Become a Part of Our Giving Tree!

Give the gift of play to a family in need this holiday season! Gifts of any amount will be added to our scholarship membership fund which provides free, one-year memberships to families that would not otherwise be able to experience the Museum & Theatre. All donations are tax-deductible. Donations of any amount are welcome and $95 funds an entire scholarship membership for one family for one year!

Make your gift in honor of a friend or family member and share the gift of play with someone special this holiday season.  We are happy to send a personalized holiday card to the recipient if you would like.

How It Works:

If you’re visiting the museum, simply remove an ornament from our giving tree and take it to the front desk to make your tax deductible donation. Then take the ornament with you and share it with a friend or family member to let them know that a donation has been made in their name! We can also mail an ornament to a recipient of your choice accompanied by a complimentary holiday card (see the Front Desk for details).

If you’d like to make a donation now, simply click here and choose the option that works best for you!

Thank You and Happy Holidays,

The Team of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine

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Thank you for sharing the gift of play with families in need!

 

Call to Action: Volunteer on January 4 to honor children everywhere

In the wake of the a tragedy like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary, we all feel a little helpless. We want to do something, but there isn’t anything that can erase what happened or even ease the pain of those who are suffering. Yet we want to find some way to make things better in any way we can.

At least that’s how we at the Museum & Theatre have been feeling over the past few weeks. We wanted to bring some joy to our community – especially to its children. What we came up with is Joyful Children’s Day, which we’ll hold on Friday, January 4th from 10am-8pm. We’ll be offering free admission, and to make the day special, we want to fill the Museum & Theatre with music, art, stories, crafts, games and other wonderful activities. That’s where you come in.

We need your help. We need volunteers to come in for half an hour or more on January 4th to help make the day magical for the families who visit. You can share a special talent or just share a little of your time to perform, present, read or guide any of the activities listed below (or anything you can come up with on your own!). We’re also seeking donations of food, cash or art supplies to use that day and evening.

To volunteer, or to learn more about how you can help, contact Louisa Donelson at 207-828-1234 x227 or louisa@kitetails.org no later than Monday, December 31st.

Thank you in advance for helping us lift the spirits of Greater Portland families and celebrating children everywhere.

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Possible volunteer activities:

  • Read a story
  • Facilitate a simple craft or art project
  • Play or sing some music or share your instrument
  • Perform a monologue, a skit or a puppet show
  • Do a science experiment
  • Read poetry
  • Demonstrate or teach a dance
  • Paint faces
  • Play a game – dominoes, bingo or even thumb wars
  • Teach your language
  • Make play dough
  • Anything else you think might make for a fun 15-45 minute family activity

You won’t be alone! A Museum & Theatre staff member will be present at all times to participate, help out and answer visitor questions. If you’re not sure what you want to do, but you know you want to help, we want to hear from you!

To volunteer, please contact Louisa Donelson no later than Monday, December 31st.

Dancing With Books

Dancing With Books is a series of innovative early childhood reading programs at the Museum & Theatre that uses theatre, movement and music to help develop young children’s enthusiasm for performing arts and reading while enriching their language skills in a fun and engaging way. Our most recent series was funded by a generous grant from the Sprague Foundation and concluded on May 3 with children from St. Elizabeth’s Child Development Center performing what they had learned for their teachers and families.

Hope Hoffman and students dance their way through Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Organized and facilitated by Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s Theatre Artistic Director Reba Short, this Dancing with Books series featured musician Jim Hall, dancer Hope Hoffman and three stories, Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter, A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry and The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. St. Elizabeth’s students and teachers explored the featured stories through song and dance in sessions throughout April. And every day St. Elizabeth’s had a session, the artists would offer an additional one to Museum visitors!  During the sessions, children read the books and learned to dance like a seed or tree and sang songs using vocabulary from the stories.

Teachers at St. Elizabeth’s have also benefited from this program. From attending the sessions with their students, they learned new ways to teach literacy through the arts, such as creating rhythms, singing vocabulary words, using body movement to make shapes of letters and words and telling interactive stories with props and puppets.

We hope that Dancing with Books will continue to inspire children to see the connection between the performing arts and literature and develop a life-long interest in not just reading, but music and movement as well.

Singing songs and dancing with Jim Hall!

Coming up in June will be Dancing with Books: Alphabet Dance! Children will use the letters of the alphabet to make fun shapes with their bodies. They will learn movements for each letter and create dances by spelling things out! Click here for dates and times. Dancing with Books will continue in the fall with a grant from the Beim Foundation and support from People’s United Community Foundation.

Meet the Kids on the Block!

Renaldo, Brenda and Melody are just three of our Kids on the Block!

Hi everyone! Do you know what Mandy, Renaldo, Mark, Brenda, and Melody all have in common? They are our new Kids on the Block life size puppets and each one has a unique disability that they have come to understand and that they have learned to live with. Each puppet has his or her own story to share and when they get together with their puppeteers and put on a show, they dazzle the crowds with their humor, wit and adorable faces. Since November, we’ve been putting on Kids on the Block shows for our visitors free of charge and the response has been phenomenal. Funded by Unum and Sam L. Cohen Foundation we are delighted to be able to implement this wonderful disability awareness program and educate our audiences with both useful and heartfelt information. Check out our next Kitetails for another round of Kids on the Block performances, here at Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine or out in your community.

Click here for upcoming performances of Kids on the Block!

Thanking the foundations that helped us put on “New Clothes!”

By now, we hope you’ve heard all about our ongoing shows in the Dress Up Theatre, Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes. But have you heard of the New Clothes Collaboration?

Cast members of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” participate in a peer critique, while "Cinderella" musician Jeffrey Sheerer looks on.

When these two shows were selected many months ago, we thought of so many ways all kinds of artists in our community could make valuable contributions. Having professional musicians, costume designers and playwrights contribute their expertise would not only yield great shows on our stage, but would provide our young actors with a unique opportunity to explore their talents under the mentorship of working artists. We developed a proposal for the New Clothes Collaboration: pairing young actors with guest artists from Portland’s thriving theatre community to design, direct, score, rehearse and perform Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

The "Cinderella" royals. Sebastian Grimm as Andre, Gabe Walker as Prince Louis and Elias Grimm as the King.

Thanks to the support of the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust, the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust and the Simmons Foundation, we were able to make this dream a reality! Our casts (all under fifteen years old!) have worked closely with director Claire Guyer, choreographer Gretchen Berg, costume designer Christina Klein, lighting designer Nicole Sirois and musicians Jeffrey Sheerer, Gregory Reed and Shawn Cole to bring scripts by Michele Livermore Wigton to life on our stage.

We’re so grateful for the generosity of the Burnham, Morton-Kelly and Simmons foundations for making this project possible. We’d also like to tip our hats to our show sponsors: the Neudek family (Debby, Tom and Alexandra); Andrucki & Mitchell Family Law of Lewiston; and Sudzie Autowash of Scarborough.

As anyone who has caught the shows can tell you, the New Clothes Collaboration yielded magical results!

Be sure to catch both shows, playing alternating weekends through March 21st. Shows are selling out, so click here to get your tickets in advance!

Fairchild Semiconductor and our Youth Rangers make science fun!

Winter marks a busy season for science programming at Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. Our Youth Ranger program, generously funded by Fairchild Semiconductor, is an innovative leadership training program for students in grades 8-11 interested in environmental education. It involves recruiting, training and employing teenagers as environmental science educators who work under the guidance of staff mentors.  Rangers deliver programs and serve as nature experts on the Explore Floor (that’s our second floor). The program is powerful because it supports our long term goal of promoting responsible stewardship of Maine’s environment.

Youth Ranger Fiona talks to a young visitor about the turtles in the Ranger Station.

Youth Rangers run programs each weekend and throughout school vacation weeks at the Tidepool Touch Tank and inside the Ranger Station. They facilitate visitor interaction with activity kits covering environmental themes such as animal behavior, forest and water resources, patterns in nature, food webs, and Leave No Trace principles.  Please stop by the Ranger Station and ask a Youth Ranger a science question. If they don’t have the answer, they’ll inquire and get right back in touch!

Little Youth Rangers in training and their parents can visit this website for some fun science activities to do at home!

For a full list of our 2008-2009 educational programming corporate and foundation funders, click here.