Throughout the fall season, Imagine Nation, A Museum Early Learning Center is offering a variety of programs and activities for children and their families.
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, youngsters can dress like a farmer, build a scarecrow, explore pumpkins and more on Harvest Day. The event, which is focused on the wonders of the fall harvest, will take place in Imagine Nation’s museum studios from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The event also will feature hands-on cooking with Jodie Fitz from the Price Chopper Kids Cooking Club and a performance by the Old Time Fiddlers at 10 a.m.
“We have a lot of wonderful special events planned for this fall that we’re really excited about,” said Stickney.
On Saturday, Oct. 29, the 15th Annual Wild About Animals Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sponsored by the Thomaston Savings Bank Foundation, the festival will feature up-close encounters with farm animals, reptiles, domestic pets, exotics birds and aquatic creatures both inside and outside Imagine Nation. The museum also will introduce its new resident, a Crested Gecko.
Admission is $10, and children under age one can enter for free.
A division of the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol Family Center, Imagine Nation starts November off with extended hours. Starting Thursday, Nov. 3, the museum will remain open until 7 p.m. The museum will be closed on Sundays until January.
“That will give families an opportunity to visit us that might not be able to make it in during regular schedule weekday hours or weekend hours,” said Stickney.
That same evening (Nov. 3), the museum will kick off a new program series called “Expand Your Imagination,” which is geared towards students from kindergarten to third grade. Facilitated by educators, the series will take the form of evening workshops at 6 p.m.
On Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 8), Imagine Nation will remain open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., when visitors can cast their vote to name the museum’s Crested Gecko.
On Saturday, Nov. 12, the 15th Connecticut Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker Contest will kick off at 1 p.m. Children ages 5 to 15 are invited to enter this zany beauty contest that involves a team of judges who will look for the most worn out and smelliest pair of sneakers they can find. The regional contest will receive Odor-Eaters products, $200 and the Golden Sneaker Award as well as a chance to compete in the National Contest at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in New York City. Registration will be accepted the day of the event at Imagine Nation before the contest begins.
Besides the contest, the museum also will celebrate National Pizza Day on Nov. 12. That same day marks “Imagine Nation Loves Bristol Day,” in which the museum opens its doors for free to all Bristol residents from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors must show proof of their Bristol residency for free admission.
Nov. 12 also marks Sensory Saturday, in which the museum will open early for children with special needs and their families from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, Imagine Nation will promote the spirit of volunteerism on National Family Volunteer Day from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Participants will receive free admission and create Thanksgiving placemats to brighten an individual’s day at neighborhood shelters, nursing homes and Bristol Hospital.
“We’ll be working with Team ESPN on this,” said Stickney. “It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.”
Imagine Nation will conclude November with its Day of Thanks event on Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to celebrate the season of gratitude with all of its members. The museum will serve a Thanksgiving meal with children and their families who will have a chance to make a leaf for the “Thankful Tree.” Members must sign up by Nov. 17.
“It’s another way to give back,” said Stickney.
The month of December will focus on the spirit of the season and creating new family traditions with Imagine Nation. On Thursday, Dec. 15, the Northeast Middle School Jazz Band will perform a free holiday concert at 4 p.m., allowing children to see, hear and learn about the unique look and sounds of each instrument.
“That’s an event we look forward to every year,” said Stickney.
New Years Eve (Saturday, Dec. 31) marks “Celebrations Around the World,” which will take place at Imagine Nation from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests will ring in the new year by celebrating cultures from around the world, make party hats and noise makers.
“We have a lot of visitors that come back every year,” said Stickney. “We highlight all of the different countries and how they celebrate New Years.”
Before the end of 2016, Imagine Nation will unveil a new museum studio, a playbox theater, which is currently under construction. The project was made possible by the Stocker Foundation.
A NAEYC accredited, Reggio Emilia-inspired state licensed Early Learning Center, Imagine Nation still has openings in its preschool program for the current school year. The program is open to Bristol and out-of-town residents.
Imagine Nation also offers a variety of daily workshops and special events for children between the ages of two and eight. The museum also offers a program called “Playful Learners,” which features special activities for toddlers age three and under on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Participants will receive half-priced admission.
“They can explore the museum studios and participate in a lot of activities specifically geared toward that age group,” said Stickney.
During museum studio hours, Imagine Nation now serves an expanded menu with healthier options in its café, including salads, build-your-own sandwiches, turkey chili, cream of tomato soup and more. The café also serves apples, popcorn, assorted beverages, ice cream and classic items like grilled cheese sandwiches.
The museum’s early learning school is now serving lunch to its students.
The café is open from Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is not needed to enjoy the café.
“Everything we serve is super fresh,” said Allie Fields, creative food director at Imagine Nation. “A lot of the ingredients we use come right from our backyard, which the children plant themselves.”
For more information about Imagine Nation, visit http://imaginenation.org/imagine-cafe/.