By Paula Rais, CMNH Vice President of Development and Community Engagement
In 2011, the Children's Museum of New Hampshire launched the first Alzheimer's Cafe on America’s east coast. Alzheimer’s Cafés provide a safe, supportive and judgment-free setting for people living with dementia and their loved ones to enjoy an outing in the community, socialize, and make new friends. This program exemplifies the museum’s goal of working with communities to meet existing needs and demonstrates an innovative, concrete way to provide community based solutions to these problems. The Museum’s vibrant inter-generational environment proved to be an ideal setting and the Café became very popular. Dozens of similar programs sprouted up in communities around New England modeled after the Museum’s program.
At the Café each month, we share stories and tell jokes, listen to musical performances and interesting presentations, or celebrate holidays and birthdays. Some attendees became friends and socialized outside the monthly Cafe gatherings. According to Dr. Lokvig, the founder of the first Alzheimer’s Café in the USA, “In spite of the name ‘Alzheimer’s Café’, we leave the disease at the door and celebrate the person beyond dementia. The Café is a chance for everyone to step out of their daily roles and share a positive experience in a supportive environment.”
Since Covid-19 struck in March 2020, our Café has not been able to meet. I know that our Café families are missing each other's companionship and support, and we miss seeing them at the Museum. When it is deemed safe for our staff and visitors, we will explore options for resuming this important program. Please contact me if you would like more information about the Alzheimer's Cafe or want to be on our email list to receive updates.
In the meantime, allow me to honor the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the Alzheimer's Cafe at the Children's Museum, the many families who shared their lives with us, and the generous volunteers, performers, and funders who helped make it all possible.
by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator
Sorting: Exploring playing cards
- Find a deck of playing cards and spread them out
- Raid your recycling bin and find 2-4 containers (depending on child’s age, see below) and cut slits in the top so the cards can be dropped inside.
- I used large clear plastic baby spinach/mixed greens containers for this.
- Some children will just have fun putting the cards into the slots - and that’s okay!
- Younger children can sort them by color (2 containers)
- Older children could sort them by their suit! (4 containers)
- Invite your child to sort the cards!
Art: Evaporation Science Art
- Find a plastic container and a paintbrush
- The paintbrush should be one you don’t mind getting a bit dirty!
- Fill the plastic container with water and go outside!
- Paint designs on your driveway/sidewalk using the water
- Watch and see how long it takes the drawings to evaporate
- This activity is best done on a sunny day :)
Sensory: Floating splashy transfer
- Put out two mixing bowls
- Fill both with water
- Put items that float in one bowl
- I used marker caps
- Invite your child to use a spoon or scoop to move all of the items from one bowl to the other!
- You could put items that sink and float in the bowl and chat about how moving them is different if they sink or float.
Building: Recycling Bin Wonders
- Raid your recycling bin and find a variety of items
- Use them to build!
- Give your child prompts like “Make a bridge!” “Make a house!” “Design a rocketship!” and challenge them to just use the items from the recycling bin
- It’s fun to add little toys or other manipulatives to this challenge
If you were visiting the Museum on Sunday morning March 4th, you might have been surprised to see half a dozen golden Labradors Retrievers strolling around. These dogs, mostly 10-11 month old puppies, are in training to become skilled canine companion dogs. ‘Puppy raisers’ and their charges visited Exploring Our Way to share information with families about the Canine Companions for Independence Program, which provides trained dogs to work with an adult or child with a disability, including Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s Autism Partnership Program, Exploring Our Way, debuted in March 2010 after many months of planning with a dedicated committee of advisors. Since then, the museum has opened its doors one Sunday per month exclusively for families raising a child on the autism spectrum. Exploring Our Way offers a quieter, less crowded environment in which to explore museum exhibits with the goal of providing the best opportunity for a successful museum visit. Siblings are invited too, so the entire family can enjoy a fun outing together.
In the safe and welcoming surroundings of the Children’s Museum children with Autism Spectrum Disorder explore at their own pace, become familiar with the museum’s exhibits, and may feel comfortable enough to increase the length of time of their visit. We invite families to consider visiting during public hours, if their child is comfortable enough, and give them free admission passes in case they want to make the transition.
We also introduce families to new resources and services, like Canine Companions for Independence, by inviting representatives to come to Exploring Our Way and share information with parents. Check the Exploring Our Way page on our website and Facebook to learn more about upcoming special guests.
Exploring Our Way will not happen on April 1st as the Museum will be closed for Easter Sunday. We look forward to seeing you on May 6th!
By Meredith Lamothe, CMNH Early Childhood & Literacy Coordinator
I love art. I love going to art museums and looking at masterpieces—I always have. I’m pretty crafty and have managed to make some art-like creations. I enjoy coming up with activities in our Muse Studio and finding ways to make them about the process of art rather than the final product (a subject that deserves its own blog post!). As I sit at my desk right now, I see Experience Guide Amanda outside doing our “Chalk Art” kit—no visitors have joined her yet, but she’s happily drawing a lovely rainbow near the entrance to the museum.
There’s just something about art, isn’t there? It can be whatever you want it—or need it—to be. For Amanda right now, it’s a calm moment before she gets back to her many tasks inside the museum. I’m more of a crafter and get a lot of joy from giving finished crafts to people I love. Art can be purely fun (have you seen the projects where you throw water balloons at a blank canvas?!). Art, especially with kids, can be a great way to visually see some of the fascinating growth that is happening—from drawings of stick figures with arms coming out of their heads, to beautiful clay sculptures and beyond.
As fun as art is on it’s own, just for yourself, it’s also great to have skilled instructors help out sometimes. They open our eyes to different art forms we may not have thought about before, introduce new materials to use to create, and have an abundance of knowledge and encouraging words to share.
And what do you know, lucky us, we have five incredible instructors visiting the museum next week! We’re thrilled to announce our first ever Visiting Artist Week here at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.
We will have five wonderful local artists joining us for workshops the week of July 24-28, 2017. A few of these artists were guests at our “Visiting Artist Camp” last year and the final products that those campers produced were nothing short of remarkable.
Workshops will be from 11am - noon each day and are included with museum admission and free for members. Workshops may be best for children 6 years old or older, but would be fine for younger children with some help.
Monday, July 24th: Neva Cole
Neva, the Communications Director here at the museum, will encourage families to tear up, rip, cut and glue painted paper into collaged sea monsters! If a mermaid or pirate find their way into your scene, even better!
Neva is a multimedia artist and illustrator who is not the least bit ashamed to admit she spends a ridiculous amount of time with paint on her hands.
Tuesday, July 25th: Tess Feltes
Tess, the curator of Gallery 6 here at the museum, will be sharing some of her watercolor knowledge! Did you know all birds start from eggs? Of course you did! But! Did you know that bird paintings start with egg shapes?
Learn to draw and paint birds using simple geometric shapes with Tess!
Tess has illustrated numerous scientific books and articles and she is going to share some tricks of the trade.
Wednesday, July 26th: Cindel Lamothe
Cindel, an expert seamstress, will be here explaining a bit about the process of sewing—from patterns to fabric to putting it all together into a fabulous final product! What will be the final product of your hard work on the 26th? An adorable felt dinosaur that you can put on a pillow, apron, or frame and put on your wall!
Thursday, July 27th: Gina Perry
Learn how to draw imaginary creatures with children's book illustrator Gina Perry. She will show you, step-by-step, how to draw a Unicorn, Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and a Mermaid. Watch out - you might even learn how to draw a Dragon!
Friday, July 28th: Francois Lamothe
Seacoast pastel & acrylic painter Francois Lamothe will be here to share his skills. Francois will be sharing some tips and tricks about painting flowers using chalk pastels! Be sure to come prepared to get messy—this unique art experience is sure to accidentally travel onto clothing (it’s washable!)
We hope you will join us for a day or two of Visiting Artist Week. It’s sure to be a lot of fun and you’ll learn some unique new skills as well.
Oh! In case you’re interested, some visitors have joined Amanda and her chalk outside now and have added frogs, fish, a yellow submarine, and some very large flowers alongside her rainbow!
Interview with Megan, Director of Atlantic Gymnastics at the Dover location.
By Kelly Sorge, CMNH Marketing Intern
Q. What do you like about teaching children?
A. I like teaching kids because they’re excited about everything! Everyone is always ready to learn which makes teaching so much fun!
Q. What are the benefits of kids learning gymnastics?
A. Kids learn important body movements like balance, strength, and coordination. They also learn lifelong skills like discipline, confidence, responsibility, the ability to work with others, and taking correction.
Q. What is your favorite part of your job?
A. My job is always different. I teach kids 18 months - 18 years so I get to see different faces and teach different skills every day.
Q. Why/how did you get involved in gymnastics? What has the impact of gymnastics been on your life?
A. I started learning gymnastics when I was three years old with my mom as my coach; she’s still coaching now! At thirteen I started assisting her at coaching in the gym and I started working for Atlantic my sophomore year in college at UNH. Gymnastics has been part of my whole life. My mom and my sister are both involved and it’s a part of who I am. I love the challenge!
Q. So what do you have planned for Gymnastics Day at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire on Saturday, April 29, 11am-3pm?
A. The activities for Gymnastics Day will be a small version of the classes we teach here. We will bring in a balance beam and ball and teach kids how to use their body to balance. We will also be talking about some of the summer programs we have going on.
2016 was full of...
We met some new friends
We tried new things
And we looked to the stars
We learned new skills
And we got a bit nostalgic
We watched in awe
And cheered on artistic exploration
We were here to teach you
And you inspired us all.
Thank you for another wonderful year!
What an absolutely boring topic for a blog! Parking?! Directions!? Meh.
However, it seems to be a thing preventing many of you from coming to visit us! So let's address some of the misconceptions about parking at and navigating to the Children's Museum of NH.
Misconception #1: No free parking
All city parking is free on the weekends and after 7pm. As an amenity to our guests we sell the city of Dover's pre-packaged bags of 26 parking tokens for $5 at no mark-up. They are for sale at the front desk during normal business hours as available. That will give you about a 30% savings off the current rate. You can also purchase these tokens at Harvey's Bakery and the Dover Chamber of Commerce.
Misconception #2: Metered parking spots have a time limit
The metered spots along Henry Law Avenue, as well as the spots inside the Dover playground parking lot do not have a time limit. You can get a parking receipt for ANY length of time up to 7pm...at which point, parking is free! Metered spots cost $1/hour and accept change or credit cards.
Misconception #3: Not enough parking
We beg to differ! In addition to all the "pay and display" spots in the parking lot, on-street spots along Henry Law Ave, Central Ave, Washington Street and Main Street there are also metered spots in Dover's new 300+ space downtown parking garage at 45 Orchard Street, which is only a 5 minute walk to the museum! This new (opened in 2016) garage has a Pay by Space system and costs $0.75 an hour. You can actually download an app that will allow you to pay for more time remotely without having to return to the garage. Learn more about it here.
Misconception #4: Getting there is confusing!
Well, we'll admit to this one. Downtown Dover can be a bit confusing to navigate on your first trip. We've tried to make it easier with the handy map below. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. One, put in 10 Henry Law Ave into your GPS, not our mailing address, 6 Washington Street. This will put you on the right road to find the parking lot!
The second thing to keep in mind is that Washington Street, Main Street and Henry Law Ave are all one way. No matter which way you are coming from, North, South, East or West, if you get to downtown Dover and pass by the museum (in pink), you can just follow the yellow triangle around and try it again till you make it to the parking lot (orange).
Let's break it down by direction:
If you are coming up Central Ave (otherwise known as Rte. 9 or 108) and get to the Central Ave/Washington Street lights, take a hard right onto Henry Law Ave. (OR, avoid the light altogether and just past the bus stop across from City Hall, take a right onto Williams Street which will take you right onto Henry Law Ave. Your next left takes you into the parking lot behind the museum!)
If you are coming down Central Ave (otherwise known as Rte. 9 or 108), stay in the left hand lane but don't take a hard left. Take the soft left, across Washington Street onto Henry Law Ave.
If you are coming down Washington Street, stay in the right lane, but don't take a hard right onto Central Ave, take a soft right onto Henry Law Ave past the intersection.
If you are coming from Portland Ave, you have to take a right onto Main Street. Take your first left and swing around onto Central Ave (otherwise known as Rte. 9 or 108). Then stay in the left hand lane but don't take a hard left. Take the soft left, across Washington Street, onto Henry Law Ave.
Here's a closeup of the intersection that seems to give people the most trouble.
And of course if you get lost, just give us a call: 603-742-2002. We'll talk you through it!
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire Celebrates Dental Health Month
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has partnered with two dozen area dentists during the month of February for a variety of fun programs centered on dental health. Children’s Dental Health Month is a program developed by the American Dental Association that has grown from a two-city event in 1941 into a nationwide program celebrated across the US. Throughout the month Museum educators will offer Storytime with a variety of teeth-themed picture books, share fun facts about teeth, show x-rays of teeth below the gumline, compare teeth of various animal skulls and lead toothbrush painting and other art activities and experiments. Sponsoring dentists will visit the Museum and give tips on flossing, brushing and eating well, as well as talk about how the food we eat helps or hurts our teeth. Every child who visits during February will get a free toothbrush and toothpaste to take home, thanks to the Museum’s Toothbrush Sponsor, Great Outdoors Pediatric Dentistry.
“Dental Health Month is the perfect opportunity to interact with our neighbors and have some fun promoting our mission of education in good oral health habits for children and adults,” shared Dr. Robert Christian, DDS of Keystone Dental Arts. “We really strive to be a resource to NH families,” said Paula Rais, Vice President of Development and Community Engagement at the Children’s Museum. “Whenever we can we try to partner with local experts who can talk to our guests and offer them timely resources. It adds another level to what we do here. Plus, who wouldn’t want to go home with a free toothbrush, toothpaste and a tooth fairy envelope!?”
Sponsors for Dental Health Month include Cochecho Family Dentistry, Seacoast Endodontic Associates, Crest + Oral-B, Children’s Dentistry, Keystone Dental Arts, Garrison Family Dental, Evelyn M. Bryan, DMD, North Hampton Dental Group, Piscataqua Dental Partners, Portsmouth Dental, Seacoast Periodontics & Dental Implants, JD Howard Dental, LLC, Anne B. Filler, DMD, Locust Street Dental Center, Inc., Dr. Michael St. Germain, DMD, Daniel H. DeTolla, DDS at Seacoast Dental Implant & Oral Surgery Center, John VerPloeg, DDS at Epping General Dentistry, Koglin Orthodontics, Seacoast Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Sheila Kennedy, R. Susan Horsley, DMD, Gregory L. Shaker, DDS and Kingston Family Dental. To learn more about Dental Health Month at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, visit https://www.childrens-museum.org/things-to-do/events/dental-health-month.
Here is a sampling of some of the dentist visits scheduled:
February 2, 4, 9, 16, 23 and 25 at 10am
Dr. Patrick Wilson from Great Outdoors Pediatric Dentistry, this month’s Toothbrush Sponsor will visit today.
Wednesday, February 17 at TBD
Anne Sleeper, registered dental hygienist and Certified Public Health Dental Hygienist will be visiting during the $3 after 3pm program to discuss the importance of good dental health, answer questions and give away coloring books. Anne coordinates Community Dental Education programs at Wentworth Douglass Hospital.
Wednesday, February 24, 10am-2pm
Keystone Dental will be here today and they’re bringing their mascot – Ribbit the Frog!
Owl Pellets – Do owls have teeth? How do they eat their food? Find out and also get a close look at the teeth of some of the rodents who became the owl’s lunch!
Art Activities & Games – Smile Masks, Toothbrush painting, Tooth Fairy Envelopes and Tooth Games!
Animal Skulls – We’ll take a close look at our goblin shark and beaver skull. We’ll try to figure out how they’re different and how their teeth help them eat.
Elephant Toothpaste – A favorite experiment at the museum, what ingredients can we mix together to make a fun, bubbly, foamy and exciting toothpaste mess?!
Tooth Story – Enjoy storytime with museum staff all about teeth!
Make Toothpaste Putty – Did you know you can make your own toothpaste? Using household ingredients we’ll mix up some toothpaste putty that will smell minty fresh!