Maple Roasted Roots

Roasted roots meal in front of “The Story of the Root Children” by Sibylle von Olfers.

In Maine and across North East America, March is the season for maple syrup. Cold nights and warm days wake up the maple trees and the sap begins to run. Take advantage of this special time of year by using maple syrup to sweeten up winter root vegetables.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Next, chop an assortment of root vegetables—about 3 cups. These could include :

Raw root vegetables tossed in maple syrup, butter, and sea salt.
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Potatoes
  • Beets

Then, toss with

  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt

Roast in your preheated oven for 25 minutes or until browned

The finished product: Maple Roasted Roots.

Enjoy making some maple memories!
We’d love to see how YOUR delicious treat turned out. Share your creation on Facebook and Instagram using #CookingByKidsforKids or by tagging us!

Sincerely,
Samantha Connelly, Educator
Brittany Liscord,, Educator & Community Engagement Coordinator

Sensory Saturday: Egg Hunt

One of the best parts of programming, activities, and special events at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is that members, visitors, and friends are always welcome to share their ideas for us to turn into a reality! This spring, we’re bringing one-such idea to you: The first ever Play Your Way Before-Hours Egg Hunt. The Play Your Way special morning hours are designed for anyone who might benefit from a quieter play time and egg hunt experience! And YOU are officially invited to attend our Play Your Way Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 13th from 9-10am.

YOU’RE INVITED!


Why now?

This Egg Hunt is particularly special because the idea came from the families in our community who would benefit from such an event. At the Museum & Theatre, we are always excited to host a spring-time Play Your Way morning as well as an Egg Hunt. This season, we thought, why not combine the two for a festive and inclusive morning of fun?! On Saturday all children can experience the spring-time egg hunt they deserve to have. We could not be more excited for you to attend!

We’re welcoming children to come hunt for treat-filled eggs throughout the Museum & Theatre as they play in our exhibits!
Curious about our other upcoming events? Educators will be on-hand throughout the morning to answer any questions you have about our upcoming and current projects and programs to support your family’s needs. We hope to see you there!

Sincerely,
Lily O’Brien
Educator at the Museum & Theatre

Introducing: Cloud City

Coming soon…

Our team is beyond excited for this wondrous addition to our Museum & Theatre! Cloud City is spectacularly designed to energize and awaken a sense of wonder and exploration through your senses. Now, you’re probably thinking… well, what does that mean? Picture this: You jet up the stairs to our third floor, eager to experience the miraculous Cloud City. You take a deep breath and open the exhibits door. Immediately you’re washed in moving shadows, projections, and light. Looking around you examine a space COMPLETELY drenched in dreamy landscapes and rich cloud-like projection displayed on cloud shaped screens and walls. Suddenly, a wave of wonder and fascination excites your senses as you feel (perhaps for the first time) like a plane, whizzing through the air or a bird carving through a morning fog… Congratulations, you’ve made it. You’ve entered Cloud City.

What to expect…

Cloud City is intended to be a truly immersive and sensory rich environment, ready to be explored and transformed by each visitor’s unique range of senses and imagination.

Other elements of this exhibit will include projections and reflections, blacklight and glow-in-the-dark features, as well as hidden “sensory eggs” to discover. Plus, (we hope you’re sitting down for this) a stellar and massive raincloud made up of a series of hundreds of hanging fabrics of various textures. The raincloud is designed as a tactile and audio experience where visitors must rely on their senses of touch and hearing to navigate through.  

*Spoiler* Hidden in our raincloud will be a secret ladder to get to the Sky Lounge. That’s right, this exhibit literally has layers to it!

Let’s talk science…

The multi-sensory exhibit design is informed by current science on the various ways we process our world. Visitors navigate through a tactile environment of order and disorder by using their body as an instrument for sensing. Hidden throughout the exhibit are fun hidden surprises for visitors to find. As an immersive environment with open ended interactives, our visitors will be invited to play, invent games and discover.

Something to look forward to…

Cloud City will occupy the Lights Camera Color exhibit space and build upon some of its existing ideas and components. The Camera Obscura will stay until it’s needed for the new space. The opening of the exhibit will take place on May 23.

The Holi Celebration

On Sunday March 24th the Museum & Theatre joins together again with members of Maine’s community to celebrate Holi, the Hindu celebration of spring and color.

Better Understand the Tales of Holi

Did you know, Holi gets its name from Holika, who, according to Hindu religion, was the name of an evil enchantress. As the story goes, a good and kind prince named Prahlad was trapped by the evil enchantress, Holika. Yet, through a series of events, Prahlad was saved by his goodness and loyalty to Lord Vishnu, while the evil Holika was burned. Thus, on the night before Holi, many families have massive bonfires to celebrate this moment when good conquered over evil.
*See this story performed live this Sunday @3pm at the Museum & Theatre as we use finger puppets to tell the story of Prahlad and Holika.

This is not the only tale incorporated in and remembered during the Holi celebration. Another important story is that of the God Krishna who lovingly colored his friend Radha blue. This story inspires friends and family to take to the streets with handfuls of colorful dye and spray water pistols known as pichkaris. As people play Holi, they become covered head to toe with colorful dye!

Our Maine Community: Holi Celebrations

Sunday’s celebration of Holi is also special because it is part of a longstanding tradition for members of the India Association of Maine to share this celebration with the Portland community at the Museum & Theatre. Sabina, a longtime partner of the Museum & Theatre reflects, “From food and art to dance and music, the Indian community has enjoyed a very special collaboration with the Museum, allowing us to educate Mainers as well as welcome families.” Over the years, one of my favorite moments as an educator was watching a toddler from India get her first chance to touch traditional Holi dyes and make a Holi finger painting art piece. There are many traditions celebrated in Maine, and the Museum & Theatre is honored to be a place where people can celebrate together.
Also celebrate with the India Association of Maine: May 5th!

World Water Day & Sustainability

With an economy that relies on the health of Maine’s waters and land, and a population of people dedicated to the outdoors, the Museum & Theatre seeks to rally and excite our community to take part in preserving our natural resources. Children and families use the Museum & Theatre as a resource to learn more about our environment and how to protect it, and the Museum & Theatre plans to grow that impact through expanded programming and exhibits.

Casco Bay remains one of the fastest warming bodies of water in all the world. The Museum & Theatre’s live touch tank program, How Climate Change Effects Casco Bay, seeks to inform and empower children and their caregivers, fostering empathy in the youngest visitors and action and engagement with older visitors. During the program, visitors have access to real tools to measure salinity and temperature, as well as microbe health, and compare these results to current scientific data.  Visitors also have freedom to touch and explore the life within the tank, from microscopic phytoplankton to large anemone, sea stars, and rock crabs.

Crab (named Sandy-Shelley by visitors) being held by the hands of a Museum & Theatre educator.

For World Water Day, March 22nd, we will be exploring our Tide Pool Touch Tank at 10:30am to meet our marine creatures and explore a little piece of Casco Bay. 

Sustainability & the future home of the Museum & Theatre

The future Museum & Theatre on Thompson’s Point (coming in 2020!) will feature a brand new, custom aquatic exhibit designed to explore the interconnected Maine watershed through incredible experiences with live fish and animals. Three large touch tanks and several viewing tanks will be the feature of this interactive aquatic adventure. This exhibit will feature many of Maine’s native aquatic species from freshwater turtles to gulf of Maine skates, providing the opportunity for all ages to develop connections to Maine species and fostering stewardship of natural resources.

While plans to build the future Museum & Theatre at Thompson’s Point progress, the organization is continuing to ramp up our offerings at 142 Free Street and in surrounding schools, including a new education outreach program available to surrounding schools and organizations: Heating Up: Climate Change & Sustainability in Maine. Now students can explore the interconnected relationship between microscopic plants, humpback whales, and humans during a hands-on experience that allows participants to view live samples under a microscope and climb inside a life-sized whale.  

Our sustainable programming


Eric Venturini, a native pollinator conservation expert from The Xerces Society, educates visitors on the importance of Honey Bees in our community.

Current sustainability programs at the Museum & Theatre on Free Street focus on the roles different creatures play in maintaining a healthy ecosystem for Maine. On February 23rd, the founder of the Maine Wolf Coalition, John Glowa, joined Museum & Theatre visitors to talk about how wolves hold an important role in keeping our ecosystem healthy. In our popular February vacation week mainstage theatre production, The Three Little Pigs, audiences experienced an interactive version of the story which suggests that perhaps the pigs built their houses on wolf territory; this play (with youth actors from Maine!) explored habitat use in a fun, playful manner for families. Biologist and conservationist, Eric Venturini, from The Xerces Society talked to families visiting during February vacation week all about native bees and pollinators. And a honeybee exhibit allows visitors year-round to see a live honey bee hive in action as the bees come to and from the Museum & Theatre’s unique observation hive.

As the primary resource for Maine families, we believe it’s important to offer families learning through play opportunities for increasing their understanding of and connection to the natural world. Do you have suggestions for other sustainability educational programming or special guests that you would like to see at the Museum & Theatre? Please comment below with your ideas, and we hope to see you soon!

Young visitors play in Cascade Stream of our Discovery Woods (sponsored by L.L Bean)

Healthy Cooking: Gluten Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza

This week we were excited to see many of our regular cooks, and welcome some new faces to our Wednesday kitchen program. Today we go gluten free, but acknowledge that this cauliflower crust is delicious in it’s own right.

Get your aprons on, clear the counter and let’s begin!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (which is compostable).

Thaw

  • 1 bag frozen riced cauliflower

grab a bowl and mix in the following ingredients:
(we like to use our hands for this part)

  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

Once you’ve combined all your ingredients, it’s time to shape it into a crust! Begin to press your mixed ingredients onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Ding! Ding! It’s time to pull out your sheet and (now partially baked) crust.
Here’s where YOU can get creative! Add your favorite toppings to your cauliflower crust and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes. *We whipped up a quick basil sauce for our pizza topping by combining basil leaves, oil, salt, and parmesan in a food processor. *

After the 10 minutes, pull out your tasty gluten free and healthy cauliflower pizza to serve! Share your creation on Facebook and Instagram using #CookingByKidsforKids.

Happy cooking and see you in the kitchen!

Samantha Connelly,Educator
Brittany Liscord,Educator & Community Engagement Coordinator

*Healthy Cooking programming is sponsored by NorthEast Delta Dental  

Culture Cooking: Spring Rolls

Today special culture kitchen guest, Stalla Austin, taught me and a group of Museum & Theatre visitors how to make a traditional Chinese spring roll in honor of the Chinese New Year. Stella is an experienced cook who grew up celebrating the Chinese New Year, which is traditionally filled with family, red lanterns, traditions of good luck and of course food! These spring rolls are the most delicious spring roll ever.

The cooking adventure begins gathering flavorful ingredients you may or may not have in your house. Note: the flour wrappers will be found in the freezer aisle and the five spice bean curd tofu will be found in the refrigerator aisle. Stella’s recipe measures by weight, below I include the approximate measurements by volume that we used when cooking. Take the…

  • 1 package of flour wrappers 

out of the freezer an hour before making, or place in warm water to thaw quickly. To ready the remaining spring roll fillings, bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch… 

  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 3 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 2 cups of Enoki mushrooms (with ends trimmed off)

After about 3 minutes remove the vegetables, which should still be firm. Run under cold water and then drain thoroughly (pat with towel if needed).  Now slice…

  • 1 package of five spice tofus

Stand slices of tofu up on their long narrow end and make three slices, then stack the slices on top of each other and slice thinly, making long thin strips of tofu that resemble the size of the julienned scallions and Enoki mushrooms. Now gather…

  • 3 scallions julienned
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped (we just tore the leaves from the stems, chatting about plant parts as we did so)

Congratulations! You have all the ingredients ready for assembly time. Set up a plate for everyone participating (the more the merrier!). Place a flour wrapper on each plate with one corner facing away from and one corner facing toward the person wrapping (like a diamond). Then in the middle place a handful of blanched vegetables topped with tofu strips, scallions and cilantro. Then fold the wrapper on a diagonal by picking up the corner closet to you and pulling it over the filling to reach the opposite corner. Using strong hands, scootch the filling under the top wrapper to the side of the wrapper closest to you, fold in outside corners and seal the wrap shut by dipping your finger in a cup of water and running it along the edge of the top corner. This last step is very important, it’s the lucky one! Heat…

  • 3 Tablespoons oil 

in a pan on the stove and fry. Stella said that fried spring rolls are common on Chinese New Years, because their golden color is a symbol of good wealth for the coming year. Flip on both sides until rolls reach a pretty golden-brown. Then mix up your dipping sauce with…

  • 1 cup sesame paste (tahini)
  • 2 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar

We hope you enjoy this Chinese tradition and it brings you joy in the New Year of the Pig!

Special culture kitchen guest, Stalla Austin, chops ingredients

What to Expect at a Play Your Way Event

On any given day, if you make your way around the Museum & Theatre exhibits—the Fire Truck, the Lobster Boat, the Car Shop, and the Ambulance—you will see (and hear!) players of all different ages, ethnicities, abilities, and genders. The firefighters, farmers, car mechanics, and EMTs truly reflect the diversity of our Greater Portland Community. The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is committed to welcoming all families each and every day and we are continuing to grow these efforts in our plans for the future.

In an effort to welcome more families, we offer special Play Your Way events to invite families affected by Autism, Down syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder, or other challenges to play in our exhibits during a quieter time and meet other families in the community. Museum & Theatre educators are on-hand to answer any questions you may have about the Museum & Theatre’s projects and programs and to support your family’s needs. Play Your Way events are the perfect time to try out the Museum & Theatre and see if it’s a good fit for your family.

Play Your Way is one of my favorite events to host at the Museum & Theatre because I see visitors really getting to “play their way.” A couple months ago, a young girl would not leave the Have a Ball exhibit to explore more of the Museum & Theatre, even after her parents showed her our visual exhibit guide with pictures of other places to play. However, instead of pushing her out of the ball room, the parents happily played for a full hour in just one space. I often see the exact opposite as well; children might move quickly (but safely!) from one exhibit to the next. Last month, a mother reflected that she was able let her child orbit the first floor alone while she kept an eye on him from a central location giving him some much-appreciated freedom and her some much-needed rest! She also mentioned that during a busier time at the Museum & Theatre, she would have been worried about chasing after her son for fear that he might do something that other visitors might not understand. At Play Your Way, she knew that everyone would understand the way her son plays.

This year, we will not only “play our way,” but we will also highlight four different holidays. We’ll kick off the year with a Valentine’s Day Play Your Way on Saturday, February 9th from 9-10am. We’ll create colorful valentines for someone special and get moving during a love song dance party. Then, participate in a Dinosaur-themed Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 14th from 9-10am to celebrate spring with a science-y spin on this age-old tradition. Keep your eyes out for information about our sensory trick or treating event before Halloween and a chance to meet Santa Claus in a low-key, inclusive setting in December.

Play Your Way events are now FREE thanks to our long-time partner WEX! If you have questions about the event, please contact Lily O’Brien at lily@kitetails.org or 207-828-1234 x227

Lily O’Brien, Museum & Theatre Educator

Cooking Healthy: Potato Snowballs

Brittany measures and mixes up ingredients with Museum & Theatre visitors.

It’s definitely worth enjoying the cold snowy days while they are here, however; also worthwhile is a warm, cheesy comfort food inspired by the need for something to warm the insides on cold days. If you are snowed in, this can be the perfect way to get a little messy, practice fine motor skills and eat some nutrient rich greens.

Potato Snowballs

Do you have leftover mashed potatoes? Gather the family around to make a delightful and nutrient packed potato popper. This can be a fearless a kitchen exploration, because there is no way these ingredients could be combined that wouldn’t taste good.

First, gather your bowl, aprons, mixing spoon, baking tray and preheat the oven (375). Use the microwave or the stove top to thaw…

1/2 cup frozen spinach

and then mix with …  

2 cups mashed potato.

Now you have a nice potato spinach dough that can be rolled into balls. Get a little messy! Can you roll potato balls that are big, small, the size of a cherry? Once a variety of potato balls have been made (all the better if they are different sizes and shapes) place a cranberry sized chunk of…

cubed cheddar cheese (½ cup in total)

in each ball. Finish each potato ball off by rolling in…

breadcrumbs (½ cup total)

I used Panko, but any crumbs would be fine. Finally, bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Enjoy now or freeze for later!

Brittany Liscord,Educator & Community Engagement Coordinator

*Healthy Cooking programming is sponsored by NorthEast Delta Dental   

Join Us During February Vacation!

When school is OUT, fun is IN at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine!

 Join us from 10-5pm each day of vacation week for some of our most popular, regularly occurring activities that will relieve your family’s cabin fever. Meet our LIVE animals during Turtle Time, Honeybee Chats, or when we open the Tide Pool Touch Tank. Settle in for our classic Star Shows, process-based art activities, or take a panoramic tour of Portland using our Camera Obscura. And — of course — play in our four floors of exhibits!

In addition to the activities every half hour, check out these extra fun extra programs offered on each day of vacation:

Tickets are On Sale Now for The Three Little Pigs!

Hilarity ensues with this over-the-top version of our very favorite story. Grab your tickets before they’re gone!
Click the performance links below to purchase your tickets today.

Friday, February 15th, 4pm
Saturday, February 16th, 1pm
Saturday, February 16th, 4pm
Sunday, February 17th, 1pm
Sunday, February 17th, 4pm
Wednesday, February 20th, 11am
Wednesday, February 20th, 2pm
Thursday, February 21st, 11am
Thursday, February 21st, 2pm
Friday, February 22nd, 1pm
Friday, February 22nd, 4pm
Saturday, February 23rd, 4pm
Sunday, February 24th, 1pm
Sunday, February 24th, 4pm
Friday, March 1st, 4pm
Saturday, March 2nd, 1pm
Saturday, March 2nd, 4pm
Sunday, March 3rd, 1pm
Sunday, March 3rd, 4pm