Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vacation Anticipation!

School vacation week is fast approaching, so we asked our staff, “Why should families be excited about vacation week? What are YOU most looking forward to?” Here’s the scoop:

"Puppets! If there's anything I've learned from our visitor surveys, it's that people LOVE puppets - and there's a plethora of puppet fun over vacation week, with Toe Jam Puppet Band and two days of different performances by Sparky's Puppets. I'm also really excited that the Museum is once again a venue for Bright Night, that we're able to support Providence's vibrant, important arts and family-focused New Year’s Eve celebration!"
Megan, Marketing & Public Relations Manager

"Starting off the week with snow-stormin', toe-tappin' Toe Jam Puppet Band will provide the usual giggle-gush. And yes, I am also looking forward to Sparky’s Puppets, but we have two new groups to enjoy: Rick Morin with his Rhythm Room percussive workshops for one. I envision a rocking room with kids banging on all sorts of percussive instruments AND of course I am looking forward to seeing our own Kate Jones in Rock-a-Baby! They should bring in the new year in the sweetest, most peaceful way."
Mary, Early Childhood Program Developer
"I am looking forward to all of the awesome performers that will be sharing their talent with us over vacation week! They are always amazingly entertaining!

And while I am zooming through the Museum, I look forward to catching all those little pieces of conversation between families – "Check this out!" "Come see what I made!" "This is soooo cool!" – that remind me everyday why I love my job!"

Liz, Experience Coordinator

"I am looking forward to sharing the fun by bringing family and friends to play and enjoy what I get to see everyday."
Shannon, Families Together Visitation Specialist
"I'm looking forward to helping out when it gets really busy… to putting on an apron and PLAYING in Water Ways and Littlewoods for an hour here and there - and reminding myself how fun this place really is and how sweet little kids are."
Denise, Development Associate

"Like Denise, I'm looking forward to the joyful noise and busy fun of the Museum full of happy families and to having a good excuse for getting out of my office and playing with them! And also to old friends knocking on my office window as, home for the holidays, they've brought their children and grandchildren to play at the Museum."
Janice, Executive Director
Learn more about vacation week here. What are YOU excited about?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Interview with Jessica Holden Sherwood

Meet Jessica Holden Sherwood – a Museum member since 2004 who joined the Board of Directors in 2007 and became Board president in 2009.
How and why did you get involved with the Museum?
My children, now ages 6 and 8, went to the Museum for about a year before I ever did. My husband always returned raving about what a great place it was. I eventually learned it myself and checked the “interested in volunteering” box. I am a member of the Museum because it’s a great place to bring my children: an active, engrossing, commercial-free, educational great place. I am a supporter of the Museum because of its social services and its commitment to all children.

How has the Museum changed since you first became a member?
The obvious answer is the three new exhibits. Less obvious: small changes virtually every time we visit – under the admission desk, the window boxes of the ramp, toys on the floor with the blocks. Also, the environments are so rich, it can seem changed with each visit even if it isn't – you notice or focus someplace you never had before. Even less obvious: have successfully completed a $1.5 million capital campaign and we're deep in the black!

You’ve been part of the Museum’s long-range planning. What do you hope for its future?
That the Museum continues to serve families who can't afford to come, expands service to kids in Head Start and after-school programs and changes exhibits. That everyone in Rhode Island respects the Museum as a resource and advocate for children's well being.

How do you spend your time when you’re not busy with your Board duties?
Work as a sociologist, for URI and for Sociologists for Women in Society, an international association of a thousand feminist sociologists.

As a sociologist, what’s your perspective on the Museum’s work?

I am sensitive to the many ways in which inequalities get reproduced – or sometimes interrupted. I'm really pleased that the Museum is an "interrupter" rather than a "reproducer." On class, the Museum is available to poor and near-poor families, not just those who can afford the admission fee. On race: 1) the Museum teaches about our history of immigration, and 2) it's one of the few places that kids from all different backgrounds and neighborhoods mix it up together. On gender, the Museum is a welcome respite from the sexism that infuses way too much of children's recreation and even their education.

What about the work around play?
I think that American parents are typically anxious these days, about their children's futures. Let's not dismiss this as a sort of group neurosis. It makes perfect sense, given the socioeconomic insecurity that Americans confront. With fewer social supports than most other developed countries, in America much more (e.g. health care dependent on current job) is riding on individual achievement. The stakes are high.

So, parents feel they are serving their kids' best interest by scheduling almost all of their time. In disadvantaged neighborhoods, this can be to keep kids safe from threats. In affluent neighborhoods, this can be Рconsciously or unconsciously Рthe start of a lifetime of resum̩-building, to get into a good college, in order to have a successful adulthood.

The message of the American Academy of Pediatrics and of the Museum is that unscheduled time serves the kids' interest, too. The Museum is helping play to get the respect it deserves! This message is healthy for both children and adults.

What is your kids’ favorite exhibit and why?
I don't think my kids have a favorite exhibit, although when they were younger it was Water Ways. Like I said, we find ourselves focusing on different places on different visits. This works best, of course, when I follow rather than try to lead – I stop myself from directing them. One day Abigail spent almost an hour sitting at the table of interlocking plastic shapes, working diligently until she had made a … dodecahedron, I think.

What’s yours?
I don't have a favorite exhibit, I have a favorite element: grown-up seating in each exhibit. Sometimes – especially in the most exhausted years of early parenthood – I just want to sit there and do nothing, comfortable knowing that the children don't need vigilant supervision while they're in the Museum.

I like how the Museum welcomes grown-up involvement in kids' play but doesn't require it. I was at a children's museum once where a sign instructed parents to put away their cell phones and play with their children. I understand the motivation for that message, but at the same time, I appreciate that Providence Children's Museum is also a guilt-free zone.
Thanks, Jessica! What do YOU think about Jessica's sociological perspective? About growing parental anxiety and overscheduling?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Give the Gift of Play

The Gift of Play!
During this season of giving, please help Providence Children's Museum give the gift of inspiring, joy-filled play and learning to children and families who need it most.

Why do we need YOUR help? Did you know that each year ...
  • 40 percent of the Museum's operating budget goes toward serving children and families in need.
  • 36 percent of visitors come free, including 1,250 Head Start children and caregivers offered free year-long admission passes.
  • 500 kids from inner-city community centers participate in engaging out-of-school time activities, facilitated by the Museum's AmeriCorps members.
  • 170 court-separated families come together for therapeutic visits with the Museum's team of family therapists.
Your donation of any amount helps us continue to provide these important services to children and families who truly need them.

And if you're not able to make a financial contribution, we're also collecting toys for the children served by Families Together
the Museum's visitation program for court-separated families. Look for the collection box in our Gift Shop.

In whatever way you can, please play a part!

Thank you for your support, and we wish you a joyful, playFULL holiday season!

To learn more about Providence Children's Museum
and our work serving children and families in need,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Talking Back - Play Spaces

Our most recent question on the Talk Back board in Play Power has encouraged a flurry of responses – and we're excited to see that includes many kids (and grown-ups!) commenting on their favorite Museum play spaces.

Here's a sampling of what they have to say:

Where is/was YOUR favorite place to play – at the Museum or otherwise?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Drawing Conclusions

This post is by Megan Fischer, Marketing & Public Relations Manager.

Lately I’ve seen a barrage of commercials for the new Wii drawing tablet and am astounded. The concept: kids use a stylus to “draw” on a tablet connected to their television and the images they create appear on the screen. It comes with a game of Pictionary the family can play together.

Really?!? Why?

What about drawing with REAL paper and pencils, crayons or markers?

What happened to families sitting around a table playing board games together?

What about the fact that our kids are already oversaturated with screen time? (According to the Alliance for Childhood, children in the U.S. between the ages of 8 and 18 now spend over 7 hours per day in front of screens with very little time spent outdoors.)

I’ve written before about the importance of kids having authentic experiences with real things, and that certainly applies here. It’s not just about the motor skills and hand-eye coordination children develop when they move pen over paper, learning how to hold and manipulate tools. And it’s not just about the acquisition of artistic skills.
I believe there’s also something incredibly important about the physical process of creation and of having authentic creative experiences. Approaching a blank page with nothing to structure the experience besides one’s imagination. The feeling of markers on paper, paint on fingers. The smell of crayons and freshly sharpened pencils. The sense of accomplishment in seeing something you’ve created, that flowed from your hands to your canvas. Doodling, dipping into paint, digging into clay, building with blocks, maybe even making messes…all in the act of creating.
For all of us, drawing and other forms of creative expression can provide a way to perceive and think about the world around us and communicate our ideas – especially important for kids. Plus the process of creation requires active engagement and can inspire imagination as well as concentration and persistence.

I know there are arguments about the need for children to acquire skills applicable to new technologies, about technical or digital literacy. But as I see it, many kids today are practically saturated with electronics and have plenty of opportunities to develop these proficiencies. The digital divide is no longer an issue. Instead, helping kids manage the onslaught of technology and digital media is a growing concern.
I’m reminded of a recent screening of "Library of the Early Mind," a wonderful documentary in which 40 renowned children’s book authors and illustrators reflect on their childhood memories and inspiration. Many of them speak about creating their own worlds as children and about the powerful impact of their early creative experiences on their work and process. It’s interesting to think about what might have been if they weren’t allowed opportunities to create, explore and discover as children. (Also consider what the children’s literature landscape would look like if given over to the electronic book. Imagine story time with a screen, not giving a child the physical experience of turning the pages, of engaging with the story and the artwork.)
Our world is changing rapidly. Being immersed in digital communications for the Museum, I’m faced with that everyday. I’m not arguing that we should turn our backs on technology – there’s a time and place for it, and it’s certainly not going away. And there are many great examples of ways kids and families are using technology in creative, even physical ways – to go geocaching or design their own games.

But we need to think carefully about what we’re at risk of losing and stand up for what’s important. To make sure our children have opportunities for active, authentic creative experiences and not give everything meaningful over to screens and electronics.

Maybe there’s something I’m missing and, if so, please comment. But I’d really like to hear YOUR thoughts about navigating the incredible changes we’re faced with and what we – and our kids – might be losing in the process.
This article was subsequently posted on and there were A LOT of interesting comments. Check out the conversation here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thank YOU!

For helping the Museum serve our mission to inspire and celebrate learning through active play and exploration.

For enabling us to provide joy-filled, engaging play and learning experiences to a growing number of children and families, including those who wouldn’t otherwise have access.

For supporting our work and helping us create two amazing new outdoor play spaces.

For valuing the vital role of play in children's learning and development.

For truly caring about the well being of children and families.

But really, the kids say it best:

In this season of gratitude, many, many thanks!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bringing Families Together

This post was contributed by Jess Fields, former AmeriCorps Museum Educator.

One morning I saw a young woman pacing by the entrance as I arrived at the Museum. She seemed nervous. After we opened, a family arrived with their little boy. He rushed to play at the light wall and dome in Play Power. The parents watched him and checked their watches. When the young woman from outside finally entered the Museum, she spotted the couple and they approached her with warm, nervous smiles. The boy continued his play while the adults talked softly. Finally the mother called the boy over and told him, “I want you to meet someone very special.”

The boy smiled and said “Hi!” “Hi,” said the young woman as she nervously bent over to talk to him. “Hey I wanna show you something!,” the boy said. He took her hand and they headed into Water Ways together. The parents looked on, holding hands.

“Your son is beautiful,” I said to them. “How old is he?” “Thank you,” the mother said. “He'll be 3 in a few months. He really loves it here. We picked this place together. Today is the first day he meets his birth mother – we wanted it to be somewhere familiar to him.”

“That's so wonderful,” I said. “We were afraid she wouldn't show up,” the father sighed. “She was really late.” I smiled. “She's been here since we opened, she was pacing outside of the building. I think she was nervous.” “So are we,” the mother said, “but we feel like everyone needs as much love as they can get, all of us, so this was the best decision for our family.”

The little boy cheered in the next room as his birth mother pumped water out of a tube in the tank. They both laughed and it echoed to fill the room. The parents smiled, said thank you and wandered in to enjoy their special day, together.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Frightfully Fun New AmeriCorps Team

It’s about time everyone met our newest team of AmeriCorps members! They joined us in mid-September, starting with two weeks of training in informal education, child development and more. They’ve since begun their work planning engaging play-based activities for underserved children in Head Start and after-school programs as well as coordinating Museum volunteers.

They’ve also been busy planning last weekend’s annual Boo Bash - and what a spook-tacular event! There was delightfully haunted hands-on fun at every turn.
Inside the Museum, small superheroes and skeletons dug into slime and explored mysterious potions in the Mad Science Lab; entered the graveyard of games for a ghoulishly good time; sent creepy creatures soaring; illustrated eerie optical illusions; and crafted spooky scenes and trick-or-treat totes.
Outside in our garden, visitors stepped into an eerie environment watched over by a cast of crazy critters (the eyes were everywhere!) and joined a jumpin’ jam session to show off their moves and create bone-shaking beats. Families and staff alike had an absolute blast!

So here’s an official welcome to Bonnie, Carolina, Cassi, Cassy, Dylan, Jackie, Julie, Kirsten, Lauren, Lyndsey, Rachel and Sam - and welcome back to Kerrie. Congratulations and thanks for the frightfully festive fun!

(And much credit to program developer Carly for her creative Climber costume!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When Grown-Ups Climb

This weekend, Museum director Janice O’Donnell was navigating upward through The Climber, hoping to surprise her grandchildren. She passed a little girl…

Girl: You’re not allowed up here.
Janice: Yes I am!
Girl: (earnestly) No, grown-ups aren’t allowed.
Janice: (feigning indignation) Yes, grown-ups can! I’m allowed!

They worked it out and, as Janice continued her climb, a boy sliding down from another platform stepped on her head.

Janice: Ow!

The boy turned, repositioned himself, and gently patted her head.
The moral of the story: Grown-ups are always welcome to stretch, slither and wind their way through The Climber. But remember – it’s kid space!

Editor's note: Janice insists that we know, "I DID make it all the way to the top, despite the children I encountered along the way." Her grandchildren were not surprised. Granddaughter Liv said, "It took you that long?!?"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stand Up for Recess

By Janice O’Donnell, Executive Director, Providence Children’s Museum

Elementary schools seem to be having an awful lot of trouble with recess lately. There are complaints that recess is a fertile ground for bullying, leads to misbehavior and injuries, is difficult to supervise, and takes away from class time needed for reading and math. As a result, school recess is being reduced in many schools, especially in urban schools with high poverty and high minority rates. A 2005 US Department of Education survey revealed an alarming recess gap: first graders in 18 percent of elementary schools with an extremely high poverty rate do not have recess, compared to 4 percent in schools with low poverty rates. Since 2001 and the advent of No Child Left Behind, 20 percent of the nation’s school districts have reduced recess time in favor of math and language arts (Center on Education Policy).

At the same time, research proves how valuable – indeed necessary – recess is for optimum learning and development. An American Academy of Pediatrics study of 11,000 third graders showed that those with more recess time had better classroom success. In a nationwide Gallup poll commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, more than 80 percent of elementary school principals reported that recess has a positive impact on academic achievement and two-thirds noted that students listen better after recess and are more focused in class.

Photo by Susan Sancomb

Hardly a surprise. Who doesn’t need to stretch one’s body and mind after sustained time on a task? Today’s coffee break might take the form of five-minute-yoga, but we still recognize that adults need breaks from work during the day. Kids need them more. It is physically more difficult – takes more energy – for a six-year-old to sit in one place for an hour than to run around the schoolyard. And leading kids in calisthenics is no substitute for recess. Kids need to play. They need free, self-directed play where they make up their own rules, set their own challenges, solve their own problems. Recess gives them time during the school day to move their bodies, interact with friends, daydream, pretend, invent – all necessary for developing imagination, creativity, social skills and resiliency, as well as strong bodies.

So we need to stand up for recess. I urge parents to tell their children’s principal, their school committee and superintendent that they expect elementary school children to have at the very least 20 minutes of recess every day and much more free play time for preschoolers and kindergarteners.

And, for those fighting that good fight, I offer some perspective. Over a year’s time, children only spend 20 percent of their waking hours in school. It’s true, try the math: 6 hours x 180 days. I know that for weeks it seems kids are spending all their time getting ready for school, being at school and doing homework. But parents and caregivers are in charge of much more of their children’s time than schools are and we can make sure that they have plenty of time for free play. We can turn off the TV and computer. We can be careful about enrolling them in too many or overly consuming extracurricular activities. We can send them outside to play and trust that they’ll be just fine. Better than fine – they’ll be doing exactly what they need to do to grow their minds and bodies and spirits.

Other resources:

Don’t Let Recess Die! Six Ways to Save Recess at Your Child’s School by Darell Hammond, CEO of KaBOOM!, in The Huffington Post
The 3 R’s? A Fourth is Crucial, Too: Recess by Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times
Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School by the Alliance for Childhood


This article was originally posted on

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PlayWatch: Lily and the Magician

This true story about a spontaneous, creative drama session with children was contributed by Providence arts educator and performer Diane Postoian, who has previously performed at the Museum. She believes that pretending is a foundation for learning and thoughtful, emotional development.

In my classroom at an arts camp for very young children, I have a wall-length array of fabric, old clothes, hats and other accessories. At the end of each class, I let the children play ‘dress-up’. It’s three days into camp. Lily is shy. She doesn't want to dress up, so I sit next to her to keep her company while the other children dive into the piles. Laila comes over to us with a pair of 1950’s cat's eyes glasses and asks, "Are these real?" "Uh, yes. As a matter of fact these are prescription. You shouldn't wear them." I snatch them quickly from her hands.

Lily remarks slowly in an almost inaudible whisper, "I wear real glasses. I can wear those." I stare at her. She allows me to put them on her face. Another child comes by and drops a piece of fabric onto my lap. I slowly drape it like a shawl around Lily's shoulders and call her grandma. With no warning, this shy, inaudible Lily turns out to be a LOUD and cranky grandma. "Wash the dishes!" she suddenly demands. "Clean the house." All the children are stunned. They stop to listen. "Gee grandma," I moan, "give me a break." "No!" she barks.

The next day, Lily again doesn't want to play dress-up. I say to her, "Grandma, I heard you want to go shopping today." Like a doll, she lets me adorn her with the glasses, the shawl and now I add a hat and handbag. Everyone is watching to see how Lily will respond. Today, I tell everyone that I will be interviewing them after they're dressed. "Grandma," I say, "I'll be reporting the news today on TV. I'm interviewing a bunch of people." "No," she snaps. "You can’t go to work." Deanna hears that from across the room, picks up a fake phone and coyly says, "I'll be by soon to pick you up for work, Diane." (Too quick for me). I say goodbye to grandma.
I call Owen up for the first interview. He’s wearing a 1940’s man’s cap, sunglasses and a neck tie. "So sir, I couldn't help but notice your outfit. Who are you?" (I am using a whisk as a microphone).

"I'm a rapper," he says, speaking directly into the whisk.
"Oh? What do you like to rap about?"
"Wow. What kind of birds?"
"Blue jays."
"Really? Why's that?"
"Because when my grandpa died, he said he wanted to be a blue jay."
"That's a wonderful way to keep him in your heart, Owen." He nods gently. Off he goes.

I call Leo up. He's wearing an actual magician hat, with the little pocket on the inside to hide things. He has a woman’s black crepe skirt pulled up under his armpits like a strapless dress. The skirt touches the floor. Leo grabs hold of the whisk to make sure he can be heard!
"I'm Leo the Magician."
"Well Mr. Leo. What kinds of tricks can you do?"

Now the kid had to be prepared for this one. He says, "I'm going to get a necklace out of the hat... for your grandma."
"For my grandma?!?!? Grandma, if you're watching, Leo the Magician is going to give you a necklace." (Apparently, the crotchety grandma has made quite an impression on the thoughtful Leo.) Before acting out his “trick,” the necklace accidentally falls out of the hat. Leo quickly picks it up. "You didn't see that," he mumbles.

"No, of course not. I saw nothing." I stare at the kids. "The audience didn't see anything either." Like clockwork, they all shake their heads 'no.' Hilarious. Leo manages to get the necklace into the hat's inside pocket. He flows around the audience in his black skirt to show everyone the hat is empty. They all strain to make sure. He walks across the room, far away from us. "Leo! Why are you over there?" "The spell might be too powerful. I need room." He returns with the necklace. I thank him. Leo sits down.

"Grandma, if you're watching, here's your necklace." Lily, who has never gotten out of her seat since camp started, walks up to me. "Grandma? I can't believe this. You were in the audience? That's wonderful. Look at this necklace." I put it on her. She 'humphs' and growls, "Get back home."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Where Do the Children Play? – URI

Last week was our 10th screening and discussion of the documentary “Where Do the Children Play?,” this time at the University of Rhode Island. The conversations are always so rich, but this time we heard some interesting new comments and perspectives. Some highlights:
  • Museum director Janice O’Donnell talked about how, with our new play spaces, “We’ve been noticing kids’ self-directed play, especially outside. Kids still do know how to play, we just have to let them.”
  • Sue Warford, URI Child Development Center director, said she views the film through a lens of what happens in classrooms: “The amount of time for play in classrooms has diminished … why are we taking this away from kids?”
  • Jeanine Silversmith started RI Families in Nature 2 years ago, inspired by Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods,” and it’s grown to 74 people on the last hike. The easy monthly hikes “give parents a break because everyone is looking out for everyone else’s kids – it takes the pressure off.”
  • Su Rubinoff of Meadowbrook Waldorf School talked about how important it is for kids to connect with nature and shared a story of 7 kids (ages 3-7) who spent a long time working together to make a pool for a frog – showing cooperation and social navigating. “Kids are entitled today – they don’t have to wait, to share. There’s not just one computer, one car, one phone … Society is teaching kids to be isolated and entitled, so we have to work extra hard to put them in situations where they’re working together.
  • A professor of Human Development echoed that idea: “We’re raising a population of adults who are egocentric – not kind and patient.” Sue: “There’s a direct relationship to the way expectations are being delivered in schools right now … we’re expecting too much think-in-a-box mentality, too much conformity – we need to nurture compassionate collaboration and problem solving.
  • Janice offered a counter argument: schools were also regimented in the 50s “but we had a real life – after school, on Saturdays, in the summer, outside.” She expressed concern that out-of-school-time is regimented too much now, too.
  • Jeanine: “Kids are not being allowed to see their shortcomings and what they’re good at, which means they have no compensation technique later on … As a parent, I need to let them mess up and fall.
  • On structure and too many activities: audience members talked about the prevalence of summer camps – often weeks of structured activities – and giving parents the message that it’s what they’re supposed to do. “Parents have to not do it – just get together and let the kids play.”
  • A preschool director said she grew up in 50s and is struck by the fear factor now: “Parents drive kids to the bus stop … it used to be kids felt ‘I’m safe with any adult.’” Jeanine: We need to keep walking to the bus, talking about it to others.
  • A home school parent said her kids only have 3 hours of structured academic time per week and they’re ahead of public schools. They’re free to go off and explore the rest of the time. Janice: We need to give kids responsibility.
  • Two preschool teachers: Parents don’t want their kids outside – “they’ll get sick, they’re afraid” – they come late so they don’t have to go outside.
  • A URI student shared that she was raised by parents who thought it was important to get outside but they weren’t in a good area for that – no other kids were out. “How can I balance that as a parent later on?”
  • A teacher and parent of 3 elementary school boys: “We need to be careful about parental education, be empathetic to their fears.”
  • Another preschool teacher mentioned the scene in the film where a parent was driving and all of the kids were in the backseat, absorbed in their individual screens. “I remember having conversations [during car rides], kids noticing things, playing games, singing songs – all of that is play, is creative. Now we’re given all kinds of conveniences and kids go from inside the house to another inside environment without noticing anything.
Resources mentioned:
Read more about the lively conversation in URI’s student paper. And join the conversation about the importance of play on the Museum's PlayWatch listserv!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Step Into a “Small Town”

We’re thrilled to have an incredible new exhibit in the Museum’s atrium walkway window boxes: I Live in a Small Town, created by local artist Megan Jeffery. In 17 playful scenes, the exhibit gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of the town’s inhabitants – a total of 36 handcrafted finger puppet residents and hundreds of intricately detailed miniatures.

Megan, a RISD alumna, has been a children's illustrator for over 20 years, specializing in educational material. When asked to describe the exhibit, she said:
“The BIG idea is…little! Ever since I was a kid, I've collected and made miniatures, and even had a “town” (called “Beetlegrass,” which is now the name of my blog) that lived on top of my dresser. This exhibit features my finger puppet characters that I make by hand using wool roving, fabrics, and other materials. Also on display are the miniatures that I make and that I've collected over the years – some I've had since childhood!”
Each of the scenes is infused with Megan’s own brand of humor. You’re not going to believe your eyes when you see the array of goodies guarded by the butcher and baker in their shops; the musically inclined cow and sheep playing their instruments; decked out disco robots; crabs constructing an elaborate sand castle; and the gathering of G.I. gnomes. And the details! From diminutive dog bones at a festive canine celebration to a tank of tiny fish in the “Nature Nook” to the construction workers’ picture perfect roadway scene, there’s so much to discover.

All of the puppets have a distinct look and personality. From Megan’s blog:
“It's this aspect of making characters that I just love: I start off with a basic idea of how they'll look, but then the puppet starts "telling" me about who he/she is, and he wants to wear, etc. It's this balance of planning ahead AND allowing room for being spontaneous that to me is PLAY.”
We couldn’t have said it any better. We know that kids and adults will LOVE this exhibit, which is on display for the next 4 months.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Megan’s fascinating and amazingly detailed process in a series of posts on her blog. Here’s a selection:

Thanks to Megan for sharing her work with us again; click here to learn about her previous puppet exhibit at the Museum. Also check out 9 to 5, our newest marionette display.

And leave a comment to let us know which is your favorite finger puppet scene!