Kids in Museums
We had a fantoosh October week during the school holidays this year with numerous weans and their family members joining us for Halloween themed Cantrip Crafts. We also had a Haunted Horror Hunt on offer that was site wide meaning families were encouraged to explore not only our Museum but our play-park, Burns Monument, Brig o’ Doon, Alloway Auld Kirk, Poet’s Path and Burns Cottage to hunt for clues!
We had seven different crafts on from Monday 14th – Sunday 20th October. They were:
- a pumpkin wreath
- a warlock/witch hat
- creepy sun-catchers
- jam jar lanterns
- toilet roll characters
- a thaumatrope toy
- frichtfu’ finger puppet pals
These crafts were very popular with the weans (and their parents, siblings, carers and grandparents! Our Learning Officer joked that it was inter-generational family-fun, just as much for the adults as the weans, but it seriously is) and so, we thought we’d share some of these crafts instructions with you in case you’d like to try them at home as a family. You don’t need a lot of specialist equipment – most of this you’ll most likely have already or be able to buy out of budget stores like Pound Land, Wilko or large supermarkets. Also, these can easily be tweaked to make them themed around another holiday other than Halloween. Happy crafting!!
Jam Jar Lanterns: this is a creative craft that looks great when finished and you put your candle in it in the dark! It uses up jars that would be going into the recycling bin anyway so it doesn’t require you to buy anything made of glass in especially for it.
What you need:
- A selection of old jars
- Different coloured tissue paper
- Black card, scissors, pen/pencils
- PVA glue, pot & brush
- Googly eyes
- LED or wax candles
- Choose which design you want to do: a pumpkin, haunted house, spooky forest, spiders and their webs, Frankenstein, a mummy?
- Tear up small strips of tissue paper in your chosen colour and paste them onto the glass jar with PVA glue. Apply enough to cover the jar but not so that the light will not be able to shine through.*
- Next, use scissors to cut a spooky design out of black card i.e. pumpkin face shapes, Frankenstein face shapes or owls and trees.
- Then stick it to your jam jar with PVA glue; applying an extra layer of glue over the whole thing to give it a nice finish.
- Leave it to dry – ideally overnight or at least for a few hours.
- Finally, pop in a candle and watch your lanterns glow! Just remember to never leave an open flame unattended.
*Do not put tissue paper inside the lantern – just on the outside – as that is a dangerous fire hazard!
Thaumatrope Toy: this is a 19th century scientific toy that is an optical illusion. You put two separate images on either side of your circles and when you spin it, it combines them together! Cool, huh?
What you need:
- Paper and card
- Glue or Sello-tape
- Cut out two identical circles on plain white paper (using something to draw around is easiest).
- Cut out two identical circles on card.
- On your paper, draw something to put on either side, for example: a spider’s web and a spider hanging down, a cage and a bird, a house then the moon and stars.
- Draw them onto your circles as if they were to be combined they’d match up to each other i.e. draw the moon around the house.
- Glue your paper circles onto your card circles.
- Get a straw and glue them securely to either side of it – now spin it and see if your optical illusion toy works!
Creepy Sun-catcher Decoration: this requires a bit of planning and develops problem-solving skills in the weans as they need to map out where their going to cut and size their “windows” appropriately.
What you need:
- Black card
- Glue or Sello-tape
- Various colours of tissue paper
- Take an A4 piece of black card and draw a window outline then draw shapes inside the window like smaller window panes. You can try to draw a pumpkin, spider, bat or ghost if your up for the challenge.
- Double up your lines up leaving a decent amount of space and make sure you can see your pen marks clearly as you’ll need to cut along these.
- Using your scissors, very carefully pierce a hole in the middle of the parts you’ll need to cut out i.e. where the “glass” will go in the windows.
- Once you’ve cut all of them out, pick different colours of tissue paper and arrange where they’ll go, then cut them to size.
- When you are ready to glue, flip the card over and glue the back of it and then place your tissue into the right place.
- Continue to do this until all gaps are filled.
- Stick it up on a window and watch as the sunlight shines through you creepy sun-catcher!
Scots words used in this blog:
- Fantoosh = flashy, ultra-fashionable
- Weans = children
- Cantrip = magic
- Auld = old
- Kirk = church
- Frichtfu’ = frightful
A round up of the year at RBBM; not even including all the craft fairs, farmers markets, lunch time tours and countless other things that were all possible because of the tireless work of our volunteers and staff.
• The year kicked off in style in January with Burns Night celebrations, held in the museum and hosted by Karen Dunbar.
• Haggis-hurling was the big hit of the Alloway 1759 weekend. We’ll be doing it all again this year, so come along to give it a shot.
• February saw the first meeting of the Book Club and Cupcake Cafe, it’s still going if you want to get involved!
• March’s Brass at the Bard’s brought together a fantastic mix of brass bands and the Bard’s Birthplace, with junior bands from around the West of Scotland exceeding expectations with their level of talent.
• Chocolate, badgers and Burns, oh my! In April Badger, Moley and the rest of the Wind in the Willows gang took over the cottage and museum for the annual Easter egg hunt.
• There were a series of craft workshops during the Easter holidays, including clay-modelling and movie-making for Burns, Camera, Action.
• May saw the opening of the new Monument Garden Shop, run by the museum’s volunteers. The opening ceremony was part of the Glorious Gardens event, which had plant sales and children’s crafts.
- Also during May Nich Smith won a Scottish Design Award in the Lighting Design category, for his new lighting scheme at Alloway Auld Kirk, and is also currently for shortlisted for a Lighting Design Award.
- June started with a bang: the fantastic Third Degree Burns Festival, featuring acts such as Trusty and the Foe , Celtic Twist and Macanta!
- The contemporary art exhibit Burnsiana opened, showcasing work by the world renowned photographer Calum Colvin and the accompanying poetry of celebrated Scots poet Rab Wilson.
- July marked the beginning of the School holidays and the summer program of Workshops for Weans and Summer Family Fun Day.
• In August Maurice Lindsay’s The Burns Encyclopaedia was launched at the museum.
• Throughout September there were a series of talks and events, including Rambling Rosie’s Saturday Stories and an enlightening talk on Sylvander and Clarinda given by Dr Pauline Mackay from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies.
• October launched The Big Draw 2013, with visitors drawing what they imagine Burns Cottage will look like in 250 years time. See the cottage underwater or even being invaded by aliens!
• Alloween featured a spooky evening of storytelling, ghost walks and costumed characters across the whole site.
• November brought the opening of our new exhibition Savage and Tender, accompanied by a special visit from a certain John Barrowman! This exhibition will run until the 23rd March so don’t miss the opportunity to catch it in the New Year.
• Novemeber 28th was Kids in Museums Takeover Day, when Primary 6s from Alloway Primary gave us all the chance to take a day off and let them run the museum… object handling, customer service, even live tweeting!
• On St Andrew’s Day RBBM was proud to host a celebratory poetry event, A Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman. Many thanks to poets Rab Wilson, Andrew Forster and Terry McDonagh.
• The Independent Minds: Prison, Poems and Politics anthology was launched at the Mitchell Library with a lively debate on prisoners and the vote. It is the result of a long collaboration between RBBM, Kevin Williamson and a group of prisoners from HMP Kilmarnock who took inspiration from Burns to write their own poetry.
• With the approach of Christmas our volunteers worked hard to bring us a wonderful Christmas Craft fair and a festive plant fair.
• Santa’s visit to Burns Cottage was a great surprise, along with Gilbert the Reindeer Keeper, Mrs Claus, the Christmas Tree Fairy and jolly elves! Many hundreds of you came to see him and saved Christmas for us all!
And that rounds off a fantastic year of events, talks, workshops and exhibitions at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum… here’s to 2014!