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Short Hop

At Strawbery Banke, toys from times past

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June 28, 2006

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- Leave the Game Boys behind and get ready for building with Lincoln Logs and playing tiddlywinks. Travel back to the 18th century with modern-day children at Strawbery Banke's new Discovery Center, opening Saturday in the seaside living museum's Georgian-style Wheelright House.

When he was ashore, Captain John Wheelright lived here in the late 1700s. Now, the home has been transformed into an interactive, intergenerational space to look at playthings from the past through a child's eyes.

Long before children had computer games, long before their parents had to get off the couch to change the channels on the black and white TV, youngsters were playing jacks, looking at 3-D photos through stereoscopes, and even going outside to play hopscotch, ride scooters, roll hoops, and throw handmade Colonial balls.

The center offers a chance for family exploration of times past, and maybe even gives mom or grandpa the opportunity to show off in a game of pick-up sticks or creating with Tinkertoys while visiting Strawbery Banke's 10-acre neighborhood, which dates to the area's first settlers in 1630. The opening comes in time for the museum's July 4 celebration, which includes old-time family fun as well.

MARTY BASCH
Strawbery Banke Museum, Marcy Street, Portsmouth, N.H. 603-433-1100. www.strawberybanke.org.
Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-5, through Oct. 31. Adults $15, youths ages 5-17 $10, families (two adults and youths) $35, age 4 and under free.

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