Hancock Lumber Helps Us Celebrate Earth Day

preschooltourHi! I’m Forest Hancock and I’d like to welcome you to learn a bit more about Hancock Lumber and their connection to the Children’s Museum & Theater of Maine. In 2005 our company partnered with the museum to create our Tree to Timber exhibit and have been proud to share this space with thousands of kids and families for 9 years!

Our Tree to Timber exhibits shows children the process of sustainable forestry. There’s an interactive video game and real Eastern White Pine tree trunks. At the sawmill you can crank a conveyor belt that draws in rough pieces of wood and returns finished pieces of pine and watch a complete sawmill tour video. In the tree house you can use the finished pieces of pine to build your own home, along with touch, see and feel by-products like bark, mulch and wood chips.

“We appreciate the opportunity we’ve had to collaborate with the
sawmill_tour_videoChildren’s Museum on our Tree to Timber exhibit. Through this space, we’ve been able to bring life to our everyday sustainable forestry practices. In return, thousands of families each year can enjoy a fun, interactive exhibit that teaches them about turning logs into premium Eastern White Pine boards! It feels good to know that our company is a part of the Museum’s success and we look forward to our continued partnership.”

Kevin Hancock, President | Hancock Lumber Company

Please save the date for Earth Day fun at the Children’s Museum on 4/22 from 10:30 – 4:30! Join me for my first CMTM appearance for a day of earth-friendly activities – planting seeds, playing with mud and making art with all kinds of natural materials, along with much more! Throughout the day they’ll also be earthy story times, special face painting, and meeting live creatures such as worms, turtles, and sea creatures. Visitors can also take home a special Eastern White Pine seedling to plant that I’ll be handing out compliments of Hancock Lumber, while supplies last! You also don’t want to miss a special reading of the children’s book Tree to Treehouse that will be a part of our exhibit in the afternoon! Join the family fun during school vacation and stop by to see me, take a picture and bring home your new tree!

Hancock Lumber started doing business in Maine over 166 years ago – that’s right in 1848! We responsibly manage forests, selectively harvest Eastern White Pine trees to manufacture into boards at our sawmills, ship those boards all over the world and sell them at our 10 lumberyards throughout Maine and New Hampshire! We also sell building materials to contractors and homeowners at those locations. Being connected to the community, however, is one of the most important parts of our business. We are so proud of the space we’ve created together with the amazing team at the museum and look forward to continuing the partnership for many years to come! Please visit our website to learn about our community involvement: http://www.hancocklumber.com/retail/community

Show and Tell Gallery Displays Art Across the Autism Spectrum

The Show and Tell Gallery features the work young Maine artists diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Why are we showing this work? Because for a group that sometimes has trouble with connection and expression, it is significant when they are able to express some of their inner world. We believe art is a powerful way to communicate, and we are honored to be displaying these pieces. We celebrate this gift of expression.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a sobering report stating that roughly 1 in 55 students in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder. Autism and spectrum disorders (Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]) are among the fastest-growing developmental disabilities in the U.S.
“For those without much knowledge of autism spectrum disorders, let me provide you with a brief description: people with ASD may have trouble with social communication. Some may not be able to talk. Some may be able to talk, but we will miss the social cues in what you are saying, miss cues about physical space, pacing of words, tone of voice, and other elements of non-verbal language. This will make it difficult for us to have friends, and can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Often, people on the autism spectrum have intense interests that they focus on to the exclusion of all else. The world can often be a very overwhelming place, and this helps us structure it. Sensory integration challenges, such as being super sensitive to sounds, touch, light, movement, smells, texture and so on are also part of autism spectrum disorders. But there is also a sense of loyalty, of joy, of honesty and dependability that are all great aspects of those on the autism spectrum. Someone with autism is someone who is dependable and a hard worker. Someone who genuinely cares about you with all their hearts, even if they sometimes have trouble showing it. To be known by someone on the autism spectrum is to be loved more fully and less conditionally than you perhaps have ever experienced.” – Museum volunteer Kate Goldfield
The Show and Tell Gallery is one of several Museum & Theatre programs serving children and families affected by ASD. To learn about our Play Our Way private playtimes, workshops, and other program offerings, please contact Louisa Donelson.
The Show and Tell Gallery can be seen in the stairwell of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.
This project is made possible by the generosity of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine. 
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A Word About Cinderella from the Director

cinderella promo photo 4 14I was never a huge fan of Cinderella. I couldn’t understand why my friends were so eager to act it out when we were kids. The beginning of the story seemed to be all about cleaning — and I hated cleaning! I really didn’t like the idea of having evil stepsisters. And, as a night owl, I shuddered at the idea of having to leave a ball before midnight. I never felt the fancy dress and handsome prince were worth all the trouble.
Yet, throughout my adult life, Cinderella keeps popping up when I least expect her: from informal games to choosing a season, our audience cries out for Cinderella!

While researching Joseph Campbell and the interconnectedness of stories across cultures, I happened upon this play by Lowell Swortzell. In this version, the Cinderella most of us know provides the framework to tell three Cinderella tales from three different cultures. I knew it would be a great fit for our theatre.

The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine has won national recognition for our cultural policy work. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I know conversations about culture are necessary but also potentially difficult. Representing other cultures onstage can go terribly wrong. The Morton Kelly Foundation provided us with a grant allowing us to work with cultural consultants to guide and inform our process. The time, patience and wisdom of Sergei Slussky, Connie Zhu, and Meghan Yates made this play what you see today: three different versions of Cinderella coming together in one dynamic and honest production.

Through this rehearsal process, I’ve come to appreciate the story of Cinderella. Cinderella The World’s Favorite Fairy Tale illuminates how different cultures teach similar values to their children. Vasalisa, Yeh Shen and Broken Wing all represent “the ideal girl”. When faced with meanness, trials, and injustice, Cinderella is patient, kind and brave. Supernatural elements — whether a fairy godmother, a magic fish, a talking doll, or an invisible hunter — recognize and reward her hard work and solid character. Despite differences in culture, the wisdom of this fairy tale is universal. Enjoy the show!

Reba Short, Theatre Artistic Director

American Girls Come to the Museum

Many, many children have dolls. A stand-in for a friend, sibling or even a baby, dolls give children a chance to role play, to use their imaginations and to experiment with different kinds of social situations in a safe way. This may date me a bit, but as a young girl, my American Girl dolls captured me in a way that other toys couldn’t. Initially I received Samantha as a Christmas present; her brown wavy hair looked just like mine, and as an only child, I was thrilled at the idea of having a little brown-eyed companion. It also didn’t hurt that I was a major bookworm and gobbled up all of her stories as quickly as I could get my hands on them. The narrative historical fiction readers made me consider what it was like to live in the Victorian era; whether I would be as determined and strong-willed as Samantha was and do things like rip holes in the knees of my stockings. (I’m guessing yes.) But those books also sparked a curiosity about what it would have been like to be a young girl at that time, which got me thinking about social history and bigger issues in general.
This is what I love about the American Girl books – how they inspire girls to learn about history by, essentially, holding up a mirror. What would you would have done as an African-American girl living in Philadelphia during the civil war? How do you think it felt to have your family separated and to work to bring them together? These are difficult questions, but presented in a context that is developmentally appropriate and compelling for contemporary children to think about. This is why I’m leading a series of American Girl Craft Club workshops, where we’ll focus on a different American Girl at each club meeting and practice a skill or art form unique to each girl’s historical era. We’ll also enjoy a snack that was commonly eaten at the time, talking about availability of ingredients and why. Programs are two hours and drop-off; our first meeting is all about Addy and will be on Sunday, April 13, from 3-5pm. To sign your child up, click the link below.

Cooking Healthy: Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

Hi, everyone! Did you catch our Cooking Healthy workshop this morning? Even if you missed it, we’re excited to share today’s recipe with you. Make delicious, nutritious goodies at home, any time!

Today’s recipe:

Butternut Squash Mac and cheese!

Cooking Healthy is a monthly cooking program sponsored by Northeast Delta Dental and is free with admission. Hope to see you next month!

Spring in Development

It’s spring! Just like the seasons, we’re seeing some changes here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre. One of my jobs in Development is writing to businesses and individuals in the community who contribute funds that allow us to make needed changes and bring new opportunities to the Museum & Theatre, keeping them updated on how their contributions are being used and how the programs are received. It’s always exciting for me to see new programs arise.

Arts Educator Louisa has been collecting works from artists and writers statewide on the Autism spectrum to hang in our popular Show and Tell Gallery. The Gallery premieres in April and artworks will be on display throughout the season. This is the first year that the Gallery will feature written works in addition to visual arts! Additionally, our friends at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine (RMHC) have given us a grant for another round of Play Our Way private playtimes for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) youth and their families. This year Reba will join Louisa, offering improv-based Play Our Way  theatre workshops in addition to family visual arts programs.

1534762_10202839100872414_930804797_oTheatre Artistic Director Reba is directing our theatre season’s final show, Cinderella: The World’s Favorite Fairy Tale. Four different versions are represented in this play: the European Cinderella narrates as the audience meets Yeh Shen of China, Vasilisa of Russia, and Broken Wing of the Mi’kmaq tribe in North America. Thanks to funding from the Morton Kelly Charitable Trust, Reba, the cast and crew are working with cultural consultants for each version. Cinderella will also be touring to local Learning Works locations in addition to the 18 productions in our Dress Up Theatre beginning April 11th.

The Museum & Theatre also received a grant from the PW Sprague Memorial Foundation for  A Child’s Garden of Verses. The Robert Louis Stevenson poems will be brought to life by actors in our own garden throughout June, beginning June 3rd. Check out our calendar of events for all the dates and times! In more great theatre news, we have received funds from the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust for Reba to write a brand new play, Road to Hope: An Elephant’s Story, based on Hope Elephants, an elephant sanctuary in Maine. Watch this blog for more news about the Hope Elephant project this summer and its debut in July!

Speaking of summer, we can’t wait for our garden and greenhouse to be open again. Be on the lookout for fun gardening opportunities with educator Jamie this summer thanks to new funding from Kitchen Gardeners International, a community based right here in Scarborough, ME.

The Roy A. Hunt Foundation funds Start-Up Circus, which will begin this spring with a new educator (me!) and help from our friends at the Circus Conservatory of America and the Merriconeag school. The Start-Up Circus will teach teamwork and confidence through tumbling, juggling and partner acrobatics among other starter circus staples. Circus workshops will join our usual round of daytime programs this summer, developed by the Merriconeag students and myself at the end of May.

There’s always lots going on here, and more to come!