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Lauren O'Toole, Theatre & Programming Manager, Imaginosity

Lauren O'Toole, Theatre & Programming Manager, Imaginosity has not set their biography yet

Imaginosity's old friend Eco Badger has been with us since we opened our doors back in August 2007. Here he gives us a little insight into what it is like to be a central part of Imaginosity's green activities and a surprising resident in our busy museum for the last 7 years. Eco Badger lives on our Roof time you visit, be sure to take a trip to the roof to say hello. But note that he always heads off into the sunset with his suitcase and suncream once winter begins to set in!

eco  bday cake girl lr

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Tagged in: Eco Badger Imaginosity
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Boys with signs

For all parents anticipating the phrase "I'M BORED" this summer, help is at hand! Here at Imaginosity, we've been pulling together a summer full of fun and learning to keep the family entertained.

For the Tiny Ones!

First up, we're keeping the old favourite "Wobbler & Toddler" mornings, but mixing things up with the introduction of the "Sensational Sensory Room" on Wednesday and Thursday sessions. This room has been developed by facilitators Mireia, Liz and Aga to provide our smallest visitors with a journey through the senses. In this room parents and toddlers can burst bubbles, dig their hands into a variety of gooey-ooey materials and dance away to the melodic music while bubble-wrap pops beneath their feet!

Wobbler & Toddler mornings through the rest of the week include magical puppet storytimes in the theatre, cosy teddy bear picnics and art workshops that are fantastic for the development of fine motor skills.

Big Fun for the Big Kids!

It's a Summer of Science at Imaginosity! Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the 3.30pm session we'll be opening up the "Experimentation Station" to kids aged 5 years plus. There'll be fizzing, foaming, cloud creating – and even a Mad Scientist Show! As a Discover Primary Science and Maths (DPSM) centre, Imaginosity recognises the importance of nourishing enquiring minds and encouraging young children to question, challenge and examine the world around them.

The Art Studio will also be a hive of activity in July, with "Get Arty" sessions taking place every Tuesday and Thursday for kids aged 5 years and over. So if you want to while away those summer days painting, weaving, printing and crafting, come and get arty with us!

Dora, Wally and Woolyward's Farm

We've decided to go all out with a series of themed weekends this July, so that no matter when you decide to visit us, there's sure to be something fun and interesting on.

On the 5th and 6th of July ( this weekend! )our annual "Where's Wally Day" is taking place – or rather the annual opportunity for staff to dress like lunatics and play a giant game of hide and seek in the building! There'll be Wally themed art workshops, the Wally Hunt and also loads of great spot prizes up for grabs, courtesy of Walker Books. You can join in the fun by dressing up as Wally too – everyone who dons the stripes and hat will be guaranteed a prize!

As soon as we say goodbye to Wally, it's hello to Dora; Staff member Mireia Lopez will be donning the Dora costume and asking us all to grab our backpacks, jump in and go on a Exploration! The art room will be hosting Dora workshops and we'll also be playing some games through Spanish. The Hola Exploradores weekend was developed as a result of our incredibly popular Thursday Spanish class, part of our After School Programme.

Finally, on Saturday the 19th of July in the 12pm and 2pm session, Woolyward's Mobile Farm will be paying us a visit, complete with sheep, chickens, rabbits and much more! This interactive animal show will introduce the children to a variety of animals, asking them to help Lonely Bunny find his ideal pal. This event is not only guaranteed to be great fun but it has also been proven that experiences with animals can contribute to a child's strong emotional development, and so this activity is a winner on more than one level.

Summertime Playful Pop-ups

Throughout July we'll be adding extra value to your visit – that's extra fun, extra creativity and extra learning! What does that mean? Well, in addition to the scheduled workshops we'll have a surprise "Pop-Up Workshop" in every session! That could mean building competitions, balloon modelling, face-painting, supermom and dad competitions – maybe even a short movie, a science demonstration or a dance off? So ask at reception on arrival – you may be getting more than you bargained for!

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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!


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.


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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…

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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Meet Lego Bot!  He is a fantastically imaginative military-style combat vehicle reminiscent of The A-Team, hosting two serious-looking Lego men who look like they mean business! Lego Bot is Imaginosity’s newest exhibit piece having been built for and donated by the brilliant Sam Clancy, age 6, from Co Wexford.  Sam’s dad contacted us recently to tell us about Sam’s 2-day building extravaganza, which resulted in Lego Bot. Sam’s dad explained that Sam would love to donate Lego Bot to Imaginosity.  We were delighted to accept such a great piece of imaginative construction!

Thank you Sam!

Unfortunately, as we have limited space at Imaginosity, we cannot accept anymore Lego structures into the building. However, if Sam’s ingenuity has sparked a similar interest in the little people in your house, we would be delighted to receive a photo of their Lego creation via our Facebook page.  It can be our ‘virtual exhibition wing’, until we raise enough money through our fundraising efforts for a dream extension to our building (in our dreams)!

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The Velveteen Rabbit By Margery Williams

(Published in 1922)b2ap3_thumbnail_The_Velveteen_Rabbit.jpg

The Velveteen Rabbit is the story of a little boy’s most-loved toy. Given to him as a Christmas present, the stuffed rabbit did not immediately find a place in the boy’s heart, and battled against the more expensive and fancy toys to be noticed.However, once the little boy grew to love the rabbit, a friendship grew that would only end when a terrible tragedy struck… When the rabbit’s owner contracts Scarlet Fever, all of his toys have to be taken away and burnt to rid the house of the disease.

Looking back, I must have been quite a morbid child!  I loved the book so much my Great Aunt gave me my very own Velveteen Rabbit when I was 7.  He has a top hat, a waistcoat and 1990 embroidered on his paw. Just like the rabbit in the book, he is now a good bit scruffier but no less loved, especially now since my aunt has passed away.  I tried to pass on the tradition to my own nephew by giving him a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit a few Christmases ago – he was a bit small to appreciate it at the time but I hope that someday he will love the story just as much as I do!

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The Dublin Theatre Festival - Family Season

Playwright George Bernard Shaw said that an “Irishman’s heart is nothing but his imagination”. Every day great theatre is performed on stages across the world, the result of a mere imagining.  And equally every day in Imaginosity I witness children creating theatre.  In the diner they are rushed off their feet serving angry customers, there are epic train crashes occurring on the town table and a patient is just moments away from tragedy in Dr Appleaday’s surgery.  You see it in your own home too – children don’t need the backdrop of a children’s museum to create in-depth melodramatic multi-character scenarios:  it’s called Mammies and Daddies. 

And because children love creating theatre they are also the perfect spectators.  And lucky spectators at that, because there are a wealth of phenomenally talented children’s theatre companies in Ireland and beyond who specialise in creating high quality productions for these highly critical individuals.  Have you ever been to a truly terrible play?  If yes, then you will know the feelings it inspires.  You sit trapped, claustrophobic, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide the grimaces.  You want to cry out.  You most definitely want your money back.  Imagine the freedom of being able to wail “I’m BORED!”  This is the risk children’s theatre practitioners run every day, so is it any wonder they hone their craft?  If you think theatre critics are harsh just wait until your performance is ripped to shreds by a four year old.  

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The unprecedented blistering heat of July had an eerie effect on the floors of Imaginosity.  As the beaches and parks around the country filled fit to burst, an echoing silence overtook the building.  Dust built up on the steps to the building as the mercury rose to historic levels and there was even an unconfirmed sighting of a tumbleweed through the construction zone by a staff member (who admittedly may have been suffering from heat exhaustion.)

Summer camp highlights Summer camp highlights
Summer camp highlights

Until one fateful day in July the silence was broken as our first summer campers burst through the doors!  For eight weeks we explored science, sang our hearts out, built bridges, hunted fairies, chased down bad guys, encountered aliens, danced our socks off, exploded potions, glued things, got messy, got theatrical, played and played and played!

With 8 themed camps, over 200 creative activities, 139 happy campers and 10 absolutely EXHAUSTED facilitators we are confident enough to declare 2013 an extremely successful summer camp season.

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