How do you get children excited about eating vegetables? Well you start by having them make their own vegetable inspired puppets and participate in a musical. Such is the unorthodox approach taken by playwright, Ave Maria Cross in “VEGGIE BOOGIE!” which was presented at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling on March 12.

“Before the performance the children worked with artists on making vegetable puppets. Their job during the play was to throw their puppets into the cauldron,” said Cross. “It was fun to see them contribute their vegetables on stage and the kids loved it.”

The musical is described as a tale of a child learning to grow up helped by an unusual medicine man, a spiritual African stilt walker, a few magic spells and special veggie potions. Cross was inspired to write the musical from her own upbringing having enjoyed vegetables, largely out of necessity.

“Growing up poor in the Bronx we didn’t eat a lot of meat because we couldn’t afford it. So we would eat a lot of vegetables,” she recalled. “We would actually pick dandelions and blackberries in the North Bronx which was very woodsy back then.”

Now she hopes that her musical will motivate other children to become their own advocates of healthy eating. “It’s important to get families talking about eating more vegetables. Children need to know the names of vegetables and be included in the preparation of foods like a salad. They can tear the lettuce and use special knives to cut up tomatoes and celery.”

Children create their own books during Midwinter Recess Camp

From veggie puppets to books, the children at The Museum do it all. In February an estimated 40 children gathered for Midwinter Recess Camp. The four-day event included children tapping into their imagination to write and illustrate their own mini-books using watercolor, oil pastel and collage elements.

“This program encourages the development of self-determination in the young audiences we serve,” said the Museum’s Associate Director for Education, Jen Ifil-Ryan. “Each child was challenged to create their own book based on something of interest to them. Camp participants were introduced to elements in storytelling such as: setting, character and narrative.”

Ryan, who was recently interviewed on WNBC-TV, shared that the next camp will run from April 25-29. It will be presented in partnership with PEN World Voices Festival, José Limón Dance Company, Dance Theater of Harlem, and Young Audiences. For more information please click here.