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How We Bring Bucky the T. rex to Life


This blog post is written by Patrick Weigand, one of The Children's Museum's Interpretation Operations Coordinators—who also happens to be our resident puppetry enthusiast! You can experience Bucky Lives! weekends at 11 a.m. in January and February. 

As the Operations Coordinator for Interpretation, I wear a lot of hats around the museum. One of my favorite responsibilities is being the go-to puppet guy and “Paleo-Veterinarian,” responsible for the care and feeding of Bucky the T. rex from our Bucky Lives! performance. I do everything from styling her feathers to making sure she's in good health to go out and perform. At this point, I should post a *Spoiler Alert* I am going to be revealing some of our behind the scenes secrets, so if you want to preserve the magic of Bucky Lives! Stop reading RIGHT NOW! If you’ve seen Bucky come to life and are curious about how the magic happens, go ahead and jump down to the next paragraph.

Hi there! I’m glad you're still with me. One of the questions we get a lot around here is, “Is Bucky a real dinosaur?” I wish I could say we really bring dinosaurs to life around here, but Bucky is in fact a puppet. If you look closely, you can see the puppeteer’s legs sticking out from under Bucky’s body and going in to her feet.

You may be thinking to yourself: “Wait, if the person is WEARING the dinosaur, why is it a puppet instead of a costume?” Great question! Bucky is a puppet because simply wearing her wouldn’t bring her to life. There are controls inside the dinosaur’s body that the puppeteer uses to move the head, open the mouth, blink the eyes, and move the hands. Bucky may be able to walk around without the puppeteer using those controls, but her head would just hang down and it wouldn’t look very lifelike. We also have a small camera in Bucky’s chest that feeds to a small monitor inside the body that the puppeteer uses to see where they are going.

In This Week's WOW, Josh went inside Bucky with a GoPro camera to show you exactly what it's like! Check it out...

Bucky full bodyI've been working with puppets for nearly 10 years now. I started when I was studying theatre at Butler University, trained with puppeteers from all over the world, and spent time with a nationally touring puppet theater company before coming to the museum. Actually, I started working at the museum by designing and building puppets for shows in the Lilly Theater.

While I can’t take credit for designing or building Bucky, I've done quite a bit of work on her since we got here. I helped give her feathers, and heal any “cuts or bruises,” that she gets while performing. Much like we might skin our knee when we trip, Bucky has some injuries from time to time, too. Most often, they're on her tail. The dinosaur’s skin is a rubbery, silicone-based material, so I use a special silicone glue to help seal up the cuts; like giving her stitches. We call it paleo-surgery. Usually everything is healed up overnight and Bucky is ready to go for the next morning.

I hope this may have answered some of your lingering questions and look forward to seeing you at the next performance of Bucky Lives!  

Read more about Patrick's puppetry experience at The Children's Museum in his blog post, Behind the Scenes: Chinese Shadow Puppet Theatre.


Family Health Tip: Yoga for Kids

Family Health TipThis blog post first appeared on Kids HealthLine, courtesy of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent.

Yoga has benefits beyond the physical alone. If you’re a yoga enthusiast, you’re likely to be in the fittest of both physical and mental health. But, what about the benefits that this ancient eastern art holds for kids?

When it comes to health and fitness for children, we tend to focus on sports and outdoor play rather than think of exercising at the gym or following a workout routine. But another form of exercise that offers various advantages is yoga, a fact that is not as well known as it should be.

Yoga helps children by...

  • Enhancing concentration: When your child gets used to the postures of yoga, they automatically improve their concentration skills. Your child learns how to sit still in one place and focus on what’s important as opposed to letting their mind wander and be distracted easily. This helps them in their lessons and at school, boosts their attention span and improves their grades.
    Kid Yoga
  • Increasing flexibility and balance: Yoga helps improve flexibility and balance and tones their muscles too. It makes them stronger and less likely to suffer sprains and fractures through accidental falls.
  • Improving general well-being: Kids who practice yoga regularly feel good about themselves and are healthier and happier than those who don’t. They feel both mentally and physically rejuvenated after a yoga session and this improves their mental and physical health.
  • Boosting confidence: When your child is able to display great agility and flexibility, it does wonders for their confidence. Their improved performance at school also helps boost their self assurance. They become more poised and start to believe in their abilities. This feeling provides them with the adrenaline they need to achieve success in all their endeavors.
  • Relaxing their minds: Even kids are subject to a great deal of stress these days because of their workload at school and the high expectations that their parents have for them. They are pushed to be achievers at every single point of their lives, and when they fail, they take it to heart and become depressed. Yoga helps them relax and de-stress when they feel upset or depressed. It soothes their frayed minds and helps them get back to a normal mental state.

Children are more flexible and agile than adults, so the earlier you get kids started on to yoga, the more benefits they gain.

Meet Jack Frost!

JackSanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! The one and only Jack Frost is very excited to sing some of his “cool” holiday jams with you!

Jack Frost is a North Pole native who learned to play guitar from his father, Old Man Winter. Ever since, Jack has been spreading holiday cheer and creating wintry magic by singing holiday songs. Now Jack is at The Children’s Museum looking for musicians to start a new band, The Ice Floes, because he wants to spread even more holiday magic!

Jack Frost loves the wintertime and he wants to know what you love to do in the snow. Do you like to build snowmen and sled down snowy hills? Or would you rather make snow angels and have snowball fights? Give Jack some tips about what to do in the snow this winter!

There's one thing Jack Frost loves even more than winter weather, and that's music! Recommend your favorite holiday songs for Jack to sing and play on his guitar while you sing, hum, or clap along. He may even choose you as his newest band member to help spread holiday cheer to all the guests at The Children’s Museum!

Jack wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Jack in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with a special request: Enjoy the winter weather with your family! Show Jack you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Meet Zazzelz the Elf!

ZazzelzSanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! Zazzelz the Elf is back and ready to share some of his best holiday jokes—get ready for some laughs!

Zazzelz the Elf—full name Zazzelz Z. Zazzlington—is ready to make you giggle with glee! Meet larger-than-life comic Elf Zazzelz, the North Pole’s official stand-up comic. He’s taking a break from his comedy tour throughout the North Pole to have some fun at Jolly Days!

To stay on top, Zazzelz has to hone his jokes and hopefully learn a few new ones from families at The Children’s Museum. When you spot Zazzelz in Jolly Days, be sure to give him feedback on his holiday jokes. You can tell him which joke is more funny, or come share your own jokes with Zazzelz so he can make Santa laugh his hardest yet at this year’s North Pole holiday show! 

Participate in Zazzelz Z. Zazzlington’s world famous Joke Delivery Seminar, and see how props affect the delivery of a joke. Learn how to punch the punch-line, and come up with your own stinger—is yours Zing! Pow! or Wowwie-Zowwie!?

Zazzelz wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Zazzelz in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with a special request: Tell your own jokes and take pictures of your audience laughing. Show Zazzelz you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Meet Andy the Zookeeper!

AndySanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! Andy the Zookeeper brought all of his animal buddies, and things could get “wild!”

Meet Andy D. Mallaferty, the North Pole zookeeper. Andy has brought fourteen of his animal friends all the way from the North Pole to explore Jolly Days. Andy came to visit The Children's Museum this year hoping to talk to visitors about their holiday traditions. He wants to get ideas for making this year’s North Pole holiday celebration even better than the last! Tell Andy about your favorite things to do in the winter and during the holidays, while visiting with all of his North Pole animal friends!

Andy's here to show you that reindeer are NOT the only animal at the North Pole! You may meet a walrus, a weasel, a polar bear, and many more! To get you up to speed, here's the complete list of all the animals Andy might introduce you to in Jolly Days!

Which is your favorite North Pole animal? Have you seen any of these animals at the zoo or in the wild?

Andy wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Andy in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with a special request: Take photos of pets or animal friends you'd like Andy and his pals to meet. Show Andy you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Meet Mrs. Claus!

Mrs. CSanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! The wife of the big man himself, Mrs. Claus, is ready to share her favorite holiday memories and recipes!

Mrs. Claus is no stranger to Jolly Days, and is excited to make this year’s holiday season the most joyous yet. Take a photo, look through her holiday book, and share holiday memories with Mrs. Claus as she sets out to bring her special brand of holiday cheer to the Children’s Museum! 

What are you doing this year to celebrate the holidays? Visit with Mrs. Claus while you wait to see Santa and tell her about your holiday plans, hopes, memories, and traditions! If you don't have time to visit Santa, she'll pass along your wishes for you. And not only can you take a photo with Santa, you can snap festive photos with Mrs. Claus to add to your holiday photo collection as well! 

Mrs. Claus wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Mrs. Claus in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with special requests, like: Send a holiday card or letter, make a holiday snack to spread cheer, or decorate your home together! Show Mrs. Claus you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Meet Patty Cakes!

PattySanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! Patty Cakes is one of Santa’s “sweetest” holiday friends and wants to hear about your favorite holiday treats! 

Patricia “Patty” Cakes is beginning her first year as the North Pole’s Official Chef. She is by no means new to the cooking and baking scene, though. She has a degree from Le Cordon Bleu, served as Julia Child’s apprentice, and has a well-received cooking show to her name. Her latest accomplishment? Patty is the winner of Iron Chef: North Pole, landing her the prestigious title of "Official Chef" to the North Pole. She really wants to impress Santa and the elves, so she's visiting The Children’s Museum to chat with families about what they like to eat and cook during the holidays. She's hoping to get some new recipe ideas to bring back to the North Pole. 

Your family can also help Patty design festive holiday cookies and share your favorite holiday decorating tips! Tell Patty about your favorite holiday baking memories and help her decide which recipes Santa would like best! You can practice some of your baking skills in the Jolly Days kitchen, or at home! You never know, Patty may need help at the North Pole one day…

Patty wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Patty in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with a special request: Take a photo of a holiday treat you create with your family, or share one of your recipes. Show Patty you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Behind the Scenes: Chinese Shadow Puppet Theatre

This blog post is written by Patrick Weigand, one of The Children's Museum's Interpretation Operations Coordinators—who also happens to be our resident puppetry enthusiast! 

It's safe to say that I love shadow puppets. My passion for the art form started in part when I attended the 2011 National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. While I was there, I was work shopping and learning about shadow puppets for a production I was doing with a local theater company. I was drawn to shadow puppets because of their versatility—visually, the possibilities are endless. You can experiment with different types of materials and different light sources to create a wide range of images. I’ve even seen shadow plays that I wouldve thought were movies had I not known better!

I was thrilled to be asked to help develop a Chinese Shadow Puppet program a couple years ago, in anticipation of Take Me There:® China. Chinese shadow puppetry is shadow puppetry in its oldest and purist form. In fact, many believe that shadow puppetry originated in China over 2000 years ago! It was important to me that we help spread the art form to a wider audience.

Traditionally, Chinese shadow puppets are made from animal hide that is treated and scraped to be very thin and translucent. Once the leather is ready, each part of the puppet is cut out by hand, often with intricate designs, using a variety of knives and punches. Every piece is then carefully painted with vibrant colors before the joints are assembled. The engineering and assembling of the joints is also very precise, as it is important to find the right balance and movement for the performance.

As our team continued to develop the script for the program, I was sent back to the National Puppetry Conference this past summer to meet with experts on Chinese puppetry and continue developing the techniques we would use. Now we have the program you can see today—we invite families to help an unprepared apprentice (our actor) finish his assignment to perform a traditional story.

The puppets we use in the program are a little different than those used traditionally. Though they are from China, the puppets we use are mass produced, cut out by machines rather than by hand. We chose to use these mainly for practical reasons—we needed to have a lot of the puppets available to put in the hands of children and families. We also changed the way the puppets are controlled. Typically, Chinese shadow puppets are manipulated with three rods and take many years to master. We only use two rods, so it can be a little easier to work with them.

If you want to learn even more about Chinese shadow puppets, visit You can also learn more about the Shadow Puppets program in Take Me There: China in this blog post. You can check the museum calendar for all of the available times to stop by and Play a Part with Chinese Shadow Puppets!



Get Ready for Chinese Shadow Puppet Theatre!

Shadow Puppet

One thing that makes a visit to The Children’s Museum so extraordinary is the chance to immerse your family in new ideas through hands-on adventures—all guided by our incredible actor-interpreters! This fall in Take Me There:® China, your family can experience China in a whole new way in Play a Part: Chinese Shadow Puppets.

In this engaging, hands-on program, children go behind the scenes of a Chinese shadow puppet theater show, helping the puppet master and his apprentice create and present a lively performance—complete with sound effects! Children will be part of the adventures of Monkey King as they learn about creating characters’ voices and movements, developing and playing sound effects with musical instruments, and manipulating puppets. After putting the finishing touches on the show, families will help perform the complete puppet show in People's Park for everyone to enjoy!

The Details

  • The “Play a Part: Chinese Shadow Puppets” program will be offered in fall 2014 beginning Sept. 9.
  • Tickets are free but space is limited. Tickets are available 5 minutes before the program begins.
  • The program last 35 minutes. For daily times, visit the museum’s website or check the sign at the front of the Take Me There gallery.

What Is Shadow Puppet Theatre?
Shadow puppetry is a popular type of storytelling that began in China 2,000 years ago and has spread to many other places around the world. Shadow puppets are flat figures cut from paper or another material. They usually have moving parts like heads, arms, and legs, which the puppeteer controls with sticks. Puppeteers work behind a translucent screen (a kind of fabric that lets light pass through). The screen is lit from behind, allowing the audience to see the puppets from the other side of the screen, but not the puppeteer.

Who Is Monkey King?

Get ready to meet a star of stage, screen, and scroll! Monkey King is one of China’s most beloved fable characters—smart, fast, strong, and a little rebellious, he is a favorite of children and adults alike. Monkey King knows many spells and his powers include the ability to travel hundreds of miles in one somersault, to
magically transform his hairs into animals or objects, and the ability to instantly change his size. Monkey King first appeared in the 1500s in the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. His adventures have been adapted into Chinese opera and shadow puppet productions, stage plays and musicals, animated and feature films, comics, manga, anime, and even video and arcade games. Monkey King is busy!

Creating and Sharing the Artwork of our Youngest Visitors

Playscape Art WindowStephanie Eddleman is the museum’s Early Childhood Specialist and manager of the Playscape gallery. Playscape offers a wide variety of sensory and play-based learning experiences for families with children ages 0-5.  

Pablo Picasso famously said that, “Every child is an artist,” and in the Playscape Art Studio that is certainly the truth! From the small scribbled drawing of a toddler to a preschooler’s patterned painting, each child is encouraged to express their own creativity and unique abilities when creating a work of art in our studio. 

Our Playscape art projects also help our youngest visitors build visual literacy skills as they're encouraged to notice and make observations about the details of authentic works of art. Our staff encourages children to talk about the lines, shapes, and patterns in a work of art in order to build critical math and science foundational skills. 

My favorite thing about the Playscape Art Studio is that we not only strive to provide rich artistic experiences, but we make our visitor’s learning visible when we display their work. We love to place on display the community art that multiple visitors have completed together. 

Twice a month (every third Thursday and fourth Saturday) our artist-in-residence, Linda S. Cannon, helps our visitors add their own creation to a larger work of art. So far we've created a pen and ink drawing, sumi painting, water color painting, and much more! Children and their families have worked together to leave their own mark on each of the community pieces. Linda recently blogged about her experience in Playscape—be sure to check out her perspective on the Art Studio, too!

On your next visit to Playscape, take a look at the artwork lining the windows and you'll see that Picasso was correct. Whether you're in or outside of Playscape—all children are artists. We proudly display this fact on the walls of our studio.

Join us daily at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in the Playscape art studio and witness the artist inside your own young child! You may be surprised at the wonderful creativity they unleash!

Playscape Art Wall Playscape Art Sample

How Fireworks Work

Fireworks are more than just a loud bang and beautiful colors showering the night's sky—they're chemistry in ACTION! This Fourth of July, learn and teach your kids how fireworks work.

Remember—safety first! It's always best to see the pros launch fireworks. If you're at home, use fireworks and sparklers under adult supervision and be aware of your local burn laws.

How Fireworks Work

The museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m.. Plan your visit and buy tickets at

Family Health Tip: Firework Safety

Family Health TipThis blog post first appeared on Kids HealthLine, courtesy of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent.

The celebration of July 4th brings to mind warm weather, cookouts and, for many, fireworks. Taking in a fireworks show can be a fun time for your family on a summer night, but don’t forget the dangers of these explosives. This quiz assesses your firework safety knowledge and helps you make sure your child has a happy Independence Day.

1. Elementary school-aged children should be permitted to play with fireworks __________.

a) Under adult supervision
b) Never
c) Classified as “sparklers”
d) After a discussion about firework rules

2. Fireworks should be stored __________.

a) In a cool, dry place
b) Per package instructions
c) Far from lighting areas
d) All of the above

3. When lighting fireworks, basic precautions include having _________ on hand.

a) A first aid kit and a bucket of water
b) A firefighter or pyrotechnics professional
c) Safety goggles
d) Directions to the nearest emergency room

4. A sparkler burns at close to _________ degrees Fahrenheit.

a) 500
b) 1,000
c) 1,500
d) 2,000

5. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to _________.

a) Light them in an area with a radius of 15 feet closed off to children.
b) Join the community fun at a public display.
c) Attend a fireworks safety course beforehand.
d) Admit this is a trick question; there is no “safest” way!

Answers: 1. b; 2. d; 3. a; 4. d; 5. b

Firework First Aid

Despite the best preparation, burns from fireworks can occur, so learn to properly care for them. First, deposit the firework that caused the injury in a bucket of water. If any clothing smolders, take it off. Major burns require specialized care, so examine the burn before continuing.

If the burn seems limited to the upper layer of skin, run cold water over it for about five minutes. Apply a generous amount of antibiotic ointment and then cover the burn with non-stick gauze. Keep the burned area elevated. Order your free first aid kit at

This article was reviewed by Mercy Hylton, MD, emergency medicine, Hilbert Pediatric Emergency Department, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent.

The SciencePort Scoop: School Is Out, but Science Is In!

SciencePort fossilsHeather Gromley is The Children's Museum's MuseumPort Coordinator. Heather is finishing her master’s degree in Museum Studies from The Johns Hopkins University. She enjoys planetarium shows, facilitating science programs, and sitting sidesaddle on giraffes on the carousel. 

The staff of SciencePort invites you to visit our space to put your science skills to work and investigate some pretty cool topics. SciencePort® is a great place for the whole family to dive and explore through hands-on activities and technology stations. We have everything from a microscope station, to nifty science apps and in-depth investigations. Each week, we feature a different topic, related to an exhibit in the museum. We feature activities on flight, plants, and health, just to name a few.

This summer we've launched investigation stations about China to support our extraordinary new exhibits Take Me There:® China and Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army. Come explore tangram dissection puzzles, how to use an abacus, watch a live panda on the Panda Cam, create a Terra Cotta Warrior bookmark, and observe what tea leaves looks like under the microscope. 

SciencePort Dinos

One of our most popular programs is our Dinosaurs and Fossils theme. Together we'll decide what adaptations your dinosaur will need to survive in a setting you create. Will your winged T. rex survive in the ocean? Fossils are all around us, even in Indianapolis. Use the microscope or a magnifying glass to identify Indiana microfossils. Also, you can create a fossil imprint to take home with you! 

A cool feature of SciencePort is our animation station that allows you to make movie magic through stop motion animation. We also have touch screen computers and iPads to help you explore our topics.

Our super science staff is constantly researching new ideas for technology and investigations, so make sure you stop by each time you visit. We're located in ScienceWorks on Level 4. Look for signs around the red staircase in the construction zone area. SciencePort is open daily, from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2 p.m.–4 p.m. Programming times may vary, so be sure to check gallery signs for more information about times or investigation topics. See you soon!

Pete and Ollie's Top 10 Tips for Lemonade Day

Ollie Wisdom LemonadeMuseum member Pete and his daughter Ollie are Lemonade Day pros! Pete also happens to be finance expert Peter Dunn, so you won't want to miss Pete and Ollie's (hilariously brilliant) tips for a successful lemonade stand.

I've been counting down the days. It's almost upon us. Lemonade will be sold, fun will be had, and lessons will be learned. It's Lemonade Day 2014! This will be the third year that my now five year old daughter Ollie and I will become citrus beverage entrepreneurs. 

When she was three, there was more fun than business. Last year, we cranked up the math and focused on customer service. This year, who knows what lessons will be learned. If you've ever dealt with a five year old, you'd know that I quit calling the shots about one year ago. Last year's profits went to a doll, this year's profits were promised to a cat purchase. Although she does acknowledge my cat allergy as a possible stumbling block. But the ever-resourceful Ollie assures me that she wants to get a cat when I'm dead. 

Business and entrepreneurship are all about problem solving. If we can have lots of fun together while learning some valuable lessons in the process, then I'm game. Here are some of our pro tips on how to have a great lemonade stand. 

  1. Ollie: "You need music at your stand. People need to dance."
  2. Dad: "Pick a location that gets some heavy traffic. No traffic equals no customers."
  3. Ollie: "Get balloons. But if Dad lets go of the balloons getting out of the car, you will need more balloons."
  4. Dad: "Don't accidentally let go of the balloons when you get out of the car."
  5. Ollie: "Have cookies to sell. Lemonade makes people hungry."
  6. Dad: "Have plenty of change. One and a ton of quarters will do the trick."
  7. Ollie: "People like ice."
  8. Dad: "Create a sign that tells customers where the charity portion of your profits will go."
  9. Ollie: "Say 'Have a nice day' really loud when people leave. That way, they'll have a nice day."
  10. Dad: "Make it fun. Business is fun, not tedious."


Lemonade Day is May 17, 2014! Learn more and sign up at

Lemonade Day Tools of the Trade

Playscape, Friends, and #Carouselfies | The Playscape 5

Torrence CarouselfieFollow along as three families (just like you!) discover Playscape together. The Playscape 5—Torrence, Myles and Ella, and Gage and Paul—will share their experiences as they learn and grow in the gallery...and at home! See Playscape through the eyes of Torrence (age 8 months) in this post from mom, Samantha. And continue to follow his journey online, on the blog, or by searching the #Playscape5 hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and Vine!

We finally explored the entire museum! This is an amazing accomplishment—and a lot of walking. After 3 hours of playing, wow, were we impressed...and completely exhausted. On this trip, Torrence and I were accompanied by our friends, almost 2 year old Ben and his mom, Stephanie. We started our adventure in Playscape. Watching Ben splash and run from room to room made me so excited (and tired just from watching) for our next year with Torrence in Playscape

Torrence actually joined in with Ben banging as loudly as possible on the drums in the Playscape Music Studio. This is a new skill he’s really been working on at home called "let’s pick this thing up and smash it into that thing and hope it makes a ton of noise." Mom and Dad are understandably less thrilled with this new talent. This trip, Torrence also became fascinated by the Playscape sand table. I was hesitant to allow him near it as everything he touches goes straight to his mouth—he loved the feel of the sand between his fingers and managed to eat very little of it. 

Torrence March

After a short hour in Playscape, we were off to our first ride around the carousel. Members ride for free…bonus! Torrence and Ben loved the carousel almost as much as I did. We had to persuade Ben to play in ScienceWorks instead of several more trips around the carousel. Torrence and I took a quick break for a snack while they played in ScienceWorks. It's nice that there are so many benches available for our little snack breaks.

Our final destination of this trip was a quick visit to the Food Court. Once again, I was so impressed with the amount of food options for all age groups and how quickly we were able to check out. We found a table amongst the large crowd and loved that there were so many high chairs available for our kids. Needless to say, our drive home was completely silent. What a great end to a perfect day!

More Visits, More Discoveries for Myles and Ella | The Playscape 5

Myles CreekFollow along as three families (just like you!) discover Playscape together. The Playscape 5—Torrence, Myles and Ella, and Gage and Paul—will share their experiences as they learn and grow in the gallery...and at home! See Playscape through the eyes of Myles (age 4 1/2)  and Ella (age 2) in this post from mom, Ronnetta. And continue to follow their journey online, on the blog, or by searching the #Playscape5 hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and Vine!
The difference between Myles first visiting Playscape when he was 4-1/2, and then on his 5th birthday, was pleasantly surprising! 
And the difference between Ella visiting at 1-1/2 (and now 2), is remarkable. 
By now, I thought that some degree of boredom might have kicked in for our youngsters, but I shelved my silly adult perceptions long ago. As parents know, kids don't mind reruns of their favorite cartoons on the television, and there is a naturally occurring ease and comfort when tykes are able to experience the same joys over and over. The renovated Playscape, a half-year old itself, continues to be a little bundle of joy.
Myles—the senior member of the #Playscape5—had been in the Whirly Twirly Tower before, but the pull of the pneumatic goodness that makes up part of the Reaction Contraption was too powerful a lure. When we visited on his birthday January 26, however, he discovered a way to make the Tower work for him. He waited his turn and took the multicolored pink, yellow and orange cloth pieces and pressed them against the rectangular blower vent, all at once, sending them circularly in the air. He enjoyed seeing them in flight (he’s really into a cause-and-effect phase at home), then he spun around chasing them. We love it when the kiddos replicate what they enjoy in the Museum at home. But we’re even happier that the Playscape activity stations are way more durable than our now-dented door frames!
Another new area for our children this month was The Climber
We have danger-averse little ones, so they're content to be entertained by watching other children sprawl through the lily pads and up to the boat. Slowly but surely, they're working their way up to the top, knowing their No. 1 fear of being “stuck” will be unrealized, as daddy is ready and willing to contort his way to the top to free them. They also enjoy being higher than their parents. After all, who wants to always be looking up at their folks? 

Myles Ella Climber

Our impressionable one, Ella follows the lead of her older brother, so where he goes, she follows. But there’s so much activity and commotion that your kids can focus on doing their own thing instead of competing. Ella sprinted off to the Music Studio again and was thrilled by the xylophones, while Myles donned some protective splash-gear, grabbed his favorite fishing net and played in the always-changing current in the Creek. They joined forces again over at the Sandbox, allowing themselves to have instantaneous fun on the revolving wheel. It’s a feature that constantly resets itself! 


What We Learned

  1. The Mothers' Rooms are a wonderful, clean, larger-than-you-expect oasis for those needing nursing or diaper-changing privacy. 
  2. The kids are attuned to high-tech solutions that never get old, such as the motion-activated hand sanitizer stations that spit out poofy bursts of white cleanser as well as the automatic hand dryers that emit controlled warm air near the Creek. It can get cold quickly when shirt sleeves are dampened by water!


5 Ways to Get the "Winter Wiggles" Out at Playscape

Follow along as three families (just like you!) discover Playscape together. The Playscape 5—Torrence, Myles and Ella, and Gage and Paul—will share their experiences as they learn and grow in the gallery...and at home! See Playscape through the eyes of Gage (age 3) and Paul (age 18 mos.) in this post from mom, Emily. And continue to follow their journey online, on the blog, or by searching the #Playscape5 hashtag!

Playscape Reaction Contraption

We’ve lived in Indianapolis for over 10 years, and this has been the worst (as far as the cold and snow goes) winter I can remember. Multiple days have gone by where the kids and I haven't left the house. It’s an understatement to say that our home has become Gage and Paul’s personal bounce house. Cabin fever has undoubtedly reached an all-time high, and my sofas are begging for toddler mercy.

Truth be told, I’m a die-hard lover of the winter season, but this year I’m waving the white flag. It’s not even February, and this self-proclaimed snow bunny is ready for spring. One of our only saving graces to the winter blues is that we live so very close to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. And if the roads are favorable, you will see us there at least once a week, getting the “winter wiggles” out.

We don’t stay long—maybe an hour or two right before lunch and nap time, which is just enough time to run and play, burning up all that pent-up energy.

If you have still not made it to the new Playscape, winter is the perfect time! When it’s cold outside, it’s toasty warm inside Playscape

5 ways we get the “winter wiggles” out at Playscape:

1. Bang on those drums! Every visit, my four year old makes a beeline for the music room. His favorite percussion? The bongos! Go ahead and get your groove on and bang away!

Climb in the Playscape climber2. Climb to the top of the climber! At home, there’s no climbing on the furniture. But at the Climber, your encouraged to go up, up, and up jumping from pad to pad—all the way to the tippy top and into the little sail boat. It’s a bird's eye view of Playscape!

3. Let your hair blow in the wind tunnel! A few weeks ago my boys discovered a box fan in my bedroom and quickly became obsessed with standing in front of it, feeling the wind blow in their hair. I think we can agree that box fans don’t make the best toys, so even though it was super fun, it’s also off limits. But at Playscape, go ahead and jump in that tunnel, dance and jump around, get blown away.

4. Build a track and watch the balls roll on down! Such a simple activity—build a descending track and watch the ball roll on down. The track is Paul’s favorite activity. He can spend what feels like hours helping the older kids construct the “road”. And his favorite part? You guessed it, rolling the ball on down (and then putting the balls back into the basket).

5. Splash around in the creek! At home the boys have started taking mid-day baths just for fun. But nothing at home can start to compare to Playscape's creek. Paul’s favorite creek toy activity is catching little boats with a net as they float on by.

As a mom to two little boys, a preschooler and a toddler, I simply don’t know how we would sanely survive the winter without our weekly trip to the museum. Because don’t think for a minute that getting the “winter wiggles” out is just for the kids.


Get into the Rhythm with Your Young Musician

Playscape Music StudioBy Cathy Southerland, Director of Early Childhood Education

"Now it's time for music, music, music . . . we'll have lots of fun!"

This song begins every facilitated program in The Music Studio in Playscape at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and it's very true—music is fun. It also plays a powerful role in the lives of young children. There is a musician in every child. Adults who intentionally infuse music into children's lives are nurturing powerful learning connections. The Music Studio in Playscape will provide a chance for you and your child to be musicians together as you explore rhythm, tone and movement using real musical instruments.

While in the Music Studio, observe your child as s/he experiments with the instruments and discovers the source of sounds. Encourage critical thinking about the instruments. See if your child can identify high tones and low tones, fast tempo or slow tempo. This will help your child develop an understanding of musical concepts and musical vocabulary.

Helping your child understand that music has a beat is something you can also do at home. Experiment with making sounds and creating rhythms not only with musical instruments but with everyday household objects. Any household items that make sounds, such as pans, lids, chopsticks, keys, containers of breath mints, pairs of wooden spoons, etc. all make excellent "instruments."

Begin by playing a selection of music that has a strong beat ("The Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Phillip Sousa is a good choice.) Demonstrate the beat by patting your hands on your legs. This will help your child hear that the music has a steady beat. Ask your child to join in with you. Tap different parts of your body (shoulders, toes, head, ears, etc.). Then bring out your household "instruments" and enjoy playing together, trying to keep the same rhythm. Talk about the beat or rhythm as you play, and most of all . . . have fun!

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Indy's Child. 

Scrooge's Jolly Journal | Entry #4

Scrooge's Jolly JournalEbenezer Scrooge is at The Children's Museum and he wants to hear your ideas for spreading holiday cheer!  Families have been sharing their traditions with Scrooge in the Jolly Days exhibit, and he's documented each and every one in his Jolly Journal. We'll continue to share Scrooge's Jolly Journal throughout the season! 

Saturday, December 21
Two unique young ladies by the names of Shania and Emani positively glowed as they shared the moments they enjoy during the festive season. They continued my education of the holidays by telling me that we should spend time with our family, and share in love and kindness. I couldn’t agree more. In fact why don’t we continue that spirit year round? Thank you, ladies!
Isaiah and Kimberly enjoy Christmas morning with a breakfast prepared by their father. I am told his eggs are particularly scrumptious! And to top that off they open their Christmas presents together as a family shortly afterwards. What a perfect morning. I must get that breakfast recipe!
Sunday, December 22
It appears that American football is quite popular during the festive season. A young man named Ethan enjoys watching the "Colts" with his family. He informed me that they were actually playing today. His father was able to check on the score from a mobile device he carries with him. We discovered that they were about to win, and I joined the family in a rendition of “GO COLTS”!  How exciting.
Sophia, the charming young lady I had the pleasure of meeting today, most likes helping others this time of year. Much like myself, she enjoys giving gifts and taking care of animals. How refreshing!
I visited with a gentleman named Aaron and his sister Emily today. They have a very novel idea of getting a new ornament for their Christmas tree each year. Good grief if I did that I am not sure you would be able to see the tree by now!
Monday, December 23
The McDonald family were at the museum today enjoying family time with Grandma. They were of significant number I must say. But they all enjoy spending time together over the holiday period. It appears that this family has two elves assign to them from Santa Claus. Rudy and Coy are their names. It is their job to monitor the behavior of the McDonald’s children and report back to Santa Claus. I am sure Santa will be very pleased with these charming children.
Josh enjoys singing Christmas Carols during the Holidays, unfortunately he was unable to share his talents with us today. May we can encourage him to join in our singing-along that occurs each day in the Sunburst Atrium!
Young Eli informs me that each and every year he has a tradition of making orange juice with his grandfather. How delightful! I am informed that the vitamin C obtained from oranges can assist in staving off the common cold. Sign me up!

Have you seen Scrooge during your visit to the museum? Leave a comment or send us a tweet using the #JollyDays hashtag, and let us know if you passed along the coin that you received from Scrooge.