Brown Women’s Hockey at Meehan Auditorium

Watching the game, changing seats, and picking their favorite players.

Watching the game, changing seats, and picking their favorite players.

We’re not big sports fans in our house. So the first day my older daughter played Little League, I realized that it might help her to know the rules by actually watching a few games (we then discovered the Paw Sox). Now with our younger daughter playing ice hockey, a friend suggested that we join them for one of the Brown women’s hockey games.

Waiting to give high-fives to the players as they re-enter the rink.

Waiting to give high-fives to the players as they re-enter the rink.

This weekend, we attended our first game. The women’s hockey games at Brown are thinly attended, despite being free to the public. When my older daughter asked if we had bought the seats we were in, our friend joked that we had bought the whole section. But the low attendance makes it easy to change your vantage point, mid-game. And when the team lined up to re-enter the rink, our girls would run to greet them and lean over to give each player a high-five as she entered.

We found the game packed with plenty of action, and the fans in attendance enthusiastic. There’s also a well-stocked snack bar, which came in handy since my younger daughter was hungry even though we had just eaten dinner. The girls even chose their favorite player — Conway because she was ‘so fast’ — although she was briefly displaced by Najjar when she scored.

And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, they even ‘caught’ an errant puck to bring home as a souvenir.

Our own little hockey player.

Our own little hockey player.

Meehan Auditorium
235 Hope Street
Providence, RI (find the remaining home games in the 2016 schedule)

Providence Northern Model Railroad Club

Admiring the trains in action

Admiring the trains in action

When our youngest daughter said she wanted a train set for her birthday, Geoff started researching and stumbled upon the Providence Northern Model Railroad Club.

A model of the original Providence train station.

A model of the original Providence train station.

Located in a nondescript building near T.F. Green airport, the club has spent six years building miniature — in HO (1:87) — railroad tracks that weave through a model of the original Providence train station, the Framingham station, a miniature lumber yard, a Vermont town, tunnels, forests (complete with deer, bears and moose), and more.

The club opens to the public for a few hours most Saturday afternoons, and on our recent visit, a volunteer took us through the detailed work-in-progress (volunteers get ‘permits’ to work on sections).

Providence Northern Model Railroad Club
1175 West Shore Road
Warwick, RI

Public hours are typically noon – 4 pm on most Saturdays. Call or check website to verify.

East Side Music Together

The instrument free-for-all

During each class, there’s an instrument free-for-all where the children can try out different sounds.

Since she was only a few months old, I’ve taken my two-year-old daughter to Music Together — first in East Providence and now on the East Side of Providence. Classes are broken into nine-week intervals with a different theme (and CD to go with it) — Triangle, Bongo, Drum, etc.. The songs include simple sound combinations like Biddy Biddy to favorites like Palo Palo and John the Rabbit, so that children can start singing along as soon as they can make sounds.

Local mom and musician Jen Romanat runs our East Side Music Together class — in our most recent class, Jen led songs on both her guitar and ukulele, and the children sang, dance, spun with the parachute, and tried out a variety of instruments including drums, maracas, and tamborines.

Who wouldn't love parachute play?

Who wouldn’t love parachute play?

The Music Together philosophy suggests that children learn music through adults who model it for them so the class encourages adult participation. And although the children may be quiet during the class, don’t think that they aren’t listening, absorbing and learning. My daughter who sat pensively throughout many of the songs during the last class came home singing them and making the clicking horse noise she learned that day.

Note: Jen Romanat will also be performing at the Hope Street Market on July 3, July 24, August 7, August 21; the Armory Market on July 11, July 18 and August 15; and Gladys Potter Park (Humboldt) throughout the summer.

East Side Music Together

Music Together

Just Pickin’ Flowers (Jen’s Music)

How to Build a Forest at the Granoff Center for the Arts

Becoming part of the installation "How to Build a Forest"

Becoming part of the installation “How to Build a Forest”

I often find contemporary art installations a bit baffling, but I nonetheless decided to take my daughters to the “How to Build a Forest” installation at the Granoff Center for the Arts. So last night, the three of us walked in to a quiet room filled with spectators in seats observing diaphanous trees slowly rising and partially filled rubber balls being rolled around the room. We received a few instructions (from Brown student and filmmaker Laura Colella, no less)–remove your shoes, stay on the wood floor, and be careful what you touch since the forest is delicate. These rules seemed simple enough except, of course, if you happen to be two- or five-years-old.  I politely took a seat and would have liked the girls do the same. Instead they improvised–taking on the roles of animals in the forest, crawling on all fours and making strange noises while (fortunately) still respecting the forest structures. As it turns out, they became part of the show. Perhaps that’s the point.

Note: Although 2/28/13 marked the end of Lisa D’Amour, Katie Pearl and Shawn Hall’s “How to Build a Forest” exhibit, you can attend a future Granoff Center exhibit or art installation. See more about “How to Build a Forest” at

Festival Ballet: Little Red Riding Hood

Festival Ballet's most recent performance included an amended version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Festival Ballet’s most recent performance included an amended version of Little Red Riding Hood. Photo By Matt Francis. Design by Fatoumata Camara. In this Photo: FBP Company Apprentice Mady Issa.

“The seats are in the fourth row, is that all right?” the woman over the phone inquired when I bought my tickets for Festival Ballet’s production of Little Red Riding Hood. As it turns out, there are only four rows in the theater, and as such, there’s not a bad seat in the house. Located at their studio space (where they also offer classes for adults and children of all levels), this small theater offers a perfect venue for an intimate show where children especially can feel close enough to the action to remain engaged.

Mushroom Costume. Design by Brianne Benack. Photo by Matt Francis. In this photo: FBP Company Trainee Eugenia Zinovieva

Mushroom Costume. Design by Brianne Benack. Photo by Matt Francis. In this photo: FBP Company Trainee Eugenia Zinovieva

You won’t be wowed with fancy sets here, but you will be impressed by skillful performances by a dozen talented ballet dancers. For Little Red Riding Hood, the theater partnered with RISD’s Junior Cut & Sew Studio to produce some wonderfully intricate costumes. To make the show less fearsome, they amended the story–the hooded dancing wolf escapes from Central Park Zoo and wants to eat Little Red Riding Hood’s cookies, not the girl herself.

As if that’s not enough to convince you, the show concludes with milk and cookies from Seven Stars Bakery, along with a chance to meet and talk with the dancers.

Although the performances of Little Red Riding Hood are already sold out, the Festival Ballet line-up includes several other upcoming shows for both children and adults.

Festival Ballet
825 Hope Street
Providence, RI

Rock Spot Climbing: Rock climbing for all levels (and almost all ages)

Rock climbing–it’s for kids too.

It was as if she’d been rock climbing her whole life. That said, she is only five. Today, my daughter kept up with the best adult climbers as she adeptly made her way up the 30-foot climbing wall at Rock Spot Climbing in Lincoln over half a dozen times. Using top roped climbing, she was harnessed into a belay device to protect against a sudden fall and create a smooth, slow (and apparently fun) ride down.

When my husband asked her before bed if she’d like to go back, she said yes, she’d love to go back tomorrow.

Rock Spot Climbing
100 Higginson Ave
Lincoln, RI

1174 Kingstown Rd
South Kingstown, RI

They also have the largest indoor bouldering facility in New England at:
67 Sprague St
Boston, MA


Monster Mini Golf

The final hole at Monster Mini Golf in Warwick.

Madeline loves Halloween so much that she decided she wanted to have a Halloween birthday party — in April. So, we decided to test out the Monster Mini Golf in Warwick as an appropriate place for a spooky (but not too spooky) costume birthday party.

The indoor course glows with neon colored monsters and clowns, and they have chairs set up outside the course so parents can sit and watch. It can get crowded (especially the skee ball and other games in the front), but it wasn’t too bad last Sunday afternoon. Geoff’s only complaint was that the golf course isn’t actually designed to make a hole-in-one physically possible. Of course, Madeline didn’t care. Most of the time, she swung a few times at the ball and finally wound up dragging it into the hole.

Monster Mini Golf
33 Lambert Lind Hwy (Rte. 5)
Warwick, RI

Providence Children’s Film Festival

Madeline was the star of her own movie flipbook this morning at the RISD Auditorium.

It’s nice to see some things continue to flourish in Providence.

This weekend, we attended a few of the films as part of the 3rd Annual Providence Children’s Film Festival. The all-volunteer festival staff puts together an extraordinary event with a collection of children-friendly shorts and features from all over the world. Whether your kids watch too much TV or you’ve avoided TV altogether (or somewhere in between), this festival introduces children to the artof film — and in my opinion, nothing could be better than that.

Photo by Frank Mullin

The festival’s films, events and workshops continue through Tuesday, February 21 at venues throughout Providence. See their website for a complete schedule of events and to purchase advance tickets.

RISD Museum: Tours for Tots

Madeline creates her own art during the RISD Museum's Tours for Tots.

Someone recently asked Madeline what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“Well,” she replied. “I’m already getting started. I’m an artist.”

So apparently in support of her current career, we visited the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum yesterday during their Tours for Tots. The hour-long program, which continues Thursdays in June, offers children ages 3-5 an interactive tour of one of the museum’s exhibits, along with a chance to create their own art. Yesterday’s tour brought us to the wooden Dainichi Nyorai Buddha, which sits 9-feet tall in its own dimly lit gallery. The children learned the story of Siddhartha, as they discovered how to sit and think like Buddha. We then moved to an open room where the kids spread out on the floor and created their own crayon drawings inspired by the story. The event ended with all of the new ‘artwork’ on display for everyone to admire.

A still from Schnitt's "Once Upon a Time"

Each week brings a different tour, so you can attend more than once. And while you’re there, you can get your fix of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, and other masterpieces, along with some less traditional art like Sarah Sze’s notepad cut into a tiny and intricate fire escape or Corinna Schnitt’s video loop Once Upon a Time, which shows what happens in an unsupervised room full of chickens, cats, birds, fish, bunnies and a goat. Who says art museums are for adults?

RISD Museum
Tours for Tots

Thursdays June 2, 9, 16, 23 at 2 pm – 2:45 pm
(meets in the Chace Lobby, free with museum admission) (also see family programs)

Sarah Sze
artist website | exhibit info

Corinna Schnitt
artist website | exhibit info

Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art

Madeline experiments with the Cloth Waves exhibit.

This week, Madeline and I stopped by to see Metamorphosis: The Transfer of Energy, the exhibit created by the Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art. This “museum without walls” creates exhibits at available spaces and events, but aims to open a full-fledged museum (with walls) in 2012. The gallery space at the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center currently features several interactive exhibits such as Cloth Waves, in which you try to launch soft balls into the center receptacle by creating fabric waves, or the Gear Table, in which you can arrange gears to your liking to play music or spin optical illusions. I think my favorite was Wooden Wave, a table that converts flat pieces of wood into waves through a crank.

Wooden Wave creates a wave effect from flat pieces of wood.

Of course, the challenge of a hands-on museum is maintaining the exhibits. The Water Wheel didn’t quite work properly and a few tubes in the Rainbow Drum were broken — all of which attests to the fact that a museum with walls (and a staff to maintain the exhibits) would be preferable. Fortunately, they seem to have the community’s backing — they’ve received a grant from RISCA and their recent Kickstarter campaign exceeded its goal. Of course, it’s a big leap from a $2,500 Gear Table to a multi-million dollar museum so they’ll need a lot more support to make it happen. So go check out their exhibit, offer your suggestions, and donate what you can (they’ll even take your old cameras and computers).

Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art
Their first multi-week exhibit Metamorphosis: The Transfer of Energy is currently open and free to the public through April 15, 2011.
Gallery at the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center
175 Main Street
Pawtucket, RI