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Janesville, Wisconsin

Look who’s on TV!

The Children’s Museum of Rock County (CMRC) has partnered with The Sterling North Society in Edgerton, WI to host “Where’s Rascal?”, a virtual scavenger hunt around Rock County. Since the event’s launch on October 9th, numerous people have been solving the three weekly clues about Rascal’s whereabouts and posting selfies to the “Where’s Rascal?” event page on Facebook when they find him. It was the goal of CMRC to create a family-friendly, socially-distanced activity during COVID that brings people together in the spirit of fun and play. We are excited to see so many participating and making it a focal point of their weeks. Check out the story NBC15 did on the event and some of the families tracking him.

Beloved by generations of Rock County elementary students, Rascal is both the title of Rock County author Sterling North’s autobiographical novel and the name of his pet raccoon. North’s childhood home in Edgerton, Wis. has been restored by the Sterling North Society and serves as the site of the Society’s literary center, museum, and educational programs. 

The Sterling North Society is so excited that Rascal is going to be visiting places around Rock County,” said Betty Leonard, President of the Sterling North Society. “We encourage people who have not read Sterling North’s book Rascal to get a copy at the library.”

Rascal, a three-foot tall wooden cutout raccoon will spend one week at 11 different “selfie spot” locations in Rock County. The CMRC will post three clues each week to its Facebook event: “Where’s Rascal?” regarding Rascal’s upcoming location and informing participants when Rascal moves to the next “selfie spot.” 

Participants must then find Rascal, take a selfie, and post it to the “Where’s Rascal?” event with the hashtag #CMRCRascal to be entered for a prize drawing. Prize drawings will occur each week, with a grand prize drawing for Janesville Jets’ swag, delivered to the winner by a Janesville Jets player, at the conclusion of the event. The scavenger hunt kicks off on Saturday, October 3 and concludes on Saturday, December 19.

“We are grateful to all the area businesses that have made this event possible as ‘selfie spots’ and prize sponsors,” said Olivia McCarthy, Board Member for the Children’s Museum of Rock County. “We hope this socially-distanced event encourages families to get out and have fun while supporting local businesses.”

The CMRC has continued to work diligently during COVID to create community outreach events and to develop its plans to open an accessible physical museum space for play in Rock County.

Throw a Party for CMRC!

You can designate the Children’s Museum of Rock County (CMRC) as the beneficiary for your next Facebook Birthday Fundraiser. All money raised goes directly to the museum and brings us one step closer to opening our doors.

Support CMRC on AmazonSmile

When you shop on AmazonSmile and select the Children’s Museum of Rock County (CMRC) as your organization of choice, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to our cause. So, let’s get shopping!

Thank You!

We would like to thank the community partners who are helping to make The Children’s Museum of Rock County (CMRC) a reality.  For the past few years, Pieper Electric, Inc./Ideal Mechanical has supported CMRC by providing us with an annual grant through their corporate foundation, the PPC Foundation.  This year, however, their generosity was flooring.  They increased their annual contribution more than two-fold by awarding CMRC a $22,000 grant to underwrite the construction of our infant and toddler area.  We have been working with local architect Angus-Young to redesign the retail space in the Janesville Mall into a dynamic museum and playscape.  This grant will go a long way in making that vision a reality.

We also want to recognize the MOMS Club of Rock County for their $475 contribution.  The MOMS Club of Rock County is the local chapter of International MOMS Club ®, a non-profit organization founded to support mothers in their choice to be the primary care provider for their child/ren. Each spring, MOMS Club hosts their annual MOM2MOM Sale.  Proceeds from the event are given to a Rock County non-profit organization chosen by MOMS Club members.  This year, they chose CMRC.  We are grateful for their contribution and honored to have been selected.

Play Helps Reduce Stress


Toxic Stress: What You Need to Know

Things are stressful right now. Whether you’re concerned about your health or the health of loved ones, dealing with loss of income or trying to balance working from home while your kids’ schools are closed, these are unprecedented times.

You may be wondering if your kids are stressed or how this will affect them. To get expert advice on this topic, we reached out to Megan Gunnar, a Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She’s also the chair of the museum’s Research Advisory Council.

We asked her a few questions about stress and children.

What is “toxic stress?”

Stressors are things we experience. Stress is the response of the body and brain to those stressors. Everybody responds to a different extent to the same stressor depending on how we evaluate it, our prior experiences and our genetics.

When we are exposed to stressors that are frequent and overwhelming to us, particularly if we feel we have no control and no one who can support and help us, our stress responses can be so large and chronic that they produce significant wear and tear on our bodies and minds. The stress response itself becomes toxic to us.

Are young children susceptible to effects of stress during a crisis like this? What are signs of stress parents might see in their kids?

The times we are living through can be stressful to children. Young children, however, take their cues from their parents. If parents are calm, then children will be reassured. Signs that the child is stressed, though, are problems sleeping, anxiety about being separated from parents, being clingy, being withdrawn, lack of appetite.

During these school closures, more children are probably going to suffer from boredom because their routines are disrupted and “there is nothing to do” without friends and child care or school. And the very young ones will be confused over why their parents are home but ignoring them because they are working remotely.

Although extremely difficult, if parents can stay calm, be firm but not upset, and find ways to help their children know when the parent can take breaks to be with them (and have those breaks be fairly often if short with young children), then children will be less stressed.

What you want to avoid is a family atmosphere that becomes chronically tense and angry as this may affect the parent-child relationship in negative ways that will last beyond this coronavirus period.

What are some practical ways parents and other caregivers can avoid or lessen effects of stressful times like this?

If there are two adults working from home, scheduling work time so as to minimize when both parents need to be ignoring the children can help.

Setting timers to signal to children when parents can take a break and when they need to go back to work may help children know that their need to leave parents alone won’t go on forever.

For some children, having the parent in the same room even if they must leave them alone can be reassuring. For others, it will make it very hard for them to let their parent work. For these children, if the parent can be in a room with the door closed it might help. Beyond everything, routine helps. So developing a plan, with the children’s input if they are old enough, and posting it may help everyone.

How specifically does play mitigate any negative effect of stress and anxiety?

Play is the best medicine in stressful times like this. Play gives children a sense of control because, by definition, play is what we engage in because we want to, not because we have to.

Fantasy play allows children to create a world where they decide what happens and they can predict what goes on. Control and predictability are two pillars of stress reduction. Play of any kind occupies the mind and can be a worry-free place for children (and adults). Playing with parents is especially helpful to children during stressful times because it brings happy togetherness which is precisely what children need to feel safe and secure.

Make sure to take breaks and be gentle on yourself, too. Modeling that good behavior and taking time to lower your stress levels as much as possible can help protect your kids from the effects of toxic stress.

Megan Gunnar, Ph.D.

Megan is a Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She’s also the chair of the Research Advisory Council for Minnesota Children’s Museum.

**Post borrowed from and linked to Minnesota Childrens Museum

What to tell your kids….


As we begin a new month under the shelter-in-place order directed by our Governor and President, I’m sure many of us are still trying to wrap our minds around this new temporary norm. I’m sure, for many, it’s difficult to comprehend how we can survive another month of this isolation. Introverts are probably rejoicing, but for most, this can be a worrisome time. It would be easy for us to put on blinders and forget to consider the little people in our lives.

There are some situations we face on a daily basis that can be scary for kids to understand. It’s sometimes imperative to shelter them from certain things of this world until they’re old enough to comprehend some of the larger ideas/themes. However, how do we shelter our kids from being scared or worried when the entire world is thrust into the clutches of a pandemic? As adults, we can usually handle the worry that comes with facing the unprecedented, but what about a child? When all around them, their normal is quickly being stripped away and replaced with a foreign routine, their playtime is being confined (literally), and their planned adventures have been taken away, a child cannot necessarily handle these extreme changes. It’s important to explain these changes in a way that makes sense without adding to the stress of the situation. When you can’t find the words, sometimes it’s easier to look elsewhere.

“A Kids Book About” has created a new publication explaining COVID-19 using the language of a child. Simple and straightforward. We encourage you to check it out and use it. A Kids Book About COVID-19

As you seek new resources for educating, entertaining, and adapting to this temporary transformation of our lives, consider viewing the world as it is now from your child’s perspective. We often forget that they are viewing events around them with a different lens. We should strive to educate our children how to adapt and not add more stress or worry to their minds when the world throws a wrench.

One final thought to leave you with…..it can be hard not to try to recreate school as your child(ren) is used too, but you shouldn’t. This time is a great opportunity to learn in a new way. Endeavor to teach them something new—cooking, tying their shoe, riding without training wheels, building something new, fixing broken objects, etc.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay positive.

Seeing The Upside…


The world seems to be a little bit more bleak these days. With the spread of COVID-19, and the near mandatory quarantine of the country, it can be difficult to see the upside in all of this. As a working mom of four, it’s become a difficult task to manage work, homeschooling, and daily life at the moment. I empathize with you all. However, let us use this time not as a way to see the negative in the world, but as a time to grow our relationships with our families.

There are a plethora of resources, communities and organizations have come together to offer completely free virtual opportunities for kids and families to learn, see something new, and participate in activities they would have otherwise. Even though we have not opened our doors, we want you all to know that we are here for you and with you, to create opportunities/ideas for play. Do not fret about what you will teach your child. Instead, allow your child to teach you something and allow them time for unstructured play.

Find an incredibly thorough list here http://www.amazingeducationalresources.com/

Remember, wash thoroughly, practice social distancing, and avoid panicking.

Why Failure Is Okay


We want to protect our children — we don’t want them to feel pain or fail, because we want them to live happy and meaningful lives.

Alexandria, Louisiana-based licensed professional counselor Christy Pennison.
The Week

Check out this article written to inspire parents/caregivers to let children fail every once in a while.

We have so ingrained our minds in believing failure is not an option. Yet, it’s often the most successful individuals who have failed at one point in their lives. So, why do we teach our kids (often subconsciously) that failure is not ok?

At CMRC, we tout the benefits of learning through play. More often than not, people view this concept as assisting in academics and social skills. However, play can sometimes result in some form of failure. Whether a stack of blocks falls, the puzzle doesn’t quite fit together the way a child thinks it should, or a child can’t quite seem to hit every hopscotch block. Each of these examples is a form of failure–generally small in comparison, but still a failure (especially in a child’s eyes). If an adult comes along and “fixes” those failures, or berates that child for failing, what are they really being taught? Play should be a time when a child is free to fail without major life consequences. Play should be a safe area of their lives that allows for uninhibited use of imagination and creation. By allowing a child to fail during times of play, we are working to increase their motivation to try again, or try something new to make it work.

So, let’s encourage play, let’s not discourage failure, and in the end, we will have hopefully helped mold a child into a motivated and productive citizen–maybe one who will become the next big entrepreneur.

Play Is Becoming Extinct


Running around outdoors is a favorite past time of mine. I recall happy memories of my childhood adventures on my family’s farm. Riding on our ATV’s, taking long walks to the pond, learning to parallel park between two trees in an F-150, are some of my most favorite memories. At the time, I did not understand how my adventures aided in my development; however, looking back I can remember countless times I needed to use creative methods and problem solving skills to escape the “dangers” of the pasture. Life seemed simpler then.

My siblings and I built our own tree house one year using the wood we found behind one of our barns. We worked together to haul the wood to a suitable tree that had forked downward creating a mostly flat area to begin building a platform. We used my father’s hammer, nails and saw to build what we would consider to be our castle in the woods. We had many adventures on that farm. I only wish my own children could experience a similar environment. Unfortunately, my family has inadvertently fallen victim to the hectic schedules and technology plaguing our lives. One of my goals for this year is to stem the tide of over-stimulation, and take my family back to the great outdoors–even if just in our own yard.

I’ve been reading many articles over the past few months about the importance of play. Working on museum projects, I’ve gained a lot of insight into the differences between my childhood and my own children’s. It’s easy to repost memes and quotes on social media regarding the differences, but it’s another thing to sit and actually contemplate those differences. An article researched and based on Australian children’s data (but could be readily applied worldwide) suggests that children are playing outdoors less and less. There are several reasons given confirming this statement. According to research, addiction to technology, and parents hoping to protect their children from various environmental and social factors have limited a child’s time spent outdoors. **Cue the guilty parent face**

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes play as every child’s basic right. But play is becoming extinct. Global studies, across generations, have confirmed outdoor children’s play has been declining, across all age groups, for decades.

Brendon Hyndman, Senior Lecturer and Course Director (Postgraduate Education courses), Charles Sturt University

There are many ramifications for the lack of outdoor play. Apart from a child’s lack of imagination, they are less likely to appreciate nature if they refrain from engaging with nature. Children also need sun exposure and exercise in order to continue developing strong immune systems, and maintain healthy bodies. Playing outdoors also increases executive function. Unstructured play improves a child’s development on all levels. Too often, hectic schedules and pressures of school deter children from unstructured play and play outdoors.

The article suggests that schools could help pick up the slack. However, the problem is that children need new environments to explore, and a school playground gets old quick. So, while it’s imperative children get as many breaks at school as possible, we cannot leave our children’s outdoor exposure strictly to schools. We must do our part to get off technology, take breaks from working around the house/careers, and take our children out to play and explore. Let them be free to roam (within reason). They’ll appreciate the independence and you’ll get to see them grow right before your very eyes.

This article was written by Leslie Hubert, Vice President, Children’s Museum of Rock County Board of Directors

Bibliography: https://theconversation.com/let-them-play-kids-need-freedom-from-play-restrictions-to-develop-117586?fbclid=IwAR0jLtpKsGCl7-JFwEsq8-f1tRfguOA_splssenEkU7OIuH4sfGFR87Kb8k