Elves Visit Natural History Museum

Photo by Joan Hartnett-Barry

“She is starting it for me and then I’ll finish it,” said Max Richins, as Morgan Miedema started with two popsicle sticks and wove yarn around and between the cross of the two sticks.

Max and Morgan and many others, gathered at the Marion Natural History Museum on Wednesday afternoon for a holiday gift making session, headed by Executive Director Liz Leidhold who was assisted by several board members of the museum.

Two work tables, loaded with yarn, sea shells, tree branches, sea glass, seagrass, magnets, coffee filters, pipe cleaners, crepe paper streamers, sparkles, felt animals figures, and popsicle sticks were available for the “elves”, who ranged from first to fourth grade, to create gifts. Holiday music played in the background, with the volunteers occasionally humming and singing along.

The purpose was to make holiday gifts for parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, neighbors and anyone else on the children’s’ gift list.

Although the Lego corner was an irresistible attraction for several boys, they eventually gathered at the table to make turtles made of rocks, animal lapel pins, octopus tree ornaments, business card holders, sea shell refrigerator magnets, yarn squares, and a “mouse nest” made out of a walnut shell.

“We do this every year and it is a celebration of the end of the after school program for the year” said Ms. Leidhold. “It gives the children a chance to make something to bring home and present to their family during the holidays.”

The after school program for 2011 included building a mini cranberry bog (in a cup), animal watching, rocks and fossils study, sessions on “bugs in the cranberry bog” and the importance of bees in nature. The museum also runs a Lego robotics club.

Mr. Silva, a volunteer and board member manned the glue gun station and helped the children put “eyes” on their creatures and secure felt around pin cushions, whose base was a sea shell with a felt top overtop cotton stuffing.

“We have to wait until the paint is dry before we glue on the eyes,” said Mr. Silva to more than one child who approached, googly eyes in hand.

“We’ve had the afterschool program here for many years and find that this is a great place for children to learn about nature and focus on the many exhibits,” said Ms. Leidhold as she pointed to the extensive butterfly and seabird exhibits.

Ms. Leidhold is planning the spring 2012 after school program which will include a study of whales, rocket construction and a Star Lab portable planetarium program, among other science and nature oriented activities.

For more information about the museum, visit www.marionmuseum.org.

By Joan Hartnett-Barry

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