We’re now the Thinkery!

21 01 2014

Hi all,

The Austin Children’s Museum is now closed, and we are now the Thinkery! Check out our new blog at thinkeryaustin.org/blog





SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 4

26 07 2013

Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. This week is the last week of my internship, and in this blog post, I describe my experience here at the ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer here at the Museum.

This week’s full day camp at the Austin Children’s Museum for ages 7-10 was titled ‘Get a Clue’, and the half day camp for ages 4-6 was ‘Passport Adventures’. Each day, I photographed the camp’s field trips and activities, and filtered, edited and uploaded the photos that I took onto the Museum’s Flickr account.

On Monday, July 22nd, we walked a few blocks with the full day campers to The Driskill hotel. There, we were given a tour and were told of it’s history; We learned that for well over a century, historical benchmarks have been crafted at The Driskill, such as, when Former President Lyndon B. Johnson awaited news of his successful 1948 Senate run and his 1960 election to the office of Vice President, and 1964 election as President. We also learned of the ghosts that have reportedly been seen at the hotel! Colonel Driskill himself is said to wander through the original side of the hotel and the spirit of Samantha Houston, a senator’s young daughter who was chasing a ball when she fell to her death on the grand staircase, has been seen bouncing a ball along the corridors in the hotel.Image

On Tuesday, July 23rd, the full day campers took a tour of the Texas State Cemetary. The Cemetary is the burial place for soldiers and founders of the Republic and State of Texas, elected state officials, jurists and other prominent men and women. Culturally, the Cemetary is unique because it represents every aspect of Texas history from European Colonization to modern day Texas politics. The Texas State Cemetary is the burial site of Stephen F. Austin, Ed Burleson, Bob Bullock and many more historical and cultural icons.Image

On Wednesday, July 24th, I photographed the half day camp, ‘Passport Adventures’. The continents of topic that day were Asia and Australia. The children participated in various activities, learning about kangaroos, origami, bamboo, and the Sydney Opera House. One specific activity of the day that I thought was pretty neat was where the children could create their own Moai statues out of clay, and decorate it with beads and feathers.Image

On Thursday, July 25th, I had my community outreach portion of my internship; Each Young Ambassador must hold a children’s story-time at a local library in their area. I traveled to the Little Walnut Creek Branch Library here in Austin to read Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Castaneda. Abuela’s Weave is the story of Esperanza, a young Guatemalan girl, and her grandmother who grow closer as they weave some special creations and then make a trip to the market in hopes of selling them. This story shows the importance of family pride and personal endurance, and introduces children to the culture of Guatemala through the eyes of little Esperanza.Image

In the latter half of the day, I traveled back to the Austin Children’s Museum to be the photographer for the Museum Career Ladder & Volunteer Appreciation party. MCL participants and volunteers brought their friends and families to show them what they do at the museum and to have some fun! MCL is a volunteer and employment readiness program that offers opportunities to Austin area teens (12-17 year olds) to engage in fun and meaningful work at the Austin Children’s Museum. This year, there were over 1,100 active volunteers at the Museum. The youngest volunteer is four and the oldest is sixty-six.Image

On Friday, July 26th, the full day campers took a trip to the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin. There, they toured the ceramics and painting studios, and learned about kilns and easels. They also visited visited the art galleries in the building.Image

Sadly, this is my last week at the Austin Children’s Museum. This four-week internship has truly been a great experience! Never having a job before, I was skeptical that I would not successfully fulfill what was expected of me…but at the conclusion of this month, I feel that I have done everything I’ve been asked to to my fullest potential. Throughout my internship, I have learned various skills, such as, time management, patience and team work. In a museum, there’s so much team work that goes into running a successful learning institution and I really do appreciate what every employee/volunteer at any museum does. Along with the Museum, I do believe that the most important skill we can give children is the ability to learn, and that the diversity and interactions among people from different backrounds enrich and strengthen our community. I am eternally grateful to have been selected as a Smithsonian Latino Center 2013 Young Ambassador, to have met many amazing individuals along the way, and to have been blessed with this amazing opportunity to work with the Austin Children’s Museum.Image

If you haven’t had the chance, check out my blog posts from the previous weeks of my internship!

1. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-1/

2. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-2/

3. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-3/





Get Excited for Summer Camp

24 04 2013

The school year is almost over and that means it’s time for SUMMER CAMP. Have you made your plans yet?

We are gearing up for an awesome summer filled with new discoveries, fun activities and memorable field trips. This is the last year we’ll be hosting camp at our Museum downtown, so you don’t want to miss it.

Girl Explore Science 7.1 050

ACM offers half day camps for ages 4-6 and full day camps for ages 7-10 from May 28 – August 16. Full day camps include field trips all around the Austin area.  Camp topics range from science, engineering, art and more. Most of our half day camps are already filled, but there are plenty of spots left in full day camps.

This year, we are excited for our full day camp, “Get a Clue.” Together, we’ll investigate and gather evidence to discover the hidden mysteries around town. Field trips include an investigation at the Driskill Hotel where we’ll reveal the haunted history that lies behind the spooky walls, and a behind-the-scenes visit to the Austin Police Department where we’ll meet real investigators.

august 2011 029

Inside the Museum we’ll extract DNA, experiment with blood typing, solve riddles, decipher codes and navigate through a laser alarm system. At the end of the week, we’ll use our problem solving skills to solve an art heist.

Check out all of our camp topics and register online at austinkids.org/camps.aspx.





Meet the Makers at ACM

12 04 2013

The time has finally come! On Sunday, May 5, Austin Children’s Museum will be participating in the 2013 Austin Mini Maker Faire. The event will be held at the Palmer Events Center from 10am -6pm.

What is Mini Maker Faire? It’s a community-oriented learning event where families and individuals are brought together to showcase any and all Do-It-Yourself projects. Maker Faire is arranged in a show-and-tell format, allowing makers to connect by showing what they’ve made and sharing what they’ve learned.

Credit: Austin Mini Maker Faire

Credit: Austin Mini Maker Faire

Every Sunday at ACM, we welcome this year’s Makers to show off their stuff and answer any questions. A special guest leads the activity as Makers do different DIY activities to prepare for the upcoming event.

Last week at Meet the Makers, we had fun making our own soap from scratch!

On Sunday, April 14, join the Makers from Austin Mini Maker Faire Craft division and design a beautiful denim crown to wear home. Burnadette Noll will be attending as our special guest and she will have everything you need to stitch and create a unique upcycled crown. Show the world that you are the King or Queen of your very own universe and come meet the Makers to get excited for Mini Maker Faire on May 5!





Meet Candra Thorton, Early Learners Coordinator

8 04 2013

Candra_croppedIn November 2012, Candra Thornton joined ACM as a gallery manager. Among her responsibilities, Candra oversees the Early Learners programs: Baby Bloomers and Cub Club.

Candra has a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from The University of Texas at Austin and 20 years of experience working with children. We caught up with Candra to ask her a few questions about herself and the Early Learners programs.

Q: Tell us about your previous experience working with young children.

A: I started as a kindergarten teacher then joined the staff of an Austin preschool working with toddlers while I finished graduate school. I have also worked with children under the age of five in various research projects as a professor of Early Childhood Education.

Q: Why did you choose to work at ACM?

A: My primary professional interest has always been to work with young children. As my career progressed and I developed research interests, I focused my attention on the benefits of play in this age group. At ACM, I’m able to utilize what I love to do, working with young children, with what I believe in,  the power of play.

Q: What new things do you have planned for Baby Bloomers & Cub Club?

A:There will be traditional weekly themes like colors and shapes, but I am introducing new themes such as “Colors of Us” and “Yummy! Yummy!”. I am also bringing in new guests for Sing-a-long as well as increasing the frequency of their visits.

Q: How do you develop ideas for activities?

A: Many ways: some I’ve done with children in the past, some I’ve accumulated over the years and saved for later, and some come from random resources like books and the internet that I put my own twist on to make appropriate for ACM’s youngest visitors. Great ideas are everywhere.

Q: In your opinion, what is one of the most important things to know about early childhood development?

A:Young children experience the world in qualitatively different ways than we do and to accommodate that, they should have as many opportunities to engage in open-ended, hands-on free play as possible.

Q: What’s a fun learning activity parents or caregivers can do at home with young children?

A: Yummy! Yummy! Bunny Sundaes is a wonderful activity for young children. Bunny Sundaes  is a multi-sensory activity that includes questions about sights, smells, sounds and tastes. This activity also involves math. How much yogurt is being measured? How many bunnies are being added on top? Is there more strawberry or banana fruit in the bowl? 

Here’s how to do it at home: 

IMG_9182_cropped

You’ll need:

  1. Vanilla yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
  2.  Annie’s Bunny Grahams or something similar
  3.  Two fresh strawberries (cut in ½ or ¼)
  4.  One third of of a banana, peeled.

Instructions: Provide a plastic knife and with supervision, allow children to “cut” (sometimes it comes out more like mashing) the strawberries and banana. Children then place into a bowl ¼ cup yogurt, the cut fruit pieces, and 5 bunnies. There are endless variations on how Bunny Sundaes can be assembled and enjoyed, so allow children freedom to explore and indulge.

Once you’ve made your Bunny Sundae. Dig in and enjoy this tasty treat.





Think, Do, Make!

7 03 2013

This spring we opened a new exhibit called, Think, Do, Make. One of the activities you can do in the exhibit is make a paper “roto-copter” and launch it in our Flow Lab. You can also make roto-copters and test them out at home.

Download Copters and print out the roto-copters. Cut along the solid lines and fold along the dashed lines to make your roto-copter.

Add a paper clip to the bottom of your roto-copter to give it some weight. Drop your roto-copter from a high place or toss it in the air. What do you notice?

How can you change your roto-copter to make it spin differently? Try adding paper clips, using different weights of paper, or trimming the “blades” of your roto-copter to different lengths. Happy flying!





Story Time Library: Let’s Get Organized!

13 08 2012

Hi ACM Blog readers!

I’m Melody,  a summer intern here at the museum, helping out with our archival projects, as well as with the Story Time library.

Each day before Story Time, our readers choose a few great stories from a whole collection of books here at the museum.  Sometimes, the books can get a little messy and hard to find.

Photo by Prio on Flickr

That’s why this summer, I have been finding new ways to organize them and clean the shelves up a bit!

In the Story Time Library, I have been using some fun, new colorful labels to help people find books that fall under certain topics.  Each color stands for a different topic: Green = Environment, Blue = Ocean, Orange = Mammals, Red = Food, etc.  If one day, a Story Time reader wants books about dogs, cats, and pizza, he or she can just look through the books labeled with an orange and/or red sticker!  Easy, right?

There are lots of great ways to group together similar things, not just for your books.

Activity: Organizing Time!

Try going through your bedroom or playroom to organize things like:

  • Clothes
  • Toys
  • School/art supplies
  • DVDs
  • Video games

Find a creative and fun way to group them together, so that they will be easier for you to find later on!  Maybe you can organize your movies and games alphabetically and your clothes by color and style. You could label different tubs or boxes with the words “Pens”, “Pencils”, “Markers”, and “Crayons”, so that your school and art supplies will stay where they are supposed to.

Any way you do it, make sure it helps you stay clean and organized!

Photo by jenni waterloo on Flickr
Group things by color!

Photo by matthew_moss on Flickr
Organize office supplies!








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