Virtual Purple Museum

We’re Here for You!

We know that right now you can’t visit the Purple Museum, but that doesn’t mean our mission of inspiring creativity, curiosity, and lifelong learning stops. Enjoy our many educational broadcasts and hands-on learning activities, along with insightful resources to help you navigate these uncertain times.

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Live Broadcasts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on Facebook

10:30 a.m. Storytime (Wednesday edition is Bilingual English/Spanish)
11:30 a.m. Let’s Get Creative!
1:30 p.m. Science Is Everywhere: Home Edition

On Friday’s only:
2:30 p.m. Toddler Fun! (in Vietnamese)

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Archived Broadcasts – YouTube Playlists

Toddler Fun!
Let’s Get Creative!
Science Is Everywhere: Home Edition
Meet the Virtual Museum Educators

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At-Home Activities


Make a Cardboard Train

Where do you want to go on an adventure? Show off your artistic skills by creating your own cardboard train using recyclable materials in your home. Imagine the great, big world that you get to explore!

Finding Geometry In Nature

From our Minds in Bloom blog

Math can sometimes seem abstract, but it is found easily in the plants that surround us every day: concentric circles, fractals, symmetry, and more. Take a walk as a family in your neighborhood and see if you can find some of these basic mathematical principles at work in the flora you find!

Storytime: Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo

Virtual Purple Museum video

Author: Kevin Lewis, Illustrator: Daniel Kirk

Choo choo! Let’s get onboard for this storytime adventure! Explore the world of trains by making choo-choo and whoo-whoo noises, and learn about engines, freights, cabooses, and so much more!

Fractals Are Fantastic

Enjoy this hands-on art activity that introduces fractals, super cool naturally-occuring patterns that you can find in things as small as shells to things as large as trees. Exploring geometry, patterns, and shapes has never been more fun than in this STEAM activity!

Materials Needed: white paper, pencil/black marker
Optional Materials: crayons, color markers, color pencils

Color Mixing for the Senses!

Learn all about color mixing in this squishy, fun, color mixing activity that will engage your senses! This is a no-mess, no-stress way to learn all about how layering primary colors can create a brand new color. Just hold your zip-top bags with paint to the window and make new colors appear in front of your eyes!

Color Blending Tops

Put a new spin on blending colors by creating your own spinning top! Mix colors through motion and make this optical illusion spring to life. It may seem out of this world, but rest assured, this is not just a pigment of your imagination!

Zoetrope — An Animation Optical Illusion!

Ever wonder how cartoons or stop-motion movies work? In this color experiment, we’ll make a Zoetrope and, using nothing but drawings, fool our eyes and brains into seeing motion!

Materials Needed: 1 piece of thick paper, pencil, markers, scissors, soup can, duplo square block, safety pin, tape (optional)

Grade Level: K-5

Bilingual Storytime: Blue Hat, Green Hat/Azul El Sombrero, Verde El Sombrero

Virtual Purple Museum video

Book: Blue Hat, Green Hat/Azul El Sombrero, Verde El Sombrero
Author: Sandra Boynton

An elephant who wears pants and a moose who sports hats. Whoever heard of such nonsense? Yet learning colors and clothing is so much fun with this wacky cast of critters! That is until the fashion faux pas of the confused turkey surprises everyone!

Sidewalk Obstacle Course

Get out your wiggles by drawing your very own obstacle course. Create a path down your nearest sidewalk or through your home that prompts jumping, spinning, and stretching. Get creative, then allow others to join in the fun and get moving too. If you create your obstacle course outside you can even motivate your neighbors to participate after you’ve gone back inside. Just because you can’t play next to each other doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun together!

Monitor Your Heart Rate

We all know exercise is important, but did you know you can use math to monitor your improvements? Keeping track of your resting and active heart rates is a great way to learn about cause and effect, and how exercise and physical activities raise or lower your heart rate. Who knew workouts could be so educational? And for the little ones, learn where your heart is, how to take a pulse, and the effects of exercise on your heart rate. Let’s get started!

Sculpting Movement

Virtual Purple Museum video

Throughout time and across continents and cultures, we have always been enraptured with depicting the majesty of the human form and figure. From the ancient world to the present, we have appreciated and learned more about our bodies through art — think Egyptian papyrus drawings of pharaohs and Greek statues that highlighted not just anatomical accuracy but movement through sculpture. In this engaging at-home activity, learn how to create a simple sculpture by exploring how your arms and joints work!

Balancing Act — Center Of Gravity

Virtual Purple Museum video

The human body is a really cool thing. When you’re walking around, you’re able to stay upright and not just fall down or sway back and forth like a flower in a breeze. But how do our bodies find this balance? Learn how we naturally use our center of gravity as an anchor and our muscles for power in this hands-on experiment about balance!

Write Your Own Book

You’ve read so many books, but have you ever thought of writing your own? Come up with your own story, then create an accordion style book to display it. Accordion books can fold up to be added to your bookshelf or stand up on display with all the pages on view at once!

Make a Fingerprint Art Bookmark

We love reading! Books are filled with interesting adventures that captivate our imagination and spark our creativity, and it’s always so hard to put down a story that is roaring along. But sometimes we must, and that’s where a hand-crafted bookmark softens the blow of separation. Make some fingerprint art into a bookmark, whether it’s for yourself or a unique gift for a special person in your life!

Storytime: I Would Tuck You In

Book by Sarah Asper-Smith & Mitchell Walley

Curl up as a family and enjoy this comforting, cozy story about baby animals and maternal love. Mamas from different species – otters, brown bears, humpback whales and more – tuck their little ones into bed. This beautifully illustrated bedtime tale also features fun facts about Alaskan wildlife. Sleep soundly, everyone!

Materials Needed: stuffed animal and a blanket

Storytime: Llama Llama Red Pajama/La Llama Llama Roja Pijama

Book by Anna Dewdney

Are your kiddos having bedtime separation anxiety? They aren’t the only ones! Llama Llama is stressed after he’s been tucked into bed, but now Mama Llama is nowhere to be seen. Cue some bedtime llama drama! This sweet book highlights the sweet bond between babies and their mamas, and features a healthy dose of comfort and reassurance for little ones.

Spring Sprouts

Spring has sprung and new plants are popping up everywhere. Have you ever wanted to get a closer look at how these brand new plants begin growing? Now is your chance — sprout some seeds in your very own window. Germination, the process of growing a plant from a seed, usually happens underground in the soil but under the right circumstances, you can watch the magic with your own eyes!

Shadow Drawing

Sunny weather has arrived and everyone is excited to play in the sun, but have you ever played with the sun? Get the sun in on the fun with shadow drawing!

Pressed Flower Art

Time is positively flying by, and it is springtime already! The sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, so let’s make art about it. Celebrate the changing seasons by keeping a memento of these warm and sunny days — pressed flower art. No matter what season it is, you’ll have a little bit of spring to warm your spirits.

Nature Designs

Virtual Purple Museum video

Celebrate springtime and the natural beauty blooming around us by making your very own nature design! Create art by collecting your favorite flowers, leaves, rocks, and more to fashion a nature sculpture or mandala that evokes the season. What will your natural masterpiece look like?

Animal Detectives

Animals leave behind clues all the time. When exploring your neighborhood or backyard, you might be lucky enough to see an animal, but even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the creature itself, you can still tell they’ve been nearby! Go on a scavenger hunt and collect clues about what animals might live nearby. Birds? A squirrel? Maybe some snails? You might be surprised what you find!

Build a Nest

Spring is a great time to see birds in action as they find a mate, build a nest, and raise their young. Have you ever looked closely at the homes that birds make for themselves? They use materials that they find in the neighborhood and design nests that are perfect for raising babies and protecting them from predators. If you were a bird, where would you build your nest?

Incognito Ink

During Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat, who has a habit of appearing and disappearing. You can experiment with disappearances and appearances yourself by creating your own invisible ink!

Crazy Croquet

In the story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice was invited by the Queen of Hearts to play a game of croquet. However, unlike ordinary croquet, which is played with mallets and balls, this “curious” game included live hedgehogs balls, live flamingo mallets, and soldiers doing acrobatics to make the arches. Can you imagine playing such a crazy game? In today’s activity, you’ll create your own wacky croquet course — first a mini-version, and then, if you’d like, an extra-large version!

Write a Literary Nonsense Poem

The opening lines of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky are captivating, scene-setting, and memorable. It’s also hot nonsense. Literary nonsense, to be precise.

Literary nonsense tickles our intellectual funny bones; it is gibberish, it is parody, it is satire. But it is also a distinct art form that allows us to bend our thought processes and entertain the impossible, the silly and the humorous. Try your hand at writing your own!

Skele-fun with Skeletons

Before we lend a helping hand, let’s learn more about our hands and the incredible capacity they have! Did you know that you have a skeleton inside your hand? Wiggle your fingers, can you feel the bones? What if you could see them too? Use colorful paint to draw your bones on your hand. It takes a lot of tiny bones to help our amazing hands move!

Send a Hand

Have you ever thought about all the different ways you can help other people? Sometimes we think because we are too young or too busy or can’t travel far, it’s too hard to help others. Here are some ways that you can help others and send kindness during hard times, even if you are staying at home!

Treasure Maps

Have you ever looked at Google maps? Or tried to use a map to find a hidden treasure? Have you borrowed a museum map to find your way to your favorite exhibit? You don’t have to go far to make use of a map – create one of your own at home with clues to help your family find a hidden treasure!

Island Maps

Maybe you’ve drawn a map of one of the rooms in your home or maybe you’re just getting started with map-making. Either way, let’s go big and think about larger places. What do you see? Can you tell whether your building has one story or two stories or five stories? When you fly above a tree, can you see the trunk? Look at all the leaves – do things look different than when you’re standing on the ground?

Bubble Domes

Are you missing the Bubbles exhibit? Try making your own bubbles at home! This bubble domes activity brings your bubbles to another level, helping your children learn about math and science.

How to Find Geometry in Nature

Math can sometimes seem abstract, but it is found easily in the plants that surround us every day: concentric circles, fractals, symmetry, and more. Take a walk as a family in your neighborhood and see if you can find some of these basic mathematical principles at work in the flora you find!

Create a Recipe with Potter the Otter!

It’s time for a healthy eating party, so turn up the beet! We think that simple recipes are a jumping off point for learning to cook while focusing on what’s important: delicious fruits and vegetables that keep you healthy and happy. This is the foundation of our Potter the Otter: A Healthy Adventure exhibition.

Can you and your little ones come up with a 7-ingredient recipe featuring your favorite foods? Then try them out with your family!

Spa Water

Potter the Otter loves drinking water! It does so many good things for our body, that’s why we need to drink plenty every day. Inspired by our favorite healthy otter, we invite you to create your own deliciously healthy water – which makes getting the daily 8 glasses more fun!

Catch a Rainbow Racer Fish with Potter the Otter

Follow along with this video!

Potter the Otter wants to be his best self, so he’s going on a healthy adventure! In this interactive video exhibit, little ones can move along with Potter as he makes good choices that will help him catch the Rainbow Racer fish and join a water polo team. Along the way, he learns that drinking water, eating fruits and veggies, and being active will help him be the healthiest, best little otter he can be.

Egg to Go

Join us for an eggsploration through this Horton-inspired activity! In Dr. Seuss’ book, Horton Hatches the Egg, an elephant agrees to care for his bird friend’s egg until it hatches. His hard work to keep the egg safe is rewarded when the egg hatches, and reveals a small elephant with wings. Whoa, that’s an elephant of responsibility! How would you keep your egg safe? Together, let’s devise an eggcellent carrier to keep your yolk-y charge safe.

Shadow Shapes

Dr. Seuss’s book, The Shape of Me and Other Stuff, is a celebration of different shapes and objects, all outlined as silhouettes. Experiment with shadows, light, and shapes to make silhouettes dance across your custom-made theatre!

Soap Bubbles

Bubble solution is easy to make and provides endless fun. If you’re at home missing the museum’s Bubbles exhibit, whip up some fun in your own kitchen!

Impressionist Bubbles

We see bubbles all the time — when we wash our hands, boil water, and of course, use our bubble wands! Go on a bubbly adventure and make some creative art. As children explore the intersection of physical science and visual art, they’ll create a masterpiece that will give Claude Monet a run for his money!

Ice Exploration

Ice is everywhere, and if you take a closer look, you’ll realize there is more to it than meets the eye. Embark on a journey of ice exploration with your little ones at home. Learn about the properties of water, how to find art in science, and ask lots of questions as a family! See our step-by-step activity sheet for details.

How Recycling Works!

Video from SciShow Kids

The Earth is such a cool planet! The natural world is filled with interesting creatures and sights. In addition to learning a lot about how remarkable our planet is, we should also honor Earth Day by learning about some of the things we can do to protect it. Check out this SciShow Kids video about how recycling works and what it does to help the Earth become healthier!

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Video from the Royal Ballet

Watch Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland come alive with dance in The Royal Ballet’s gorgeous and captivating stage production. See what happens when Alice stumbles upon the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Blending fine art and children’s stories, this romp of a ballet will enrapture little ones and adults alike.

Your Super Skeleton!

Video from SciShow Kids

We all have skeletons, but what do they do for us? Check out this great explainer for kids about how important our skeletons are!

10 Year-Old Makes Face Masks!

Video from News 5 Cleveland

In the face of such a big problem, it’s easy to feel small, no matter our age! But kids all over the country have started to lend a helping hand in the ways they can. One 10 year-old, Zaria Hill, decided to take on what she could with her talent: sewing! Her goal is to send face masks to every hospital in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Wow!

Know Your Globe

Video from SciShow Kids

Now that we have thoroughly analyzed and mapped our bedrooms, houses, neighborhoods, and maybe even cities, it’s time to think bigger. Made for young’uns, enjoy this SciShow Kids introduction to the basics of reading a globe!

Why Do Honeybees Love Hexagons?

Video from Ted-Ed

Did you know honeybees are some of the finest mathematicians in the insect world? Learn more about what makes them incredible architects and how they use geometry to make their lives more efficient!

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Video: A Brightly Storytime

Are you getting restless in your home? We sure are, and can’t wait for when we get to roam free and explore. So what better Dr. Seuss book to read with your kids than Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Some journeys are exciting, and some are scary. Sometimes you make the right choice, and sometimes you don’t. But everything is part of YOUR adventure. Curl up on your couch and join Brightly’s storyteller Ms. Linda to explore all the places you will go!

The Importance of Using Soap!

Video by preschool teacher Amanda Lorenzo

Why do we need to use soap? Doesn’t water just wash the dirt away? Preschool teacher Amanda Lorenzo has answers for you! In this viral video, she showed her students how soap works in keeping viruses and germs away in a hands-on experiment that awed her little charges!

5 Giant Ice Age Animals!

Now that we’ve spent some time exploring ice, let’s learn about how ice shaped the natural world! A long, long, long time ago, there was a period called the Ice Age, where the world had iced over and different kinds of animals roamed the Earth. Did you know we have one of those cool Ice Age animals at the museum? Can you guess what it is?

Share this video with the kids in your life. Your knowledge base will be mammoth!

Parent Resources

Strawberries, Water, and Curiosity

From our Minds in Bloom blog
Child-led exploration not only promises authentic learning; it also helps children gain confidence as they take risks, make and test hypotheses, and discover that they are more than capable of figuring things out on their own. As they perfect these skills, your child will be more likely to announce “I can figure it out by myself!”

This summer, how can you encourage the children in your life to engage in the scientific process?

The Benefits of a Colorful Life

From CNN
Did you know that the colors that we surround ourselves with can actually have effects on our mood and wellbeing? Different colors evoke emotions and feelings, and it can happen consciously or unconsciously. How can we use them to our benefit? Learn more in this fascinating and colorful read!

The Mental Benefits of Exercise

From U.S. News & World Report
Physical fitness is an incredibly important part of taking care of our bodies, but did you know it’s also really important for our mental wellness too? Exercise and movement strengthens our muscles and our heart, but it also has direct effects on our brain. Check out the many ways that physical wellness is tied to mental health!

Family Workouts to Do at Home

From World Athletics
Families across the world are trying to figure out the best way to keep up physical fitness as a family, especially when we’re all in our homes. Here’s a guide from World Athletics (formerly the International Association of Athletics Federations) about some at-home workouts that don’t require any videos, lessons, or even equipment!

How to Raise a Reader

From Common Sense Media
Here at the museum, fostering future readers is one of our passions. In our goal to create a new generation of avid readers, we have centered many programs around reading – including our Virtual Purple Museum Storytimes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Here are some tips to help you raise a reader!

5 Ways to Love Reading Again

One of the best ways to raise a reader is to be a reader yourself! But that can be hard. With parenting and work and taking care of your house, it’s tricky to find time for self-care. If you haven’t read in a while and don’t know how to get back to it, here are some ideas from Rewire!

How Trees Secretly Talk to Each Other in the Forest

Video from National Geographic
Did you know that trees and plants can talk to each other? No, not with words, but through a complicated and vast underground network of fungi called mycorrhizae that allow trees to share information and resources with one another. Enjoy this video as a family and learn about the secret language of trees!

Enjoying Spring from Quarantine

From Science Friday
We’re spending at least another month inside, but outside, nature is sprouting! The birds are a-flying, the flowers are blossoming, and the world is verdant. Being outside is a boon for our mental health, and we want to encourage you to enjoy the splendor of the outdoors. Science Friday producers talked to some environmental experts about what we can observe of the natural world from the safety of our homes. Happy exploring — in place!

Artist Spotlight: Zach Pine

Meet Zach Pine, a socially engaged environmental artist who has connected thousands of people through creating nature sculptures in parks, museums and public spaces. His nature sculptures are temporary, using natural materials to highlight both the beauty of the environment but also its transient nature. Pine was a visiting artist at the museum in 2018 and taught us a lot about ways to make environmental art right in our backyards!

10 Nature Activities to Help Get Your Family Through the Coronavirus Pandemic

From Children & Nature Network
At the museum, we believe in helping develop the next generation of environmental stewards. To do this, children must learn to love nature first. This concept inspired us to develop Bill’s Backyard, our half-acre outdoor playspace.

As we all shelter in place, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the outside world — especially nature. Don’t worry, renowned environmental educator Richard Louv has got you! Here are 10 ideas to help families safely engage with the natural world and inspire their budding environmentalists during this crisis.

Children and the Arts

From our museum blog, Minds in Bloom
Famed artist Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” And children are such natural artists. Creating art provides an opportunity for experimenting, for making new connections, and for making choices in uncharted territory without worrying about finding the right answer. Learn about our three-pronged approach to foster creativity and your child’s artistic endeavors.

Inspiring Your Child’s Imagination

From PBS For Parents
Imagination makes the world go round. With our imagination, we make possible new technologies, groundbreaking art, and dream up ways to make our world a better place. So when is a better time to grow your child’s imagination than right now? Check out PBS for Parents’ guide on inspiring your child’s imagination.

Civics, Civility, and Citizenry!

From our museum blog, Minds in Bloom
How young is too young to teach your child about civics and the responsibility of being a citizen? According to experts, it’s never too early – age-appropriately, of course! You wouldn’t launch into a discussion about the Supreme Court and the role of the judiciary with your three-year-old. But you might talk about how their actions affect the family and how picking up their toys is an act of respect and social responsibility towards other household members.

14 Little Ways to Encourage Kindness

From Parents Magazine
During scary and uncertain times for everyone, we usually find comfort in the classic Mister Rogers quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

How can we encourage kids to become those helpers? Here are some tips to grow kindness.

Parenting for a Healthy Brain

From our museum blog, Minds in Bloom
What if we were taught early on to treat our brain as a muscle? Mental push-ups, cranial crunches, cerebellum sit-ups. Well, not quite. But the brain is a pattern-seeking device and like a physical muscle, the more we use it the stronger it gets.

How can we help our kids flex their brain muscles and develop a growth mindset?

How to Help Your Kids Be a Little More Patient

From the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley
Especially these days, when parents and children are in close quarters for days and weeks on end, patience is *the* virtue! Little ones have little patience for your need, as adults, to focus on your job or doing tasks around the house. What are some ways to grow their self-control and delayed gratification skills to help them be more patient?

Why All World Maps Are Wrong

A video from Vox
Sounds like clickbait, doesn’t it? How can this be true?!

Cartographers through the centuries have had quite the challenge depicting a sphere on flat maps, and none of them have gotten it *quite* right. This video is slightly advanced for younger children, but a great explainer for older kids and adults!

The Benefits of Boredom

From our museum blog, Minds in Bloom
As adults, we often feel like a child’s boredom is something we need to manage. But as paradoxical as it sounds, boredom is interesting! When we get bored, our minds begin to wander. And when our minds wander, remarkable things happen. Our brains begin making surprising connections.

So ditch your chores and go on a treasure hunt – who knows what you’ll find!

Cultivating Perseverance

From our museum blog, Minds in Bloom
Kids of all ages and stages naturally follow the scientific process as they learn about the world around them. But sometimes they stumble on the path to forming their conclusions, and choose to abandon their line of inquiry rather than push past their confusion and frustration.

How can we ensure that kids build up the perseverance to tackle difficult problems as they get older and become the problem-solvers we desperately need in the world?

5 Ways to Boost Spatial Skills

From The Conversation
Right now, families across California and the country are experiencing record levels of togetherness. We’re all eating meals in our homes and cooking together. To help stave off the boredom and find a new shared hobby, invite your kids into the cooking process! Check out our blog on how to involve little ones in the kitchen.

Math around the Kitchen Table

From PBS Parents
For many kids, math is a chore made up of fractions drills and boring calculations. But math is an important part of life! Figuring out how much to tip on a meal, splitting a cake evenly for friends, or adjusting a recipe to accommodate more or less people all involves math. Check out these tips for how to introduce applied mathematics principles to children in your day-to-day life!

How to Grow a Chef: Tips and Tricks to Get Kids in the Kitchen

From our museum blog, Minds in Bloom
Right now, families across California and the country are experiencing record levels of togetherness. We’re all eating meals in our homes and cooking together. To help stave off the boredom and find a new shared hobby, invite your kids into the cooking process! Check out our blog on how to involve little ones in the kitchen.

Indoor Workouts with Kids

From Cosmic Kids Yoga
Kids have a lot of energy to burn. Take advantage of your time together and exercise as a family! Cosmic Kids Yoga is a great way to introduce toddlers and young kids to yoga and mindfulness. Staying in place doesn’t mean you can’t stay active!

How to Raise a Reader

Resource from the New York Times
For many of us, Dr. Seuss was probably an integral part of our early literary memories. Here at the museum, fostering future readers is one of our passions. In our goal to create a new generation of avid readers, we have centered many programs around reading, like interactive Storytimes in the Wonder Cabinet. Here are some tips for encouraging your child to become a reader at every stage of development, from babies, to toddlers, to emerging and early readers.

Arts and the Growth Mindset

From our museum blog, Minds in Bloom
Legendary artist Georgia O’Keeffe once said of her art, “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.” And there are few artists in this world who live and breathe that as their mantra more than children! What role should arts play in children’s lives and education? And how can we, as the adults, help our kids make their unknown known as they explore the world around them?

The Science of Soap

Resource from the New York Times

Talking with Kids about Coronavirus

Resource from the Fred Rogers Center

How You and Your Kids Can De-Stress During Coronavirus

Resource from PBS
For everyone in the Bay Area, it feels like life has been disrupted over the last few weeks. It can cause anxiety, so check out this PBS guide for how to de-stress as a family.

Supported in part by a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose