day to enjoy the music and get your dance on!