A Visit to Clifford’s World


Everyone knows Clifford the Big Red Dog.  He has been around for over 50 years–first as a very popular series of picture books and then as a television show.  Now he’s an interactive museum exhibit too.

This exhibit, designed by the Minnesota Children’s Museum, happens to be at my old library (the one I grew up going to) for the summer, and we stopped there briefly when we visited recently. My six-year-old could have played for hours in Clifford’s World just like she has in the Our World exhibit at the MN Children’s Museum.  She served us lunch at the restaurant (while I pointed out the sign that talked about teamwork) and delivered mail all around Birdwell Island (which gave me the opportunity to point out the other signs about being kind, playing fair, and more).

clifford1It’s hard not to like Clifford.  He always has good intentions even if things don’t always go right the first time.  He might be a lot bigger than the preschoolers who love him, but he’s not so different from them.

The exhibit will be back in Minnesota in September at the Rochester location of the MN Children’s Museum and in the Twin Cities in October.  It’s well worth your time if you have a young Clifford fan in your family who would enjoy exploring Birdwell Island and seeing a nine foot tall Clifford statue up close.

A Year of Walker Membership

Last year at this time, we received a gift membership to the Walker Art Center from my parents.  The year previous, they had given us a membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum.  That was fun.  Our then 3 year old loved it, and we loved seeing her love it.  But the Walker membership had something for each of us.  They have great kids’ programming that my little artist loves, and the exhibits we attended were an interesting mix of art & culture that engaged my husband and me (not exactly “in the know” when it comes to art).

Some of the highlights of our year made it onto the blog:

We also attended a storytime and visited the Trading Tortoise in the Open Field.  We all enjoyed the membership, and we will definitely be returning to the museum even though we aren’t members anymore.

What museum memberships have you enjoyed?  

It’s Minnesota Museums Month!

I didn’t realize how few local museums I’d been to until I read that there are over 600 museums in Minnesota.  More fun facts about museums are on the MN Museums Month web site, but I thought I’d highlight a few of the museums that have been on this blog over the past two years.

Reading to Peter Rabbit in Storyland


 What are your favorite museums (local or otherwise)?

Friday Finds: Youth Media Awards, local music, and museums


  • The biggest thing in the kidlit/library world right now are the Youth Media Awards.  The big announcement is on Monday morning, and the kidlitosphere is abuzz with predictions.  My colleagues and I posted our picks on Books in Bloom this week, and A Fuse #8 Production has her Newbery and Caldecott picks here.  I will be among many other librarians who will wake up early Monday morning to see what books from 2011 will be honored this year.  It’s my Oscars. :)


  • The Local Current blog is  the latest project from Minnesota Public Radio. Among the first features is this post about Communist Daughter front man Johnny Solomon’s road to recovery.  I mentioned Communist Daughter in this post after seeing them at the Loring Theatre last June.  I’m a huge fan of the music, and Solomon’s story is remarkable.


  • The Minnesota Children’s Museum has a new exhibit opening this weekend based on the book Grossology by Sylvia Branzei, which is all about the icky parts of being human. I imagine kids will love it.  We are hoping to go in the near future!


  • As I mentioned in this post about graphic design, the Now in Production exhibit at the Walker Art Center ends this weekend.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the exhibit, I recommend taking it in before it is off to New York.


For more interesting stuff, find me on Facebook,  Twitter, and Google+.  Have a great weekend!

Stories come alive at the MN Children’s Museum

When we walked into the Storyland exhibit at the MN Children’s Museum last Friday evening, my kiddo’s eyes went wide with delight.  The room–which, in all honesty, was smaller than I was expecting–was full of familiar scenes from the pages of children’s books, several of which we have read over and over again.  There, though, it was real.  And it was big.

The first scene to catch her attention was from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  Not only is this one of our favorite books to read at home, but also, the huge letters and giant coconut tree are probably the most eye-catching part of the room.

That wasn’t the favorite, though.  She spent the most time in Peter Rabbit’s burrow, which surprised me since I don’t think she has read the story.  Ladybug could have spent the entire time just in that one place.

I can’t imagine she was thinking about sound awareness as she played with letters or about narrative as she put Peter Rabbit to sleep in his bed or made him a tasty pretend dinner.    To her, it was play.  To me, it was early literacy in action.

I am currently reading Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky.  One of those skills is communicating, which includes a lot of information about early literacy, but what has really interested me as I read the book (and I am only about half-way through) is how often storytelling and pretend play have come up as suggestions for cultivating other valuable skills.

The pretend play that Ladybug did in the Peter Rabbit part of the exhibit, for example, is a way to promote cognitive flexibility.  She had her thing going on as she pretended to be Peter’s mom, but other kids and parents were also at the exhibit.  They interrupted her narrative or changed it, and it was up to her to deal with these changes.  This skill isn’t necessarily one we think about often as we watch our kids play together, but when our children are adults a high level of cognitive flexibility will help them to adapt to change and understand other people’s perspectives.

Storyland is a great opportunity for both parents and children to see how books are more than just words on paper and literacy is more than just knowing how to read.  It is an opportunity for what Mind in the Making calls “extended discourse,” or taking the conversation beyond the obvious to ask questions about stories or connect stories to our own experiences.

We will definitely be going back to Storyland, since we are members of the MN Children’s Museum, and I think that reading the featured books that we hadn’t yet read will enhance the exhibit even more.

Disclosure: I was not in any way compensated for this post. We received a family membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum as a gift from my mom.  Books referenced in this post are either personal or library copies.  Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I earn a percentage of any purchases made from the links.

Friday Finds: Mayda, Storyland, & more

Music Finds:

  • World premiere of Mayda’s new music video.  Watch it here:

Library Finds:
Family Finds:
  • We went to a sneak peek of a new exhibit at the Minnesota Children’s Museum tonight. I’ll be blogging about it sometime in the next few days, but if you can check out Storyland this weekend, you’ll be glad you did!
  • Tomorrow (Saturday, September 10) is the Target Book Festival in Bloomington.  See Koo Koo Kanga Roo and meet lots of children’s book authors and illustrators.
See more of my blog finds for the week in my Google Reader Shared Items.  Have a good weekend, everyone!