Help us Celebrate our First Birthday this Giving Tuesday!

Neighborhood North Museum Of Play has been open for one year! We are grateful to be able to share our Birthday with Giving Tuesday! Join us at 716 14th Street, Beaver Falls on Tuesday, November 29th, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m, as we commemorate our birthday with activities, sweets, and special thanks to our members throughout the day. Please stop in and enjoy the fun, explore, and celebrate with us!

In the last year, Neighborhood North has opened our doors to thousands of visitors who have enjoyed the museum’s educational programming, interactive exhibits, and hands-on art projects. In addition, we have launched our Playful Learning Landscape initiative. Through this program, we will install 3 exhibits in public spaces by the end of the year, marrying the way kids learn with the places families live and play.

Because of your generosity, we have brought playful learning to communities across Beaver County, creating inclusive and engaging experiences for children of all backgrounds.

To celebrate our success, we are excited to announce that friends of Neighborhood North have doubled our impact by committing to match up to $10,000 by the end of the current fiscal year! With your help, we can continue to make transformative, play-based learning experiences accessible to all families in Beaver County.

On Giving Tuesday, November 29th, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., give $25 to double your donation, and your gift will become $50. Or give $100 to double your donation, becoming $200.

Together, we can create a world where every child has equal access to play-based learning experiences. Please join us in celebrating our birthday and helping us reach more children with joyful learning. Thank you so much for supporting Neighborhood North!

Talking is Teaching: an early literacy initiative

Neighborhood North is part of the Pittsburgh Peer Learning Collaborative, a cohort of nine organizations in Pittsburgh focused on boosting the early learning and brain development of children from birth through age five. This cohort was tasked with learning about the Clinton Foundation's Too Small to Fail, Talking is Teaching program and plan how to implement this initiative in our local contexts.

“Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” is a public awareness and action campaign that aims to motivate parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing more with their young children from birth. The campaign partners with trusted messengers to share information with parents about the critical role they play in their child’s development, as well as concrete tools to help them engage in language-rich activities with their children.”  Neighborhood North invited our local McDonald’s restaurant to partner with us on this program, as many of our young families spend time there.  Both the store leadership and Tri County Management were enthusiastic to team up with us on this initiative. This program will include signage in the restaurant, table activities, and information and books distributed to families. 

Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” aims to give parents and caregivers the tools to talk, read and sing more with their young children from birth, increasing meaningful interactions that are critical to healthy brain development. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, almost 60 percent of American children start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language, math, and social-emotional skills. Research shows that during the first years of life a child’s brain forms one million new neural connections every second and absorbs information like a sponge. This is why simple, everyday interactions with young children—like describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories—can better prepare them for school, and lay a strong foundation for their social-emotional development, health, and lifelong learning.

We asked our Geneva College intern, Ainsley Arrington, what excites her about helping with this project.  Here is what she shared: “In partnering with the local McDonald’s restaurant, we hope to incorporate posters, books, and other media into the dining room and the diaper changing stations to create a sustainable way to learn about literacy! ...Not all children have access to programs that help to foster this early childhood intervention, so they may fall behind other children within their grade or age group. This is where Neighborhood North comes in! Our goal is to give children the opportunity to learn with their families in a common place. Another study found that environmental writing, like the text on menus, street signs, and posters helped children to build their reading skills outside of school settings. This partnership with McDonald’s will allow children to receive literacy education with their families in a new, comfortable context.”

As part of our “Talking is Teaching” campaign, Neighborhood North and McDonald's are committed to training McDonald employees to be trusted messengers in the community, and share information with parents and caregivers about the critical role they play in their child’s early brain development. These trusted messengers will distribute language-rich Talking is Teaching materials—including books that encourage parents to talk, read, and sing with their children.

For more information about the Talking is Teaching campaign, visit http://www.talkingisteaching.org/.

Fall Maker Opps!

“Maker education offers a transformational approach to teaching and learning that attends to the real and relevant needs of learners and humans. It is an approach that positions agency and student interest at the center, asking students to become more aware of the design of the world around them, and begin to see themselves as people who can tinker, hack and improve that design.” (https://makered.org/about/what-is-maker-education/)

Girl playing in cardboard box

We jumped into the fall with some maker programming at Neighborhood North and had a blast creating using both high- and low-tech methods!  In September, our friends at the Carnegie Science Center’s Mobile Fab Lab set up their high-tech camp in our Maker Space for three days and gave our learners the opportunity to design, fabricate, and experiment with STEM-based making.  Every fourth-grade classroom from both local elementary schools was able to come for a field trip, and both the teachers and students loved the experience.  Our afterschool program had the opportunity to dig into a two-hour workshop and experiment with the earthquake table. Our Program Coordinator, Karissa Collins shared, “The after-school program students through Trails had their first program on Thursday and were able to build houses that needed to withstand the earthquake table. At first, the kids were struggling to understand but once the FabLab instructors showed them, they loved working with the Inkscape and Laser printers to build their projects. I was not here for other projects throughout the week but know they also make gliders and keychains with the laser printer… the instructors were fabulous!”  In addition to the weekday programs, families were able to explore a variety of making activities during an open maker workshop on Saturday, and this was a time of high creativity, energy, and community. We look forward to future opportunities to bring digital making into our space.

The Neighborhood North Team went low-tech the following week to celebrate the Day of Play with a Cardboard Challenge of our own.  Thank you to everyone who donated cardboard boxes to be used for this event- they were put to incredibly good use.  We set up stations in the museum and invited families to create any part of a city that they could imagine- from a skyscraper to a house to a castle to a bridge.  We had a fabulous turn-out of young artists and engineers who created ingenious and beautiful structures.  At the end of our time, we constructed a city using all of the buildings designed by our families.  Our team has voted that The Cardboard Challenge will become an annual Neighborhood North event, so make sure to start saving that cardboard for next year!

Lulu K Reeves Scholarship

Neighborhood North believes that all children and families should have an equitable safe place to learn, ideate, and play together regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, status, or learning ability.

We know that limited finances can be a barrier for many families and are glad to be able to offer discounted Admission on our Daily Play Passes for Seniors, Veterans, and anyone with an EBT Snap card. These discounts are available for both online and in-person ticket purchases.

We are delighted that full and partial scholarships towards Neighborhood North Annual
Memberships have been made possible by a generous donation from the Outlook Club of Beaver County in honor of Lulu K Reeves.  To apply for a full or partial scholarship, please complete the short application form.

The Outlook Club was organized in 1904, by a group of local women with the object of developing the educational, civic and social interests of its members and to advance the welfare of the community. This Club continues to meet as a force for good and philanthropy in Beaver Falls today. Lulu K Reeves, in whose honor the scholarship is being awarded, was a Founding member of the Outlook Club with a passion for education.

Apply for the Lulu K Reeves Scholarship

OT @ Neighborhood North

Hi, everyone! My name is Katie Caspero and I am a pediatric occupational therapist that supports conducting needs assessments for non-profit organizations. Throughout this past spring, I was honored to be able to support Neighborhood North by spending time learning about the space, meeting the kids, and working alongside the wonderful staff. I was able to hear the stories of how much this community meant to everyone and I saw how tight-knit and supportive everyone was to one another. I loved being able to walk the kids from Soma to Neighborhood North and hear the beeps and see the waves of familiar faces recognizing one another.

 During my time, I talked with parents, community members, teachers, educational administrators, staff at Neighborhood North, and the kids themselves. I learned so much about what their daily lives looked like and I was able to complete a broad picture of strengths and barriers based on those conversations. I used the analogy of a river to demonstrate what obstacles (or rocks) may be in their way and what supports (or driftwood) help their days (or river) flow more smoothly. This is called the Kawa River Model and here is one example of what part of those conversations showed us. If you would like to review the entire presentation you can find that here.

Here are some of the recommendations that came from this assessment:

1.     Offer parent training related to specific curriculums being used in school

for math and reading

2.               Create a resource binder of activities so that any staff (volunteer, staff, leadership) could fill in and support activities

3.               Offer training for both parents and staff on the development and age-appropriate activities that support social-emotional and educational learning.

If you have any questions about this assessment or what information we found feel free to reach out to me at katie@otgraphically.com or Christine Kroger at christine@neighborhoodnorth.com.

 It was so great working with such a committed and engaged community and I feel confident that Neighborhood North will continue to be a vital, invaluable community space and resource for the Beaver Falls area.

Scribble Stones

Our Scribble Stones project was inspired by the namesake book authored by Diane Alber.  According to the author, “ This story starts off with a little stone who thinks he will be become something amazing but then soon realizes he had become a dull paper weight. He's on a mission to become something greater and in the process meets scribble and splatter and they all come up with a creative way to bring joy to thousands of people. “

Last year, we had the opportunity to participate in an RMU Covestro Center for Community Engagement SkillShare Day. We were matched with a museum expert as well as a team from Howmet Aerospace to build an initial pre- and post-survey as well as an initial distribution method.  There was incredible opportunity for learning and some great outcomes, one of which was the idea to distribute the survey via painted rocks and QR Codes. We loved this idea and thought it was creative and playful.

Although we weren’t able to connect our survey to the painted rocks this year, we loved the idea of getting our name out via a creative and accessible means.  So, we decided to follow the example of #beavercountyrocks and use the hashtag #NNMOP (Neighborhood North Museum of Play).  We have had hundreds of Scribble Stones painted at community events and by local families and afterschool programs.  We have also partnered with the Beaver County Library System to send out Scribble Stone Make & Take kits through each of the libraries.

Neighborhood North envisions our diverse communities strengthened by families through playing, making, and innovating together.  So CREATE, FIND, or SHARE a Scribble Stone today, and make sure to check out the #NNMOP.

The story of a bunch of ordinary folks connecting their powers to create something cool is the story of Neighborhood North-- and we welcome you to join in.


Playful Learning Design Workshop

Neighborhood North has been working with the folks from Playful Learning Landscapes (PLLAN) for some time now. The more we learn about their organization and the research behind their process, the more excited we are to bring this phenomenal resource to our community, especially as their mission intersects with some of the needs we were seeing emerge more prominently during covid. Connecting with our Teaching Artists program, we were awarded funding through PACE and the Arts Equity Reimagined fund to support the initial consultation and work with PLLAN in Beaver Falls.

When you are excited about something, it always seems like processes slow down and afford one time for deliberation.  It was no different in this case. We had ample time to reach out to a variety of artists and educators across the county and region to discuss the project and brainstorm possibilities. Those are always energizing conversations which remind me how much genius lives in this region!  We have also had opportunity to begin chatting about needs and desires with local families, both in Beaver Falls and in surrounding communities.  Those conversations affirm that we are going in the right direction.

 After much preparation, we finally held our initial Playful Learning Design Session and Training on September 30. The session was held at Neighborhood North and was offered virtually for those who were unable to attend in person. The interactive workshop was facilitated by PLLAN and Temple University’s Infant & Child Lab, and we had a truly phenomenal couple of hours of mutual learning and brainstorming with the dozen or so artists, community organizers, educators/administrators, and landscape architects. We ended the session energized and looking forward to the community input sessions in the coming weeks. Information about those sessions will be release soon, so check our website or socials. If you are a local artist and are interested in learning more about this project, please reach out for more information to: christine@neighborhoodnorth.com.

 

Beaver Falls Car Cruise

Car Cruise- By Karissa Collins

Our Neighborhood North Car Cruise event on Saturday, September 11th was a success! Thank you to everyone who came out to the parking lot of the museum. We loved connecting with families in our community. It was awesome to see a glimpse of our vision for the museum come to life and take shape.

 It seemed like kids and parents alike were able to engage with and enjoy all of the festivities of the day. When the children first arrived, they each could pick a matchbox car to keep. Michelle O’Leary, one of the members on the educational committee, used chalk on the pavement to draw an obstacle course for the cars to drive on, complete with roads, lakes, mountains, and pastures. We had an interactive art mural where the kids could put powdered paint on a large canvas and then spray it with water guns. There was also a scribble stone station where kids could paint rocks that will be placed around the community. The day was beautiful and warm so we had a place for the kids to toss around sponge balls and try to rack up points by aiming them at a target on the ground. We had several of our museum exhibits brought outside, including large Lego blocks and an exhibit to race the matchbox cars.

 In addition to these stations, we had the privilege of having Rochelle Burks come to teach and play drums with the kids that attended. The kids really enjoyed playing the miniature djembe and following the rhythm that Burks played on her djembe. This was a great way to incorporate interactive music to the day.

 We were glad that several of our community partners could share the day with us. The Community Development Corporation was able to advertise for recruiting new members. One-5 BBQ was also there, serving delicious food.

 There were many hands that came out to help throughout the day. Several students from Geneva College came and had a lot of fun interacting with the kids from the community. Several members from the Educational Committee helped to make things run smoothly throughout the day. We are grateful to our volunteers and helpers for making this day possible!

 Overall, this was a great event where our community kids got to play, create, and innovate. This event made us even more excited for Neighborhood North to open this fall. Thank you for your support.

Family Play Days

Family Play Days

Neighborhood North is excited to bring a fun workshop for all ages, from grandparents to toddlers and everyone in between. A series of 5 Interactive Workshops led by Dr. Ariana Brazier from ATL Parent Lab that connects play, race, culture, and literacy.

Intergenerational Play Days  - Families encouraged to attend together!

These events are FREE and a meal is included for all participants.  Space is limited; Advance registration required

All sessions: Thursdays, 4:30 pm - 7 pm 

Session 1: November 18th- The Parent LAB PLAY DAY Series engages participants in interactive games designed to connect the active body to brain development, and thus enhance cognitive learning experiences.

Session 2: December 9th- This dialogue, facilitated through and between physically interactive play activities, will center the value and necessity of play, broadly, at the different ages and stages of students in k-12 education.

Session 3: January 13th- This informative and interactive workshop highlights the various ways that Black children, particularly Black children living in poverty, play.

Session 4: February 10th- We will reflect and explore how play has connected families across generations, cultures, and economic barriers. 

Session 5: March 10th- Together, through participant-facilitated dialogue and movement, we will practice the sharing of culture and exchanging of knowledge through play and critical inquiry.

Participants will learn: 

·        How race and racism informs our play experiences and identity development 

·        Establish foundational knowledge about the educational and cultural value of integrating play into daily interactions with the families in our community 

·        Reigniting the joy of play as adults and as adults with children

·        Generating a commitment to promoting play as an avenue to celebrate, learn, and be in relationships with one another across all spectrums of life  

Ariana Brazier, Ph.D. is a play-driven community-organizer and educator. She received her doctoral degree in English, Critical & Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Ari has conducted community-based ethnographic research with Black students and families living in poverty in the southeast United States in order to document how Black child play functions as a grassroots praxis. She is the Founder, CEO and President of ATL Parent Like A Boss, Inc. (Parent LAB).

Julia Brazier is a (retired) mentor for Auburn University Family Child Care Partnerships and has served in this capacity for 11 years. She has 30+ years of experience as an early care/education professional, 2 of which were spent as a family child care provider. Julia has 14 years of experience in administrative positions serving, training, and mentoring family child care providers. She also served as the director of child care programs at the Bessemer YMCA for 5 years. Julia is the ATL Parent Like A Boss, Inc. (Parent LAB) Board Chairwoman.

Update!

Our signs were installed on the outside of the museum this past week!  We have to give a huge thank you to the Beaver Falls Rotary for their generous donations that made these signs possible and to Brown Dog Sign Company in Ambridge for their good work! That was probably the most public facing of the many exciting steps we have made towards the re-opening of the children’s museum in recent days.

 If you have been journeying with us for a while, you are aware that we opened our Preview Space quickly in August 2020, to run Learning Pods in order to meet the needs of our community’s students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are grateful to have been able to shift so quickly to do so, but it meant leaving some things unfinished in our building.  After our summer programming ended this past July, we closed our building and have been working towards completing exhibits and finishing our space.  We are looking forward to welcoming you back again!

 Our goal is to be open to the public late this fall!  We hope to stay on schedule and will keep you updated on our progress!  Check our website or follow our social media platforms for updates on our museum hours and the new programs we will be rolling out this winter!

 In the meantime, we would love to gather some input on what you’d like to see and when you’d like to visit.  We’d be grateful if you would take a moment to complete this brief survey and share it with family and friends.  Thank you and see you soon!