Tinker Time at Home

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Sorting: Exploring playing cards

  • Find a deck of playing cards and spread them out
  • Raid your recycling bin and find 2-4 containers (depending on child’s age, see below) and cut slits in the top so the cards can be dropped inside. 
    • I used large clear plastic baby spinach/mixed greens containers for this.
    • Some children will just have fun putting the cards into the slots - and that’s okay!
    • Younger children can sort them by color (2 containers)
    • Older children could sort them by their suit! (4 containers)
  • Invite your child to sort the cards! 

Art: Evaporation Science Art

  • Find a plastic container and a paintbrush 
    • The paintbrush should be one you don’t mind getting a bit dirty!
  • Fill the plastic container with water and go outside!
  • Paint designs on your driveway/sidewalk using the water
  • Watch and see how long it takes the drawings to evaporate
    • This activity is best done on a sunny day :) 

Sensory: Floating splashy transfer

  • Put out two mixing bowls
  • Fill both with water
  • Put items that float in one bowl
    • I used marker caps
  • Invite your child to use a spoon or scoop to move all of the items from one bowl to the other!
    • You could put items that sink and float in the bowl and chat about how moving them is different if they sink or float. 

Building: Recycling Bin Wonders

  • Raid your recycling bin and find a variety of items
  • Use them to build!
  • Give your child prompts like “Make a bridge!” “Make a house!” “Design a rocketship!” and challenge them to just use the items from the recycling bin
    • It’s fun to add little toys or other manipulatives to this challenge  

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Polymer Science MAGIC!

Materials Needed:

  • Large mixing bowl or container (a casserole  pan would work!)
  • Plastic bag (I recommend quart size) filled ¾ of the way with water
  • A bunch of pencils or colored pencils--the sharper the better! 

Directions (prep):

  • Fill your plastic bag ¾ of the way with water 
    • You may want to fill a few because this experiment is very fun!
  • Sharpen your pencils
  • Prep the activity area with the bowl or casserole pan

Directions (activity):

  • Ask your young scientists if they think you can poke a pencil through a bag of water without spilling a drop (they will probably say “No way!”)
  • Hold the bag up over the bowl or other container
  • Carefully twist a pencil through one side of the plastic bag and then continue to twist through the other side
  • No water will spill!
  • Try it with the other pencils

Invite your young scientists to try on their own using bags of water and pencils

The Science:

  • Plastic bags are made of something called a polymer
  • Polymers have long strings of molecules that are flexible
  • When you poke the pencil through the plastic bag, it wiggles in between these strings of molecules and the molecules seal up around the pencil so that no water is spilled!

Extend the learning:

  • Spend some time looking on the internet for other household items that are polymers - you’ll be surprised by what you find! 

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CMNH, Here for you Now and in the Future

Dear CMNH Friends,

I’m sure by now you all know how these announcements go. “These are unprecedented times.” Indeed they are, as I’m writing to you from my kitchen table, and not from inside the Museum listening to the sounds of happy children. Two weeks ago we thought we would be welcoming you back with a refreshed facility and exhibits on April 1st. Pandemics, as it turns out, are hard to predict, and we now know we can’t reopen just yet. But we will be back when it is safe to do so!

In the meantime, we’re doing what we do best, which is encouraging families to actively engage in hands-on discovery, now from the safety of their own homes. We are creating videos of our popular programs and sharing resources to support your at-home learning. Our goal is to continue to #PlayTogether while also bringing a sense of normalcy to children who miss their Museum friends.

Temporarily closing the Museum has not only been sad, but also devastating to us financially. As a non-profit, we rely on income from ticket sales, memberships, classes, and special events to keep the Museum running. Like many of you, we are tightening our belts, using our creative thinking skills to find ways to sustain us through this time, and looking forward to the day we can see you face-to-face.

Since we are closing longer than anticipated, we will be extending our family memberships so you can join in the fun when we reopen. 

If you are able, here’s how you can support the Museum during the closure:

  • Renew an expired membership or purchase a gift membership for a friend or loved one so you can visit together when we reopen. Gift Memberships aren’t active until redeemed here at the Museum, so they can be purchased at any time and are valid a year from the month of redemption. All memberships will be mailed out one we have an opening date.
  • Share our free online content with friends, and consider giving a $5 donation for programs you and your family enjoy.
  • Participate in our Car or Cash Raffle fundraiser, and have the chance to win an electric car, sports car or $20,000 prize.

As we watch spring unfold, we’re all taking a collective deep breath and moving forward one day at a time.  We will be sure to keep in touch when there is news to share. We are honored to be a valued part of this community for the past 36 years, and look forward to seeing you all soon.

Jane Bard, President

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Baby Storytime: Songs & Rhymes about Food!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This week, I shared some of my favorite songs and rhymes all about food! Here they are so you can follow along and keep singing all week long! 

Hello Song:

Hello it’s time to play
Let’s have some fun today!
Let’s clap our hands
And wiggle our toes
A hug...and a kiss...and away we go!
Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
We’ll have so much fun...hooray! 

Open Them/Shut Them (action song)

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap-clap-clap

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap-lap-lap

Creep them, creep them, creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin-chin-chin

Open up your little mouth…
But do not let them in! 

Popcorn! (bounce)

Popcorn, popcorn, sizzling in the pan
Shake it up, shake it up
Bam! Bam! Bam!

Popcorn, popcorn, now it’s getting hot
Shake it up, shake it up
Pop! Pop! Pop! 

Sugar Babies (action rhyme) 

Roll, roll, sugar babies
Roll, roll, sugar babies
Push! Pull! Clap, clap, clap!

Roll, roll, sugar babies
Roll, roll, sugar babies
Hug! Kiss! Clap, clap, clap

Roll, roll, sugar babies
Roll, roll, sugar babies
Up! Down! Clap, clap, clap

NOTE: Feel free to add more opposites and keep this rhyme going for awhile!

SECOND NOTE: I realized (while recording this video) that Hug & Kiss are, in fact, NOT opposites, but it was too late to change them--this was a leftover edit from Valentine’s Day! 

Apple Tree (action rhyme)

Way up high in an apple tree,
Two little apples smiled at me!
I shook that tree as hard as I could,
Boom! Down came the apples…
Yum! They were good! 

NOTE: Feel free to change the words to this rhyme to reflect your child’s favorite foods! Way up high in a cupcake tree, anyone?! (Yes please!)

Shake Your Shaker! (prop song)

If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker--one time!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker--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 shaker...three times!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...four times!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...five 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 shaker!!!

NOTE: You can make your own shaker at home! I used an empty ibuprofen bottle and put some popcorn kernels inside - I like this option because it has the child safety lock top. You could also put popcorn kernels or beans inside a plastic egg and tape the egg shut! 

Give a Shake, Tap, Clap! (prop song)

If you’re happy and you know it...give a shake, shake, shake!
If you’re happy and you know it...give a shake, shake, shake!
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it...give a shake, shake, shake!

If you’re happy and you know it...give a tap, tap, tap!
If you’re happy and you know it...give a tap, tap, tap!
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it...give a tap, tap, tap!

If you’re happy and you know it...give a clap, clap, clap!
If you’re happy and you know it...give a clap, clap, clap!
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it...give a clap, clap, clap!

Goodbye Rhyme (action rhyme)

This is big, big, big
And this is small, small, small
This is short, short, short
And this is tall, tall, tall!
This is fast, fast, fast
And this is slow, slow, slow
This is yes, yes, yes
And this is no, no, no
This is hi, hi, hi
And this is bye, bye, bye! 

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GAME: Pattern Snake Hide and Seek

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By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

This is an active game, but can be done with no running, indoors or outdoors!

Kids love hiding things and finding things, so this is a game that can last for quite a long time, and can be played with just two people or more. 

Set up: First, have each player create a snake. You can use pipe cleaners and beads to make a pattern snake. If you do not have materials available to make a pipe cleaner snake, you can color a snake instead by drawing a snake, having your child draw a snake, or using a template.

Game play: Once everyone has decorated or put together a snake, take turns hiding and finding them. There are a few different ways to do this. If younger kids are playing with older kids, a variation that works well is to have a grown up hide all of the snakes, and kids can search for and find only their own snake. This makes the game more fair in that one person will not find all of the snakes right away. 

Rules:

  • Use your own house rules for hide and seek: this usually includes no peeking while someone is hiding or hiding items! 

Explore more:

Add to the fun: have a “pattern pageant” with a grown up as the judge. Inspect the patterns, ask kids to come up with hidden talents for their snakes, and choose a snake as the winner. Maybe it’s the snake that would blend in best in the natural world, the one with the best pattern, or the child who didn’t do so well in the hide and seek game ;) 

Talk about why animals have patterns in nature. Usually, this is to send a message to other creatures, such as “I’m dangerous!,” or to help the animal blend in to stay safe from predators. Some animals have patterns that mimic other things, allowing the animal to appear larger than it really is, or blend in with a different group of animals. Elementary aged kids could do some independent research to see who can find the animal with the best camouflage! 

Try this printable paper chain python activity:
If you do not have a printer you can make a paper chain by simply cutting up strips of construction paper or copy paper. 

Try this printable spiral snake
Kids can color it in, but may need help from a grown up to cut it out. These would be neat to hang from the ceiling once completed! 

This is a very similar activity, but involves finger painting the snake to create a pattern:
You could also make a pattern like this using the CMNH Wacky Art bubble wrap painting method.

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Two Ingredient Snow Dough

By Colie Hahr, CMNH Educator

Our most popular drop-in STEAM activities at CMNH seem to involve making messy mixtures! From slime, to dough, to puffy paint most kids love getting their hands a little dirty, and enjoying a sensory experience while they play and create.

One of the easiest make-at-home messy projects is two ingredient snow dough. It’s part science experiment and part sensory play, and honestly just a  bit messy compared to the wild world of slime! 

Materials:

  • Table cover of some kind (a trash bag works!)
  • Corn Starch
  • Hair conditioner -white works well
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing spoon
  • Optional: food coloring, cookie cutters, placemat or tray for play, playdough accessories

Dough recipe: this dough has a one to two ratio of liquid to solid ingredients, so it is easy to double or halve the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups cornstarch

1 cup inexpensive hair conditioner

Food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  • Add the food coloring (optional) to the conditioner, then mix in a large bowl.
  •  Add the cornstarch to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Kids can take turns mixing. Keep mixing with a spoon until the consistency seems like playdough
  • If the mixture is too wet, add corn starch, and too dry add a little more conditioner. Avoid handling the dough until it looks nice and smooth- this will help contain the mess in the bowl until it is ready to be handled. 
  • Play with the dough using cookie cutters, stamps, small figurines, or other manipulatives of your choice. It is washable from most surfaces, but kids should be supervised as they would with playdough

What Happened? Once the dough is mixed together, a whole new material has been created, however, the reaction is complicated because the conditioner includes several mixtures and solutions in its ingredients. A mixture is when two substances are mixed together, but you can separate them back into their individual parts. Trail mix is a good example of a mixture. A solution is a substance where you mix ingredients together, and it’s not possible to separate them. Hot Cocoa is an example kids may understand: once you mix hot cocoa powder with milk or water, can you turn it back into milk or water again? 

For this activity, you mixed together two different ingredients to make something new. The corn starch is a solid, even though it is a very fine powder. It’s similar to the shape, size, and texture of sand, so making this comparison may be helpful for kids to understand that something can be solid, but also be made of very small parts. Corn starch is used to help make things thicker for cooking, and it also helped to make the dough thicker and more solid. 

The other ingredient is hair conditioner, which is a liquid even though it is very thick. The conditioner helped to make the dough softer and easier to mold. The dough you created is still a solid, but it is able to be sculpted and shaped! The ratio of conditioner to corn starch is what made the dough work. This recipe used a 2 to 1 ratio, so there was twice as much cornstarch as conditioner. Older kids can work on fractions, adding, measuring, and dividing as part of this project. 

One way to explain this experiment to kids is to ask them to think about making a cake. When you mix all of the ingredients together to make a cake, the ingredients go through a physical change and create a mixture.  When the cake goes into the oven to bake, a chemical change takes place, and the batter mixture turns from liquid into a solid baked cake. It would not be possible to take the eggs, flour, or milk back out of the cake once it is cooked, and that’s part of what makes it a chemical change rather than a physical change. For matter to change, usually something needs to be added such as heat or pressure. We didn’t add heat or pressure for this experiment, so even though the dough was very different from the two ingredients that we put together to make it, it is still a physical change. We did not cook it like a cake, AND it’s not edible, so don’t eat it! 

Physical Change: A physical change is a type of change in which the form of matter is altered but one substance is not transformed into another. For example, folding paper to make an origami crane changes the shape and size of the paper, but it is still paper. 

Chemical Change: A chemical change is any change that causes a new substance to be formed. For example, if an origami crane were to catch fire and burn, the paper would turn into ashes, a new substance. 

Mixture: A substance made by mixing other substances together. For example, trail mix. 

Storage: The dough should last for about a month if it’s sealed up in a container. Add a little water to the dough if it dries out, and it will last longer.  

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Tinker Time at Home!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Every week at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire we host a program called “Tinker Time”. Tinker Time is a drop-in program that emphasizes the importance of tinkering! Tinkering helps children develop fine motor skills, increase problem-solving abilities, and is an open invitation to foster peer relationships. 

What I love about tinkering is that it’s open-ended and no-fail. The carefully selected activities are designed to have many possible solutions and ways to explore. This means that children with different learning styles, who are different ages, and have different interests can all get something out of these activities. 

I usually set up the tinkering program with five different activity areas: Art Material Creations, Sorting, Building, Sensory/Texture Play, and Cause & Effect Exploration. I’m sharing one activity from each of these categories, but please don’t feel like you have to set-up all of them to have a successful tinker time! Set up one or two - use these activities as jumping off points and then tweak it to match the supplies you have at home or your own child’s interests - it’s totally up to you! 

Enjoy tinkering! 

Art Exploration: Sticker drawing prompts

  • Place round tickers (or draw round circles with different colors) on index cards or pieces of paper. Invite your child to use the placement of the dots to make a picture! 
  • Try putting the same configuration of dots on several pieces of paper and have a “draw-off” with the whole family - see how different your drawings are even though you were given the same prompt! 

Sorting: Color sorting

  • Gather lots of different art materials from around your house (markers, permanent markers, crayons, hi-lighters, colored pencils) and invite your child to sort them. 
  • Will they sort them by color? By type of art material? By size? 
  • Invite children to try and make a pattern using the colorful art materials! 

Building: Cup towers w/ manipulatives

  • Collect plastic cups from around your house
  • Find some small manipulatives - little animal or people toys. 
  • Build homes for the animals or build fences around them. Hide little people in the cups and guess where they are. 
  • See who can make the tallest tower! 
  • Build a tall tower and then throw a ball at it to knock it down!

Sensory/Textures: Cars on Salt

  • Sprinkle salt all over a cookie sheet or other container
  • Use toy cars, toy animals, or just hands to explore the salt and make designs! 

Cause & Effect: Is it magnetic? 

  • Collect small items that are either magnetic..or not magnetic...and place them in a container
  • Find a magnet on your fridge that is powerful enough to pick up some small items
  • For younger children: test and see which of the items are magnetic! How many items were you able to pick up using the magnet?
  • For older children: invite them to pre-sort the items into piles of items they think will be magnetic and ones that they do not think will be magnetic. Use the magnet to test their predictions! 

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St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt!

Materials Needed:

  • Cake pan or other container with deep-ish sides
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Green food coloring
  • Spray bottle or small bowl
  • If using a bowl, also have a spoon
  • Coins/spare change

Prep the activity:

  1. Place a trash bag or plastic tablecloth over the “experiment area” (food coloring can stain!)
  2. Spread out the coins on the bottom of your cake pan
  3. Cover the coins with baking soda
  4. Fill the spray bottle or small dish with vinegar/lemon juice and green food coloring

Invitation to play:

  • Welcome your little one(s) into the science area and explain that some leprechauns stopped by and left a science experiment...and some treasure! 
  • Invite them to begin investigating---spraying the spray bottle or carefully spooning some vinegar onto the baking soda
  • Inquire: What is happening? What do you notice? What do you hear? Why is that happening? What is hiding under the baking soda?!

The science:

  • Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base. When acids & bases are added together--we get a chemical reaction! A chemical reaction is when you combine two substances and create something new. In this case, we are combining vinegar (a liquid) with baking soda (a solid) and getting a gas (carbon dioxide!) We can HEAR the carbon dioxide being created when we listen for the fizzing/bubbling sound. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

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