The Santa Fe Children's Museum has recenlty been featured in multiple local publications and by media. We are grateful for all of the community coverage we receive and the opportunity to tell the Museum's story!

Youth of Today

Santa Fe Children's Museum is totally still there for your kids

April 22nd, 2020   |   By Alex De Vore

The Santa Fe Children's Museum has certainly faced its fair share of difficulties over the years—it even shut down briefly in 2016. But as one of few such organizations in the state, the museum has managed to weather crises before, and now offers a rather robust suite of programming options, many of which are still underway.

According to Hannah Hausman, the museum's senior director of development and communication, conditions have been good, both in terms of funding and attendance. And though the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for patrons to visit in real life, there's still a lot going on, both online and at the museum's sprawling garden on Old Pecos Trail.

"I think that our board and staff have been really strong in terms of fundraising and all of those pieces, and that hasn't stopped," Hausman says. "We're open, we're operational virtually, we're providing all these things to the community and our financials are great; we're in the black. It's all great [but] this hit and we had all these exciting things on the horizon, and now we're on pause a bit."

Just because you can't take your kids for a visit, however, doesn't mean there aren't still plenty of ways to engage. 

"One of the things we realized is, there's one program in particular that can't stop, and that's Seeds and Sprouts. Mother nature doesn't wait," says Leona Hillary, the museum's director of education. "Our garden is in full swing and we've got production with over 26 raised beds."

Hillary says staff are caring for seedlings started by regular students and visitors, tending to existing garden maintenance and continuing the museum's social media presence on Facebook and Instagram so even kids who can't pop by to see how their plants are faring can still get progress reports.

"In the past, kids would harvest and take home," she says. "We now have double the produce than we had before, and we're doing a grab-and-go initiative so kids can grow their own food in their own gardens [at home]."

This means a small, no-contact booth at the Santa Fe Farmers Market (which has been deemed essential during the stay-at-home order) on Saturdays. Each seed kit comes with four packages of seeds plus information and suggestions for gardening activities. The Children's Museum has also partnered with the Northern Youth Project to get more complicated gardening items to teens in rural areas who might want more to do than plopping a few seeds in the ground.

"And we're working on how people can request a victory garden kit through the public schools," Hillary adds.

Victory Gardens are a WWII holdover wherein governments urged citizens to plant gardens to fill out their own food supplies while rationing—and to just plain have something to do.

Outside of the gardening milieu, the museum is offering virtual field trips to places unexpected.

"We invested in a high-powered computer and a couple really cool programs, and what they can do in an online classroom is deliver a field trip to space," Hillary says. "A lot of the classrooms are doing reading and math, and everything else, they're on their own—this is an opportunity to address real science curriculum. It gives you a real scientist right there in your home."

Hillary says the museum is beginning to contact teachers this week about how they can get involved. With two educators on hand to facilitate the field trips, she estimates they could accommodate up to 10 trips a day. In the beginning, they'll focus on K-8 students, but if the program proves popular, it could expand.

"And they can customize it," she says. "They're learning about volcanoes? Climate? We can customize our content to the classroom. It's tailored so teachers can know they're signing up for something that's helping them—and it can be delivered in English and Spanish."

Additionally, the museum is gathering videos of community members reading stories. The free service already boasts mayor Alan Webber and, according to Hausman, is open to any Santa Feans who wish to submit—Santa Femous or not. Stories, she expects, will start rolling out on the website on Wednesdays.

Even cooler? Hausman says administrators are in the early talks for developing a satellite location of the Children's Museum on the traditionally underserved Southside of town.

"How great would that be when everything is lifted?" she says excitedly.

Further details are unavailable, but what can you do to support in the meantime? Well, buying a membership ($85-$175) wouldn't hurt for starters. Hasuman and Hillary understand that its benefits aren't as jam-packed as in times of health, but if the concern is an expiration date, they're taking that into consideration and extending them gratis—you won't lose any months to the stay-at-home order. The museum is still accepting volunteer applications as well. You can also simply donate if you're so inclined. As long as they have even a little funding, they'll keep serving the youths. Just know they're not alone.

"There's a movement of over 350 [children's museums] across the nation who've banded together to keep delivering our missions," Hausman explains.

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Santa Fe Children’s Museum asks for help naming new lizard

 


Posted: Apr 24, 2020  |   By: KRQE Staff

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Santa Fe Children’s Museum is asking for your help in naming its newest member. People submitted name ideas for the new spiny-tailed lizard last week but now the museum is asking for your help in voting on the top picks online. If a name entry wins, those that submitted will be put in a drawing for the family membership prize. Voting ends on Wednesday, April 29.

 

Commentary

Children's Museum is improving access for kids with disabilities

December 14, 2019   |   By Andy Winnegar

I hadn’t been to the Santa Fe Children’s Museum in over 20 years, when my kids would spend hours there exploring and playing.

I recently walked through the museum with Susan Lynn, the executive director, and staff members Leona Hillary and Hector Solis to learn about its efforts to serve children with disabilities and to recommend improvements.

“The Santa Fe Children’s Museum is based on a simple idea: Children learn by doing, and we want to make sure that every child has the same opportunities to be involved,” Lynn said. “We want ideas on how to improve our accessibility to better serve all children regardless of their disability.”

As I entered the main lobby, the energy and noise of children busily at play surrounded me.

“This is our busiest season of the year,” Lynn said.

From mid-November to the end of the year, the museum staff is focused on enhancing each visitor’s experience and preparing for an upcoming winter break camp.

The facility was inviting: bright and full of light. I especially enjoyed the wide, winding paths that carry visitors past exhibits, an outdoor island and an adobe playhouse.

Hillary, who has worked as a special- education teacher, said the staff has worked with the University of New Mexico to increase sensory-sensitive practices, such as offering dim lighting and quiet areas, which are more inviting for children with autism.

Overall, I was impressed with the facility’s accessibility. 

Most of the museum appeared to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act that were in effect when the facility was last renovated. But it will need to consider access for both children and adults when planning future renovations — using newer accessibility standards.

The Governor’s Commission on Disability offers free assistance on accessibility guidelines for anyone planning new construction and alterations.

During our walk-through, we identified some possible improvements, such as modifying the curb ramps at the accessible parking spaces.

The museum had a wide accessible route to the building’s entrance from the relatively level accessible parking spaces — a rarity in hilly Santa Fe.

Removing a couple of potential hazards along the route, such as overhanging tree branches, and relocating an entrance light were easy fixes, said Solis, the facility manager.

The front door is not required by the ADA to be automated, but a power-assisted door would reduce barriers for individuals using wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

Other possible building improvements both inside and outside included widening some walkways, adding additional handrails, using movable and adjustable height displays and opening up crowded displays areas so children using wheelchairs can reach the model railroading controls and participate in other activities.

We also discussed ways of increasing access for children and adults who are blind by using audio descriptive displays, a tactile exhibit map and Braille signage.

During classroom activities, kids who are deaf may benefit from having a sign language interpreter.

Having available technology like FM systems, in which sound is transmitted wirelessly from the speaker to an individual who is hard of hearing, also would increase access.

I suggested working with the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the New Mexico Deaf School.

In a follow-up email, Lynn said, “We have already made some of the minor modifications you suggested.”

Because the state owns the building, she said, officials will be asking the Legislature to provide funding for bigger renovations.

“We were thrilled with your feedback about what a good job we’re doing, and eager to continue to expand and improve access for children of all abilities to learn and play,” Lynn said.

Andy Winnegar has spent his career in rehabilitation and is based in Santa Fe as a training associate for the Southwest ADA Center. He can be reached at a@winnegar.com.

 

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Santa Fe Children's Museum

Seeds & Sprouts

December 6, 2019   |   By Susan Lynn

Santa Fe, New Mexico: The four walls of the Santa Fe Children's Museum contain wonders for kids to explore, and the fun doesn't end there. The Museum's "backyard" is nature at its most family-friendly. Children are invited to climb a tree, visit the adobe playhouse, or discover dinosaur bones buried in the sandpit. Many visitors return every Thursday from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm, for the popular Seeds and Sprouts program.


Educator Leona Hillary leads a multi-sensory adventure, with activities ranging from digging for worms in a vermiculture compost bin, to planting and harvesting the community garden. Year-around kids can read a story under the shade of a tree, identify creatures with magnifying glasses and microscopes, or create nature-based projects such as a mini water catchment system from cardboard and straws.


The Museum garden boasts over an acre of fruit and nut trees, raised vegetable and herb beds, flowers and pollinator plants, and is set up as a model of sustainable southwest gardening. Animals are studied through native visitors like rabbits, insects, and birds, as well as museum pets, such as Bisquick the pancake turtle, who forages his own fresh salad from the "pizza garden".


Seeds and Sprouts ensures that New Mexico's flavor is showcased. The Museum's expert gardner, Hector Solis, introduces kids to a specialty bed full of green chile peppers, heirloom tomatoes and other fiesta-friendly foods. Children sample these regional vegetables and get a small spicy taste of Santa Fe as they take a turn in front of a traditional "horno" oven to bake tortilla chips and biscochitos . . . our state's "official" cookie!


Whether they are learning about the differences between pears and peaches, enjoying the taste of carrots they pulled with their own hands, or witnessing the life cycle of a butterfly... kids visiting the Santa Fe Children's Museum's Seeds and Sprouts leave with a sense of connection to the wonder and beauty of nature!

 

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Open Play

The surprising ways Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers fun for everyone 

Fall 2019 Issue     September • October • November

If you’ve lived in Santa Fe since 1985 or later, you’re probably well aware of the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. You can easily spot it on Old Pecos Trail, you’ve most likely visited at least a time or two, and you know all about what it offers — or at least you think you do!

      The Santa Fe Children’s Museum is not just a place for young children to go in and color for a few hours. Sure, there are plenty of art supplies in the Make ‘N’ Take crafting area, but this museum provides an enriching experience for fun-filled days (and sometimes nights) for all ages. Among the Children’s Museum’s many diverse offerings, you might find some that are new even to long-time visitors, as well as some old favorites. Here are some highlights.

This is no ‘little’ playland

       With more than a football field–sized space to explore (yes, the museum spans nearly 1.5 acres) there’s plenty of room for adventure, inside and outside. Indoors, there are exhibits and activities designed to spark kids’ creative play in the arts, science and humanities. Children can play dress-up or “cook” in the play kitchen, blow giant bubbles or play with trains, paint their faces or dabble in the water stations. There’s a special enclosed space just for smaller children, too. Outdoors, the museum’s “backyard” is a wonder in itself, with gardens full of vegetables, fruit trees, even spinach and peppermint that can be picked and eaten on the spot. New Mexico’s flavors are evident in the bed full of green chile peppers, tabasco and other fiesta-friendly foods that definitely have a “kick” to them. There is even a traditional horno for grilling the occasional hot dog and baking our state’s official cookie, the biscochito. You want a treehouse? Yep, we have that as well!

A place where everyone can play

     To provide an environment where all children and families can interact and connect, the museum aims to be accessible, physically and financially. Here are some of the ways we’re working to assure that everyone can enjoy what the museum offers:

Thursdays Are Yours: The museum extends its hours every Thursday and offers free admission for children 17 and under from 4 to 6:30 p.m., to encourage families to come visit after work and school.

Financial assistance and discounts: Discounts are available every day for EBT recipients, teachers, military and first responders. Partnerships with several community service organizations help us provide complementary admission and free annual memberships. If you think you might qualify, just ask at the front desk.

Hablamos Español: The museum has staff on-site who are fluent in Spanish.

Sensory sensitivities: For visitors with autism and sensory sensitivities, the museum offers support and accommodations including an alternative entrance and a sensory-friendly toolkit with a visual schedule, hats, noise-reducing headphones or earplugs, sunglasses, rubber gloves and timers. Once a month, Sensory Friendly Sundays offer mornings with low lighting and special activities in a quieter, more relaxed environment.

• Hearing and visual challenges: Facilitators provide options for assisted play, as well as scented toys and Braille books.

Special events — ours and yours

    Did you know the museum accommodates after-hours birthday parties and even a Night at the Museum? Birthday parties do not have to be within the museum’s standard operating hours; with ample notice, the staff will cover your event any time, any day of the week. And yes, you can actually have a slumber party at the museum, where your group can bring sleeping bags and turn the museum into its very own private “campsite”! (Speaking of camp, the museum offers not just a summer camp for children, but spring break and winter break camps as well, with limited scholarships available.

     The museum also offers theme nights each month, with special guests and unique exhibits (check the events calendar at santafechildrensmuseum.org, and the Tumbleweeds calendar). The monthly Parent’s Night Out is a treat for both parents and kids. Drop off your child from 5:30 to 9 p.m. for $25 and enjoy your own evening out.

Not just for wee ones

     Many parents start bringing their children to the museum as babies or toddlers, but they soon find the museum experience grows as their children do. All museum exhibits and special activities are designed to accommodate all ages. Science Saturdays, for example, weekly from 1 to 3 p.m., provide basic and advanced experiments designed to stimulate kid and adult minds alike.  All our regular programs — Seeds & Sprouts, where children dig and plant in the Community Garden; Fine Art Friday, with resident and visting artists; and the Santa Fe Model Railroad Club’s “All Abooooooard” Model Train Program on Saturdays — as well as special events provide hands-on learning and fun adaptable to all ages. Science Saturdays, Fine Art Friday and STEM-based camps provide learning opportunities adaptable to all ages. 

      And as for those wee ones, the museum opens an hour early once a week for Wee Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., for toddler-focused explorations including a craft activity and storytime especially for them. There’s also a private snack room, open at all times, that offers a quiet “BYOF” (bring your own food) space for napping, reading, eating and private nursing, if preferred.

New worlds to discover

      Every museum visitor can be transported into space on Saturdays and Sundays with bilingual English/Spanish programs in the the Stargazer Portable Planetarium, free with admission. The Stargazer also travels to schools to provide innovative STEM education right in the classroom. These programs are free to all Title I schools, so if your child hasn’t experienced them, ask their teacher to call the museum and sign up.

     Even the gift shop attempts to offer something for everyone, with everything from little toy animals for less than a dollar to science projects in a box, that let you take a bit of the museum’s magic home with you.

     You might be surprised to discover that the little museum just up Old Pecos Trail from the Plaza offers so much — but that’s just what The Santa Fe Children’s Museum is about: surprise and discovery! Whether you’re a new visitor or a long-timer, the Children’s Museum is a home away from home. From the moment you enter and hear the familiar kids’ tunes, with the multi-colored scarves flowing from the wind tunnel, programs and activities to suit children of all ages and abilities, you know this place is ready for you. It might have a few more Legos than you have at home, but with the laughter and freedom of play that the environment produces, it feels like your living room — except that someone else does the tidy-up!

       The Santa Fe Children’s Museum is located at 1050 Old Pecos Trail. It’s open Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m; Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for children 1 and older and $7.50 for adults. Annual memberships range from $85 to $175. For more information, visit santafechildrensmuseum. org, call (505) 989-8359 or email children@santafechildrensmuseum.org

 

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