Upcoming Exhibit Sneak Peek!

As our Celebrating China Series winds down and we prepare to send Children of Hangzhou back to the Boston Children’s Museum, many museum guests are left wondering, “what’s next?”

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Well, the Children’s Museum at La Habra is so excited to present our new “Lindo Mexico” exhibit, a cultural exploration of the fun and beauty of our nearest neighboring country! I’m sure the papel picado gave it away! We don’t want to give away any of the key features of the exhibit yet, so we’ll just share some of the little details that our Exhibits Curator, Lisa Reckon, put together to make this exhibit not only historical but rich in culture!

Sweet bread, also known as pan dulce, is a staple of Mexican culture. Lisa wanted to create a realistic pan de muerto, a special pan dulce eaten during the holiday Día de los Muertos. To create these special sweet breads, Lisa used polyurethane, Modge Podge, paint and salt to create realistic (and yummy-looking) sweet breads!




As mentioned before there is a Dia De Muertos portion of the exhibit (stay tuned for more details)! Since we can’t keep calaveras de azúcar, also known as sugar skulls, in our exhibit, Lisa had our amazing and artistic volunteers create these beautiful and vibrant masks! To celebrate the lives of their loved ones who have passed, calaveras de azúcar are placed on an altar as an ofrenda (or offering) to the dead!


Also making an appearance in our exhibit is our full-body skeleton friend! You may notice the skeleton has butterfly elements, a significant part of Día de los Muertos as well. The butterfly’s return to Mexico not only signifies the return of the corn harvest but also the beginning of Día de los Muertos.


We don’t want to give away any of the structural elements yet, but Lisa and our staff have been putting great detail into making the exhibit as authentic as possible. Here’s a sneak peak at the entrance into the Día de los Muertos portion of the exhibit.


We are so excited to bring this exhibit to life and we can’t wait to see you all there! For more information about our Lindo Mexico exhibit that opens June 19th, visit http://www.lhcm.org/.


Saying Goodbye to Hangzhou!

For the last six months we have had the privilege of hosting the beautiful Children Of Hangzhou exhibit, one of five showcases funded by the Freeman Foundation as a part of their Asian Culture Exhibit Series. Developed by the Boston’s Children’s Museum, Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China is a traveling exhibit that exposes viewers to life and culture through the eyes of four young people in Hangzhou.

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The Freeman Foundation’s mission is for visitors to gain new awareness and understanding of Chinese culture and what it means to be Chinese. Our Museum not only wanted to appreciate the culture that was presented in the exhibit, but also provide a space for folks from all over to learn about Chinese culture through music, writing, dance, and the practice of cultural traditions. We relish in the opportunity to increase cultural awareness and celebrate the diversity of our beautiful community. As we say goodbye to Hangzhou, we look back at all of the amazing events where we brought our community together to celebrate.


One of the many special events our Museum hosted during the duration of the exhibit’s time here was a music and opera event, complete with performers playing the Tanggu drums, a traditional Chinese drum from the 19th century!


This “ceremonial hall drum” was the perfect way to ring in the Chinese New Year and an even better opportunity for children to dance their hearts away!

We also explored the art of calligraphy, a writing style that has existed since 200 BC! Kids loved learning about the different styles of calligraphy as well as seeing all the amazing things just one brush could do!

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Intricate paper folding is also a Chinese cultural staple. Known popularly as “origami”, Chinese paper folding dates back to the 6th century, but possibly even before! We were so excited to show our guests the beauty of this special art form!
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And lastly, our Wishing Tree. The practice of the Wishing Tree dates back to hundreds of years ago in Lam Tsuen, where fisherman would throw their wishes into a tree to wish for good fortune, safety, and prosperity on their journey to the new territories of Hong Kong. Hundreds of Museum guests threw their wishes up into our Wishing Tree while our Hangzhou exhibit was here and we hope every single one of them comes true! We are extremely saddened to take down our Wishing Tree as it serves as a beautiful reminder that all of us, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, have dreams to dream.
Thank you to those who came to celebrate China with our Museum. Hosting this exhibit was such an honor an privilege and truly something unforgettable for both our Museum and our community.
Lastly, thank you to all the organizations and individuals who made this exhibit possible:
Thank you to the Children’s Museum of Boston and the Freeman Foundation for providing us with this amazing and impactful exhibit. Thank you to the U.S. Hangzhou Association and special thanks to Annie Wei, San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. Thank you to our media sponsors, R&C Media Group and to Amie Chen Re/Max 2000 Realty, Joanne and Tony Su, B&M Interior Decoration, Even Life, and Vegi Wokery. The Children’s Museum at La Habra is so grateful for your commitment to supporting our programs!

Celebrating China Series: Hangzhou in La Habra!

You may have already been one of the thousands of people to come and see our Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China* exhibit, but if you haven’t been yet–this is for you!

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The Children’s Museum at La Habra is currently hosting a traveling exhibit from the Boston Children’s Museum called, “The Children of Hangzhou”. This interactive exhibit follows the lives of four real-life children from the Zhejiang Province in China in their daily lives at school, home, in the city center, and in the countryside. The exhibit developers hope to show children from our area how life in China is both similar and different from what they know through the eyes of children just like them!

Here are a few sneak peeks into the awesome exhibit!


When entering, you’re greeted by a bus station terminal that gives AMAZING facts about Hangzhou, it’s population, and the local treasures! We love having this interactive platform that gets guests engaged in learning! This isn’t the only screen you can watch though, our exhibit has SEVEN flat-screens with informative videos!


This exhibit also displays a typical classroom in Hangzhou, complete with two desks, a blackboard, a Build-A-Great-Wall game, and a space to learn about the Chinese characters and how their language and writing changed over time.


As stated earlier, the exhibit follows the lives of four real-life children in Hangzhou. Can you guess the hobby of this child? Theatre? Opera? Come see and learn!


And last, but definitely not least, everyone’s favorite area–the kitchen! Complete with a fridge, two cabinets FULL of food, and bok choy that looks real enough to eat–little ones LOVE spending time in the kitchen and preparing a meal for their grown-ups!

Come join us at our Children of Hangzhou exhibit before it leaves on May 27th, 2018! Don’t forget to come and see the last events of our Celebrating China Series!


This Saturday, April 21st from 11AM – 1PM we’ll celebrate the remarkable invention of paper by the Chinese with demonstrations and hands-on art stations featuring Chinese Paper Folding and beautiful Calligraphy! Workshops for all ages to take part in! Included with Museum admission!

*Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China was produced by Boston’s Children’s Museum as part of the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series, funded by The Freeman Foundation and administered by Association of Children’s Museums. All underlying materials, including all artwork and the use of Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China characters are used with permission of the Boston Children’s Museum.

Butterfly, Butterfly, There You Are!

In our last blog post we discussed the process of a caterpillar forming their chrysalis and we promised to update our blog as soon as our butterflies emerged… well, guess what day it is! Painted Lady Butterfly emergence day!


Our Painted Lady butterflies were in their chrysalis for 7-9 days and we saw them emerge one by one this week! At first their chrysalis was gently shaking, letting us know that they were close to emerging. After about 15 minutes, they gently ripped through the soft chrysalis and hung in a vertical position so their blood can pump into their wings, preparing them for flight!


The butterfly pictured above has JUST left it’s chrysalis, while the butterfly picture below has been out for a full 24 hours and has gained the ability to move freely!


If you’re interested in checking out our Painted Lady Butterflies, they will be on display in Museum lobby until further notice! Thanks for following our journey!

Another huge thanks to Chase ‘N Butterflies for providing us with live caterpillars for our 3rrd annual Caterpillar Adoption!
For more information on Chase ‘N Butterflies, visit their website at:

Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Where Are You?

Did you accidentally miss our 3rd annual caterpillar adoption? No need to fret, we have five of our caterpillar friends in our lobby for viewing right now! Aren’t familiar with the life cycle of a caterpillar? Well, you’ve come to the right place to learn!


Our caterpillars started out teeny tiny, at a quarter of an inch, and ate their way to a whopping one inch! After a few days of eat, rest, repeat—they formed their chrysalis and fastened themselves to the top of their containers. A few of our awesome museum staff members safely transferred the chrysalis to the top of a butterfly habitat where they’ll remain for 7-10 days.


Although we can’t see anything from outside the chrysalis, there are BIG changes going on inside! Their old caterpillar body parts are being replaced by new butterfly parts and soon we’ll have beautiful Painted Lady Face butterflies!

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Interested in seeing their final transformation from chrysalis to butterfly? Stay tuned and watch this space, we’ll be updating soon!


A huge thanks to Chase ‘N Butterflies for providing us with live caterpillars again!
For more information on Chase ‘N Butterflies, visit their website at:

From Steam Engines to a STEAM Lab: 40 Years of Play at the Children’s Museum

In the year 1977:

  • a gallon of gas was .65
  • a movie called Star Wars came out
  • Jimmy Carter was president
  • The Eagles, Stevie Wonder, and The BeeGees ruled the airwaves
  • Apple II personal computers went on sale
  • and, last but not least, the first children’s museum on the West coast opened on December 2nd in a town called La Habra!

That’s right, the Children’s Museum at La Habra just celebrated its 40th birthday! Most of you know that part of our museum is housed in a historic train depot dating back to 1923. The Union Pacific Railroad Depot carried both passengers and freight, especially produce grown and processed in the area. Check out this picture showing the last run of a steam engine on the Union Pacific line on June 9th, 1956.


The depot closed to the public in 1950 and lay unused for over 20 years. In the early 1970s, following a visit to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, La Habra City councilwoman Robin Young presented a visionary plan to open a children’s museum here. The Union Pacific Depot, with its historical significance, unique architecture, and central location, was a natural fit for the proposed museum. The plan was approved. From 1972-1976, the city was able to achieve the monumental undertaking of securing funding and purchasing the Depot building and surrounding property. Architects worked to transform the interior of the building for use as galleries while maintaining original structures and design. If you squint your eyes a little, you can imagine how our Nature Walk looked as a waiting room, with tickets sold from the window in what is now the STEAM Lab.


Meanwhile, the city of La Habra Community Services department began to dialogue with the community and educators as to what exactly this museum would become. Remember that in the 70s, most museums were formal spaces geared to adults. Few models existed for an interactive, play-based space that appealed to children. The newly-created Friends of the Museum (now a 501c non-profit called Friends of the Children’s Museum) formed committees in the areas of fundraising, permanent collections, programming, and more. The Children’s Museum at La Habra officially opened on Friday, December 2nd, 1977. From its very first days, the museum served as a community hub where children could play, learn, and have fun!


Since then, the museum has been fortunate to have grown both in size and in scope. Another capital campaign project began in the late 80s to add a new wing which now houses our Science Station, Kids on Stage, and Preschool Playpark, as well as adding storage and office space. The museum staff (with many contributions from our Museum Guild and student volunteers) served about 90,000 visitors last year! We have diverse exhibits and programs spanning from arts education, school outreach, conservation, and performing arts. In October we opened a STEAM Lab (in what was the Nanny’s Travels room) as part of our commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics education in early childhood. We think our 40th year will be an exciting one- from January through May we’ll host Children of Hangzhou, a traveling exhibit from the Boston Children’s Museum. From June-December 2018, the changing gallery theme will be “Lindo Mexico,” an exhibit about the culture and beauty of our neighbors to the south. We at the Children’s Museum are so grateful for the support of our members, guests, volunteers, and community partners. We’re looking forward to see what the next 40 years will bring!


Dino Updates

Here at the Children’s Museum, we’ve always got dinosaurs on the brain! If you’ve visited recently, you may have noticed some changes in our Dinosaur Garden. Our curator and interns have spruced up the dinosaurs outside, as well as adding our model Parasaurolophus (“Jennifer”) who used to live inside the museum. The well-loved dinosaurs have been cleaned, repaired, and painted.

For a long time, paleontologists didn’t know what color dinosaurs really were. Teeth, bones, and claws- the hard parts of the body- are the most common fossils that we find, and they don’t tell us what color the dinosaur was. Sometimes scientists find fossil impressions of skin and scales but, again, no color is preserved. However, in 2010, scientists at the University of Bristol made an exciting discovery. They knew that a substance called melanin is what gives modern day birds (and humans!) their color. Melanin is stored in little capsules with each color having its own particular shape. Using a very powerful microscope, these scientists were able to see melanin in fossilized Sinosauropteryx feathers! For the first time, we could say that the Sinosauropteryx had an orange and white striped tail. However, this method only works on more recent dinosaurs- we still don’t know what color our friend the T. Rex was!

In other dinosaur news, did you know that here in California we just got an official state dinosaur? Augustynolophus morrisi is a hadrosaur, a type of herbivorous dinosaur known for its duck-shaped mouth. Specimens were found near Fresno in the late 1930s and were thought to roam California about 66 million years ago. Only two specimens have ever been found, both right here in what is now California. A. morrisi was about 25 feet long and weighed about 3 tons.

There’s always more to learn about dinosaurs, including the ones that lived in our own backyards. Have your future paleontologist try our Dinosaur Scavenger Hunt the next time you visit the museum!

Sinosauropteryx photo credit to Jim Robbins via NPR.org/ A.morrisi photo is from Stephanie Abromowicz/Natural History Museum of Los Angeles)

STEAM Lab, Dream Lab!

Tuesday, October 17th was the public unveiling of our new permanent exhibit- STEAM Lab! Many people are familiar with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) but we added the “A” to highlight the importance of applied art in technology and design. Through generous donations from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing California, La Habra Rotary Club, La Habra Host Lions Club, Museum Guild of The Children’s Museum at La Habra, and National Charity League – Whittier Chapter, we were able to transform our former Nanny’s Travels gallery into a hands-on early childhood science lab.

The first exhibit you’ll see is our Balance and Funnel table. Younger children will develop their pincer grip and hand/eye coordination as they move beans from one area to the other. Our older guests can experiment with position and weights on the balance- does location matter when filling the cups with beans?


In the back corner next to the balance and funnel table is a small magnetic shape wall. It’s a great example of how shapes can be combined into larger ones- geometry in motion! We love seeing the colorful designs our guests make.

Next up is our Ramp Raceway. Using a combination of rubber ramps and plastic stands, kids can design their own “rollercoaster” for small wooden balls. You can even build side by side tracks and race to the end! Hills, valleys, extreme drop-offs- anything’s possible with this enriching and open-ended activity.

Across from the Ramp Raceway is the Magnetic Maze Wall. Using magnetic ramps and rings on a metal wall, your goal is to create a layout to get a wooden ball from the top to the bottom. Warning- it’s harder than it looks! This area is already a big hit with our visitors and encourages learning through collaboration, prediction, and hands-on trial and error.


Next to the maze wall is the Flight Lab. The Flight Lab was specifically designed for children to experiment with and learn about the movement of air. Bins with ribbons, feathers, and other small objects are available for kids to test in the wind tunnel. We love that children get instant feedback from the display and develop an intuitive understanding of aerodynamics.


Finally, one last component of STEAM Lab actually lives in the Science Station. Our Illumination Station is a giant light wall similar to the Lite Brite that many of us remember from our childhoods. The colored pegs shine at their ends, transforming your design into a beautiful glowing creation. We’ve been so impressed with the creative pictures our visitors come up with!

Child development pioneer Jean Piaget is known for his quote “Play is the work of childhood.” It’s a great idea to keep in mind for anyone with little ones. The sorting, mixing, rolling, and repeating of tasks that look like “play” are foundational skills needed not only for science, but in all aspects of education. We invite you and your child to work together in our new STEAM Lab and let us know what you think!

Horses of the Sea?


If you’ve visited our Ocean Zone exhibit lately, maybe you’ve seen our adorable new additions- seahorses! We have 3 lined seahorses on display in the Ocean Zone exhibit. They are captive-bred, which means they were raised by experienced breeders instead of caught in the wild- always a better choice when purchasing an animal. Lined seahorses are found in a range that stretches from the oceans on our east coast all the way down to South America. The seahorses that live in the museum are young and will reach about 6 inches by the time they are fully grown. While they look quite different from the other finned animals in our tanks, they are actually a species, or type, of fish. There are about 40 species of seahorses.

Seahorses are not good swimmers, so their bodies have adapted in a few ways to help them survive. Their long, prehensile tail grabs on to plants or rocks in the ocean, and the color of their bodies help them camouflage (blend into their surroundings). In the wild they eat tiny shrimp, crustaceans, and other small ocean critters. Here at the Museum we feed them mysis shrimp. Their fused jaws cannot open or close- no yawning for seahorses!- so they catch their food by sucking in, kind of like when you use a straw to drink! Check out this video that shows seahorses catching and eating their food:

Another fun fact about seahorses is that male seahorses give birth! The female seahorses places eggs in a pouch on the male’s stomach. The pouch is sealed up and the male protects the eggs and keeps them healthy and happy. About 3 weeks later, the seahorse dad is ready to give birth! He squeezes the baby seahorses out- up to 2,000 at a time! The baby seahorses look like tiny little copies of their parents. Here’s a video that shows some baby seahorses being born:

Unfortunately, the number of seahorses in some parts of the ocean is declining. Sometimes seahorses are caught to sell as pets, to make medicine, and even sold as souvenirs. Pollution in our oceans is also affecting their numbers. You can help by not purchasing dried seahorses or wild-caught ones. Practice “reduce, recycle, reuse” since emissions from cars and factories harms the ocean too. We love seahorses and we want them living long healthy lives in their ocean homes.

Do you have any questions about seahorses? Ask them in the comments. Ocean Zone runs in our changing gallery through January 7th, 2018.

Take a Deep Dive into the Ocean Zone!

Spring is here and, with it, the opening of our new changing gallery exhibit: Ocean Zone! The exhibit showcases several tanks of live ocean animals, as well as models, fossil artifacts, and information on marine conservation. The ocean covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface, so how have the animals in it adapted to live in or near it?

You’ll see one wall devoted entirely to sharks. There are live-sized paintings of hammerhead, tiger, and great white sharks. Kids can play a shark info game or watch a video on sharks. We also have real shark jaws and fossils to touch and see.

Another part of the exhibit is the Reef Area, where kids can learn about the different corals and animals that make up a coral reef. Touch pieces of coral or watch a video about this beautiful marine environment. Next to this is our reef tank, with real live corals and fish for children to observe. There’s also information on reef conservation.

In the Diver Zone, you can play the Ocean Zone scavenger hunt, or compare yourself in size to giant sea creatures! You’ll also see a representation of the different zones of the ocean- depending on the depth, each level receives a certain amount of light and has particular life forms associated with it. You can try on a fish hat and pretend you’re swimming around deep in the ocean, too.

Some of the aquariums might look a little sparse- when setting up a new tank, it takes time to build up levels of beneficial bacteria and make sure all the chemical levels are correct. We want the best, healthiest environment for our fish and the other animals who will live in our tanks. We’re getting ready to add more animals so we hope you can meet them soon!

Ocean Zone, March 28th-January 7th, 2018