Since 1992, the Building for Kids has served as a safe place to learn, grow, and explore for families in our local community and beyond, impacting generations. We believe in the power of play, and research continues to demonstrate that intergenerational, community-based play provides a singular opportunity to support cognitive and physical development, buffer against toxic stress, and build social-emotional resilience.
As we celebrate thirty years of play, we are looking to our community to ensure that we can continue to invest in our shared future through our Building for Tomorrow’s Kids Campaign.
As stewards of one of the largest children’s museums in Wisconsin, we all have a role to play to ensure this fundamental community resource continues to make an impact for generations to come. We currently have a $30,000 matching opportunity from the J. J. Keller Foundation for contributions made to support our Access for All scholarships which provide critical opportunities for play-based learning to families facing financial barriers.
The Building for Kids is turning 30 this year, and you are invited to celebrate with us.
Keep reading below to learn about the different ways you can join in the fun!
BFK Birthday Bash!
Saturday, November 5: 9am – 4pm
Your family is invited to our 30th birthday party! We’re celebrating with birthday-themed activities, face painting, goody bags, and a happy birthday confetti throw at noon. Plus, all who attend will be entered for a chance to win a FREE membership to the BFK!
Admission is free for BFK members and $9.50 per person for non-members.
No pre-registration required.
Party Like Its 1992!
Saturday, November 5: 7pm – 10pm
Where were you in 1992? From grunge to pop, flannels to fanny packs – you’re invited to rewind and celebrate all things ’90s with this adults-only (21 and older) event!
Join us for ’90s activities such as:
Pizza Hut Buffet
Build Your Own Cereal Bowl: Assortment of your favorite cereals!
Jolly Good Soda Bar
’90s Fashion Contest
Party and Arcade Games
This event is $30 per person. Please register by November 1.
Everyone is also invited to attend an afterparty at Player 2 Arcade Bar right down the street on College Ave.
We are so grateful to all of our members who have helped us get where we are today, so to show our appreciation, we offering a week-long membership sale. Anyone who purchases a family, grandparent, or dual membership during the week will receive a discount of 15% off!
Current members can take advantage of this discount too! Memberships purchased during the sale won’t start until after any current memberships expire.
Memberships can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person at the museum. For online purchases, enter code BIRTHDAY at checkout.
You’re invited to join us for the 13th annual BFK Children’s Parade presented by ThedaCare on Wednesday, July 27!
Kids and their families are encouraged to stroll down College Avenue in themed costumes and non-motorized floats in a parade all about them. Families and friends are encouraged to come together to brainstorm their themes and create their own costumes and floats out of wagons, bikes, and strollers.
The parade will kick-off in Houdini Plaza across from the Building for Kids, where we’ll be joined by special guests, Pete the Cat and Clifford! We’ll leave Houdini Plaza in waves starting at 6pm and make our way along the parade route to City Park. Awards will be given by our panel of judges for creativity, imagination, and confidence.
After the parade, families are invited to stay for a FREE concert. A variety of food trucks will also be present with delicious treats and snacks.
This is a FREE event, but registration is required.
The BFK Children’s Parade presented by ThedaCare is one of the signature events of U.S. Venture Children’s Week. This community-wide celebration of kids will take place July 24 – 30 and offers a week full of free or reduced-cost activities for the whole family.
We are launching Summer Explorer Camps, starting this June and running through August!
We will be offering 9 different themed weeks throughout the summer. Campers can explore their artistic side as they create their own art gallery or learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur as they start their own business. Campers can also study how robots work, learn about plants and animals, and even make their own paper. Check out our full list of themes below or click here to read their full descriptions.
Summer Explorer Camp Schedule
Mindful Masters:June 6 – 10
Follow Your Art:June 13 – 17
Nourished by Nature:June 20 – 24
Early Entrepreneurs:June 27 – July 1
Print & Papermaking:July 11 – 15
Robotics:July 18 – 22
Children’s Week:July 25 – 29
Music Makers:August 1 – 5
Nature Exploration:August 22 – 26
To help ensure you can find a camp that fits your family’s schedule, full-day, morning, and afternoon Summer Explorer Camps are available. Camps run Monday – Thursday with the option to add on an “In the Field Friday.” On “In the Field Fridays,” we’ll go on a field trip or invite a special guest to the museum that relates to our weekly theme.
On Sunday, April 10 from 9am – 2pm, the BFK is hosting Financial Literacy Free Day sponsored by Money Smart Week Fox Cities. Admission will be FREE all day and we’ll have fun activities centered around financial literacy. Kids will learn about earning, spending, sharing, and saving through a mini economy.
Upon entering the museum, kids will receive a play check which they can use to build, decorate, and sell a house, while also paying the house’s various expenses. In addition, kids can choose what they want to save their money for as well as where they want to share their money. Then, with whatever money they have left, they can buy prizes.
Plus, we’ll host storytimes at 10am and 11:30am. We’ll read “The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money” by Stan and Jan Berenstain. We’ll also be giving out free copies of the book while supplies last.
No pre-registration is required. This event is free for all.
We’re hosting a Breakfast with Curious George event on Saturday, April 2 from 8 – 10am, sponsored by TDS. Check out the list below to learn more about what you can expect during the event:
Storytime: Throughout the morning, we’ll host storytimes, featuring “Curious George Makes Pancakes.”
Breakfast: We’ll have a build-your-own breakfast sandwich buffet provided by Bagelicious. Choose your own bagel, egg, cheese, and meat. Fruit and drinks will also be provided.
Activities: Join us for puffy paint activities in our da Vinci Studio and building activities in our Innovation Lab.
Curious George: Throughout the event, there will be tons of opportunities to meet Curious George and get pictures! Plus, be sure to visit our traveling exhibit, “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious!” The exhibit introduces visitors to Curious George’s world through math and science based activities.
This event is $5 per member and $15 per non-member. Registration closes Wednesday, March 30th at noon.
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.
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.
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.
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.