Our Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report Is Now Online!

The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine annual report for fiscal year 2015 is here. Thank you to all of our donors, business members, sponsors, members, volunteers, and visitors for making this one of our best years yet!

Click here to download a pdf copy from our website.

Hancock Lumber Celebrates Earth Day and 10 Years of “Tree to Timber!”

Happy Earth Day, and happy 10 years to Tree to Timber! Our company, Hancock Lumber, has been the proud sponsor of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s second floor sustainable forestry and pine manufacturing exhibit since 2005. We love sharing what we do with the thousands of kids and their families who visit the Museum & Theatre every year.

TreeToTimber3-sawmill-girlplayingIn Tree to Timber, we not only get to talk about the process of harvesting trees, we let kids in on the experience. From an interactive video game to a sawmill, children can watch the felling of trees, then help turn the logs into lumber using the sawmill crank. The exhibit is also home to a treehouse where you can build your own structures using interlocking wood blocks – the only limit to what you can build is your imagination!

We’re also excited to be a part of the Museum & Theatre’s Earth Day celebration this Wednesday, April 22nd, for the second year in a row. Last year’s Earth Day festivities were a huge hit: we had a meet and greet with our mascot, Forest Hancock, and gave away over 200 White Pine seedlings to visitors. Eastern White Pine –the kind of trees that grow in our forest and we make into boards—seedlings will be available to children and their families for free again this year (while supplies last).

Check out all of the Earth Day activities, including reading stories about forests, planting seeds, and more! While you’re here, take a turn at the sawmill or building a home in Tree to Timber, then take home your own seedling and plant a tree for the next generation to enjoy.

Hancock Lumber started doing business in Maine over 166 years ago –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.

Exploring "Tree to Timber." Photo by Olivia Birdsall.

Exploring “Tree to Timber.” Photo by Olivia Birdsall.

 

 

Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Conductor Norman

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We were thrilled to learn about this beautiful gallery of photos from our friends at the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Photographer Carolyn Nishon was on hand back in February to catch some snaps of the PSO’s Assistant Conductor, or “Conductor Norman,” as he is affectionately known, during his visit to the Museum.

Please take a look at these gorgeous photos and the wonderful practice of these junior conductors! Thank you for the visit, Conductor Norman and the PSO. And, thank you Carolyn, for your work and talents.

Our Favorite Pizza Party of the Year on July 1st

We are so thrilled to announce one of our favorite yearly benefit events has gotten that much better with a new twist.

Please join us on Tuesday July 1st at Flatbread Company, located at 72 Commercial Street in Portland. For those of you who have never been, Flatbread Company’s homemade and handmade aesthetic is very similar to our own here at the Museum; use the best of what’s around, prepare it with thoughtfulness and ingenuity, and present with a smile.

Their dressed-down style, family-forward atmosphere, and waterfront location are perfect for a summer dinner, and we’ll be dining from 5pm – 10pm.

Flatbread is generously donating a portion of sales of every pizza sold to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. If you like their pizza as much as we do, you understand how exciting this is for us!

And, the twist? That night, we’ll announce a limited-time-only, special thank you gift for individuals and families who sign up for new Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine memberships this summer.

TD Bank Volunteers for United Way Day of Caring

Thank you to our sponsors TD Bank for sending over some of their local employees to help out as part of United Way’s Day of Caring. They were awesome, energetic, and extremely productive! Thank you for the extra hands, folks.

 5% Day at Whole Foods Market on June 3rd

If you’ve visited the first floor of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, you’ve probably seen visitors – children and adults alike – hard at play at our Whole Foods Market cash register, or picking out some healthy groceries from the Market shelves. On Tuesday, June 3rd, join us at the real Whole Foods Market on Somerset Street for our fourth annual 5% Day.

It’s one of our favorite days, hosted by the sponsor of the Museum’s popular Our Town grocery store: a chance to support the Museum & Theatre as you shop for groceries. 5% of all purchases at Whole Foods Market Portland will directly benefit our mission as we raise awareness and funds for early childhood education. And with summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to think about stocking up on seasonal fruits and fresh local veggies, about trying a new spread or picking out some summer favorites and selecting seeds and plants for your garden.

With each purchase you make at Whole Foods Market from 8am to 10pm on June 3rd, you’ll be supporting local arts and education, helping us develop and continue our broad range of educational programming. When you visit Whole Foods Market, you’ll be able to learn all about their healthy food options and meet staff members of the Museum & Theatre as  you shop – we’d love to talk with you about your favorite programs at the museum.

One thing we love about the Market here in the museum is the great sense of community it creates. On 5% Day, we hope to meet many of you from our vast Portland community. It’s going to be a fun day, we hope you’ll join us!

White Cane Walk Grand Marshals: Senator King and our own Renaldo Rodriguez!

Senator Angus King and Renaldo Rodriguez chat about Maine’s White Cane Law while puppeteer Bridget Fehrs looks on.

Senator Angus King and Renaldo Rodriguez chat about Maine’s White Cane Law while puppeteer Bridget Fehrs looks on.

Independence is the word! Renaldo Rodriguez and Senator Angus King have accepted invitations to be the Marshals of the 18th annual Iris Network White Cane Walk for Independence on Saturday, October 19th. The white cane is a mobility tool for individuals who are visually impaired or blind and October is White Cane Safety month. It symbolizes independence, something both Renaldo and Senator King believe in.

Who is Renaldo Rodriguez? The White Cane Walk’s Grand Marshal, Renaldo is a member of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s Kids on the Block® puppet troupe, a disability-awareness program. Theatre Artistic Director Reba Short notes, “KOTB teaches children about disabilities and to accept them.  Renaldo is an 11 year old boy who uses a white cane. He teaches kids about visual impairment and blindness. We are delighted that Renaldo will be leading the Walk this year!”

Senator King signed the White Cane Bill into law in 1999 when he was then Governor of the State of Maine. Maine’s White Cane Law ensures that people who are visually impaired or blind and who use a white cane or dog guide have the same right as sighted pedestrians to travel safely on foot. The Law notes that traffic should yield, as always to pedestrians in the cross-walk. Drivers should not shout or gesture at individuals using a white cane or a dog guide.

The White Cane Walk for Independence is held every October to coincide with White Cane Safety month. It starts and ends at Monument Square in Portland. It is a cheerful 1.2 mile stroll through the Old Port and the proceeds raised provide training, education and support for people with vision loss or blindness throughout the State of Maine.

About The Iris Network

The Iris Network is a state-wide, community-based private nonprofit with a vision of building a world where no person is limited by visual impairment or blindness and everyone is an advocate for eye health and the needs of people who are visually impaired or blind.  Based in Portland, The Iris Network has field-offices in Saco, Lewiston, Bangor, Houlton, Augusta and Rockland.   For more information about any vision loss related issue, visit The Iris Network at www.theiris.org.

Update: Playscape will pop-up once again on August 31st!

Earlier this summer, we posted about our first Pop-Up Playscape event, which was a huge hit! Nearly 100 kids and adults came out to create an amazing box city with countless creative twists. Lots of people took notice! The event was featured in The Forecaster, on WCSH6, and it’s even been highlighted on the home page of the Maine Community Foundation (support for this project came from their Cumberland County Fund).

Here's where to find us on Saturday, 8/31 from 12-6.

Here’s where to find us on Saturday, 8/31 from 12-6.

There’s one more chance to get in on the fun! We’ll be on the Eastern Promenade on Saturday, August 31st. Want to know a little more before you go – like why this project is great for developing young minds? I’ve put together some background info about open-ended play, as well as some insider tips for the day of the event. No time to read ahead? No problem! Just arrive with an open mind and some willing builders, and the rest will fall into place. We’ll see you there! (Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook and share it with your friends!)

What is “open-ended” or “child directed” play?

Stated simply, it just means going with the flow. There is no pressure or rules to follow. The point is not to produce a specific finished product. It’s all about free play and exploration — the opportunity to invent and discover.

Kids led the way at our first Pop-Up Playscape event on 7/22.

Kids led the way at our first Pop-Up Playscape event on 7/22.

What are “loose parts”?

Loose parts (like boxes, sticks and stones, bottle caps or other recycled materials) are objects that are easily moved and used for play, games and art. They can be carried, rolled, lifted, piled, or combined to create different types of structures and experiences.

Why are we playing with loose parts and letting the children drive?

To encourage healthy development and build life important life skills! Play and art-making contribute to growth and development because they encourage children to test, explore and discover in a safe space. This type of play requires children to manipulate their environment and experiment with different materials in order to learn. They figure things out for themselves! Stationary materials or a set of rules can restrict the ways children can manipulate the environment, thereby restricting opportunities for creativity, problem-solving or taking healthy risks. Environments like Pop-Up Playscapes aim to be rich in loose parts and allow for extensive manipulation of the environment and experimentation that can lead to innovation. Plus, when kids have a chance to make something amazing on their own without being “right” or “wrong,” they build self-esteem.

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Cardboard + Community + Creativity = Pop-Up Playscapes

Facebook event graphic

Remember Caine’s Arcade, the video that went viral about a 9-year-old in East

Caine Monroy with his Arcade. (Image credit: Caine's Arcade)

Caine Monroy with his Arcade. (Image credit: Caine’s Arcade)

L.A. who built an amazing arcade out of cardboard? Now imagine dozens of kids like Caine meeting up in one spot with tons of cardboard and permission to build anything they can imagine. What do you think they could create if they worked together?

We’ll find out this summer! We’re inviting all of Portland to join us for Pop-Up Playscapes on Monday, July 22nd at Kennedy Park and on Saturday, August 31st on the Eastern Promenade.

At these FREE, first-of-their-kind events, people of all ages will meet up to build the ultimate fort-meets-sculpture-meets-homemade-playground. We’ll have a huge supply of recycled materials, like cardboard boxes, old

Picture this... only HUGE!

Picture this… only HUGE!

books, tubes, fabrics and more. You – that means kids, grown-ups, everyone – bring your imagination and sense of adventure. Artists and Museum & Theatre staff will be on site to help make your vision a reality. At day’s end, we’ll take down the structure and recycle it. All kids take home a bag of recycled building materials to keep dreaming and creating long after the event is over.

If you visited us last summer, you may remember the “Box City” we created on the second floor of the Museum & Theatre – dozens of buildings made from recycled materials. There were homes, a library, a school, a garden shop – anything our young builders could imagine! I’m so excited to make that concept way bigger and bring it out into the community so all kids can contribute their ideas, inventions and creativity.

3 Pop Up Adventure PLayground at Canadian International School of Egypt

A cardboard building project at the Canadian International School in Egypt.
Image source: http://popupadventureplay.blogspot.com/2013/04/playing-around-world.html

A project like this is tons of fun, of course, but there’s also a lot to learn from it. When kids engage in open-ended play like this – a project where there’s no one right answer – they get to solve problems and direct themselves. They’ll hit road blocks, then come up with solutions that none of the adults could have devised. They’ll build the skills that will make them great problem-solvers and creative thinkers – and that’s not just good for kids, that’s good for all of us! What community couldn’t use more creative problem-solvers?

We’re grateful to everyone who made these events possible! Pop-Up Playscapes are funded by the Cumberland County Community Building Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. We’re also getting help from some great community partners: City of Portland Recreation and Public Services; Ecomaine; No Umbrella Media; The Root Cellar; and Ruth’s Reusable Resources.

Coming to a Pop-Up Playscape event? RSVP on Facebook and share it with your friends!

 

Cool member perk: explore Maine museums for free on May 14!

Saturday, May 14 is the first ever Maine Member Day. Twelve museums throughout the state (including this one) will be offering free reciprocal admission all day. If you’re a member of any participating museum, everyone included in your membership will be admitted for FREE to any other participating museum!

A restoration project at the Owls Head Transportation Museum.

Margaret Hoffman at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens came up with this idea and I think it’s terrific in two ways: we’ll see a lot of new faces here, which is always exciting; AND our members get to be “members for a day” at someplace new!

I’ve listed all the participating museums here. Don’t forget to bring your membership card with you, and check their hours in advance since everyone’s are a little different. Now enjoy your adventure!

Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor

Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, Portland (that’s us!)

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay

Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland

Maine Discovery Museum, Bangor

Maine Historical Society, Portland

Maine Maritime Museum, Bath

Maine State Museum, Augusta

Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head

Portland Museum of Art, Portland

Victoria Mansion, Portland

Wendell Gilley Museum, Southwest Harbor