BFK News

The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) will be closed September 3–24 to finish up its three-year, 2.5-million-dollar exhibit update goal. Since 2015, the BFKCM has updated or added six new exhibits, finished the first expansion in over a decade and refreshed and renovated the interior of the museum.

This fall, seven different exhibit areas that will be getting updates or complete renovations.

  • The Amazing Heart slide will be getting a fresh coat of paint.
  • The Big Rig Depot, supported by L3 D.P. Associates and Schneider National, is a new exhibit that will feature a semi-truck, an engine for the kids the work on and a semi-truck simulator.
  • Discovery Tree, supported by Fox Cities Stadium Charitable Fund and Pucuda Inc., will be getting new netting for the rope bridges.
  • Construction Junction, supported by The Boldt Company, will build off of the existing crane and add more building space and interactive construction activities.
  • The da Vinci Studio, supported by School Specialty, is being updated with a new look and more ways for kids to express their creativity.
  • Happy Baby Garden, supported by Huggies and Pull-Ups, will get a complete renovation, becoming Babies & Toddlers Around the World. This space will have a mountain slide and a sailboat for around-the-world adventures in this specially created exhibit space for ages 0–3.
  • Kwik Trip, supported by Kwik Trip, Inc., will be updated with a refreshed look and incorporate more math and shapes into the exhibit.

“Many of our exhibits had been around for quite a few years and were well loved,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “As we updated, we wanted to make sure everything was more accessible, so that meant adding more ramps and widening spaces to expand the play opportunities of individuals of all abilities. We looked at the educational aspects of the exhibits, and the developmental milestones for kids in our age ranges. And we also made sure the spaces had plenty of opportunities for interactive play, especially adding elements to encourage social interactions and ways kids can play with other kids or their adults.”

Along with the exhibit updates, the BFKCM will be unveiling a new logo and brand. The refreshed look will be evident inside and out with plans to make the facade brighter and new graphic elements throughout the BFKCM.

“We are celebrating 25 years of amazing adventures, excitement and memories,” said Bittner. “Our focus with the updates and renovations has always been to ensure that the BFKCM meets the evolving needs of children and families of our community. To create a hands-on, educational and engaging space where all families can come and enjoy their time together for years to come. And thanks to the generosity of the community, we have been able to accomplish this goal.”

One of the core beliefs at The Building for Kid Children’s Museum (BFKCM) is that every child and family deserve a chance to play. Families going through financial difficulties can visit the BFKCM for $2 per person under the newest program, Access Admission, part of the national Museums for All program an initiative between the Association of Children’s Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.

Access Admission is also part of the BFKCM’s Access for All programs which help support families and children in times of need and financial difficulty, giving kids the opportunity to experience the simple joys of being a kid. Other programs in Access for All include Access Membership that offers reduced rate yearly BFKCM Memberships, Organization Access Membership for families that are utilizing various basic needs organizations to visit the BFKCM, Field Trip Grants to reduce the cost of field trips and Discovery Classes for schools with a high free and reduced lunch rate and more.

“Every child, every family needs the opportunity to connect, create lasting memories and forge stronger bonds,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “Our Access for All enables us to examine and remove barricades from visiting the BFKCM and make sure we are accessible to families throughout the community. ”

The Access for All programs are made possible by generous donations from the community. To support the BFKCM and the Access for All programs, visit buildingforkids.org/access-for-all.

At Financial Literacy Free Day at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) families can learn how to save and spend wisely, and have fun doing it! This free admission day on Sunday, April 22 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. is sponsored by Money Smart Week, Mielke Family Foundation and Chase Bank and will offer math and financial programming, as well as the opportunity for families to enjoy the BFKCM.

When kids enter the BFKCM, they will receive a check they can cash for Museum money. Throughout the Museum there will be different stations where they will learn about spending, saving and sharing. Each station will teach different elements of financial literacy. Kids can play games for the cost of their water bill which teaches about budging skills and play investment games to learn about saving. They will get the opportunity to purchase healthy snacks and other items, do fun activities and learn about sharing with others in our community.

“Through Financial Literacy Free Day, we are not just teaching kids math and financial skills, but also cause and effect,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “It is created to be fun and interactive, but also where they relate to real life examples they see every day in their parents.”

The Building for Kids (BFK) will be celebrating what makes our community unique at Diversity Discovery Free Day on Sunday, February 11 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. In partnership with Celebrate Diversity and University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, with the support of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, this free admission day will feature all the fun of the BFK plus local non-profit and community groups with hands-on activities for families to learn, discover and celebrate diversity.

Activities include making a xauv (a traditional Hmong necklace) with the Southeast Asian Students Union from UWGB, creating paper bag piñatas with Casa Hispana, computer programming with WIT4Girls and more. Plus, play Plinko with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and get information about their anti-bullying website, Act Now!

Along with the family-friendly, interactive activities, there will be different programs including the Oneida Nation Dancers, a play by Gain Peace and the Lawrence University Gamelan.

“Diversity Discovery Free Day encourages visitors to come and learn about all the different cultures, traditions and people that make up our neighborhoods,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “It’s a way to celebrate what makes us all unique, but also what makes us all similar and creates a community.”

Diversity Discovery Free Day is supported by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Community Foundation of the Fox Valley Region and the Mielke Family Foundation.

Big Arts in the Little Apple, an annual collaborative program between The Building for Kids (BFK) and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, will be unveiling a community-wide art exhibit on February 3. Over 700 original pieces were created by Appleton Area School District 3rd and 4th-grade students this past fall and will be displayed in various places in the community through March 4.

The program encouraged students to explore the connection between music and visual art. While listening to “Route 66” by Michael Daugherty, a musical trip down the historic U.S. Route 66, students were encouraged to imagine the visual aspects in the music and how different elements in the music made them feel. It was through critically listening to the music that students were able to make the creative connections to inspire their pieces.

“It is such an extraordinary moment when the kids get to see their artwork displayed throughout the community. They spend weeks diving into the music, learning new visual art techniques and expanding their abstract thinking to ultimately create these amazing pieces of art,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director of the BFK. “They all share an incredible amount of pride for their creations and we are so excited that the community has embraced this program to support these talented young artists.”

The art pieces inspired by “Route 66” range from collage to acrylic, abstract to landscape, and capture the wide range of creativity and talent of the students. Over 20 locations are housing the unique pieces, most being in downtown Appleton. Click here to see a map of all the art piece locations. During the run of the exhibit, the BFK will have programs and activities to encourage visitors to explore the connections between visual arts and music.

The 25 best in show pieces will be featured at the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra’s Modern American Legends concert on February 3, with the student artists invited to hear the Symphony perform “Route 66” live at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

Big Arts in the Little Apple was made possible with the generous support of the Appleton Area School District, Octoberfest, School Specialty, Appleton Education Foundation, Miron Construction, Mielke Family Foundation, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and Heid Music.

A lot of giggles, memories and milestones can happen in 25 years, and The Building for Kids (BFK) is celebrating them all! It is not just a celebration for the BFK, but for the community that created and supports it. Throughout the year several exciting events and additions will take place, including the 25th Birthday Celebration and the first expansion in over 10 years.

On November 4, the BFK will be throwing a birthday party like no other. The event, which goes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., will include the unveiling of the new Innovation Lab, a chance for adults to check out the BFK and play on the exhibits, highlights from programs and more. Guest must be 21 or older, but a kid at heart. Tickets are $10 a person, or two for $15. Click here for tickets.

And the day after is for the kids! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Free Day, supported by The Boldt Company and Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, is November 5 from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. (10 a.m. – 12 p.m. is Members only). Part of the Wisconsin Science Festival, this free admission day will let kids investigate different interactive STEM activities and programming, including a visit by Professor Gizmo. Plus they can check out the newly opened Innovation Lab.

The BFK’s first addition in over 10 years, the Innovation Lab, is a space for kids and their adults to explore STEM. Details will be released weekly about the Lab on social media and the BFK website, with the final unveil on November 4 at the 25th Birthday Celebration. The Innovation Lab expansion is possible because of support from the Bemis Company, Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, The Boldt Company, Great Northern Corporation, Neenah Foundry, Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation, Secura Insurance, Miller Electric Manufacturing Company, Plexus Corp., Hartwig Family Foundation, School Specialty, US Venture, WE Energies Foundation, GEI Consultants, Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance and American Transmission Company.

The Innovation Lab is just one of the exciting things in progress for the 25th year. Six exhibits are currently in different stages of development, with all scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

  • The Big Rig Garage, supported by L3 D.P. Associates and Schneider National, will be a garage like no other, complete with a semi truck driving simulator.
  • Construction Junction, supported by The Boldt Company, will build off of the existing crane and add a truck and more building space and interactive construction activities.
  • The da Vinci Studio will get an update, supported by School Specialty, which will include more ways for kids to express their creativity.
  • Kwik Trip, supported by Kwik Trip, Inc., will be updated and incorporate more math, colors and shapes into the exhibit.
  • Move It, supported by AZCO Inc., will see the addition of more simple machines fun.
  • Happy Baby Garden, supported by Kimberly-Clark, will get a complete renovation, letting toddlers have around-the-world adventures in this specially created exhibit space for ages 0 – 3.

The planning for the 25th birthday started several years ago with the goal to have all of the existing exhibits renovated or updated for the anniversary year. The first addition happened in fall 2015 with the Fox Communities Credit Union’s Littlest Branch. Shortly after, the ThedaCare Physicians Doll Hospital was updated. In September 2016, the Gulfstream Aircraft, Pierce Fire Truck and Thrivent Mutual Funds Water Gallery exhibits re-opened after updates and renovations.

Because of the generous support of the community, by the end of 2018 over $2.5 million in updates, additions and renovations will have been completed at the BFK.

“The support we have received is an indicator of how important child development and family are in the community,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFK. “As an organization, we would not be where we are without that support, including donations, volunteers and community partnerships.”

The BFK birthday is not just about creating interactive exhibits, but also hands-on, innovative programs and events. New programs will add more art and STEM-focused programming to the program line-up, including studio time where kids will be able to use materials that might not otherwise be available to them. The 25th year will also see more and expanded events, including the 10th annual Children’s Parade.

Another focus of the BFK is continuing to remove financial barriers for families going through difficult times. Initiatives include Family Access Memberships and involvement in the Museums for All program with the Association of Children’s Museums. As well as grant programs for schools with high free and reduced lunch rates to visit the BFK for field trips and Discovery Classes. Outreach programs weekly visit community partners like Homeless Connections and Harbor House to bring hands-on learning to kids and families that are in times of crisis.

“As we look forward, the BFK will continue to be a resource for all families,” said Bittner. “We strive to create a space and programs where families can forget about the outside world for a bit and focus on the world of play. Somewhere that lets them create memories and form lasting bonds.”

More BFK exhibit announcements, programs and events will be listed throughout the year on social media and here on our website!

Looking to jam? The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) will have free admission for Music Makers Free Day Saturday, August 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This event, created in partnership with Mile of Music, will feature music programs from the Mile of Music Education Team, plus other music and art activities.

Along with the musical programs that will be happening all day long, families can enjoy the BFKCM exhibits and create musical instruments in the da Vinci Studio.

“Music supports learning,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “It involves more than singing or playing an instrument. It touches on many areas of development such as social, emotional, motor and language. It also encourages creativity, confidence and self-expression.”

 

Schedule of events:

9:30 a.m. – Mini Mile of Music Sing Along

Songs, dancing, and music games for little ones.

10:30 a.m. – Stories that Sing

Watch, listen and interact with lively storytellers as they bring picture books to life with song, dance and a ton of fun.

11:30 a.m. – Puddle Jumpers

Puddle Jumpers is an early learning program featuring music, movement, language and storytelling.

2:30 p.m. – Rhythm Sticks & Scarves

Come sing, move, and find your rhythm in this colorful, music making session.

3:30 p.m. – Mini Mariachi

Learn all about Mariachi music and instruments.

Music Makers Free Day is possible because of the support of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., Octoberfest and U.S. Bank. Plus additional support from the Appleton Noon Optimist Club and Walmart.

 

The community is invited to the Children’s Parade on Wednesday, July 26 where kids 12 and under will be expressing their imaginations by parading in costume, riding decorated bikes or other non-motorized transportation in the 9th Annual Children’s Parade presented by ThedaCare. Family members can also join the fun in costumes or by pushing young parade participates in adorned strollers or wagons.

The parade line up begins at 5:15 p.m. in Houdini Plaza. The parade starts at 6 p.m. with participants marching east on College Avenue, turning left on Drew Street and ending in City Park. Prizes will be awarded for individual and group floats for creativity, confidence, imagination and spirit.

After the parade, there will be music with 95.9 KISS FM and a Fox Valley Food Truck Rally in City Park. Plus family activities including building activities with the Appleton Public Library, Mexican tissue flower creation with Child Care Resources & Referral, paper airplanes and origami frogs with the Paper Discovery Center, disc golf tutorial with the Greater Fox Valley Disc Golf Club, Dr. Seuss activities with Xavier Theatre Academy, games with The Building for Kids and more. “The Lego Batman Movie” will play at dusk.

 

It’s time to unleash your imagination and get your floats ready for the 9th Annual Children’s Parade on Wednesday, July 26 in downtown Appleton. Presented by ThedaCare, the Parade invites families to express their creativity by parading in costume, riding decorated bikes or other non-motorized transportation. Registration is free, but required, at buildingforkids.org.

The parade line up begins at 5:15 p.m. in Houdini Plaza. The parade steps off at 6 p.m. with participants marching east on College Avenue, turning left on Drew Street and ending in City Park. In City Park after the Parade, there will be a Fox Valley Food Truck Rally, music with 95.9 KISS FM and family activities. “The Lego Batman Movie” will play at dusk.

“This is one of our favorite events,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum. “Through the years we have seen pirates, princesses, heroes and everything in between. But the best part is seeing the excitement on the kid’s faces as they parade down College Avenue with their families and the community that comes out to cheer them on.”

Prizes will be awarded for individual and group floats for creativity, confidence, imagination and spirit.

Children’s Parade is part of Children’s Week, an annual community-wide celebration of kids.

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