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Posted by on in Family & Parenting

We are delighted to announce our new blogging partnership with Joanna Fortune. Joanna will be writing a Blog-osity post every month, for 12 months and we are excited to have her on-board!

Joanna Fortune is a Clinical Psychotherapist specialising in child and adolescent Psychotherapy with over 12 years experience. She is widely recognized for her use of simple supportive language to make connections with parents and children. Among many other things, Joanna is a regular contributor in the media on issues of child development and parenting. Joanna founded Solamh Parent Child Relationship Clinic in Dublin in October 2010.

 Joanna small

Hi, I'm Joanna Fortune and I am delighted to be writing some blogs for Imaginosity's fabulous blog site. For those who don't yet know me, I am a psychotherapist and attachment specialist working with children, adolescents and parents in my Solamh Parent Child Relationship Clinic in Sandyford Dublin 18 ( www.solamh.com ). It has been said that I tend to view the world through the eyes of a 5 year old and this, I'm proud to say, is very true. Why not take a look at www.joannafortune.com to find out all about me and the work that I do.

So you can expect my blogs to be about child development, challenging behaviours and what they mean, as well as practical tips on parent-child play time. Whatever I am blogging about there will always be a practical tip for you to use at home with your child, ensuring15 minutes of quality play time together per day.

The weather is finally getting better and it's time to get out there and make the most of it with your children while you can. I noticed that Imaginosity were doing a great theme to welcome spring so I thought I would take their lead and talk you through a fun, sensory engaging parent-child spring time play tip. You can start this activity with a great nature walk and collect some items for your 'sensory basin' while out and about having fun.

 

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Posted by on in Play at home

In celebration of St Patrick's Weekend, our friend Mairead who is a secondary school teacher has written a thought-provoking and helpful piece on re-discovering (or discovering for some!) our native tongues. Go raibh maith agat Mairead!

It's that time of the year again when we all start thinking of the 'cúpla focal' we once stored safely away in the back of our minds for those occasions we may need them! Your child is coming home daily and reminding you of words from another lifetime. Safely buried away but not forgotten....

Why not try to rediscover this safely buried treasure this weekend? Why not try a few ideas to make your home a little more Gaelach do Sheachtain na Gaeilge? Try labelling some of your necessary items - an citeal to make a 'cupán deas tae', or a 'muga caife'. You may need 'siúcra' and 'bainne'. Don't forget (ná dearmad) your 'fón póca', those elusive 'eocracha' that go missing every time you need to go on a trip 'sa char'r. Have you your 'málaí siopadóireachta' for the groceries?

There are some words you need when asking / telling your child what to do :

Faigh - get

Déan - do /make

Téigh - go

Brostaigh - hurry

Cuir - put

Ól - drink

Ith - eat

Seas suas - stand up

Suí síos - sit down

When you need your children to do some everyday jobs, why not challenge them as Gaeilge?

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Posted by on in Education

Looking back at last week's very successful Engineers Week, we realise all that we achieved in such a short space of time! The aim of Engineers Week is to celebrate the engineering profession, to grow awareness of engineers in the community, and to showcase engineering as an exciting and diverse career option for students. We welcomed 628 very excited primary school pupils and their teachers to take part in our investigative, educational but most of all fun activities throughout the week.

For Imaginosity, Engineers Week allows us to show primary schools the important role that engineers play in the world around us and also the fun that can be had while utilising Science and Maths. With this in mind we developed two curriculum linked programmes "Box Monsters" and "Ping Pong Ball Catapults". If you are wondering what exactly "Box Monsters" and "Ping Pong Ball Catapults" can teach children about engineering, the short answer is lots!

The "Box Monsters" workshop uses basic principles of Pneumatics in order to make a box open its mouth wide like monster jaws. This workshop is designed for children in Junior Infants to 2nd class. The children firstly got the opportunity to decorate their "Box Monster" which excited and delighted everyone as they set about creating their very own cardboard creature. We at Imaginosity know that Pneumatics is an awfully big word and an even bigger concept to understand but the simplest explanation is that pneumatics is the energy of trapped air. We used lots of straws, Ziplock bags and boxes from the lovely people at Recreate (www.recreate.ie) to show this in a fun "hands-on" and most importantly age appropriate manner to children.

The "Ping Pong Ball Catapult" workshop was designed for children in 1st and 2nd class and is a great way of explaining the difference between stored/potential energy and Kinetic energy. You would be entitled at this point to ask how? This time we used lots of ice-lolly sticks, elastic bands and ping pong balls to understand the engineering behind catapults. The testing began as the children, tried and succeeded in reaching the targets that we had set up for these experiments.

Whether its in the classroom or at home, experimenting is all about having fun, creating and discovering the world around us; your children will learn even more if you join in with them. If you are stuck for ideas, don't worry there are loads of great resources out there for parents and teachers. As a Discover Centre member I would highly recommend the Discover Primary Science and Maths Website www.primaryscience.ie for loads of fun "hands-on" activities for children which can be tried out at home.

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Posted by on in General

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Roisin Ingle, Daily Features Editor with The Irish Times is a member of our 'What's the Story?' Judging Panel for this year's competition. Here Roisin tells us of her own little story-tellers and the places that their imaginations take them and the stories that they tell!

I live with somebody who can make hailstones the size of golf balls appear from the sky with just a flick of her hand. She has turned me into a statue twice today. It's her magic powers you see. I live with someone else who thinks she's my boss. I go home from work and she makes me sit at a desk with my laptop, barking orders. " Make more work," she says in her harshest "boss voice". She's got a smile Julia Roberts would kill for so all I can do is comply.

Living with two four year olds can be exhausting but mostly it is the best fun I've ever had in my life. Why? Because they don't have any limits on their imagination. The stories they tell are the tallest stories you've ever heard. There's the time they went out to our tiny back yard and found fairies hiding behind the daffodil shoots. They were busy packing for a holiday on the moon. Or the time they met a teddy bear made of jelly and decided not to eat him. "His Mum who's a butterfly and his Dad who's a giant would be so sad," they explained, their blue eyes shot through with sincerity.

They can't write yet but I'm encouraging them to start making stories, setting them down for posterity in crayon and colouring pencil, helping them realise the stories they tell have the power to entertain, astound, move and shock. They take out their pencils and draw a girl trapped in a tower. Suddenly there are orange flames leaping out from the wobbly turrets and a ladybird arrives on a horse to rescue her. Then their junior infants teacher Miss Walkin emerges from a corner of the page with a bucket of water. To look at the page, a colourful mass of pencil marks, you wouldn't know any of this, but I've been told the story. And every part makes sense. It's often said that the Irish are a nation of storytellers. And if that's the case the young people of Ireland are our laureates. I can't wait to read all the entries to the Imaginosity competition. I hope my two laureates never stop making stories. Best of luck to all of yours.

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Posted by on in Family & Parenting

 

As parents, we can all see the value in encouraging our children to be creative, independent thinkers who can come up with their own creative thoughts and ideas and their own ways of solving problems, and being confident in doing so. That bit’s easy. The more difficult part sometimes is actually figuring out how to put that into practice. Time is not on our side as parents and we sometimes feel that there are not enough hours in the day. For those of us who work outside the home, we struggle to rush home, have dinner, do homework and have bath-time. For those of us whose place of work is in the home, daytime is just as busy, as we are pushed from one hour to the next meeting constant demands from our children and our home. Perhaps there just doesn’t seem to be any space in our day and in our family to squeeze in any form of creativity?

Every child is born with the ability to be creative. For some it comes naturally, just as it does for some children to ride a bike with ease or play sports well. But for others, encouragement is hugely beneficial to the child. We can train the eye, the ear and the mind to be creative and help our children gain access to a creative way of seeing and thinking about the world. We can assist them with concentration, competence, optimism, perseverance, appreciation and positivity in all that they do. We can encourage and applaud their creative activity and outcomes and we can let them know in bucketfuls how very proud we are of them and all that they do and achieve. If you are looking for ideas about how to encourage creativity, imagination and discovery in your child, the following are some pointers that we have picked up over time in Imaginosity. Perhaps one will spark an idea in your own mind as to what would interest your own child and how you could do this at home.

MOVE AWAY FROM THAT SCREEN! A child that is constantly entertained by screens and other visual media, will find it difficult to find ways to entertain themselves when that media is removed. Your child’s imagination and thought processes are pre-defined when playing a video game. They must ‘press A’ to make the guy jump or ‘B’ to make the building explode. There isn’t much imagination in these pursuits. Ditch the ipads, the smartphones, the Wiis and anything else that your child seems to be spending too much time using. We’re not suggesting to take them away completely, but do limit the time to allow creativity and imagination creep back in through those cracks in time.

ENCOURAGE THEM TO THINK OUTSIDE THE (CARDBOARD) BOX: The inside of a toilet roll can be made into binoculars, a cardboard tube can be a telescope or a racetrack for cars, a plastic bottle filled with pebbles could be a music shaker, a cardboard box could be a Formula 1 racing car, a shoebox could be an elevator on the arm of the sofa. Guide your child to think outside the box, but try not to interfere too much in the process. Allow their imaginations the time and space to self-guide.

PROVIDE THEM WITH AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE THEIR CREATIVITY CAN ABOUND: Get out the paints, pencils, feathers, glue, play dough, sand, water, glitter and anything else that you think can be used. Collect, or at least put aside milk cartons or egg boxes and save them for creative pursuits. Allow your child just to ‘be’; to figure it all out for themselves and to create what they would like to create, not what you think that they should create. Another way to provide a creative environment is to take a trip outside; point out the colours in the sky, the flowers, the shapes of the trees. Encourage them to be aware of the weather and to recognise the change in the seasons, when there’s a full moon or a sky filled with brightly shining stars, get their coats on and go outside. The more aware they are of their outside environment, the more they can dream and think about their place in the world.

TV Presenter and Naturalist, Chris Packham, said: “The love that fuels a lifeties interest in wild things comes from the heart not the hard drive and what ignites it is contact. The Wild Network, which was launched in late September 2013, today reached a milestone of 1,000 member organisations – all pledging to encourage kids to play outside more and re­connect with the natural world on our doorsteps[1].   http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/2013/12/05/wild-things-support-campaign-get-kids-outdoors

GET MESSY! As parents (some, not all!) we have a tendency to be tidy and to immediately clean up a mess for fear of the mess becoming even bigger if left unattended. A child is not going to think or act creatively in a controlled, tidy environment. That is a fact. So give in to the mess. There’s plenty of time later on to tidy up. 

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Posted by on in Imaginosity Events

On the 3rd of February Imaginosity launches its 2nd annual “What’s The Story” competition – a BIG competition for little storymakers! The competition is open to individual children from 3 to 8 years and classes from pre-school to second class. Thanks to our very generous sponsors the winning entries will receive fantastic prizes which include bikes, Imaginosity memberships, class trips to the museum, Construction Toys, Arts and Crafts materials, puppets and more! Last year I had the privilege of being chosen as the Imaginosity representative on the judging panel and I am thrilled to be granted the opportunity once again for this year’s competition.

The first time venturing into unchartered territory is always daunting and the launch of the inaugural “What’s the Story” was no exception. The press releases were sent, leaflets and posters printed and distributed – and so the wait for entries began! The stories came through the door in gentle drifts and flurries at first – one or two a day in the beginning, the flow gradually building momentum until eventually, in the last week, the poor postman was quite literally weighed down with packages, envelopes and giant parcels. From every corner of the country children from all walks of life had picked up pens, pencils, cameras and paintbrushes to reveal to us their stories, ideas, imaginings and memories. There was something incredibly special about being a part of this drive to tap into the creativity that is evidently brimming over in children across the land.

Of course as the entries piled up in the office, I was cruelly barred from sneaking even the tiniest peek as the readers trawled through the many colourful pages. As a judge, my first glimpse of the stories was to only be after the arduous task of shortlisting was completed – a task which was valiantly (but admittedly with great delight!) taken on by Marketing Manager Ciara and General Manager Jenny.

When we eventually got there, the judging process was fun and rewarding but TOUGH – we had 5 shortlisted entries in each category and every piece of work was so different, each with its own individual strengths and merits, that we debated, discussed, yelled at each other and threw chairs full force across the room (ok, that’s an exaggeration - but as our young authors would certainly agree, what’s a story without a bit of colour?). We eventually managed to whittle down to our winners and runners up but it wasn’t an easy process! In the end the winning entrants were a mix of poetry, biography, illustrated stories and comic strips – we had tales of adventure, everyday family life and visitors from outer space to name a few.

Both Imaginosity and the competition entrants were lucky to have each and every piece of work considered and studied by a judging panel studded with such bright stars and big brains of the creative industry. It was interesting to observe the style preferences of each judge – RTE presenter Blathnaid Ni Chófaigh understandably had a grá for the entries we received as gaeilge just as Illustrator Chris Judge was a valuable commentator on the animated stories that made it to the shortlist. We are sincerely grateful that many of our judges will resume their seats this year and are also honoured to be joined by new faces such as Paul Howard of “Ross O’Carroll Kelly” fame and Irish Times journalist Roisin Ingle.

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Posted by on in Play at home
Finished product Description of task: Make an Orange Clove Pomador
Time required: 20 minutes
Suitable for ages: 3-7 years
Level: Easy
Download instructions here
Tagged in: Play play at home
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Posted by on in Play at home

Keeping with the theme of Movement and Dance for January at the museum, our friend and Yoga Expert Eike Traynor, from Purely Yoga, gives us some gorgeous helpful and active ideas for our little ones at home this month.

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Another year begins and everyone starts off with the best intentions. We all want to do better and be better. Well let this year be the year. Let's try to keep our resolutions!!

As a yoga teacher, I get to be active everyday and I love it!! My husband is very into cycling. And together we try to instill this in our children.

I have 2 sons, Josh - 4, Tristan - 3. I wanted to get them into sports straight away, and started them swimming at 11 weeks & 7 weeks.  As soon as they were old enough I signed them up to every sport. They play football, go to gymnastics. Horse ridding, Tennis, yoga, swimming and we just tried our hand (or foot!) at skiing and the boys love everything.

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Posted by on in General

In 2013, Imaginosity enabled over 12,500 hours of imaginative, creative, educational, engaging play for families here in our museum. We were bursting at the seams throughout the year with new and regular visitors, as the next generation of thinkers, leaders, problem solvers and creative geniuses climbed our stairs to enter a world of imagination and fun.

Imaginosity is bright, inviting, bubbly, friendly and fun, but underneath our friendly and inviting exterior, we take the job of learning through play very seriously indeed. 2013 was an extremely busy and successful year for us. There are probably too many achievements to list for the purposes of this blog, but our key highlights would be:

Science and Engineering Programming and Funding

Imaginosity was delighted to have been formally accredited as a nationally recognised DPSM (Discovery Primary Science and Maths) Centre by Science Foundation Ireland. This was great news following our probationary period with SFI and shows the museum’s dedication and commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in our educational programming activities and events.

Through Science Foundation Ireland we were the grateful recipients of funding which allowed us to develop an already existing exhibit into our new ‘Maths House’ exhibit which provides problem-solving and numeracy challenges for museum visitors. This particular funding also enabled us to engage with numerous primary schools around the Dublin area, allowing them to visit the museum free of charge throughout national Maths Week and take part in some exciting, uniquely educational curriculum-based workshops where maths learning was lots of fun.

We also took part in national Engineers Week and national Science Week, providing opportunities for primary schools and families alike to engage through games, investigative workshops and creative activities, in the wonderful world of science and engineering. Imaginosity is proud of the environments that we created this year that exposed children to active engagement with science, engineering and maths. We are extremely grateful to our corporate partner Audi, who has sponsored our Science and Engineering programming for the last three years (2011-2013). It is always wonderful to work with like-minded partners who appreciate the scientific need for play.

Awards

Imaginosity was the proud recipient of a number of accolades this year.

- Envirocom Awards: We were thrilled to be selected as a finalist for the Envirocom Awards renowned for showcasing the best melding of environmental and commercial practice by companies, not-for-profits and agencies operating in the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Area.

- Mums & Tots Awards: Winner for Best Family Indoor Playhouse

- Primary Times Star Awards: Winner for Play & Activity Centre, voted in Top 3 in the School Tours Dublin and voted in Top 3 Family Visitor Attractions.

 Collaborations and Outreach Activities

Imaginosity loves nothing more than joining with organisations and individuals who are committed to children’s education through learning and the arts. We were delighted once again to have worked with the multi-media students from Stillorgan College of Education, in designing another great interactive exhibit for the museum. This year they created an eco-trail for the building, which is interactive, educational and touch-screen.

We’ve been busy with our Outreach Activities this year too. We have packed up the cars and taken the magic of Imaginosity outside the walls of the museum and on the road to places around the country. Our partnership with the Powerscourt Estate in Co Wicklow was a huge success this year. It gave us a wonderful opportunity to present some magical theatrical events and activities in the beautiful setting of Powerscourt House and Gardens. From scary spooky ghoulish tales, to Irish dancing for St Patricks Day to the gorgeous story of Rapunzel and more, we exceeded our own expectations and those of our friends in Powerscourt during 2013.

We visited our lovely friends Childvision, the National Education Centre for Blind Children for their Annual Day for Childvision Donors last summer providing educational, creative fun for the many families who came to celebrate the wonderful work of this great charity throughout the day.

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Posted by on in General

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As we are closed tomorrow, for Christmas Eve, we felt it was important to say Goodbye and Thank You to our greatest smallest friend 'Elfvis'. Today was Elfvis's last day reporting at Imaginosity. He has worked tirelessly over the last 5 weeks, moving all over the museum, choosing a different hiding place every day and generally keeping a playful watch over all the boys and girls. It goes without saying that all the children who come to Imaginosity are well-behaved, kind and sweet so we are sure that Elfvis has nothing but good news to pass on to Santa in time for Christmas Eve. 

We have loved having you here Elfvis. You have brightened our days with your cheeky grin and big blue eyes as we searched high and low for you each morning. We look forward to welcoming you back to the museum for Christmas 2014.

To all the boys, girls, mums, dads, grandmas, grandads, aunties and uncles we wish you all a very merry, happy, safe, playful Christmas. Enjoy the magic and the sparkle and don't forget your cookie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph! Thank you for coming to play during the year. See you all again once the big day is over, as we get set to welcome another year of fun, play, learning, laughter and good times at Imaginosity for 2014.

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Posted by on in Staff reads

With a background in design I suppose it was inevitable that my passion for this kind of book would run amuck. I just can't get enough of them. What could be better than snuggling up with your children to get lost in an unfolding story, sometimes told solely through the art on the page?

So offering me the job of picking my favourite ten was virtually impossible. I have listed ten below (well twelve actually), but I could easily squash twenty into my top ten. Ten (or twelve) just isn't enough! Narrators of the world (Moms and Dads, Grans and Grandads) from here to eternity should be introduced to brilliant books, so if you've found one, don't be shy, shout about it from the rooftops, share the joy! Books are brilliant, deadly, full of excitement and fun and most importantly imagination and the little imaginators in our lives like nothing more than the hook of a good story or illustration, just like we do!

There are some obvious and some not so obvious ones listed below, but all are really brilliant, well I think so anyway. I have tried really hard to only make one offering from each author but this was the real toughie as these people are geniuses! Julia Donaldson who is so witty and engaging and rhyming!... Mo Willems who tickles the funny bone, even if you don't have one and of course Oliver Jeffers, yes who doesn't love to devour his books?

Although, on the serious side, picture books are a child's first introduction to reading and it's at this very important moment in time where we can instil a lifelong love of reading in our children. Children do 'judge a book by its cover', they initially interpret the story through its illustrations and so the pictures have huge importance. So an exploration of image as well as text is vital.

Its probably very selfish to say, but when I'm picking a picture book I always pick ones that entertain me too, then I really don't mind reading it over and over again, while I chuckle quietly to myself. So, with Christmas on the way, make sure you have added at least one book to the pressie bundle, otherwise the Elves will get you!!

And so without further ado and in no particular order.............

Veg Glue

Title: Vegetable Glue

Author: Susan Chandler

Illustrator: Elena Odriozola

Age: 3-6

We've been reading this book in our house for years! Vegetable Glue is an hilarious, quirky and quite absurd, fun for all the family type of book. It's light hearted, but with a moral- If you eat cake all the time and don't eat any vegetables, your body will fall apart! "When my right arm fell off, I knew what to do, I stuck it back on, with vegetable glue".

The beautifully illustrated little girl explains how she repeatedly sticks her body parts back on, her arm, her nose, even her head, with the giant vat of vegetable glue. Her amazingly fit and super active, veggie loving grandma bounds in to save the day with bags full of veggies to make more of this amazing Glue.

A super book for the veggie-dodgers in every family (and we all have them), full of whimsical fun and great entertainment, most especially when the little girls bum falls off! The story rhymes and jolly's a long, flowing easily from page to page. It's the perfect length for the little ones, who just love to guess which body part is next to hit the floor and which nose belongs to whom.

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Posted by on in General

On an icy cold day in Dublin, a visit to an art gallery to take in some culture and enjoy a sneaky cup of hot chocolate is an ideal day out. With a two and four year old in tow this may seem like an ambitious outing, but not when said art gallery is IMMA during the Pictiúr exhibition. Pictiúr is a travelling exhibition of Irish children’s book illustrations and, needless to say, as the Theatre & Programming manager at Imaginosity and picture book FIEND I was beyond excited to view the work of my favourite illustrators under the same roof. I knew two little bookworms who would be just as interested in Pictiúr so off we trotted up the long avenue in Kilmainham which leads to The Irish Museum of Modern Art and a treasure trove of child friendly visual delights!

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The exhibition features many well-known illustrators and straight away Megan and Erica (and the grown-ups!) were engaged in an impromptu guessing game, connecting familiar images with the books that sit on the shelves at home. I was personally most interested in seeing the work of my all-time favourite Oliver Jeffers (Lost & Found) and Imaginosity friends Chris Judge (The Lonely Beast), Tatyana Feeney (Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket) and Marie Louise Fitzpatrick (I’m a Tiger Too). There were also gorgeous prints by Michael Emberley (Miss Brooks Loves Books) and Anita Jerman (Guess How Much I Love You) among others.

IMMA 2

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Posted by on in Imaginosity Events

Mireia Website

Hi! My name is Mireia and I came from Barcelona to Dublin two and a half years ago… on holidays! However I fell in love with the city, the extraordinary kindness of Irish people, the culture and the amazing personal experience that I am having since the first day I landed… and that is why I decided to settle here (even if I don’t really get to see my very missed sun).

I have a bachelor in Primary School Teaching and a Masters in Educational Psychology, and I just got my certificate as a Spanish teacher as a foreign language. I was teaching in Primary School in Spain for one year before I came here, and that’s what I like the most. I have been working in Imaginosity since one year and a half ago (I mean, since my English is good enough to attend all my responsibilities with the maximum quality). I love working here because every day is a surprise, children make your everyday exciting and that motivates me to keep learning, growing and sharing experiences and knowledge with all my colleagues and, specially, with everyone who comes to Imaginosity.

This year I wanted to go further and I started teaching Spanish in Imaginosity. It’s a great environment for learning a new language, due to all the possibilities that the real context of the exhibits offers to the students. They don’t even notice they are studying a language as they are having so much fun learning Spanish through games, art and drama. The main objective is not being perfect at Spanish, but about loving this language when they realize how important it is in the world, to become confident with it, to understand our culture, to learn the basics and to create motivation to keep learning it along their lives.

HOLA EXPLORADORES SPANISH LANGUAGE CLASSES AT IMAGINOSITY

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Posted by on in Imaginosity Events

Imaginosity has chosen to support the charity Crosscare’s urgent Christmas Food Appeal this year. We were so struck by their desperate plea two weeks ago for food donations for families throughout Dublin. We heard that in the week that they made their appeal, Crosscare’s ‘Food Bank’ had received requests for food from 120 individuals and families, but could only meet 40 of those requests; in essence their food reserves are dwindling. Isn’t it shocking to think that 80 people and family members potentially went hungry? The agency now needs urgent help sourcing food supplies or more people could be turned away in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. We knew that we would like to get involved in their food drive when we heard such stark statistics.

Crosscare's Food Services were established in 1941 to work with those affected by poverty after World War II. Over the past 71 years these services have been developed to meet new and emerging needs within Irish society. Meals on wheels for the elderly or those with mobility issues, food banking to redistribute food and goods to other charities and those locally in need, food centre provision for local groups in need, food provision for those affected by homelessness and breakfast clubs for local schools.

Today the face of poverty is ever changing and Crosscare knows that Food Poverty affects over 10% of those living in Ireland: they simply can't afford to eat the recommended daily amounts of necessary healthy, wholesome foods. Those at high risk of Food Poverty are those living alone, families on low income, single parents and families with three or more children (findings from Safe Food, September 2012). According to Crosscare, two years ago they were providing 280,000 meals but this year they will be providing close to 500,000. I guess it’s not an exaggeration to say that their situation is dire.

So, how does the food drive at Imaginosity work? Well, we are appealing to our own visitors, those that are simply passing by, those who work in the area or residents from the surrounding areas to drop in a food item or a number of food items, to our collection point in the reception area. Crosscare have suggested the following items for donation: teabags, coffee, soup, tinned meat and fish, pasta, rice and sugar, along with personal hygiene products. Even if you can afford to purchase an extra food item in your weekly shop that would really help our appeal. All items donated will be gathered and collected by Crosscare over the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

The food appeal is a great way for kids to learn important lessons on life. Teaching a child about the needs of the most vulnerable is an education that will stay with them for their lifetime. Wouldn’t it be nice for our children to grow up with hearts filled with generosity and compassion? Donating to the Crosscare Food appeal is a simple activity that could begin to shape that.

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We have just finished another busy Science Week at Imaginosity. We welcomed over 250 students to the museum to explore Bubbles, Colours, Fizzing, Foaming and Explosions. The interest and knowledge of the Junior Scientists participating in the workshops of the students, ranging from Junior Infants to 2nd class was amazing! The highlights of the week for me ranged from listening as a Senior Infant explained how air pressure worked to shape a bubble, to learning how to catch bubbles on a straw, taught to me by a group of children with special needs. Chemical experiments, stepping into bubbles, creating colourful glittery explosions: Science week 2013 certainly went off with a bang!

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Posted by on in General

It’s that time of year again when Imaginosity is deciding which charity partner we will support over the Christmas period. As a charity ourselves, we recognise how important support is from other organisations. In recent years we have supported Barnardos and Focus Ireland by hosting a “Giving Tree” in reception where staff and visitors can drop of age appropriate presents.  This year we have decided to help Crosscare in their urgent appeal for food. This is a stark reminder how even in the 21st century there are families in Ireland who struggle to put food on the table.

The discussion between the Imaginosity staff about which charity we would support this Christmas got me thinking about when is the right time to introduce the idea of charity and giving to young children. Christmas seems to be the perfect time to teach children about giving, but how easy is it to introduce the idea of charity to a child? And do you give them the choice of which charity to donate to?

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Kids at Christmas time

It’s an annual problem – what to get the kids that have everything?  It’s a veritable minefield: Teddy Bears – Asthma inducing dust carriers.  DVDs – they’ve seen that…and that…and that (ok I get the picture, even if they’re not).  In general toys seem to be frowned upon by the parent – Santa is bringing enough clutter, pardon me presents, without Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Godparents adding to the pile of trip hazards.

And thus I began to tread the dangerous and ultimately heart breaking path of clothes buying.  Beautiful knitted jumpers, overpriced socks from gap, jackets, hats and scarves. Gorgeous threads from boutiques that the little ones are sure to just adore – throw off their baby gros and hit Gymboree in style.  Sure. The process of gift buying is never entirely altruistic and what can compare to the enormous joy that results from watching excited little faces light up as they tear through the carefully wrapped parcel – swiftly followed by a firm kick in the gut as the clothes are thrown to the floor, granted as much care and consideration as the wrapping paper.  Cast your mind back; we all remember our own disgust when we received a gift of clothes as a child – who honestly wants to be that Aunty?

Well, quite frankly I’d rather be the Aunty that gives clothes then the poor naïve soul who thinks a toddler will appreciate the present of a goat for an African family.  Don’t get me wrong, these presents are a wonderful idea and a lesson in charity but, is this really an Aunty’s job? And take it from a pro and team them up with something shiny and fun or prepare to plug your ears from the wails of disappointment.  See Karen from Outnumbered’s reaction for a prime example…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyOz-kMrBTI

So one nephew, four nieces and two godchildren later – what have I learned?  I may not have the finances to dazzle with big presents but I’ve found that I can still elevate myself near the top of the best Aunty leader board (I have stiff competition) by means of the “Special Day Out”.   In the past we’ve gone to pantomimes, Christmas plays, dabbled in some Christmas shopping in town – this year we’re braving ice-skating.  Here’s hoping I return both children in one piece or we’ll very quickly be reverting to clothing gifts – fingers crossed that will be enough of a threat for them to behave responsibly on the rink.

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Without appearing to blow our own trumpets (jingle our own bells?) we are fairly confident that 2013 is set to be the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER at Imaginosity!  For starters we are welcoming Santa for the very first time in Imaginosity – after some rearranging of his extremely packed schedule he has managed to fit in a visit on Saturday the 14th of December.  There will be “An audience with Santa” during every session on the 14th, during which time the kids will get to listen to a Christmas story and enjoy a hot chocolate and cookie – and of course each child will leave with a small gift from the man in red!

We’re also showing Christmas movies every Monday to Thursday in our cosy cushion filled art studio – I personally cannot wait for “The Muppets Christmas Carol” and “Miracle on 34th Street” – check out our line-up on the calendar, your favourite is bound to be there, and if it’s not, let us know for next year!

We’ve also got lots of Christmas crafts on the programme of events including how to make traditional Christmas decorations – if you can’t make it to the museum, don’t worry there will be a “How to, At Home” on the blog later in the month.

With all this, a fantastic Elf on the Shelf theatre performance and “Christmas Sing Alongs” scheduled throughout December, we’ll be fit to burst with that festive feeling!

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Posted by on in Imaginosity Events

Our Festival of Stories is over for another year, bringing to an end a wonderfully successful 9-day celebration of children’s literature, stories and story-telling in all its forms. We can breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that our visitors had a great time, those that participated had a great time and we had a fantastic time too, knowing that all the work that went into the Festival paid off.

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A big part of the Festival has always been to promote and encourage literacy in children and the creation of strong family bonds through reading together as a family.

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Posted by on in Play at home

Imaginosity was very kindly invited to attend Early Childhood Ireland’s recent conference held in Dublin, where both interesting and important issues surrounding the theme of ‘Today’s Children: Tomorrow’s World’ were discussed.  The conference celebrated, commemorated and concentrated on early childhood.

We were very excited to listen to Dr Stuart Brown M.D as the Conference’s opening Key Note Speaker.  Dr Brown is a medical doctor, psychiatrist and clinical researcher, who is a major proponent of the importance of play. He founded The National Institute for Play in the U.S  http://www.nifplay.org/about_us.html ,a non-profit  organisation committed to bringing unrealised knowledge, practices and benefits of play into public life through continuing research.

Irene Gunning, Early Childhood Ireland’s CEO (herself a well-known, well-respected, long-time proponent of the importance of play for children), introduced Dr Brown by saying that from the moment she first heard him speak she was mesmerised. By the end of Dr Brown’s talk I understood exactly what she meant! He was engaging, funny, thoroughly informative and bursting with enthusiasm and passion for play.

Dr Brown spoke of how what it takes to be wholly human is so centred in early childhood and how the willingness, desire and motivation to play is embedded in each of us, from the moment that we are born.  He described play as a ‘marvellous phenomenon’ and cautioned that it is not just for kids, but lasts a lifetime.

He described the types of play that humans experience and can remember so well from our own childhoods and that we can now see replicated in our own children or young family members. Dr Brown has spent some time working with National Geographic through print and television programming, and he used a wealth of fantastic, exhilarating photographs in his presentation, which wonderfully described the various types or states of play.  From wolves to polar bears, whales to apes it was easy to see the parallels between what goes on for humans and what happens in nature, where play is concerned.

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