BY TOM LAVIS
Entertaining children can be a tricky business at the best of times, and it's even more difficult during the holidays.
Johnstown Children’s Museum is offering activities and a concert during Thanksgiving break.
Themed crafts and games will be presented Nov. 23-26 at the Heritage Discovery Center, 201 Sixth Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
Mark Weakland, an award-winning author, educator and musician, will perform at 1 p.m. Nov. 24.
“This program will appeal to preschool children, which has been our biggest audience traditionally,” said Richard Burkert, president and CEO of Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
“But we’re also presenting activities for older children. Families with children of all ages and their Thanksgiving houseguests will have plenty to do.”
As a musician and songwriter, Weakland creates music for children and adults.
Performing on drums, percussion, guitar and vocals, Weakland records and plays with various artists and bands.
He has a dozen nonfiction children’s books to his name, as well as an award-winning audio book, a poetry collection, a teacher reference book and “Jack Attack,” his first young-adult novel.
All activities have a Thanksgiving theme, the harvest season and colonial America.
Children will be fascinated by the programs, which include such offerings as seeds and how they travel. It is a hands-on activity that will use seed pods from the museum’s rooftop garden.
Using the plants, which are native to Pennsylvania, children will learn how the seeds are distributed.
Kids will play colonial American games such as hoop-and-stick and ball-and-cup.
In animal tracks, children can compare prints of different animals through an interactive activity.
Children will take part in food preservation and butter making.
They will also get a chance to make their own butter from cream and sample the results.
Shelley Johansson, JAHA’s director of marketing and communications, said another delightful craft will be an opportunity for children to make their own turkey call.
“We will have the kids use a cup and string to make an authentic sounding turkey call under the direction of our staff,” Johansson said.
“They will be able to take these projects home.”
She said the museum can accommodate 150 people during scheduled events, and there will be plenty of staff to administer the activities.
The crafts will be ongoing, and everything else is as scheduled in-house.
“The way we have things set up, children can do one project and move to the next 15 to 20 minutes later,” she said.
Burkert also noted that the Heritage Discovery Center has a lot to offer adults as well.
“We just opened a new exhibit, ‘Remembrance: 125 Years of Jewish Life in Johnstown,’ and many people have not yet seen ‘Mystery of Steel,’ our movie about Johnstown’s steel industry,” he said.
The event will also mark the first weekend the Johnstown Children’s Museum will collect toys for Cuddles for Kids, a Johnstown-based charity that distributes toys to needy children during the holiday season.
Donations of new and unwrapped toys will be accepted at the museum through Dec. 19, and will be delivered to local children’s charities, Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital and other locations.
Admission during Thanksgiving break is free to JAHA members and $6 for nonmembers.
Children ages 2 and younger will be admitted free.
Johnstown Children’s Museum has scheduled a variety of activities during the Thanksgiving break.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Food preservation and butter making; colonial games.
11 a.m. to noon: Seeds and How They Travel.
Noon to 1 p.m.: Colonial games.
1 p.m.: Mark Weakland concert.
2 to 3 p.m.: Turkey call craft, animal tracks activity, butter making and Indian corn craft.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Turkey call craft, animal tracks activity, butter making and colonial games.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Indian corn craft and colonial games.
If you go ...
What: Thanksgiving break.
Where: Johnstown Children’s Museum, Heritage Discovery Center, 201 Sixth Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
When: Nov. 23-26.
Cost: Free to JAHA members and $6 for nonmembers.
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