Polar Bear Den a museum tradition

Telegraph correspondentJanuary 3, 2014 

polarbear_den

The Polar Bear Den at the Musuem of Arts and Sciences is a program with activities geared toward children ages 2 to 5.

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Preschoolers have their own museum time at the monthly Polar Bear Den.

The Museum of Arts and Sciences hosts the event the first Tuesday of every month and it includes storytime, a craft and an opportunity to explore the museum’s other exhibits.

The first Polar Bear Den of 2014 is Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. The program is geared for children ages 2 to 5.

“It’s a wonderful program. The kids love it and it’s a great opportunity for them to get out and do something that is just for their age,” said Amanda DePriest, who is the museum’s environmental education curator and runs the Polar Bear Den. “There are not a lot of programs out there for that toddler age group.”

The event always starts under the gaze of the museum’s stuffed polar bear.

“We always read in front of the polar bear,” DePriest said. “This was a program they had years ago that kind of fell by the wayside and when we decided to resurrect it, we kept the same name.”

The program restarted as a monthly event in 2012.

“I have a 3½-year-old and so I saw the need for having a program for the littles ones because we have lots of moms that come in with little ones,” DePriest said. “I decided we needed to resurrect the program to have something every month for the little ones to come in, do a hands-on activity and get to visit the museum.”

After a story, the group moves into a classroom for a craft.

“We always have a story, which I try to relate to either the time of year ... or I try to relate it to an exhibit,” DePriest said. “Then, the craft is always going to relate to the story. It’s a wide variety of crafts.”

For example, in December the group listened to a story about a Christmas tree and then painted a Christmas tree.

“If the story is about music for instance, we may try and create some kind of simple musical instrument,” DePriest said. “If a story is about an animal, we’ll create an animal.”

There is a $5 fee for children to participate but adults are free.

“The fee is really more about covering the material cost,” DePriest said.

Once the structured part of the program is over, preschoolers and their adults can explore the museum’s other exhibits.

“I think if we start early with getting them into the museum and getting them involved in the museum, then they will carry that with them through their whole life and be patrons of the museum for their whole life,” DePriest said.

Polar Bear Dean

When: 10:30 a.m. Jan. 7; recurs the first Tuesday of every month

Where: Museum of Arts and Sciences, 4182 Forsyth Road

Cost: $5 per child; free for adults

Information: www.masmacon.org or 478-477-3232

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