Blog-osity Guest Blogger and Child Psychotherapist Joanna Fortune writes about the important lessons for our children this Christmas, in giving to others less fortunate.
Blog-osity Guest Blogger and Child Psychotherapist Joanna Fortune writes about the important lessons for our children this Christmas, in giving to others less fortunate.
Imaginosity's Theatre and Programming Manager Liz Tyndall recently returned from a trip to Sofia, where she represented Imaginosity as part of the Zig Zag Festival. This European-wide project involving several children's museums, allows Imaginosity to share experiences, learn new skills and explore how other museums work around Europe. More information on the WEAVE Project can be found here. Here's Liz's account:
I was lucky enough to be chosen to go and represent Imaginosity as part of the Weave project in Sofia, Bulgaria this September, for three days at the Zig Zag Festival. As I jetted off on my early flight with a stopover in Frankfurt, I finally arrived at my destination in the early afternoon! Not long after I had arrived, I was due to meet the organisers of the upcoming event and many other people like myself from children's museums all over Europe. So I made my way to the meeting point looking forward to meeting the group.
Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and I was extremely excited to learn that I would be part of such an amazing festival and experience the following day. After the meeting, the group decided to go and take a look at the puppet fair that was taking place in the city that evening! There were puppet shows and clown performances taking place in a large outdoor square area, just outside the city centre, for anyone who fancied some entertainment. And the best part was it was FREE! So I was extremely grateful and really interested in watching the performances as my background is in theatre and I have a huge interest in puppetry and love to perform puppet shows myself. It was great to catch this added event during my trip and I definitely picked up some tips, especially in the use of sound effects!
Wednesday was the Festival day, all day. We met at 8am in a local park where the festival was taking place. There were 4 large tents, individual wooden letters that spelt Zig Zag (the festival's title), three workshop tables and an interactive fabric game for children to take part in. The Zig Zag festival itself is all about working with different fabrics and textiles in a very fun creative way. The children were learning to finger knit, weave, make key rings using yarn and decorate re-usable fabric bags whilst also being able to take part in an interactive fabric game! The children started at one end of the park where they collected a bag full of fabric and then they had the freedom to go to any of the hands-on areas to work with it creatively. I never knew how to weave before this day so it was super fun for me!
The interactive fabric game was my area and I loved it. Using large pieces of fabric children had to race through and weave with other fabric while their pals held up different colours of fabric each time! I thought it was so simple but so effective and the children were so engaged in it. If there was one thing I was taking home from Sofia it was this game. I will definitely use it again! I also learnt how to make pom poms from wool which I ended up adding to my clothes later that day. This might just be my new invention!
As the evenings begin to get shorter and we feel a slight chill in the air, Imaginosity will soon close its Roof Garden for the Winter months, as our loyal friend and mascot Eco Badger heads off to warner climes, leaving his Rooftop Den behind for the chilly season. There is still a short remaining week or two left to explore our garden in the city. Autumn is the most perfect time to get out and about with the family, breathe in the Autumn air and kick up a big bunch of brown and yellow leaves in your wellies. Blog-Osity Guest Blogger Joanna Fortune, writes about the benefits of the Imaginosity Roof Garden and exploring nature in general with the family.
Modern family living has changed a lot in recent generations and as a result children and families have less and less opportunity to engage with nature and the natural environment. This is a great pity as research has demonstrated that parents who talk to their children regularly, explaining features about nature and social issues, or who read or tell stories at bedtime are more likely to foster pretend play (Shmukler 1981; Singer & Singer 2005), which is essential to children's development. Further researches into the benefits of children engaging with nature consistently show us that children's social, psychological, academic and physical health is all positively impacted when they have regular contact with nature. Try incorporating a weekly nature walk into your quality time with your children, if weather is not so good just wrap up warm and get outside even just to jump in puddles or go rainbow hunting!
Encourage them to collect conkers, acorns and leaves to do some leaf tracing at home (place a sheet of paper over a leaf and rub over it with the side of a crayon or chalk), to thread and play with conkers and tell them how you did this as a child and how much fun you had. Take a tiny acorn and show them how it grows into a huge oak tree, explaining how our trees become the paper we use to trace our leaves on and the copy books that we do our homework in. Collecting some nice stones from the beach and bringing them home to wash, dry and paint is a lovely activity for children too, as is having them plant a seed and take responsibility for watering and nurturing it every day so that it grows. Involve them when you are tending to your garden, give them a little corner they can dig in themselves.
Blog-osity Guest Blogger and Child Psychotherapist Joanna Fortune takes a look at the Dublin Diner at Imaginosity, exploring its benefits for children and for families in terms of healthy eating, happy meal-times and children's confidence around food.
Involving children in food play and in actual food preparation at home are a great way to introduce them to a range of different foods and to help them grow to make healthy food choices. Involving children with food preparation is also an excellent sensory play experience for young children (up to the age of 8 years) who need a lot of sensory-based engagement to support their general development at this age.Situated on Level One, the Imaginosity child-sized The Dublin Diner is a great way for children to explore, investigate and experience all aspects of food and dining out. Here your child will get the opportunity to play at finding food in the fridge, cooking up the food and clearing their plates away afterwards. It will further help your child if you continue this experience at home by asking them to fetch something for you from the fridge, have them stand beside you at the sink and wash the vegetables before you chop them and involve them in clearing the table afterwards.
Our 7th Birthday Party on August 10th was a huge success! Seven years of achievements were celebrated in one BIG BASH! We were delighted to welcome so many new faces to Imaginosity on the day and to allow everyone to experience a little bit of our magic. Young and old joined in the festivities with go-karting, mad scientist shows, magicians, acrobats, giggles, learning, games, bubbles, arts and crafts and much, much more. The feedback was really positive on the day and afterwards with comments such as: "it was just fantastic, the whole family loved it", "thank you for allowing us to come today, we had a ball," "the energy in the building was phenomenal, thank you for working so hard today," and our favourite one that we always like to hear: "we will be back to see you again soon!"
Thanks to everyone who came; to our performers, magician, acrobats and jugglers, our Mad Scientists Fizzy Lizzy and Lovely Lolly, our little candle-blowers and cake eaters and everyone who took part in our social media campaigns to be part of our day. We hope you will come back and see us again :)
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 Garden......next 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!
This time 7 years ago we had just opened our doors and were beginning to welcome the first of hundreds of thousands of visitors that would eventually come to visit us over the following years. But what do our visitors really think about Imaginosity? Why do they love coming back to the museum? And what are their favourite things to do when they are here? In order to figure out all of the above, we interviewed three 7-year olds who have been very frequent visitors to the museum over the last number of years.
Sienna Patterson is 7 years of age and from Dublin. Eabha Murphy is 7 years old but nearly 8 and also from Dublin! Luca O'Shea Breen will be 8 in 5 and a half weeks (but he's definitely still 7!) and from Co Wicklow.
Q1: WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF IMAGINOSITY?
SIENNA: I like the roof garden because you get to play outside and get fresh air. It's cool. I love looking at the pretend badger, or not pretend???! He's funny because he snores but he doesn't know he smores.
EABHA: The Supermarket because everything is there: fruit, bread. You can learn how to scan the food, because it beeps, so if you wanted to be a cashier than you could. There's also a beanstalk and it reminds me of when I went to the pantomime to see Jack and the Beanstalk. And there's a treasure chest and funny mirrors.
LUCA: The car! I think it helps kids in learning what it's like to drive on a real road. I also like the roof top garden, with the Badger's House and the toadstools that you can jump from one to the other. I'd give it 10 out of 10.
Q2: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IMAGINOSITY TO A CHILD WHO HAD NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
SIENNA: It's a fun museum for children with loads and loads and loads of toys to play with. There are 3 floors, you can go up and up. There's a supermarket where you can shop and a boat with pirates and Rapunzel's hair right at the top that you can wave about. You can play the whole time and have fun.
EABHA: It's a museum with 3 levels and it has a climbing frame to go up and down all the levels. You can get drinks and food and muffins in the cafe. There's a place where you can shoot the news, work the camera and be the newsperson. There's a pirate ship that you can pull the flag up and down.
LUCA: It's a really fun place and you'll have a really good time. There are 3 brilliant, fun, fantastic floors, each with different things to do. There's a climber with different chambers all the way up which you can climb through. There's a rocket, there's dens and there's a ship.
As we mark the lead up to our 7th Birthday celebrations, Imaginosity's General Manager Jenny Bohan takes a look back at Imaginosity's early days, while also taking a peak back at her own.
Growing up in the area, I fondly recall everlasting hot sticky days spent running along the old railway track picking blackberries to our hearts content. We would drift from a local estate in numbers and wander aimlessly exploring unchartered territory, well, as far as we were concerned anyway. But that was Sandyford then, many moons ago where the most exciting thing was a trip to the 'Tea Time Express' factory cake shop for a cream bun!
This is all hard to fathom when you view the heaving metropolis Sandyford has turned into. There's so much packed in its hard to find what you're looking for, even if you know what that is! Of course I am biased in saying the diamond in the rough has got to be Imaginosity, a stunningly beautiful building, developed by Landmark Enterprises and designed but Traynor O' Toole. But this gemstone is hidden, surrounded by towering buildings hitched up against the backdrop of the Dublin Mountains. Some are gleaming, flashy in the sunlight, some vast and void, unfinished memories of good and bad times. These beacon towers all stand sentry, watching as commuters spin past by car, on foot and light rail, but not oblivious to the memories or time flying by in the blink of an eye! Although the commuters do seem blissfully unaware of the cries of joy and screams of laughter experienced on a daily basis within this beautiful inspiring structure! If only they knew, the fun that can be had when you put your trust into the hands of a child.
I'm proud to say that I was involved in the development of this amazing and unique addition to Sandyford as a project Manager from early July 2006, and that all who were involved viewed it as a life's passion rather than a job. It was with children and community in mind that it was developed and continues to serve as a not for profit Charitable organisation. The concept gleams from the United States where the first children's museum was developed in Brooklyn in 1899, followed by Boston (1913), Detroit (1917) and Indianapolis (1925). Children's museums don't enforce strict schedules or agendas, they are places where children freely play and learn through their play. They house enhanced exciting environments that are specifically developed to allow for this non-directed play. These environments are powerful in their ability to engage children and stimulate curiosity, imagination, experimentation and role play. Children's museums celebrate children, but they also create quality experiences for families.
Over the last number of years, Imaginosity has engaged with university students from throughout Europe and the United States of America through our very successful Internship Programme. The programme allows students studying subjects and areas relevant to children's education and children's involvement in the arts and sciences to learn valuable skills and gain experience over a period of time at Imaginosity. In return, we are delighted to welcome such diversity and experience to the museum and are thrilled to learn what we can from students from all over the world. Here, Lisa Stanislavski, a Pedagogy student from Germany, gives a short account of her time as an 'Imaginosity Intern' recently in the museum.
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!
By Joanna Fortune, Clinical Child Psychologist & 'Blog-osity' Monthly Guest Blogger
A walk around Imaginosity, Ireland's only interactive children's museum for the under 9's is like taking a stroll around your child's imagination, this is the inner world of a child brought to life. On offer is a myriad of rich interactive experiences for children to engage in; from meeting the Eco Badger up on the roof garden, and learning about how the unique 'green' building works, to making your way up the Climber past the Wizard's Lair and the Rocket Ship to Rapunzel's Castle. Of course, Imaginosity is a wonderful and fun place for children to be and we see this in how their faces light up when they are there, but behind the fun it is clear that Imaginosity is providing children with much more, a genuinely child centred learning, educational and development opportunity!
There is a Greek saying that 'Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play' and that is what we can all benefit from in Imaginosity.
There are 3 stages of Developmental Play (Embodiment Play; Projective Play; Role Play) which is how children develop their understanding of who they are and who the people and the world around them are, that sense of learning where the "I" ends and the world begins.
In summary, Embodiment Play is the first stage (from 0-3.5/4 years) and is essential to developing a sense of trust. Babies learn to trust in a physical way, not through words. This is a very sensory stage of play and touch plays a vital role. Imaginosity has two dedicated spaces for smaller children, 'Little me' on level 2 for under 12 months and 'Tir na n'Og' on level 1 for children up to 24 months. Both spaces offer smaller visitors a sense of security and safety in these specifically designed, soft play, tactile, enclosed areas.
Projective Play (from 3.5/4-5.5 years) comes next and here we see an increased focus on stories and narrations to further explore and investigate objects, people and their general environment at a deeper level. Engage your child in play with dolls and puppets in Imaginosity's theatre space and have the dolls/puppets play through things your child has experienced in their lives i.e. sharing with others, staying in their own beds etc. Level 1 in Imaginosity contains everything a child needs to "create their story" and is wonderful to encourage projective play.
Role-Play (from 5.5-7 or even 9 years) is the final stage and is about dramatic play, which children use to re-structure/re-arrange aspects of their life events to gain a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. There will be aspects of both Embodiment and Projective play evident in this final stage. Imaginosity's Performance area is perfect for this, as it allows and enables children to role play different characters and scenarios in a safe environment where they are in charge.
This is the seriousness of play and it is important that as parents we learn to play with our children and to become comfortable communicating with them at their developmental level, as a way of connecting with them and supporting their development.
We had SO much fun this Father's Day, thanks to all the Dads who threw themselves full force into the fun – each and every one of you embodied the real meaning of Imaginosity and truly proved yourselves as SuperDads.
See you next year!
Rebecca, our Education Development Officer, headed off to Europe this morning, to be part of an EU Project called 'WEAVE' which brings together Italy, Bulgaria and The Netherlands to explore an interesting textile art project. Here Rebecca tells us a little bit about the project, Imaginosity's involvement and what she hopes to learn along the way.
" One of the best parts of my role as Education Development Manager is the chance to meet with people working in all fields of education and learning. Most of the time this involves visiting schools, museums, education centres, universities and attending conferences all around Ireland. But every now and then I get a chance to meet and exchange ideas with colleagues from further afield. This month I am delighted to have the chance to take part in an EU project called 'Weave', a project developed with the support of the Cultural Programme of the European Union. The main aim of 'Weave' is to organise a series of free public events about textile art in The Netherlands, Bulgaria and Italy entitled 'Zig-Zag - Textile, fibre and felt: it's Smart Child's Play'!
It's hard not to love science, from watching seeds grow into plants, or seeing a plane fly in the sky or watching a bubbly explosion cause by vinegar and baking soda, the inner child in me loves the curiosity and the wonder that abound in science. Science is about questions, the what's? the whys? the how's? and also a lot of Wows and that is why we have decided to add more science to our calendar and have introduced a dedicated day to science. Science Saturday will be a multi-disciplinary exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths mixed in with a little Art.
The question you may ask is will my child like the new Science Saturdays and although biased I have to answer with a resounding YES! As a Discover Science Centre a lot of our school programming revolves around STEM. We design programmes for the national Science, Maths and Engineering weeks but we have found that adding elements of Music, Drama and Art helps children understand the complex ideas and concepts that we are teaching them. The Arts help widen the scope of science and makes it applies to all different learning styles and abilities, no longer should science be viewed as a subject in isolation, science is everywhere it connects everything and allows us to appreciate the world around us. This is the philosophy that our Science Saturdays will be founded on, an appreciation of how children learn and what keeps them interested. A "hands-on", multidisciplinary approach to learning that challenges the imagination and allows children to discover at their own pace, that's what our Science Saturday are about. But don't take my word for it come play, learn, discover and imagine at Imaginosity's Science Saturdays.
by Joanna Fortune, Monthly Blog-Osity Contributor and Clinical Child Psychotherapist
Parents often ask me about pocket money and how they can use it as a positive parenting tool. Here are some tips on that.
There are many child development benefits to giving your child Pocket Money, including;
• It encourages independence
• It helps develop budgeting skills and an appreciation of the value of money
• By affording them the opportunity to decide on things they like and want, they
are developing a capacity for desire
• It can help them develop saving skills
The amount you give is absolutely up to you and should be influenced by your family's financial situation but also your child's age and stage of development. You can decide if pocket money should be earned by doing household tasks for you but I would add here that part of being in a family is the expectation that everyone helps out so I would suggest that there are set chores/tasks that your child is responsible for that they are not paid for, but you may offer them the opportunity to take on additional chores to earn money. If you do this then be consistent with it and if the chore/task is not done properly, they do not get paid for it.
In terms of what age your child should be to start this system, I would say that is your parental decision, but you could start it from as young an age as 5 years, but just ensure that the amount you are giving and the chores/tasks you expect to be done by your child are appropriate and reflective of their age and stage of development e.g. a 5 year old child can be responsible for feeding the goldfish every day and putting their dirty clothes into the laundry hamper but perhaps not loading your dishwasher.
What do you expect their pocket money to cover? Are they to buy their own phone credit or personal items (teenagers) or do you cover these and their pocket money is for extra or treat items. The amount you give should reflect this and you should be clear with your child from the outset, perhaps have a pocket money agreement you both sign up to. Do not be swayed by what you are told their friends get. You are responsible for parenting your child alone and you won't know what arrangement other parents have with their children regarding the pocket money they give so you must develop your own system and stick to it.
The F Word: Failure' we all know it, we've all seen it, but what have we learned from it? Our good friends over in Children's Books Ireland (CBI) are hosting their 24th annual Children's Books Ireland conference on Saturday 24th–Sunday 25th May, in the Light House Cinema, Smithfield, where they take this very interesting topic and invite guest speakers to reflect on their careers where defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory!
This year's very special CBI conference promises to be a jam packed two-day programme of stimulating and thought provoking discussion and debate which never fails to excite. Its weekend long celebration of the very best in children's books both at home and internationally, hosts a whole array of speakers who have been invited to discuss the numerous and innovative ways in which books and reading can be part of young people's lives every day.
2013 was our busiest year yet for school tours as we welcomed over 10,000 school and preschool visitors. Our 'School Tour Season' as we affectionately term May and June at Imaginosity was super busy with over 7,000 visitors.
So what makes Imaginosity such a popular school tour venue? During 'School Tour Season' the answer would definitely be our exhibits! Imaginosity's exhibits are designed to be educational, inclusive, imaginative, empowering and plain old-fashioned fun. A school tour at Imaginosity encourages the children to role play, share, take risks in a safe environment, interact in new and exciting ways, learn about the world around them and allows children to learn at their own pace in their own way. In essence, our exhibits celebrate the power of play and champions a 'discovery-led' learning model which is at the heart of all children's museums.
Imaginosity recently became involved with ReCreate; an exciting new project recently established just off The Long Mile Road in Dublin. We have been so impressed with Recreate and what they can offer our community that we just had to spread the word! Here, Kevin McLoughlin, ReCreate's Marketing/Membership Executive explains what goes on in ReCreate and how your organisation can benefit from the interesting work that they do.
ReCreate is a national social enterprise that takes end of line and surplus stock from businesses and reuses them as arts materials. Our warehouse is full to the brim with all types of fantastic materials such as paper, wool, plastics, fabric, tubing, foam and many other unusual and unexpected surprises from signature businesses such as Avoca, Smurfit Kappa, Bewleys Coffee, Universal Records and many more.
The task ahead of them was going to be tough, but armed with lots of passion, commitment, enthusiasm and a love of stories (and lots of tea and sambos!), our competition judges headed in to their final meeting to decide on the Winners and Runners Up in the Imaginosity 'What's the Story?' Story-Making Competition last week.
We received close to 500 entries from all corners of the country this year and Imaginosity staff had shortlisted the entries down to 5 or 6 entries in each of the 5 categories. The judges had been given two weeks in which to read all short-listed entries and make their decisions in time for last week's meeting. Some arrived firm in their stance on who should win in each category and were ready to battle it out with those who did not share their views! Others came undecided on some categories and certain on others. But each and every judge arrived filled with delight and wonder at the stories that they had spent the previous fortnight reading. Each commented on the quality, the standard, the imagination and the creativity involved in each story.
We love to make a special fuss of our Mums and Grannies when Mother's Day comes along each year. Here, Imaginosity's friends, brother and sister Ethan and Zarah Cassidy tell us why they love their Mum. Remember that Mums, Grannies, Mammies, Nanas, Mothers and Grandmas GO FREE this Sunday at Imaginosity, as we celebrate this special day. We're hosting special Mother's Day-themed activities throughout the day such as 'Baskets of Love for Mum' art workshops and 'My Mum is fabulous' story-time sessions. Check our on-line calendar for times and details.