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Category: Books We Love

Make A Tooth Fairy Wand


We are celebrating Family Dental Health Month at the museum, and in this video shows you how to make a magnetic tooth fairy wand. Here's what you will need to make a magic wand at home:

Supplies needed

  • Paper - cut out a star or tooth shape
  • Markers or crayons
  • Stickers (optional)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • White paper for mini teeth
  • Magnet
  • Paperclips, brass fastener, or pipe cleaner
  • Wand- pencil, craft stick, or chopstick
  • Optional: ribbon to decorate


  1. First decorate the top of the wand- you could make a paper star, tooth, or a shape of your choice. Use markers or stickers to decorate it
  2. Next tape the paper piece of the wand to a stick- this could be a pencil, craft stick, choo stick, dowel, or even a twig from outside!
  3. Add some colorful ribbon or streamers to your wand if you would like
  4. Now carefully tape a magnet to the back of your wand. You can test the magnet first to make sure it's strong enough to pick up a paper clip (or whatever metal object you are using)
  5. Cut out some mini teeth using white paper, and add a paperclip, pipe cleaner, or brass fastener to each tooth
  6. Try out your magic wand! Place the teeth on a flat surface, and use the magnet on your wand to try to pick them up.

At the end of the video we talk about a few of the dental health books we have at the museum that cover losing teeth! Here is another great selection put together by Scholastic.


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Books Alive: Bruce the Bear puppet

Make a Bruce the Bear bag puppet!

Bruce the Bear was our special guest for Books Alive & Story Explorers this month. We read “Mother Bruce” and enjoyed the story of Bruce mothering a group of baby goslings!

There are lots of other Bruce the Bear books by local Maine author Ryan T. Higgins -you can check them out at your local library and learn about Bruce’s other adventures!

To make your own Bruce the Bear puppet to bring on adventures, follow these instructions:

Materials Needed:

  • Small paper bag
  • Two small paper circles (for his ears!)
  • One paper triangle or circle (for his nose!)
  • Glue or tape
  • Markers or crayons


  1. Place your paper bag on your work surface so that the square bottom is facing you and turned upwards (This will be the head/mouth of your puppet!)
  2. Use your glue or tape to attach the ear and nose pieces
  3. Decorate your puppet with markers or crayons!
Bruce Puppet

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Pete the Cat Party- Painting Guessing Game

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By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

Thank you for checking out our Pete the Cat Party video! If you followed along with the storytime, you know that Pete the Cat LOVES his white shoes, and his red shoes, and his blue shoes! He is even okay with his wet shoes! This blog post will walk you through setting up an art project guessing game, where kids can guess what Pete stepped in to change the color of his shoes.


  • Paper- cardstock, construction paper, sketch paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paint brush
  • Water cup
  • White crayon
  • Drawings prepped ahead


Prep Ahead: For this project, you will need to draw some pictures with a white crayon ahead of time. Each drawing should be an item that is mostly one color, and that we can imagine might change the color of Pete’s shoes. Here are some ideas:

  • Green: Spinach, Peas, Avocado
  • Blue: Blueberries
  • Purple: blackberries, grapes 
  • Red: Strawberries, Raspberries, Cherries 
  • Orange: Oranges, Carrots 
  • Yellow: Buttercups or Dandelions 
  • Brown: Coffee, Chocolate Cake
  • Black: Olives 
  1. Draw a picture of each item on a piece of paper using a white crayon
  2. Set up the water colors, paintbrush, and water cup for painting
  3. Play the game! Ask, “what do you think Pete the Cat could step in to change his shoes a different color?” Take a few guesses. 
  4. Now, choose one color and paint one of the pieces of paper, and see what happens! The picture you made with the crayon should magically appear
  5. The white crayon creates a wax resist, so the watercolors will not soak into the paper, and you can see the drawing in white.
  6. You can give away what color to paint each item, for example, “try painting this one red, and guess what is in the picture,” or let kids choose a color, and then ask “Is that what color strawberries are, or are they a different color?” 
  7. Play the game for each picture you made ahead of time.

Optional: kids can try coloring with white crayons to create a wax resist, then painting over it. 

Optional: you can also do this activity using tape to create an outline of Pete the Cat, and paint over it, then take the tape off when the painting is dry to see the design. 

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Marching to Your Own Beat: Books for Cool Kids & Parents

by Taylore Kelly, CMNH Graphic Designer and Communications Specialist

If you and your children march to the beat of a different drummer, have we got a list of picture books for you. After much research and a lot of fun, we came up with ten books that speak to the modern inner rebel, artist, musician, and trickster. Each story is filled with messages for big and small people and poignant art. 


My Dad Used to Be So Cool, by Keith Negley

This is a very thought-provoking, moving book about a boy who sees hints of his father’s former life. Rock-bands and motorcycles! Who knew Dad used to be so cool!? The story is combined with many colorful and vibrant illustrations and will resonate with all, the young, the middle, and the old(er).


Urban Babies Wear Black, by Nathalie Dion

First off this book has amazing, stylish art by Nathalie Dion. The truth MAY be that no child will REALLY identify with this book in words, however if parents enjoy reading this board book, the baby will appreciate the effort. The message may appear to be that urban babies do all sorts of cool things, but what comes across is that the babies in this book do things with their parents, and that's what makes them the coolest!


Tell Me a Tattoo Story, by Alison McGhee & Elizabeth Wheeler

This is a beautiful story about a father sharing his life stories, and memories with his son. But instead of flipping through a photo album together, we see his life and loves come alive in his description of his tattoos - a statement of family love. It dispels the myth that only certain types of people have tattoos. It’s a love story you won’t regret reading.


What is Punk, by Eric Morse and Anny Yi

This little diddy is a pop-culture primer. The history of punk rock is told in clever rhyming that will delight little readers and amuse parents. Anny Yi's phenomenal 3D-clay illustrations are pure perfection and bring this world to life. Readers of all ages will have so much fun. You can read this in less than 5 minutes, to your child and, maybe, play the music! Teach 'em young!


Where's Warhol, by Catharine Ingram and Andrew Rae

This beautiful and fun book shares art history and pop culture! Instead of trying to spot "Waldo" you get to try to spot Warhol and friends. In the process, discover figures such as artist Rachel Whiteread, potter Josiah Wedgwood, novelist Gustave Flaubert and architect/designer Walter Gropius who appear alongside the likes of rappers The Beastie Boys, actor John Travolta, singer Madonna, and even Yoko Ono and John Lennon!


The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

If there is one thing kids like even better than pictures, it’s nonsense words. Hearing nonsense words read aloud by your parents is top tier! We had a hard time not collapsing into fits of giggles and barely made it past “a hippo named Boo Boo Butt”.


Goodnight Darth Vader, by Jeffrey Brown

There are really no words actually needed to describe this book, BUT this whimsical bed time romp through everyone’s favorite space fantasy highlight’s superb artistic talents & goofy sensibilities. This makes a great bedtime treat for any Star Wars devotee.


Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the Next Generation, by Ann Droyd  

This short, sweet book highlights our dependence on technology and the usefulness of knowing when to put it down. This closely follows the cadence, rhyme, and illustrated scene sequencing of the original "Goodnight Moon", by Margaret Wise Brown. However, it makes serious fun of our addictions to bright, noisy, digital media. This book will hit a home run with parents of school-aged kids today!


Triangle, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klasen  

This book brings a quirky, clever tale to life. It’s a silly story about friends playing tricks on each other. A truly fun and simple story that will connect with kids, but also have adults smiling at the antics and conclusion.


Beware of the Frog, by William Bee

A great picture book for older kids perhaps as this story starts out very sweet, but has some twists along the way and a surprise ending! It’s the twists and turns that make this story great! A perfect blend of sweet and funny. Great illustrations and a hiding snail to find on each page!

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Paper Bag Mini Books

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by Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

Make a mini paper bag scrapbook, nature journal, or keepsake! These books are fun for kids to put together, and the open end of the paper bag creates a pocket to store pictures, ticket stubs, or small items from a nature walk. Pipe cleaners make the book easy for kids to bind, and it’s easy to add more pages. String or binder rings can also be used to bind the book. 

Use washi tape or glue to add photos, or print photos on copy paper so that kids can use a glue stick to add them. This also makes it easier to replace a photo if anything happens to it during the art making project. Kids can label photos, write favorite memories, or tell the story of each photo and have a grown up help with the writing part if needed. 

Materials Needed:

  • Markers
  • Washi tape
  • Glue stick
  • Photos - printed on copy paper 
  • Scissors
  • Paper 
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Hole punch 
  • Paper bags 


  • Fold the paper bags in half, and punch two holes in the folded end of the bags. It’s difficult to hole punch through more than one bag at a time, so be sure to line the holes up on each bag
  • Stack several bags together so that the folded ends are together, and the holes line up
  • Use the pipe cleaners to bind the book together by feeding it through the holes
  • Twist up the pipe cleaners, and cut off any excess
  • Start decorating and writing in your book! Use the glue stick to add photos or drawings on paper 
  • Use the open ends of the bags to create pockets for keepsakes or photos
  • Theme ideas: nature journal, teacher gift, family book, share favorite family activities and memories, make up a story 
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Children's Books for Grief

By Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director

When I first started working at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire, I knew my mother had only months to live. She had been diagnosed with cancer and we were in the process of saying goodbye. My daughter was four at the time. My mother, ever the educator, was the first to suggest that we look into some picture books that might help her grandkids understand what was about to happen. So, on top of starting a new job, parenting a four year old, being there for my family, and processing my own grief, I now had to find picture books to somehow help me try to explain death to my daughter. 

But Mom was right. She always is. I'm glad I took the time to find some of those books, because talking about death with anyone is not easy, but with seems even more complicated. Depending on their age, they don't necessarily have the vocabulary to understand what dying really means. And unless you've spent a lot of time pondering the process yourself, you might not be well equipped to explain it to them. My Mom would speak to her in her own religious terms, introducing the idea of Heaven, but with every new word comes a whole different set of questions. 

But in the end, those questions are what it's all about. Starting a dialogue with your kids about what death means to you, and encouraging them to ask those hard questions, helps prepare them for something that no one in this world escapes from. We will all be dealing with it, sooner or later, wether we have time to prepare for it or not. We were fortunate to have time.

Four years later, we still talk about Nana with the same language we learned from those picture books. We even have one of those audio picture books that Nana recorded so we could always hear her voice telling us a story. Recently I met Linda Dinndorf who is a Training and Education Coordinator for a NH non-profit called Friends of Aine. Aine was established to provide bereavement support services to grieving children and families. This organization was borne out of the tragic loss of Aine Marie Phillips (pronounced Ahnya) at age 8, and the recognition that bereavement services for Aine's surviving 5-year-old sister Bella, were sadly scarce. I told Linda about my Mom's passing and how it was a struggle to find resources as simple as picture books that would help my daughter process her grief, and she instantly said, "Oh, we have a great library of picture books for all ages! We'd be happy to share some info with you!" 

So thank you Linda for this wonderful list, which can also be found here on their website:

On this list of resources, I see some of the books that I used, like The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst, and Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley, both gentle, loving stories about how the people we love may leave this world, but their memories and influence remain constant. I hope this list helps you when you need it most.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Storm Cloud – by Leslie Evans

I Will Always Love You – by Melissa Lyons

The Memory Box: A Book About Grief – by Joanna Rowland

A Child’s View of Grief – by Alan Wolefeit

Badger’s Parting Gifts – by Susan Varley

Help Me Say Goodbye – by Janis Silverman

How It Feels When a Parent Dies – by Jill Krementz

In Mommy’s Garden – by Neyal J. Ammary

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children – by Bryan Mellonie

Saying Goodbye When You Don’t Want To – by Martha Bolton

Sesame Street – When Families Grieve Kit – by Sesame Workshop

Someone I Loved Died – by Christine Harder Tanguald

Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss – by Pat Schwiebert

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf – by Leo Buscaglia

The Invisible String – by Patrice Karst

The Mountains of Tibet – by Mordicai Gerstein

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney – by Judith Voirst

Turned Upside Down – by Karen Keesler

Waterbugs and Dragonflies – by Doris Stickney

What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? – by Trevor Romain

When Dinosaurs Die – by Laurie Krasny Brown

Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You – by Nancy Tillman

Learn more about Friends of Aine here

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Compassion and Diversity

This summer we had a wonderful art exhibit on view in Gallery 6 here at CMNH featuring the art of Richard Haynes, a Portsmouth, NH African American artist and the Associate Director of Admissions for Diversity at UNH. Haynes' vibrant drawings ask us to use the universal language of "Love" to see how we can all rewrite a history that has not been fair to everyone. 

To close the exhibit, we're doing a day of art making on Saturday, August 24 from 10am-2pm here at the museum. The day will offer lots of opportunities to make art with fine art materials, go on a scavenger hunt, a chance to contribute to a community art project, AND...listen to stories! 

And because we can only do so many storytimes in one day, we thought we'd share our favorite picture books that highlight the very important themes of unity, compassion and diversity, here on our blog. We hope you check them out and share with your kids.



by Wendy Anderson Halperin

For ages 4-8

This poetic and soothing book ponders the eternal question asked in the Tao Te Ching: How can we bring peace to the world? Using lavishly detailed drawings, each with a storyline of its own, the illustrator shares her artistic rendition of the path to true inner peace. 


Strictly No Elephants

Written by Lisa Mantchev and Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

For ages 4-8

Today is "Pet Club Day." There will be cats and dogs and fish but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn't understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend. 


Talk Peace

Written by Sam Williams and Illustrated by Mique Moriuchi

For ages 4-8

"On the street,

when you meet,

when you eat, when you play.

Talk peace."

Kids and animals from around the world invite readers to dance and play and make the sounds of peace in this tribute to harmony.


We March

by Shane W. Evans

For ages 4-8

On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place - more than 250,000 people gather in our nation's capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and eded with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech, advocating racial harmony. This book combines Evans simple yet compelling illustrations and words to show the thrill of the day.


Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad

Written by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Illustrated by Henry Cole

For ages 4-8

A heron, a squirrel, a mouse, a deer, and a frog all witness a pair of bare feet running frantically through the woods. The feet belong to a runaway slave trying to escape his pursuers, whom the animals recognize as the Heavy Boots. Following the animals' lead, the Barefoot is able to escape and survive. He listens for the croaking of a frog to find fresh water and observes the nibbling of a mouse to find berries to eat. Eventually he comes upon a house in the woods - but is it really a stop on the Underground Railroad? Firefly light reveals a quilt hanging in front of the house - a signal of welcome. 


When Harriet Met Sojourner

Written by Catherine Clinton and Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

For ages 4-8

Two women with similar backgrounds. Both slaves; both fiercely independent. Both great in different ways. Harriet Tubman: brave pioneer who led her fellow slaves to freedom, larger than life...yearning to be free. Sojourner Truth: strong woman who spoke up for African American rights, tall as a tree...yearning to be free.

One day in 1864, the lives of these two women came together. When Harriet met Sojourner is a portrait of these two remarkable women, from their inauspicious beginnings to their pivotal roles in the battle for America's future.


Child of the Civil Rights Movement

by Paula Young Shelton and Raul Colon

for ages 4-8

What was it like growing up in the Deep South when Jim Crow laws were everywhere? How did it feel to sit down to dinner with grown-ups who planned protests between bites of Mama's creamy macaroni and cheese? And imagine walking right beside Uncle Martin and Aunt Coretta in that historic march from Selma to Montgomery - until your legs were so tired that you had to ride on your father's back. Paula Young Shelton, a daughter of civil rights leader Andrew Young, and Raul Colon take readers on a vivid trip back to Paula's childhood in an extraordinary family - the family of the American civil rights movement!

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Six Books to Celebrate Women

Six Children’s Books To Celebrate International Women’s Day 2019

Friday March 8th marks International Women’s Day 2019. In celebration we’ve compiled together a list of six children’s books that honor and empower strong women.

Grace for President



Written by Kelly DiPucchio, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Grade Level: 1, 2, 3

Genre: Fiction, Hybrid

New York Times Bestseller



An introduction to the American electoral system, Grace for President tells the story of fourth grader Grace Campbell. Upon learning that America has never had a female president she decides to become the first, launching her political career by running in her school’s mock election.  

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World


Written by Chelsea Clinton, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

Grade Level: PreK, K, 1, 2, 3

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

New York Times Bestseller


In She Persisted, Chelsea Clinton outlines 13 American women who have helped shape the country through hard work and persistence. Featured figures include Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, and Oprah Winfrey. The success of She Persisted as a New York Times Bestseller spurred the creation of a second book: She Persisted Around the World. This companion book details the stories of 13 additional history-changing women from around the globe.


Malala’s Magic Pencil



Written by Malala Yousafzai, Illustrated by Kerascoet

Grade Level: PreK, K, 1, 2, 3

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography/Autobiography



As a child in Pakistan, Malala would often wish for a magic pencil, one that would help her create happiness, clean her city, and sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as Malala grew up, she saw the ways a magic pencil could truly be used to make the world a better place.


Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai details her story for a younger audience in her first picture book, Malala’s Magic Pencil. She hopes to inspire children to think globally, and through hard work and determination, change their world.

Girls Who Code, Learn to Code and Change the World


Written by Reshma Saujani

Grade Level: 5, 6

Genre: Nonfiction, Science/Technology

New York Times Bestseller


Written by the founder of the Girls Who Code organization, Reshma Saujani aims to inspire a new generation of female coders. This novel incorporates eye-catching artwork, understandable explanations of basic coding principles, and the inspiring real life stories of women working for corporations like NASA and Pixar. Girls Who Code aims to show women how coding can help them reach their dreams, whatever they may be.


I Dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark


Written by Debbie Levy, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

Grade Level: PreK, K, 1, 2, 3

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography


In I Dissent author Debbie Levy demonstrates the power of saying no and standing up for what you believe in. This biographical picture book details the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg constantly says no, disagreeing when it matters the most. I Dissent outlines the stories of Ginsburg’s most famous dissents, and demonstrates to young readers “disagreeing doesn’t make you disagreeable”!



Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls


Written by Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo

Illustrated by 60 female artists from around the world

Grade Level: K, 1, 2, 3

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography


Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls tells the stories of 100 historical female figures, both past and present, in an accessible fairytale style. Each figure is given a one-page biography accompanied with an original work of art. The book aims to inspire children across a range of fields including science, politics, history, sports, technology, and the arts. Featured women include Elizabeth I, Serena Williams and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls broke records by becoming the most crowd funded children’s book in history, raising over half a million dollars from over 13 thousand backers on Kickstarter. The book’s success has inspired two volumes, a journal and a 12 episode podcast, all of which can be found on the official book website:   

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