Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rey Center brings Abenaki Programs to WVES

How the Abenaki Program came to be...

This year the 3rd-5th graders at Waterville Valley Elementary School (WVES) are getting to experience New Hampshire history first hand. Their teacher Kate Smarz had the brilliant idea to have social studies correlate with science. The school year began with NH's place in the World and geology, moved on to native people of New Hampshire (Abenaki) and ecosystems, and will go on to cover explorers & settlers and electricity. This year WVES is also focused on project based learning which is precisely what the Rey Center programs strive for. For the last 5 years the Rey Center has provided experiential science programs for WVES and an occasional special program like family astronomy. About a year ago Rael Gleitsman, a resident of Waterville Valley, began volunteering with the Rey Center. Rael is an avid gardener and a master potter. This summer Rael helped with our Nature Trek program making pottery with campers. Rael also planted corn & beans in the community garden and was hoping to have a feast with what he harvested. So we began to brainstorm ideas and we ended up with an Abenaki unit including gardening, pottery, games, and a harvest dinner.

The unit began with students learning about three sisters gardening and what it might have been like to find food as an Abenaki 400 years ago. At our second program students learned how the Abenaki might have made pottery and then were able to create their own bowls.

Rael prefired the bowls in the school's kiln and dug a pit in the community garden for the finishing fire. The students brought their bowls to the fire and Rael carefully placed them around the edge to heat up slowly. Once the bowls were warm they were placed in the fire pit and sticks were stacked on top.

While the bowls were in the fire students read native american legends that they wrote and played traditional Native American games like ball & triangle and little pines. The final program will be a feast with traditional Native American dishes like succotash n'nuts and three sisters soup. The best part is that students will get to eat out of the bowls that they created! By the end of the Abenaki unit WVES students will have a better sense of what it might have been like living in New Hampshire before European's arrived.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

SUMMER 2013 Nature Nights

This summer we offered nature nights in Waterville Valley and at Blair Woodland in Campton, NH. The turn out was great! 119 people attended Nature Night and discovered the mysteries along the trail. Below are a few photos that will give you an idea of the topics we explored.
Seeing how many times we could flap "our wings" in 10 seconds
Using our sense of SMELL to find our match

Looking up close at some ANTS!
Up to our knees in mud exploring the vernal pool!

Turning a girl into an many legs does an insect have???

GO check out the newly updated kiosk at Blair Woodland that includes artwork by this year's Nature Night participants.

We would like to thank the Campton Conservation Commission and Waterville Valley's Town Square for sponsoring Nature Nights:)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Curious George Cottage Family Festival Welcomes Kids of All Ages to Waterville Valley this August

The Margret and H.A. Rey Center’s 7th Annual Curious George Cottage Family Festival returns in August to speak to the curiosity in us all. The festival is a 2-day event this August 10-11, 2013, featuring a weekend full of family-friendly activities with Curious George and the Man With the Yellow Hat.  The Festival is a celebration of curiosity, providing families the opportunity to play and learn together as they explore art, science and nature just like Curious George loves to do. The weekend includes a banana pancake breakfast with Curious George, a family nature walk, live music, a BBQ lunch with Curious George, photo opportunities with the characters, a farmyard petting zoo, Mad Science shows, games for kids, Curious George story hour and craft time, “Curious Characters” drawings by local artists, planetarium shows, weather balloon launch, and model rocket launching. All proceeds from the event support the Margret and H.A. Rey Center’s art and science education programs for all ages held throughout the year.

Headlining the festival this year is children’s musician Zak Morgan. GRAMMY nominee Zak
Morgan's unique brand of children's music delivers songs and poems with wit and charm that inspire and tickle the funny bones of children and adults alike. According to Rick Bird of the Cincinnati Post, “Morgan sounds a bit like singer Cat Stevens, and his storytelling is an inspired cross between Dr. Seuss-style word games and the sly, edginess of Shel Silverstein. In short, it's children's music that adults can love.” When he is not writing and recording, Zak performs family concerts throughout the country. His live performances are always filled with laughter and warmth as he encourages children to read, imagine and believe in themselves. Morgan has released three critically acclaimed records and one DVD for children and was nominated for a GRAMMY in 2003 – a rare feat for an independent artist. Morgan currently resides in Cincinnati, OH and is working on his fourth record. The Festival will feature a Zak Morgan performance on both Saturday and Sunday.

Also performing on the Festival stage on Saturday will be an interactive musical experience by Tony
Fonseca of All Hands Drumming. Tony has been studying, playing and teaching drumming for over 40 years. His influences are in the traditions of West African, Cape Verdean and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Tony’s interactive drum-fun entertainment is for children, youth and adults who want an exciting, fun and memorable experience. During his performance, Tony sets up a drum-circle of ten to thirty drums of various heights to accommodate children, youth, and adults of all ages and sizes. From inside the circle, Tony plays a continuous series of heart-pounding beats as he interacts with the visitors to the circle as they play along on the drums. For those at the event who do not choose to try drumming at the circle, they still enjoy watching and listening to Tony, as he keeps the atmosphere lively and upbeat with his masterful drumming style.

Mad Science will return once again this year to perform one of their edu-taining science programs, “Fire and Ice.” In the land of Fire and Ice the Mad Scientist starts with a magic trick that makes a card disappear and magically reappear. Heat and chemicals combine with an "aaahesome" result. Finally, in the ice portion of this program they will amaze children with exciting experiments using frozen carbon dioxide gas at -109 degrees F.

A festival favorite is the Banana Pancake Breakfast with Curious George hosted by The Snowy Owl Inn of Waterville Valley. In addition to an intimate visit with Curious George and the Man With the Yellow Hat, this year’s breakfast, held on both Saturday and Sunday, will feature live music by Laurel Dodge. Kids can sing along with Laurel as she plays and sings some well-loved kids’ tunes!

New to the festival this year are planetarium shows by the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. A
Discovery Center educator will take participants on a tour of the night sky followed by an exciting journey of discovery to explore our solar system, including breathtaking images from the Hubble Space Telescope using full dome video technology in their portable dome planetarium. The Rey Center is also please to welcome FlisKits, Inc model rockets to the festival this year. Jim Flis of FlisKits, Inc will launch several model rockets throughout the day on Saturday to the delight of young and old alike. The Backwoods Farm Petting Zoo of Rumney, NH will also be joining the festival for the first time this year. Their family friendly petting zoo gives kids the opportunity to get up close and personal with their loveable barnyard critters. Other exciting additions to the weekend’s lineup are a weather discovery exhibit by the Mount Washington Observatory and a weather balloon launch by the Judd Gregg Meteorology Institute at Plymouth State University.

Wristbands for the 7th Annual Curious George Cottage Family Festival are $23 per person for a 2-day pass, which includes all activities and performances. Children two and under get in free with a paying adult. Additional tickets are required for the banana pancake breakfast. Lunch is available for purchase onsite. A limited number of wristbands are available at the event for $28 per person; advance purchase is recommended. To view the complete event schedule and to purchase wristbands visit or call the Rey Center at 603-236-3308.

Roper Real Estate, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Louis Karno & Company, Waterville Valley Realty, Parenting NH Magazine, ABODE Homebuilders, and Community Guaranty Savings Bank, as well as many other local businesses are generous sponsors of the Curious George Cottage Family Festival.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Curious George Goes Bananas at the Waterville Valley 4th of July Parade

Curious George Goes Bananas at 4th of July Parade

The staff of the Margret and H.A. Rey Center and Curious George cottage, accompanied by some very helpful (and hot) bananas marched in this year's annual Waterville Valley Fourth of July Parade. Along the way reminding everyone of the upcoming 7th annual Curious George Cottage Family Festival on August 10th and 11th. Tickets are on sale now!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Curious George Nature Trail to Get a Facelift This Summer

Dave Gaudioso of Like Father, Like Son Landscaping
preparing the trail for resurfacing.

With generous support from Eagle Scout candidate Ian McKinnon, the Town of Waterville Valley, Dave Gaudioso of Like Father, Like Son Landscaping, as well as other local businesses, the Curious George Nature Trail will soon once again be an accessible place to learn about and experience the ecology of the forests that surround us. The Curious George Nature Trail was originally created in 2004 as a tribute to Curious George authors and former Waterville Valley residents, Margret and H.A. Rey and was designed to be an outdoor classroom for learning about local ecology. The Margret and H.A. Rey Center uses the trail for its many hands-on science and nature programs with schools and families, and the trail is open to the public to explore and enjoy.

Before Dave started, you couldn't even see this
section of trail!
The Trail was originally designed to be wheelchair accessible but had become very overgrown in the last 10 years. This summer’s project will be done in stages with the first stage being done by Dave Gaudioso of Like Father, Like Son Landscaping and the second stage being done by Eagle Scout candidate Ian McKinnon. The first stage includes reestablishing and resurfacing the trail. Dave Gaudioso began this stage of the project by cutting back the vegetation that had encroached on the trail to bring the trail back to its original width and will then resurface the trail with ledge pack to create an even and level surface. Like Father, Like Son Landscaping is generously donating the labor costs associated with this stage of the project and have kindly offered to support Eagle Scout candidate Ian McKinnon with his stage of the project as well.

Once the resurfacing is complete, Ian McKinnon will oversee the next stage of the project in partial fulfillment of the Eagle Scout community service project requirement. This stage of the project will include repairing the large bridge near the start of the trail, reestablishing the section of trail removed during the relocation of the Curious George Cottage in 2010, sealing and sanding the benches along the trail, removing hazards such as dead and downed trees and vegetation near the trail, and redefining two drainage channels that are supposed to move standing water away from the sides of the trail. Ian will certainly have his work cut out for him this summer! Contact the Rey Center if you are interested in volunteering your time and talents to be a part of this great project (603-236-3308 or We invite you to take a lap around the Curious George Nature Trail a few times this summer and watch the transformation happen! 

Rey Center Garden Volunteer Day

On Saturday, June 15 several volunteers joined Rey Center staff for Garden Volunteer Day at the Curious George Cottage. Projects for the day included creating the new Noon Peak Road entrance to the Mary Bierbrier Community Gardens, installing the new community gardens hand-painted sign, lots and lots of weeding and fluffing of mulch, and relocation of a few shrubs and plants.

Thank you to the volunteers who joined us, without them there would be no Garden Volunteer Day! Thank you to Maryellen Sakura, Sylvia Taub, Rael Glietsman, Birdie Britton, Will Twombley, and Dave Gaudioso of Like Father, Like Son Landscaping.
Pictured from L to R: Leigh Ann Reynolds (staff), Maryellen Sakura, Birdie Britton,
Sylvia Taub, Rael Glietsman and Denise Siraco (staff) in front of the new garden sign.

The project of creating the new garden entrance got a huge helping hand from Dave Gaudioso of Like
Father, Like Son Landscaping who brought his skid steer over to remove the section of berm between the garden and the road that is now the new entrance. Dave really saved the day, as we were planning to do this by hand with shovels. We might still be over there digging if it weren’t for his help! The new entrance will provide accessible access to the community gardens for everyone. Like Father, Like Son Landscaping is also donating granite curbing to outline the berm along the road and help define the new entrance. Along with the new Mary Bierbrier Community Gardens sign, hand made and hand painted by the Rey Center’s Denise Siraco, which was installed on the berm, the garden entrance is really coming together. Stop by the gardens located next to the Curious George Cottage on Noon Peak Road to see the improvements. The Mary Bierbrier Community Gardens provide community members the opportunity to grow vegetables, flowers and herbs and to share that experience with others. The Town of Waterville Valley, the Bierbrier Family, Like Father, Like Son Landscaping, and Environmental to Residential Landscaping are proud sponsors of the community gardens.

Other projects for the day included weeding the perennial beds around the Curious George Cottage and the berm in front of the community gardens along Noon Peak Road. The weeds were winning the war, but by lunchtime the volunteers had successfully reclaimed the perennial gardens and the berm, and the plants and shrubs will certainly be happier for it. Now we just need to stay one step ahead of those weeds…let us know if you want to volunteer a hand to help out!

Thank you again to all the volunteers who made this day a success! To learn more about the Margret and H.A. Rey Center or the Mary Bierbrier Community Gardens visit or stop by the Rey Center on the second level of Waterville Valley’s Town Square.