Thursday, December 19, 2002

Preschoolers play at Children’s Museum

Published in the Current

Anne Belden of Cape Elizabeth is pioneering a new set of programs at the Children’s Museum of Maine in Portland and wants parents of preschoolers throughout the area to come play and learn.

She started working there in the summer and the new activities are taking off. They rotate between “KinderCooks,” “KinderTravel, ” “Silly Science” and “Famous Birthdays,” each with its own theme and activity, as well as chances to learn and play.

“I try to do a wide variety of things,” Belden said, including multicultural events and ones related to holidays or seasons when appropriate.

For example, a recent event involved exploring German traditions for Christmas, with gifts given in shoes.

Another had Florence Olebe of Portland’s Ezo African Restaurant come in to show the kids how to make traditional African foods. The kids were able to help roll out dough and fill pastries with a mixture of vegetables and spices, and got to sample the goods after Olebe cooked them.

The kids who attended enjoyed it, smiling and laughing throughout the program. They were eager to participate, and the parents enjoyed it too, learning about African food as well.

“It’s really wonderful,” said one mother, who was there with her daughter and a friend. They come just about every week, the woman said, and really like the variety of the programs.

Two other women brought their children, and though it was their first time, said they really enjoyed it too.

“It’s a different kind of program each week,” Belden said.

For Neil Armstrong’s birthday Aug. 5, the kids learned about walking on the moon, and for Mickey Mouse’s birthday Nov. 18 they got to make art relating to Mickey Mouse and then learned about the d i fferences between rats and mice.

The Children’s Museum of Maine also has members-only programs for toddlers on Monday, and toddlers and preschoolers on Thursdays, as well as other activities less regularly, Belden said.