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BFK News

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To help us celebrate the opening of The Lab, we’ll be joined by “The Sparks’ Crew” from the PBS Kids show, Hero Elementary!

From April 11-14, they’ll be in The Lab sharing their Superpowers of Science through daily activities. Plus, join us for a special after-hours event, sponsored by TDS Telecom, on Saturday, April 13 from 5 – 7pm where you can enjoy even more themed activities, access to exclusive after-hours playtime, and lots of opportunities to meet and take pictures with the Sparks’ Crew!

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information as we get closer to their visit!

Click here to register!

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Part of our mission at the Building for Kids is to inspire discovery. This takes many shapes throughout the museum from exploring how pulleys can change a ball’s path in Move It to what different foods taste like during one of our Food to Grow activities. Giving kids a safe, encouraging, and welcoming place to try new things is a critical component for their development. This is why we are excited to share that we will be opening The Lab, sponsored by Amcor, on April 6, 2024!

This new space is dedicated to creating hands-on experiences that build observational skills and inspire curiosity of the world around us. In The Lab, visitors will be able to experience the entire scientific method. Kids will have the opportunity to investigate various topics as they build skills around asking questions, thinking through problems, learning as they test their solutions, and sharing their findings.​

To help encourage STEM exploration for all ages, The Lab will host daily activities around a variety of quarterly themes that encourage inquiry, experimentation, and collaboration. Within its first year of opening, The Lab will explore the topics of Food Spoilage, Polymers, Recycling, and Robotics.

As part of the experience, kids will also learn more about what a lab is like by wearing proper protective equipment and using real-world tools and instruments for their scientific investigations. Scientists and engineers from our community will regularly host activities within The Lab to expose kids to different STEM fields and careers.

We’re looking forward to discovering with you and your family in The Lab soon!

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The Building for Kids is excited to once again be hosting Summer Explorer Camps! Campers will have the opportunity to build new skills, explore different weekly themes, and, of course, play, all while making new friends along the way.

We’ll be offering 8 themed weeks of camp, starting in July. Weekly themes include Robotics & Coding, Sculpture & Pottery, Rhythms & Percussions, and more. Click here to see the weekly theme schedule. Sign up for one week or all eight for a discounted price!

We offer a variety of sessions that are new each week. Whether it’s art, STEM, music, or learning about food, these summer camps have activities for everyone to enjoy!

Each week will run Tuesday – Friday with both half-day camps (4K – 4th grade graduates) and full-day camps (Kindergarten – 4th grade graduates) available. Every day, campers will participate in a combination of facilitated programming based on the week’s theme and open-ended play around the museum!

  • Full-Days (Kindergarten – 4th grade)
    • 1 Week: Members = $160 or Non-Members = $200
    • All 8 Weeks: Members = $1,200 or Non-Members = $1,520
  • Half-Days (4K – 4th grade)
    • 1 Week: Members = $80 or Non-Members = $100
    • All 8 Weeks: Members = $600 or Non-Members = $760

Click here to learn more!

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Celebrate the love of a family at the BFK! Join us on February 17 for special Valentine’s Day activities!

There will be activities for the whole family all over the museum including a card exchange! Stop by the art studio which will be divided in half, one for adults and one for kids. Each half will make Valentine’s card for the other and then present their cards to each other in a special sharing spot in the middle of the studio!

After families exchange cards, there is a collaborative mural to showcase why you love our community. Then, make your way to eat some heart healthy food in our Food to Grow Exhibit. End the activities with sliding down our famous Heart Slide!

We hope you can join us to enjoy all this and other activities with your family from 9am – 4 pm!

Regular admission applies. No pre-registration required.

Dec 15
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Ring in the New Year with us on Sunday, December 31! The Building for Kids will be hosting BFK New Year sponsored by First Impressions Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics from 9am until 4pm. 

We’ll celebrate with countdowns, ball drops, confetti tosses, and parades around the museum at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm. Throughout the day, we will have fun, family-friendly activities to welcome 2024! Come check out our BFK New Year themed activities and create your own noise maker or decorate a premade one. Ring in the New Year by using your noise maker during countdowns, ball drops, or the parades!

“New Year at the Building for Kids is a great way to welcome 2024 with the whole family,” said Oliver Zornow, Executive Director of the BFK. “If you have kids (or event adults) who won’t quite make it until midnight, we’ve got you covered with all the fun and excitement of midnight at various times throughout the day.”

We hope your family can welcome 2024 with us!

No pre-registration required.

BFK Holiday Hours:

  • Sunday, December 24: Closed
  • Monday, December 25: Closed
  • Tuesday, December 26 – Sunday, December 31: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Monday, January 1: Closed
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Kids and their families are invited to come celebrate their own culture, explore informational texts, and experience local native stories and traditions through Celebrating Culture and Community Week with Molly of Denali sponsored by TDS.

This week-long event will take place during Native American Heritage Month from November 7 – 12 and will include daily programming in the museum as well as special after-hours events – all with special guest Molly of Denali!

Daily Programming

Every day during Celebrating Culture and Community Week with Molly of Denali, we will have programming in the museum at 10am and 2pm. These programs are included in daily admission. No pre-registration required.

10am – Native American Storyteller

  • With the support of a Wisconsin Humanities Grant, the BFK is partnering with First Nations Outreach to curate a series of storytellers. Through daily storytimes, these local tribal members will share a variety of traditional stories as we explore the many facets of indigenous culture and folklore in our area.

Click the link to read more about the local tribal members who will be visiting the BFK for daily storytimes.

2pm – Activity with Molly of Denali

  • Molly of Denali will join us for a themed activity based off her PBS Kids show every day. 
    • Tuesday: Animal Tracks
    • Wednesday: Molly’s Recipe Book
    • Thursday: Hand Drums
    • Friday: Beading Art
    • Saturday: Dream Catchers
    • Sunday: Molly’s Bird Field Guide

Special After-Hours Events

Molly of Denali will also be joining us throughout the week for special after-hours events at the BFK. Registration is required for all events.

Tuesday, November 7 – PBS Educator Resource Event

  • PBS Screening of Electa Quinney: Mohican Teacher & Mentor – An Event for Educators is an evening designed for formal and informal educators on Tuesday, November 7 from 4:30 – 6:00pm. They will have the opportunity to view the screening of the PBS documentary, Electa Quinney: Mohican Teacher & Mentor, access resources offered by PBS, and learn about engagement opportunities for educators and their students offered at Building for Kids. Childcare is available for school-age children.
  • Click here to register!

Saturday, November 11 – Playdate with Molly of Denali

  • Join us Saturday, November 11 from 5 – 7pm for Molly of Denali’s final night at the BFK. We will celebrate with food, stories, and lots of opportunities to meet Molly! Plus, enjoy exclusive after-hours playtime in the museum.
  • Click here to register!
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The BFK is excited to open a new exhibit, Food to Grow sponsored by Children’s Wisconsin, in Fall 2023!

In this new exhibit, kids and their grown-ups can engage in the whole food system as they explore concepts of food choice, food equity, and the cultural significance of food.

Visitors can check out the:

Farm – Milk a cow, collect some eggs, and harvest your crop at the Farm.

Food Pantry – Stop by the Food Pantry and pick up some essentials from milk to rice to chicken and more.

Farm Market – Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables at the Farm Market. Weigh out the produce and pay at the cash register.

Kitchen – Prepare a meal with a healthy variety of ingredients. Take a look at the recipe book to learn about different meals and the array of ingredients used to make them.

Table – Enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal around the Table with family and friends!

After collecting food from the Farm, Food Pantry, and Farm Market, kids can bring their grocery bag to the Kitchen where the exhibit will ensure they have a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Then, it will also recommend a recipe to try that uses the ingredients already in their bag.

Grand Opening Celebration

Join us for the grand opening of Food to Grow on Friday, October 6 from 4 – 8pm. To celebrate the new exhibit, we’re hosting a free admission night sponsored by Children’s Wisconsin. Come check out the new exhibit, participate in themed activities, and enjoy a night of free family fun!

Food to Grow is sponsored by Children’s Wisconsin with additional support from Schreiber Foods and the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

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The Building for Kids will be opening a new exhibit, Follow the Beat to East Asia, on Wednesday, July 12 at 10am!

In this exhibit, families can explore the role percussion music plays in the cultures of China, Japan, and South Korea. Featuring authentic drums and other percussion instruments, Follow the Beat to East Asia encourages movement and performance. Play a tune with chimes, blocks, gongs, and more in the Chinese section of the exhibit. Then, tap out a beat on Japanese taiko drums or make daitokuji bowls sing. In the South Korea section, practice your K-Pop dance moves or jam out on janggu drums!

Join us for the exhibit opening on Wednesday, July 12 at 10am. We’ll have a special opening ceremony, activities with our friends from the Northeast Wisconsin Chinese Association, and a treat to celebrate.

The Follow the Beat to East Asia exhibit will be in our Exhibit Gallery located near Station 99 and Construction Junction. This exhibit will be open through Summer 2024.

This exhibit was created by the Freeman Foundation as part of their Asian Culture Exhibit Series.

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You’re invited to the 14th annual BFK Children’s Parade presented by ThedaCare on Wednesday, July 26!

During this annual summer tradition, kids and their grown-ups stroll through the streets of Downtown Appleton dressed in themed costumes and non-motorized floats (bikes, wagons, strollers, etc.). Families are encouraged to brainstorm their theme together with costumes often ranging from old Halloween costumes to hand-made floats to simple group themes (like a day at the beach)!

Participants are welcome to arrive at Houdini Plaza any time between 5:50 – 6:15pm and will be sent down College Avenue in waves. Awards will be given by our panel of judges for creativity, imagination, and confidence.

Then after the parade, join us for a party in City Park, where we’ll host free activities and performances. Plus, grab a delicious snack or dinner from a variety of food trucks from the Fox Valley Food Truck Association. 

Sign up your family or put together a group of families from your school, daycare, work, or any other organization.

This is a free event!

Click here to register!

Or if you’re interested in signing up a group, use our group registration form here.


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 23 – 29 and offers a week full of free or reduced-cost activities for the whole family.

Click here to learn more!

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The Building for Kids is excited to once again be hosting Summer Explorer Camps! Campers will have the opportunity to build new skills, explore different weekly themes, and, of course, play, all while making new friends along the way.

We’ll be offering 8 themed weeks of camp, starting in July. Weekly themes include Robotics & Coding, Sculpture & Pottery, Music Makers, and more. We’ll also host a camp all around Appleton’s annual U.S. Venture Children’s Week and the BFK Children’s Parade. Click here to see the weekly theme schedule. Sign up for one week or all eight for a discounted price.

Each week will run Tuesday – Friday with both half-day camps (4K – 4th grade graduates) and full-day camps (Kindergarten – 4th grade graduates) available. Every day, campers will participate in a combination of facilitated programming based on the week’s theme and open-ended play around the museum.

  • Full-Days (Kindergarten – 4th grade)
    • 1 Week: Members = $144 or Non-Members = $180
    • All 8 Weeks: Members = $1,008 or Non-Members = $1,296
  • Half-Days (4K – 4th grade)
    • 1 Week: Members = $72 or Non-Members = $90
    • All 8 Weeks: Members = $504 or Non-Members = $648

Click here to learn more!

 

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