Introducing…Science Camps!

Campers in "Slimy, Squishy, Slick, and Slippery" will spend lots of time visiting creatures in our Tidepool Touch Tank.

This August we will be offering two science camps for kids ages 4 to 5.  I’m having so much fun planning “Slimy, Squishy, Slick, and Slippery,” which is a week of experiencing textures.  Every day, we’ll make a new type of clay or slime from scratch using simple ingredients, making and then testing predictions about the textures we’ll create.  Throughout the week, we’ll also meet, touch, and study some real, live animals with wet, slippery skins.  This includes studying earthworms, and visiting the residents of the Tidepool Touch Tank.

Two weeks later is “Amazing Animal Journeys,” also for ages 4 to 5, where we’ll learn about a different migratory animal each day, acting out its yearly travels.  Three of these animals will be the hummingbird, the humpback whale, and the fascinating American eel!  Each child will also have a chance to do a week-long project creating his or her own animal puppet, adding pieces to it each day as we learn about different adaptations that help creatures migrate.

Both camps are designed to encourage campers to use their imaginations and to engage in the process of science in a fun, playful way.  I think these week-long half day camps could provide a great way to transition back into the school year!  Also, don’t forget that if you sign up for two camps by May 1st, you’ll get one for half price. Click here for more information and to register for any of our 11 amazing summer camps.

Introducing… New Camps!

Garden campers
Jamie's campers show off their freshly planted seeds at last year's Garden Camp. (We'd show you a picture of Magical Myths or Ready, Set, Play camp... but they haven't happened yet!)

Spring in Maine can be tough. As my umbrella turned inside-out on my walk to work the other day, I wistfully remembered the flip-flop weather bestowed upon us just a week ago. But April showers bring May flowers, and here at the Museum & Theatre, May flowers bring… Summer Camps!

Our Education team is so excited about all the programs we do that we can’t help but plan things months and months in advance. In fact, that’s what gets us through the icy winter months: thoughts of camp — exploring new ideas, projects and activities during the most energetic time of year. Every one of us has some pretty thrilling projects up our sleeves, but I’m just going to talk about mine.

Magical Myths: Fairies, Gnomes and Creatures is a morning camp just for 4 and 5 year olds. Knowing that this is a group with limitless imagination, I decided to create a week-long camp catering to storytelling, costume creation, and lots of time to pretend. I remember spending countless hours as a six-year-old living in a “fox den” with my best buddy, Alex – or maybe building fairy houses in the woods, knowing that when I left, there would be a veritable fairy fiesta in my absence. We’re going to learn about mythological creatures from all over the world – from imagining the perspective of the world from the Zulu abatwa (tiny people who ride on the backs of ants) to watching an ancient Chinese star show featuring the Azure Dragon of the East. We’ll explore our imaginations with masks, wings, wands and just about anything in-between – and even have a chance to try dancing with the Blue Fairy from our summer Theatre production, Pinocchio! I’m so excited, I can hardly stand it.

For preschoolers who can’t keep from wiggling, I’ve created Ready, Set, Play: Rock and Romp! In my time working at the Museum & Theatre, I’ve noticed something about preschoolers: they like to move around. (Have you noticed this?) We’ll learn all kinds of games kids play in other countries – from Japanese Tag to Hide-and-Seek from Saudi Arabia. We’ll also experiment with music making in relation to play – and play in relation to music making! Anyone who has taken up an instrument knows that the fun lies in seeing where the music takes you – and in playing with others. We’ll do all of this and more as we hear from guest musicians, learn songs, and play games all week long.

So, um, is it summer yet?

One more thing! Did you know that we have a special “BOGO” special on camps through May 1st? You can buy one camp at regular price, and get a second (for the same child or a sibling) for half price. You can click here to get all the details, or get in touch with Shana (828-1234 x232 or shana@kitetails.org), who can help you find the best camps for your kids:  www.kitetails.org/camps

Let your child take the stage!

Whether your child is a natural actor or a wallflower, creative play and theatre activities will inspire your whole family to play together.  The benefits of introducing your child to dramatic play at an early age are numerous.  Dramatic play improves cognitive development, social skills, communication, motor skills and emotional development. Young children have vibrant and  active imaginations;  do you play a role in your child’s imagination games?  You can!

Begin with your favorite book.  Read it out loud a few times over the period of a week to get a feel for the story.  Younger children will learn key dialogue moments just from repetition.  Older kids might enjoy the task of adapting the story, and writing out the dialogue.  Ask the question, how can we act this out?  Brainstorm ideas together.

The next step is to act it out.  Pick characters.  Parents should definitely play roles too. If there are too many characters, have each actor play multiple roles.  If there aren’t enough characters in the story for your family, add some more.  Theatre teaches us to be team players and problem solvers.  How can everyone take part in the story?  Make sure to listen to your child’s ideas, and try them out.  You may have a budding director on your hands. Rehearse your story a few times.  Like anything else, the sillier you are by changing your voice, exaggerating your movements, the freer and exaggerated your child will be.  Theatre can teach us communication skills.  Ask questions like, “How can you use your voice to tell the audience about your character?” “How can we use your body to tell the audience what happened next?”

Now for the flourishes; dig though your closet to find something that signifies the character.  You don’t need to go overboard, use common items you can find around the house!  Set the stage.  How can you transform your living room rug into a duck pond?  You could even invite your friends and extended family to come watch the play in your living room!  Make posters and tickets!  Imagine how confident your child would be after putting on their own show for family, friends or neighbors.  After bowing to that applause they’re sure to be a few inches taller!

Introducing…Where Science Meets Art

Body maps

The interaction between art and science is a multifarious one, and seemingly most fluid in the minds of youth. The idea of visualizing imagined worlds is often the first step in an artistic or scientific process. The labors of both fields rely heavily on interpretation of the natural world; observation, interpretation and rendering nature.

Perfect Perspective Drawings

In recognition and celebration of this, the Museum & Theatre is excited to introduce a series of programs titled “Where Science Meets Art.” These Saturday activities will explore the symbiotic relationship of these fields.

Paint Lab

The program is not so much about using art as an illustrative tool for scientific concepts, but more so the exploration of method, materials and themes.

There appears to be a point when society, or age, or maybe just language begins to separate the innate connections and similarities of the artistic and scientific themes. Here at the Museum we would like to celebrate these universal parallels.

Shadow Fun!

Join us Saturdays at 12:30pm for programs such as Body Maps, What’s in a Fingerprint? Paint Lab, Gravity Painting, Perfect Perspective Drawing, Art Forms In Nature and Chromatography.

Cultural Cuisine: How does it teach?

My parents have a video (quite a few videos, actually) of me “helping” my dad make bread on Christmas Eve. The year is 1989 and I am three years old, kneading the bread by lying on top of it and occasionally sticking my chin into the dough. We make this bread every year in our house – Russian egg bread flecked with golden raisins. The smell of it baking and the taste of it, toasted and buttered, will always remind me of Christmas.

Food is one of those things that everyone has in common. In my “Cultural Cuisine” program, I share a simple drink or snack common to another country with museum visitors. Recently this was Moroccan mint tea, with a little added brown sugar. In Morocco, tea is a part of life. It is an offering to houseguests, a cause for an afternoon break, and something that has been consumed there for centuries. I tell our littlest visitors that it’s OK not to like it – it’s just great to give something new and different a try! I can usually get even the most hesitant kids to take a sniff, and eventually a shy little sip. Their eyes widen: “This is good!”

Of course, there are children who don’t always like everything I offer, but this is to be expected. The goal is about exposing them to food (and, therefore, a piece of a culture) that is outside their realm of familiarity. The more comfortable children are with the idea of different cultures’ foods, the more comfortable they become with each others’ cultural differences – and more aware of what we all have in common.

Make a kid-friendly version of Moroccan mint tea at home!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1-2 handfuls fresh mint
  • 2 Green Teabags
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Pour the boiling water over the mint, green tea, and brown sugar in a heat-proof container (large Pyrex measuring cups or a teapot both work great). Stir until combined. Pour and enjoy!

Nature Journals record the signs of Spring

One thing I love about the Museum is there are plenty of little treasures to discover, like the catfish hiding in dark spaces in the turtle tank, or the mailboxes and wooden post cards tucked in corners throughout Our Town.  Of course, there are hidden surprises at home, too, and I think the best way to find one is to go outdoors and take a couple minutes to explore.

March is a wonderful time to begin making records of the outdoor adventures you and your child go on together by starting a nature journal.  Even in one minute outdoors, you can uncover hidden treasures: clues that spring is on its way.  The clue could be an early tulip or a squishy mud puddle, or a certain smell in the air, or it might be a surprise! Invite your child to draw what you found together, and then tell you his or her observations to record.  Paste all these pictures and notes into a blank book to keep a record of spring’s arrival.

Below are some notes from my neighborhood:

Taking it home: Painting to Music

This is an activity we love doing here at the Museum & Theatre. Painting to Music teaches kids about lines, painting and tempos. It’s great to see how the paintings change when we switch from a fast song to a slow song. Try it at home with different kinds of music, paints and brushes.

Materials:

  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Brushes, big and small
  • CD player or radio

Look around you, there are lines everywhere! Not all lines are the same. Some lines are fast and others slow, some feel quiet and some feel loud. Some are big and bold, others small and delicate. Like people, lines can have feeling or mood!

Today you can explore this by painting lines. To get you into this mode, you’ll be painting to music! The types of lines you make should depend on the type of sounds you’re hearing. The music is the boss right now, so listen carefully and paint what the music feels like. Maybe it’s fast and loud music so the lines will be bold and plentiful. What if it’s soft and quiet music, will your lines be the same? Think about how fast you move your hand. Think about color. Bright and happy or gray and sad?  Try listening to different types of songs or radio stations. What kind of lines can you create?

Vocabulary:

  • Line directions- Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal
  • Line “families”- Straight, Curved, Angled
  • Line width- Thick, Thin
  • Line Length- Short, Long, Dashed, Dotted