Posts Tagged ‘indoor activities’

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.

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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

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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

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Melody, Rhythm and Harmony - the Rock-a-Baby puppets.

Combine a live band, familiar rock-n-roll songs, and three clever puppets, and you get Rock-a-Baby, a musical learning experience for babies and toddlers. The classes originated in New York City, although watching a video from one of the NYC classes makes me glad I live in the much more low key (and less populous) state of Rhode Island.

Madeline and I joined one of the first Providence sessions this fall with about a half dozen other children ranging in age from six months to three years. Each class, hosted by singer Kate, pianist Marc, and guitarist Benny, focused on a different ‘theme of the week’ with songs to match and a new instrument in the spotlight to explore. The format perfectly balanced the repetition kids need (starting class with the same song and ending with bubble time, for example), while offering some new exposure to instruments or musical concept. Even adults were entertained by the repertoire of songs and the Henson-like humor of the Rock-a-Baby puppets.

Alas, as much as I loved Rock-a-Baby, Madeline is getting a bit old for it so we may try some classes at the RI Philharmonic this spring. I mean, she could be playing Beethoven’s waltzes at four-years-old. As for our new addition, Lucy, I’m sure she’ll be a Rock-a-Baby fan as soon as she can stay awake long enough to attend a class.

The 2011 classes begin in January, but for a preview you can see the Rock-a-Baby group perform as part of the Bright Night celebration in Providence, RI on December 31 at 1:30 and 3:30 pm at the Providence Children’s Museum.

Classes in Providence and Warwick, RI

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The Yams and one of their biggest fans.

It was 12:25 on Saturday when my daughter said she wanted to go to the Farmer’s Market. “Ok, hurry up, it closes in half an hour,” I said, rushing her out the door. I had only $5 in my pocket, but no time to stop at the ATM. I didn’t think there would be much time for shopping anyway.

We walked hand-in-hand into Hope Artiste Village at 12:40, and it was still busy. First stop, McCarten Violins. They moved across the hall this year to a bigger space, and gauging from appearances, this was needed. The shop was full, and Madeline loved to watch people testing out the instruments.

Next stop, across the hall in the “Greenhouse,” all the food vendors are set up. Thankfully, Tina’s Caribbean is here now too. The Yams are still playing, and Madeline spent our first dollar on a small bag of Nettie’s Kettle Corn. Our time slipped by with dancing, and the Yams got dollar #2. A few minutes before 1pm, we finally walked the hall, and watched everyone finishing up business. I was happy to see that all of the studios lining the market hall were filled with designers and artists, and we stopped in to draw a picture, pet a puppy, and watch a painter at work. The last three dollars were spent on a meat pie at Tina’s, and Madeline and I talked with some friends and listened to the last strains of music. It was a well spent 20 minutes.

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Bowling for a three-year-old warrants even more enthusiasm than the average adult.

On a recent vacation in France, we made the mistake of promising to take Madeline bowling. After trekking out to the outskirts of Nice, we found the Acropolis only to learn that at age three and shoe size seven, she was much too young and too small to bowl. Somehow that never occurred to us.

To give the kids an advantage, they have a plastic ramp to roll the ball down the center of the lane.

So when we decided to take her duckpin bowling in Rhode Island, we called ahead to confirm their available shoe sizes, operating hours, and bumpers. Satisfied that this might actually work, we headed out to The Bowling Academy in East Providence, RI for an early Saturday night bowl (after 8pm, it’s Rock N’ Bowl).

Duckpin bowling, for those who don’t know, is a variation of bowling with smaller, lighter balls and shorter, fatter pins.  The Bowling Academy is one of a handful of alleys in the state that offer duckpin bowling (see list below).  The place is nothing fancy, but the lanes are gleaming and the employees spray disinfectant in the shoes after people leave, which I personally appreciate. Of course, for a three-year-old, none of that matters. Rather, the easy-to-handle balls; bumpers to keep them in the lane; and even a plastic ramp to slide a ball down the lane more centrally are the things that make duckpin bowling a surefire kid-pleaser.  So, it wasn’t at all a surprise that the next morning, she was already asking to go back.

Duckpin Bowling Alleys in Rhode Island

The Bowling Academy
354 Taunton Avenue
East Providence, RI
(401) 434-5839

Dudek Lanes
409 Child Street
Warren, RI
(401) 245-9471

Legion Bowl & Billiards
661 Park Avenue
Cranston, RI
(401) 781-8888

Meadowbrook Lanes
2530 Warwick Ave.
Warwick, RI
(401) 737-5402

Mac’s Bowlaway
890 Main Street
West Warwick, RI
(401) 828-3279

Town Hall Lanes
1463 Atwood Avenue
Johnston, RI 02919
(401) 831-6940

Wickford Lanes
7665 Post Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852
(401) 294-9886

Also see the Rhode Island Duckpin Bowlers Association at

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Playing in the cozy caves of Underland

Last winter, the Providence Children’s Museum raised funds partly to launch two new outdoor exhibits — Underland and The Climber. Underland has since become one of Madeline’s favorite exhibits. The cave of gnarled trees and dark tunnels with a knotty wood table and wooden chairs appeals to children’s fort-building instincts. Not surprisingly, Madeline’s spent the bulk of her last few visits to the museum in Underland digging in the sand, dressing in animal costumes, and preparing pretend meals with slices of wood and carved cups. She’s been so busy, she hasn’t even yet noticed The Climber…

Underland at the Providence Children’s Museum
100 South Street
Providence, RI  02903

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