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?!?"