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BFK News

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New traveling exhibit open January 15 –  May 8 at the Building for Kids!

Based on the familiar characters in H.A. and Margret Rey’s classic stories, this new traveling exhibit inspires children’s natural curiosity as they explore science, math, and engineering concepts through hands-on, interactive play.

The immersive exhibit environment takes place in the neighborhood where Curious George lives with his friend, The Man in the Yellow Hat. Visitors can build a whirligig at George’s farm, launch in a rocket to outer space, play mini golf at George’s special course and so much more.

“We are so excited to host this nationally traveling exhibit that supports our mission of inspiring discovery,” says Oliver Zornow, Executive Director of the BFK. “By creating an immersive learning environment that leverages kid’s natural curiosity this exhibit introduces important STEM concepts in a fun and engaging way.”

Visitors can also use pulleys to help George climb the fire escape, design and build structures at the construction site, and count and weigh fruit at the produce stand.

Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! will be at the BFK January 15 through May 8, 2022. The exhibit is sponsored locally by the Appleton Noon Optimist Club, Infant Welfare Circle of King’s Daughters Donor Advised Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, and Menasha Corporation Foundation. Additionally, the exhibit is sponsored nationally by PBS Kids and developed by Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Curious George television series merchandise © Universal Studios.  Curious George and related characters, created by Margret and H.A. Rey, are copyrighted and trademarked by Houghton Mifflin Company and used under license.  Licensed by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP.  All rights reserved.  The PBS KIDS logo is a registered mark of PBS and is used with permission.

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On Friday, December 31, the Building for Kids Children’s Museum will be ringing in the New Year from 10am – 6pm with fun family activities planned throughout the day.

The BFK will be doing countdowns, complete with lots of confetti and parades around the museum, at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm.

“New Year’s at the Building for Kids is a great way to welcome 2022 with the whole family,” said Oliver Zornow, Executive Director of the BFK. “If you have kids (or even adults) that won’t quite make it until midnight, we’ve got you covered with all of the fun and excitement of midnight at various times throughout the day.”

In addition, the BFK will be doing New Year’s themed activities throughout the museum. Families can make their own noise makers in da Vinci Studio and can experiment with simple machines while building their own ball drop devices in the Innovation Lab.

Due to limited capacity, visitors are encouraged to register in advance to secure their place.

You can register for a visit by clicking here!


BFK Holiday Hours:

  • Friday, December 24: Closed
  • Saturday, December 25: Closed

  • Monday, December 27 – Thursday, December 30: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Friday, December 31: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Saturday, January 1: Closed
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To celebrate our upcoming traveling exhibit – Curious GeorgeTM: Let’s Get Curious! – we’re offering a special membership sale!

Sign up for an annual membership between November 29 and December 5 and receive a 15% discount on your membership (plus a free book)!

To take advantage of this special offer, click here and be sure to use discount code Curious2021 at checkout.

Get a free Curious George book!

With your purchase of a membership between November 29 and December 5, you receive a FREE Curious George book!

Books will not be mailed. Please pick your book up in-person at our Welcome Desk before December 23. Pick it up the next time you come to play or stop in any time during our regular hours of operation.

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The pandemic has been hard on all of us – disrupted routines, stress and mental health challenges, isolation, economic challenges, and so much more. It is important to recognize that missed plans can be rescheduled and relationships with friends and family can be rekindled. However, brain development doesn’t wait and cannot be rescheduled for another time. 90% of brain development occurs within the first five years of a child’s life.  Children in this critical stage are facing life-long negative impacts to their development.   

The past 18 months, we’ve felt these challenges through conversations with parents, partners, and kids themselves. However, we are now seeing data emerge showing that Growth is at Play in our community. According to the Ages and Stages Screening data in Outagamie and Winnebago Counties, during the first year of the public health crisis, we saw in children under the age of 5:
• 46% increase in the rate of fine motor skill delays
• 27% increase in the rate of gross motor skill delays

In times like these, we need to focus our investments on insulating children from the long-term impacts of the pandemic through proven, evidence-based interventions. In a two-year longitudinal study, early elementary school children that participated regularly at the Building for Kids demonstrated stronger growth in social self-confidence and improvement in academic performance in science, math, and reading as compared to the control group that did not.

As we look to the future, we need your help to ensure we can continue to present robust engagement opportunities for children in our community. By giving to the Building for Kids, you support evidence-based initiatives that help insulate children from the impacts of this crisis, accelerate their development and academic achievement, and build critical skills of resiliency to help them succeed.

Please consider making a donation today because it is Growth at Play. 

To give, visit give.buildingforkids.org/growth.

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STEM Free Day is Saturday, October 23. Join us as we celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with free admission to the BFK!
Sign up for a FREE 2-hour play session. Spend time exploring all of our exhibits and enjoy some hands-on STEM projects led by local STEM professionals.
Spots are limited and registration is required at https://65215.blackbaudhosting.com/…/STEM-Free-Day…
Thank you to our sponsors, Gulfstream, Plexus, and Miller Electric for making this day possible!
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6 Teams. 3 Challenges. Who will be the Greatest BFK Maker of all?


You’re invited to tune in for the first annual Great BFK Maker Challenge sponsored by Boldt! Watch as six teams, comprised of kids and their adults, compete in three challenges that will premier on the BFK Facebook page this July.

In this fundraiser, inspired by competition TV shows, teams will need a combination of creativity, skill, and collaboration to succeed. The teams will receive points based on the level of comprehension, quality of their work, and their ability to work together as a team. Teams will also earn a bonus point for every $250 they raise. The two teams with the most points after the first two challenges will face-off in the third and final challenge, with one to be named the Greatest BFK Maker of all!

Episode Schedule:

Episode 1 – Saturday, July 17 at noon

Episode 2 – Saturday, July 24 at noon

Episode 3 – Saturday, July 31 at noon

Want to learn more about the Great BFK Maker Challenge? Click here!

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Starting May 25, the Building for Kids will enter Phase 3 of their phased reopening plan and launch pre-registered play sessions. During a play session, families have access to all museum exhibits and can explore the museum freely during their 3-hour play session. Drop-in programs will open periodically during each session in our da Vinci Studio or Innovation Lab.

“Safety continues to be our priority,” said Oliver Zornow, Executive Director of the BFK.  “We have worked closely with our local public health officials to design innovative operating modes and to assess what is safe for our community at this time. Now, with the disease burden rate decreasing in the Fox Valley, we are excited to take this next step and continue to provide families with in-person, engagement opportunities.”

Based on the current virus activity in our community, each 3-hour play session will be limited to 50 people per session. The BFK will continue to require masks for all visitors 3 and up and social distancing will continue to be observed.

All families must register before their visit on our website. Registration opens Thursday, May 20 at 10 am for members and 3 pm for the general public.

To register, visit https://www.buildingforkids.org/plan-your-visit/

You can also learn more about our phased reopening here: https://www.buildingforkids.org/phased-reopening-plan/

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The Building for Kids Children’s Museum joins many throughout our community in acknowledging and validating the experiences that local Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members have faced in recent months. We are concerned by the impact that the delay to consider Resolution #6-R-21 condemning xenophobia, racism, and anti-Asian violence has had on amplifying feelings of concern, insecurity, and fear among the AAPI community.

We do not believe any debate should be necessary to, as the resolution seeks, condemn all acts of violence, racism, xenophobia, sexism, gender-based violence, discrimination, anti-Asian bias, scapegoating, and ethnic or religious intolerance. The existence of these behaviors in Appleton stand clearly in the way of us realizing our organization’s vision of an energized community that is thriving, welcoming, and connected.

The Building for Kids is a safe place for kids and grown-ups of all backgrounds to learn and play together. Children look to adults as examples and to understand the types of behavior that are acceptable and how to respond to the choices of others.  

As we seek to live and impart our core value of inclusion, the BFK encourages all parents to engage in age-appropriate conversations and explore resources to help children understand the impacts of racism in our community and all of our responsibility to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

To get you started, our friends at PBS have some resources available here: https://www.pbs.org/parents/talking-about-racism

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April is Financial Literacy Month at the Building for Kids Children’s Museum! The BFK is highlighting the importance of fostering financially literate children all month long through virtual programming, a take-home family activity kit, and a socially-distant, in-person small group program.

“Financial Literacy Month is a great opportunity to open a discussion about money with kids in fun, interactive, and accessible ways,” said Oliver Zornow, executive director of the BFK.  “From a young age, children are able to understand basic money concepts, and by providing them with opportunities to learn and practice, we can help set them up for future financial success.”

The BFK’s Financial Literacy Kit contains the instructions and materials for four hands-on family activities, including learning how to identify coins, building a restaurant while staying under budget, making and selling pizzas, and creating a plan for sharing and saving money.

Learn more or register for a Financial Literacy Kit here!

The BFK will also be offering a small group program throughout the month where families can sit in on a reading of “Count on Pablo” by Barbara deRubertis and learn about how Pablo and his grandmother sell vegetables at the market. Families will also be able to practice counting and create their own artwork based off the book. 

Learn more or register for a Count on Pablo program here!

Additionally, the BFK will provide virtual programming throughout the month with special guests from the Thrivent Member Network East WI & Upper MI Region to discuss what money is and how to earn, spend, share, and save it.

Upcoming Virtual Programs:

  • Tuesday, April 6 at 2 pm: What is money?
  • Tuesday, April 13 at 2 pm: How do you earn money?
  • Tuesday, April 20 at 2 pm: How do you spend money?
  • Tuesday, April 27 at 2 pm: How do you save or share money?

All of our virtual programs premier on our Facebook page.

“Developing a healthy relationship with money is a lifelong journey. Starting early can help kids practice smart money habits and think about their future goals,” said Sarah Tomczyk, Engagement Specialist for the Thrivent Member Network East WI  & Upper MI Region. “The Thrivent Member Network East WI and Upper MI Region is excited to collaborate with the Building for Kids to provide learning opportunities within the community during Financial Literacy Month.”

Financial Literacy Month is presented in collaboration with Thrivent Member Network East WI & Upper MI Region.

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March is Storybook Stars Month at the Building for Kids! The BFK is celebrating books and the importance of reading through a take-home family activity kit and socially-distant small group programs.

“Storybook Stars Month is a great opportunity to help foster a lifelong love of reading,” said Oliver Zornow, executive director of the BFK.  “Reading not only sparks imagination and stimulates curiosity, but it also supports healthy brain development.”

The BFK’s Read-a-Bit! Do-a-Bit! Kit contains the instructions and materials for four Dr. Seuss-inspired projects. Families can design and build a Seussical instrument, make Cat in the Hat whiskers, roll and decorate a “Cat” hat, and have fun with shadow puppets. These take-home family activity kits will be available for curbside pick-up on select days throughout March. To register for a Read-a-Bit! Do-a-Bit! Kit, click here!

Additionally, the Building for Kids will be offering small group programs throughout the month where families can sit in on a storytime and participate in projects based off the week’s book. Plus, popular storybook characters, including Pete the Cat and Clifford the Big Red Dog, will join in for the storytime via video call.

Storybook Stars: Virtual Storytime with Pete – March 3 – 14

Join Pete the Cat for a virtual storytime! He’ll join us in a reading of “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.” Then we’ll practice sewing buttons as well as our sorting & math skills.

Storybook Stars: Virtual Storytime with Clifford – March 17 – 28

Join Clifford the Big Red Dog for a virtual storytime! He’ll join us as we read “Clifford’s Family.” Then we’ll create a portrait and bracelet that represents your own family.

To register for a Storybook Stars program, click here!

“With Spring Break occurring, at least partially, during the month of March for many area schools, we are excited to provide fun and educational opportunities for families, both at the museum and from their own homes,” says Zornow.

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