Recognize this guy? We’re spending a lot of time together lately, he and I. Especially, since he needs a bit of help. Yes, it’s September, and around here in the Education Department we’ve got that delicious, fresh start, get-ready feeling.  While the teachers get to know their kids and their classes, we get a little window to do a burst of program creation, renovation, repairs & tweaking, based on all the ideas that our visitors, our animators, and our colleagues in experiential education share and inspire throughout the year.One thing we hear a lot about is the prohibitive cost of buses, however reasonable our program fees are. Well, I’ve been unable to get past the rudimentary stages of class teleportation (physics was never my strongest subject). Instead, we’re turning our energies to developing outreach versions of our programs so that we can bring our hands-on programming to schools.  Truth be told, nothing beats the wonder kids (and adults) show when they come here (A waterfall in the building!  Canoes in the air!  “You mean I can touch that, really?!”). And even if I’m a wizard at packing the mini-van, it’ll never be able to carry the incredible context for programming that our collection here offers. Nonetheless, we’ve been having a great time figuring out the most engaging, curriculum-tied and uniquely museum-linked programming to take out of the building, in both official languages, no less!

We piloted our outreach kayak-building program at Trinity College School in Port Hope last spring – you can read about it in my blog post here. This team-building initiative for grade 4+ is couched in the context of traditional and present-day Inuit communities, and uses our 1/3 size wooden kayak kits. After a while they need a bit of TLC. Here our Lead Animator Jen Burnard checks whether the gunwales need a visit to the steamer in our workshop…

Jen’s also been busy prepping our Soapstone for use in our Museum-based carving programs and out in the schools. No small task… And then there’s Paddle-to-the-Sea, my buddy, my pal.

To know him is to love him, as we find whenever we take Paddle on an excursion to a conference or trade show and folks greet him like a long-lost friend.  Really, we’ve seen tears. The NFB film and the original Holling Clancy book about Paddle’s journey truly stand the test of time: our Paddle-to-the-Sea program at the Museum is a favourite elementary program for its focus on maps and the Great Lakes, for its chance to meet Paddle during a puppet show and to learn and play on a huge floor map. Until now, the program has also offered kids to learn how to properly get into canoes set up on rockers (for many, their first time in a canoe!), but oh-oh, that’s going to have to wait while our new Kirk Wipper exhibit reconfigures that area of the Museum…  never a dull moment around here!

And here’s the great news: to replace our rocking canoes, we’ve got a new hands-on activity and take-home for the Paddle-to-the Sea program, both for in the Museum and outreach, as well as the Paddle-to-the-Sea birthday party option!

We’re also working on a 3D version… but consider this a sneak preview, and we’ll be sure to trumpet the news when he’s ready for action. In the meantime, for more outreach and in-Museum programs, and/or to make a registration request, please visit our website, or call Karen at 705-748-9153, x203.