By Meredith Lamothe, Early Childhood, Literacy & Humanities Coordinator
It's a great time for some literacy fun!
I had a lovely snow day today—snuggled into my apartment with my sleepy pup, catching up on work, and sipping coffee—it was so relaxing. I couldn't help but think of the snow days when I was a kid and how different a snow day is now that I'm an adult.
It was always exciting to have a surprise day home from school. The morning would be a whirlwind of “helping” shovel (aka my brother and I throwing snow at each other with our shovels), making pancakes and hot cocoa, sledding, building forts and snow-people, chasing each other around and subsequently destroying the pristine, beautiful, winter wonderland from the storm the night before. Sounds like a full day of fun, no? We would usually finish all of these activities before noon and then start complaining to my parents that we were SOOOOO BOREDDDDDDDD!
So, I've put together a few activities to help with that afternoon snow day boredom. And for a bonus—they're all related to literacy! It's a sneaky way to fit in some learning on a day off.
Five Literacy Activities for a Snowy Day:
1. Find a favorite winter story like “The Mitten” by Jan Brett and read it together as a family. Then find ways to re-tell the story!
- Find stuffed animals that match the animals in the story and hide them all inside a big white pillow case—try to remember the order that the animals climbed into the mitten!
- Print photos of the animals off the Internet, spend some time comparing the photographs to Brett's beautifully drawn animal illustrations in the book—how are they alike or different?
- You can use these photographs to re-tell the story as well—put the photos on sticks or straws and use them as puppets.
2. Get outside! Try snow painting.
- Find a few spray bottles and fill them with water. Add some food coloring or liquid water color and go outside and play!
- You can practice writing letters and then drawing something that begins with that letter.
- You can provide your child/ren with just primary colors and allow them to experiment and try to make different colors—chat with them about their process and what they have discovered!
- If your child/ren are older, challenge them to each draw a series of pictures that tell a story, then challenge them to re-tell each other's stories. Then they can share with each other the story they were actually trying to tell—there will be lots of giggles!
3. Go on a letter hunt inside the house (or outside!) Give your child a piece of paper with a big letter written on it and have them go around and find everything in the house, or a certain room of the house, that begins with that letter. It'll become an exciting scavenger hunt for your child and very little work for you! If your child is not recognizing letters or letter sounds yet—try this scavenger hunt using color instead. Older kids? Try a rhyme hunt!
4. Write each other secret notes—or create secret drawings. This one is really easy! Take a white crayon (you know, the most neglected crayon in the box!) and write a note or draw a picture on a white piece of paper. Then paint over the paper with watercolor. Read your note to your child or have them read it to you—and have them explain their drawing.
5. Make a snow day treat together. Following recipes is a terrific way to start understanding sequencing and improve narrative skills. Reading the recipe and then putting it all together will be challenging, but an excelling literacy experience—and the reward of a tasty treat is pretty good too! If your child/ren are older let them do this with a low level of supervision. Tell them if they work together and carefully follow the recipe—you'll do all the dishes!
I hope you enjoy these snow day activities! Let us know if you try any of them and if they help to combat the snow day afternoon boredom. I'm off on a snow shoe with Bella the pup--who finally woke up!
by Rebecca Scheinberg, CMNH Intern
We are officially in 2017. We made it to a brand new year filled with possibilities. The New Year provides an opportunity for reflection and resolutions. It is a blank slate. It is a chance for new discovery, innovation, and creativity.
At the end of 2016, we asked you to join us in sharing your wishes for the New Year. As part of our Family New Year’s Eve celebration, visitors created ‘wish blimps’ that they launched off our 30-foot vertical, hand-powered conveyor system known as 'Build It, Fly It.'
Your wishes ranged from getting a pet guinea pig to peace on earth, from being able to fly, to...pancakes. Someone wished for a baby sister or brother and someone else wished that their baby sister would stop crying so much. One visitor wished for nachos, and another wished for her frosty the snowman to come to life. Another friend wished for snow. We are nearly two weeks into the New Year and this one has already come true!
These are some of your wishes:
We had a wonderful time playing and exploring with you in 2016. This year, we already have a new exhibit and many exciting upcoming events. We hope you will visit us soon to play. May this year bring even more adventure, exploration, love and kindness to all.
We hope all your wishes come true.
2016 was full of...
We met some new friends
We tried new things
And we looked to the stars
We learned new skills
And we got a bit nostalgic
We watched in awe
And cheered on artistic exploration
We were here to teach you
And you inspired us all.
Thank you for another wonderful year!
Why “Dog’s Colorful Day”?
As the Literacy Coordinator here at The Children’s Museum I had the exciting task of picking the book we would be giving away to visitors as part of our Family Literacy Month celebration.
This might sound like a simple task. I adore picture books and use them as much as possible in all the programs I do here at the museum. I go to the library to pick out a few books for a specific class and always come back with about 12 more than originally planned. I can’t help myself!
However, this book buying was different. I wanted to choose a book that had great illustrations and a fun story--- I wanted the book to be entertaining for adults as well as children, I wanted it to prompt fun conversations among families and become a favorite to be enjoyed over and over again. I wanted it to be a book that could be appreciated by a grandparent, a teenage babysitter, an 18 month old or a nine year old—or even better—all of those people together!
Needless to say, it took me a very (very) long time to select a book.
The book I ended up picking is “Dog’s Colorful Day” by Emma Dodd.
This is a story of a busy little dog that goes on a colorful adventure and ends up getting into all kinds of messy trouble—teaching colors and numbers along the way. School Library Journal calls it “A multifaceted concept book and a charming story to boot!” I couldn’t agree more.
Here’s why I think “Dog’s Colorful Day” is a perfect fit for Family Literacy Month—and how you might like to use it with your family:
For reading with Babies:
- The book has clear illustrations that are easy for baby’s eyes to see and understand—there are many familiar shapes that appear in the book (shoe, ball, table, clouds). These are great to point out to baby--it will help them understand the world around them. Point these items out in the book while you read and then find real life examples.
- There are wonderful onomatopoeic words (Splat! Splish! Squash!) These playful words will resonate in baby’s ears and help them learn the sounds of our language.
- It’s a lovely and fun introduction to colors and numbers.
For reading with Toddlers & Preschoolers:
- This book is perfect for reading with the toddler & preschool age group—be sure to ask lots and lots of questions while you read—“What do you see on this page that Dog might get into? What color spot do you think he will get? Can you help me count Dog’s colorful spots?”
- As you read the book—point out the different colors of spots that Dog has—ask your toddler or preschooler if they can remember how Dog got each of his colorful spots. This activity will reinforce narrative skills—one of the most important pre-reading skills!
Reading with Older Children:
- This book has many familiar words that children starting to read will recognize. The pictures also lend themselves well as clues to help figure out what the words on the page say.
- Use it as a math activity! Ask your older child “If I wiped off Dog’s pink spot and blue spot—how many spots would he have left?”
- Do an art activity when you finish reading the book—have your child draw a picture of dog and then add all of his colorful spots.
I hope you enjoy “Dog’s Colorful Day” as much as I do. It’s a splendid book to read together as a family and has lots and lots of potential for literacy activities at home.
If you do enjoy “Dog’s Colorful Day”---Emma Dodd has written two more books about the adventures of Dog—“Dog’s ABC’s” and “Dog’s Noisy Day”. What kind of trouble will Dog get into next? Sounds to me like a good reason to pile into the car and head to the library!
We would like to give an extra special "Thank You!" to our Family Literacy Month sponsors for making these book giveaways possible:
Halloween is celebrated at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire with science experiments with the resident “Wacky Scientist,” Fairy Bubbles, fairy wand-making, scavenger hunts, a costume contest, pumpkin clay and bat hat creations. During the Not-So-Spooky Spectacular on Saturday, October 29, parents and children will be offered lots of spook-free activities, crafts and fun, all free with museum admission.
This annual family-oriented event mixes costumes with hands-on learning, trades in candy for crafts, and offers little ghosts and goblins a chance to discover something new with interactive science experiments. “And as a bonus,” adds Jane Bard, CMNH President, “No one will jump out and scare you!”
This year’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular is set for Saturday, October 29 from 10am–5pm inside the museum at 6 Washington Street in Dover.
The day’s activities for kids and families include:
- Touring our exhibits in your costumes
- Experiencing amazing science experiments with the museum's own Wacky Scientist at 11:30 am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm and 2:30pm
- Visiting ‘FairyLand’ where the fairies will guide you in making your own fairy wands
- Trying your hand at a Fairy bubble experiment
- Enjoying a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt around the museum and collecting stamps to receive an extra special prize
- Competing in a costume contest at 3:15pm with your fellow ghouls
- Creating crafts with pumpkin clay and crafting funky bat hats
All Not-So-Spooky Spectacular festivities are included in regular paid admission ($10 for adults and children, no charge for children under 12 months old) and free for Children's Museum of NH Members.
Families with children on the autism spectrum are invited to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire for a free visit on the first Sunday of every month. Exploring Our Way provides opportunities for guests to enjoy family time at the museum in a safe, understanding environment, allows parents to network with one another and helps families discover new resources.
“Sunday mornings are very quiet,” said Paula Rais, CMNH Vice President of Development and Community Engagement. “The museum doesn’t open to the public until noon, so we invite these families in to experience the museum for a stress-free morning from 10am-noon. Siblings are always welcome, and the families can stay after we open the museum to the public if they feel comfortable. We hope their visit during Exploring Our Way will give them the confidence to come back and explore during regular hours.”
Often, a children’s museum can be a loud and overwhelming place, especially for children with sensory issues. “The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s mission is to actively engage families in hands-on discovery,” said CMNH President Jane Bard. “And that means, ALL families. We take that very seriously here and do everything we can to accommodate families facing these unique challenges.”
Exploring Our Way Autism Partnership Program takes place next on Sunday, October 2, 10am-noon and is sponsored by H.O.P.E. Behavioral Consulting. This program is free.
by Meredith Lamothe, Early Childhood and Literacy Coordinator
We were making shaky eggs the entire first week of our Toddlerfest celebration. Shaky eggs or egg maracas are a great first percussion instrument for little ones and a fun way for them to feel included in making music as well as get a good introduction to rhythm, which is an important early literacy skill!
There are lots of songs that can be used with shaky eggs—actually, you can shake along to most any song you like or listen to---but there are a handful of songs that I use regularly in Baby Storytime here at the museum that highlight shaky eggs and are a lot of fun.
Here’s a few you can try at home!
Counting Shakes: (Tune: "If You’re Happy and You Know It")
If you’re happy and you know it shake your egg—one time!
If you’re happy and you know it shake your egg—two times!
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it, if you’re happy and you know it shake your egg—three times!
(Keep going for however long the focus lasts!)
Shake, Clap, Tap! (Tune: "If You’re Happy and You Know It")
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake! (etc)
If you’re happy and you know it give a clap!
If you’re happy and you know it give a clap (etc)
If you’re happy and you know it give a tap (tap your egg on a surface or part of your body)
If you’re happy and you know it give a tap (etc)
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake! And a clap! And a tap!
Shake Your Shaker! (Tune: "London Bridges")
Shake your shaker way up high, way up high, way up high
Shake your shaker way up high
Shake your Shaker
Shake your shaker…
Way down low
To the left
To the right
On your foot!
On your head
Shakers can also be used as an early reading and literacy tool. Bump them along the pages of a book to point out the different words, sound out familiar words and names using the eggs to accentuate the different syllables, or read a book that lends itself to music (Pet the Cat anyone?) and have your shaky eggs ready for the grooviest parts of the book!
How will you use your egg shaker at home?! Let us know!
Thanks to D.F. Richard, one of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s busiest spaces, the MUSE Studio, is getting a makeover. For the past eight years, museum visitors of all ages have engaged in creative activities and challenges in the MUSE Studio. “Activities change every month here in the MUSE Studio,” shared Meredith Lamothe, CMNH Early Childhood and Literacy Coordinator, “the equipment and furniture needs to be versatile so we can use it in many different ways.”
The Studio now features a newly designed magnet table, inspiring artwork by local artist Sam Paolini, new technology for storytelling with a computer kiosk and an Elmo projector, a burlap-covered sewing table for collaborative art-making, and a pegboard table that can be taken on the road for the museum’s outreach programs. Renovations also include new tables and chairs, and of course, new art supplies.
Some other new features might not be as noticeable, but are equally important. The MUSE Studio also has a host of new picture books, open shelving for displaying artwork, and a curtain wall that will be utilized during special events like the popular Books Alive character appearance.
All MUSE Studio activities are free with museum admission. Muse Studio revitalization is supported through the generosity of D.F. Richard.