Every Tuesday from July until the end of August, Winterthur offers “Terrific Tuesdays,” a family program that exposes kids to objects in the museum and museum work with crafts and games. This summer’s theme was the “Elements of Art” (color, value, shape, line, texture, form, and pattern), and each week’s activities revolved around one element. Along with about 5 tables staffed and developed by Public Programs, the conservation department and the gardens also manned tables. One or two local artists also came to give demonstrations each week (block printers, basket makers, and weavers, for instance).
I was “on loan” to Public Programs all day every Tuesday, working with two interns from the University of Delaware (Carolanne and AnnaLivia) who spent their whole summer working exclusively on family programming. A group of about 7 teen volunteers also came in to staff tables on Tuesday and Thursday, when Winterthur took a selection of the week’s activities to the Salvation Army’s summer camp in Wilmington. I didn’t go to the Salvation Army every week, but I did go several times to help out, which was a lot of fun.
Here are the first two tables that I helped run this summer:
Bubble Hydrangea Cards: Color Week
I came up with bubble hydrangeas (or, rather, found the craft idea after lots of searching through Pinterest and mommy blogs!), and developed it (with indispensable help from the wonderful Carolanne and AnnaLivia). At first, the only how-to videos we could find on YouTube were in German, which might explain why the first round of testing ended in failure…
The internet showed children successfully making bubble patterns in paper with dye- we figured that we should be able to make successful bubbles too! We eventually discovered that glycerin is the magic ingredient, and after that the craft went forward without a hitch.
The Winterthur gardens are full of hydrangeas, so we used the flowers as an anchor for the activity and also provided pH strips for kids to test in acidic and basic solutions. This taught them about pH, and we encouraged them to think about how hydrangea petals change colors based on the acidity of the soil. Both the litmus paper and the bubbles were popular with kids, parents, and grandparents! We did have to make sure that some of the smaller children blew bubbles out rather than drinking up paint through the straws, though.
Clay Pretzels: Line Week
With model magic, paint, and salt, we made our own “fake food” like the imitation food found in the collection. Winterthur’s large Pennsylvania German collection and the fact that this week was “Line Week” made pretzels a natural choice. These pretzels were almost too realistic, however. My heart almost stopped when I looked down halfway through the day and saw a bite taken out of the sample pretzel- I turned and right next to me, a toddler had a mouth full of clay! Thankfully, his mother was nearby and quickly handled the problem, but then I had to move the pretzel to the center of the table because this child kept reaching for it! You would think that after one mouthful of clay he wouldn’t have been interested in seconds…