BFK News

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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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February is Diversity Discovery Month at the Building for Kids! We’re celebrating the various cultures that make our community unique through a take-home family activity kit, socially-distant small group programs, and Facebook live programs throughout the month in partnership with local diversity groups. 


“Diversity Discovery Month is an important collaboration where our community can showcase and celebrate the diversity that makes our community strong,” said Oliver Zornow, executive director of the BFK.  “Children and their families of diverse abilities, ethnicities, nationalities, beliefs, and family structures can see themselves in the programming while learning about and exploring others’ ways of life.” 


With the Diversity Discovery Family Activity Kit, families can learn about and explore diversity through four projects provided by WisconSibs, UW-Green Bay’s Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and Appleton Public Library’s Hispanic Family Outreach Specialist. Projects include creating a Hmong necklace, making a thumbprint tree, and more. To register for a Diversity Discovery Kit, click here!


The BFK is also providing two in-person programs to celebrate Diversity Discovery Month. These socially-distant programs include Fingerprint Art + Science, where families can learn about the science of fingerprints and use their own prints to create are, and The Shape of You and Me, where families will explore silhouettes and what makes us all unique. To register for a Diversity Discovery small group program, click here!


Additionally, the BFKCM will be partnering with organizations such as IndUS, the United Hmong American Association, and more to explore different cultures through virtual programming. Watch our Facebook page for more information on these live programs.


Diversity Discovery Month is sponsored by the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. 

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The Building for Kids in partnership with the History Museum at the Castle recently developed Museums in Motion: Responsive Community Engagement Toolkits, which aims to address the educational and social needs of local students during this public health crisis.  

Students have been negatively affected by the complications of living, learning, and developing throughout a pandemic, especially due to a lack of access to supplemental learning materials and non-virtual, hands-on opportunities for engagement,” says Beth Vanderloop, Director of Programs and Community Engagement at the BFK. “With Museums in Motion, we hope to support local educators in providing accessible, engaging content that will enhance students’ learning experiences.” 

With the first wave of Museums in Motion, the Building for Kids will be distributing 1200 engagement toolkits to families and children in our community. These kits will be distributed to 1st graders in the Appleton Area School District as well as low income households with students in Kindergarten – 2nd grade, which will be allocated with the assistance of Pillars and Harbor House. 

Each kit contains all of the materials and instructions for six different projects, three developed by the History Museum and three by the BFK. Included projects range from learning about Harry Houdini to experimenting with graphite circuits to creating a mini robot that moves. 

Through this project, the Building for Kids hopes to support the future resiliency of students and their families and mitigate some of the negative impacts of the current public health crisis in our community. Museums in Motion is made possible largely in part by the City of Appleton’s Community Development Block Grant CARES Act Opportunity in response to the Covid-19 pandemic

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This year, the Building for Kids is spending the month of December exploring celebrations from around the world!

We’re offering four different small group programs as well as a take-home family activity kit that allows your family to travel the world without leaving the Fox Valley. Additionally, through virtual programming, we will talk to members of our local community about the ways they celebrate different holidays throughout the month of December.

Celebrations Around the World Programs

Musical Monoprint Cards – December 2 – 6

  • Join us for some musical print making! Learn about monoprints and create your own card using this technique while listening to festive music.

Celebration Stamping Cards – December 9 – 13

  • Make your own greeting card and experiment with different types of stamps and ink. We’ll learn about some properties of paper, create a greeting card and make a stamp to take home.

Fabric Greeting Cards – December 16 – 20

  • Learn about different textiles and make a greeting card out of fabric! We’ll be exploring collage, weaving, and layering while making a one-of-a-kind gift.

Building into the New Year – December 23 – January 3

  • After looking at different architecture from around the world, we’ll design & build our own structures and create a wishing wall with our hopes and dreams for 2021!

Learn more or register for a Celebrations Around the World program at https://www.buildingforkids.org/phase-1/

Celebrations Around the World Family Activity Kit

Wednesdays and Saturdays in December

  • Brighten up this winter with light-inspired projects! Design a paper luminary, conduct a light experiment using different materials, paint vibrant fireworks, and craft sparkling circle sweets.

Learn more or register for a Celebrations Around the World Kit at https://www.buildingforkids.org/pick-up-activity-kits/

Celebrations Around the World Virtual Programs












All of our virtual programs premier on our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/buildingforkids

Celebrations Around the World is sponsored by the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation of the Fox Valley Region.

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November is Healthy Kids Month at the Building for Kids! The BFK is dedicating a whole month to emphasizing the importance of kids and families prioritizing their health and wellness. We’re celebrating by providing an at-home family activity kit as well as three small group programs throughout the month that focus on physical, mental, and emotional health.

Healthy Kids Month Programs

Gratitude Murals – November 4 – 8

  • Work together to design and create a mural on canvas! We’ll learn about murals, experiment with different types of media, and create a one of a kind piece of large artwork to take home.

Mindful Mandalas – November 11 – 14

  • Explore being in the moment and the strength of focusing your mind and body as you create circular mandalas. In the end you you will have a unique piece of art and a new way to practice mindfulness.

Calming Dough – November 18 – 22

  • Discover the calming qualities of dough and lavender. We will mix our own dough, incorporating lavender buds to release their naturally calming properties.

Gratitude Murals – November 25 – 29

  • Work together to design and create a mural on canvas! We’ll learn about murals, experiment with different types of media, and create a one of a kind piece of large artwork to take home.

Learn more or register for a Healthy Kids Month program here! 

Healthy Kids Month At-Home Family Activity Kit

Wednesdays and Saturdays in November

  • Be a healthy kid with the BFK! Pretend play as a health professional, make a gratitude tree, plan a nutritious plate, and more. This at-home family activity kit contains 7 unique projects.

Learn more or register for a Healthy Kids Kit here!


Healthy Kids Month is sponsored by Children’s Wisconsin.

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This year, the Building for Kids is reimaging our annual Children’s Parade into a parade of yards! Much like the driving tours of light displays during the holidays, the BFK’s Parade of Yards will feature creatively decorated yards throughout the community. Families will come together to brainstorm their theme and will engage with each other throughout the design and decorating process. Then, they will have the chance to add their address to a map so that families can take a driving tour to view the parade of yards!

The Children’s Parade of Yards is free, but we do ask that you register by July 17 to ensure that your address is added to our parade of yards map. Families are encouraged to decorate their yards during Children’s Week, starting on July 19, and to be ready for their yard to be showcased between 4 pm – 8 pm on July 22, 2020.

To help us protect the health and safety of all involved, please remember that yards are for viewing only. Do not get out of your vehicle to take a closer look. We will also have a panel of judges visiting all of the decorated yards and giving out awards based on imagination, creativity, and confidence.

To learn more or to register, visit https://appletonchildrensweek.com/building-for-kids-childrens-parade/.

Over the past decade, the Children’s Parade has evolved and grown, but our goal has remained the same: to celebrate children and inspire their creativity. The Building for Kids Children’s Parade of Yards is sponsored by ThedaCare and is a part of U.S. Venture Children’s Week.

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