BFK News

The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM), in partnership with Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities, will celebrate what makes us unique at Diversity Discovery Free Day on Saturday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Presented by the J.J. Keller Foundation and the Mielke Family Foundation with support from Bemis Company and the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, this free admission day will feature all the fun of the Museum plus local non-profits and community groups with hands-on activities for families to learn, discover and celebrate diversity.

Families can learn about Sikh traditions and dress a paper doll in Sikh attire with the Sikh Temple of Fox Valley, take pictures in a photo booth from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, learn about folk tales with African Heritage Incorporated, help create a community art piece for the BFKCM and more. The Mielke Family Theater will host dance and musical performances from cultures from all over the world.

More than a dozen organizations are involved, including American Indian Services of the Fox Valley, Appleton Public Library, Fit Oshkosh, Girls Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes, IndUS of Fox Valley, SOAR Fox Cities, United Hmong American Association, WisconSibs, World Relief Fox Valley and student organizations from Lawrence University and University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.

“The Building for Kids is an inclusive place for all families in the community,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “Together with our collaborative partners we have created an engaging and educational event to celebrate our diverse community.”

“We believe that diversity is a key asset to our community’s future. It is very important for children and families to be informed about diverse cultures, identities, abilities and religions, while at the same time being able to be proud of their own,” said Carolyn Desrosiers, co-chair of Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities.

Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities is a non-profit that believes every person is worthy of dignity and respect. Their mission is served through education, outreach, advocacy and public events.

The BFKCM has been empowering children, engaging parents and energizing the community since 1992. For more information about the BFKCM, including its programs and events, visit

Come be a kid at Adult Night at the Museum on Thursday, May 12, from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM). Sponsored by Speedy Clean Drain & Sewer and supported by Faith Technologies, this fundraiser is your chance to climb through a 10-foot human heart, operate a crane, paint in the da Vinci Studio and not worry about letting your kids have a turn.

Along with kid-like fun, the Museum will have ballroom dance classes by Absolute Danz, live music by Tommy Winch and Auralai, mixology classes by Ambassador, art classes by The Carrot Project Art Studio, light hors d’oeuvres from High Cliff Restaurant and samples from The Shinery.

“This is a great chance to get the community involved on a whole new level,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM and an Appleton Noon Optimist Club member. “Not only in raising funds to help with new programming and maintaining exhibits, but also to invite people to see the Museum in a different light.”

All proceeds benefit The Building for Kids Children’s Museum and Appleton Noon Optimist Club.

Space is limited; tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at



Come learn how to save and spend wisely, and have fun doing it, at Financial Literacy Free Day at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) on Sunday, April 10 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sponsored by Thrivent Financial of Outagamie County Chapter, Museum admission will be free, with a suggested donation of a non-perishable food item for the St. Joseph Food Program.

As kids play throughout the BFKCM, they will learn about spending, sharing and saving by using Museum money. They will discover the importance of budgeting by investing their pretend money, purchasing healthy snacks and takeaway items, doing fun activities and learning about sharing with others in our community through local non-profits such as the St. Joseph Food Program, Caneille Regional Development Fund and Habitat for Humanity.

“As Thrivent members, we are committed to helping people in our community be wise with money and live generous lives,” said Oliver Zornow, President of the Thrivent Financial of Outagamie County Chapter. “It’s never too early for kids to establish healthy financial habits.”

“It is important to us to create programming that is engaging and educational,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “With the help of Thrivent Financial, families can enjoy the Museum while learning about money matters and the importance of giving back to the community.”

Thrivent Financial is a financial services organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously. They offer a broad range of products and services – including life insurance, annuities and mutual funds – along with guidance from financial representatives nationwide. For more than a century they’ve helped their more than 2.3 million member-owners make wise money choices that reflect their values. And they provide opportunities for them to be even more generous where they live, work and worship.

The BFKCM has been empowering children, engaging parents and energizing the community since 1992. For more information about the BFKCM, including its programs and events, visit

Dear Friends,


We are truly fortunate to be part of a community that believes in our children, and that play, discovery and art are fundamental in their development. As you read this report, you will see that these beliefs are ever present at the core of The Building for Kids Children’s Museum. This past year has been full of achievements. We developed new, engaging programming, worked with community partners to refresh exhibits, re-branded ourselves with an updated look, and collaborated with multiple local organizations to better serve the needs of our community.

These exciting updates are only possible because of our donors, members and visitors like you. Thank you for supporting our mission of empowering children, engaging parents and energizing our community.

Whether it’s through our educational programming, art education in the da Vinci art studio, field trips, special exhibits, or just a day of fun, we know you and your family will find The Building for Kids a special experience. We hope many of you will find a time (or several!) to visit us this next year to see what we have to offer. As we enter our 25th anniversary year, we can’t wait to show you what 2016 has in store for our community!


Jarrad Bittner signatureSherry Coley signatureAmy Henselin




Jarrad Bittner                      Sherry Coley                                       Amy Henselin

Executive Director              Chair – Board of Directors                Immediate Past Chair – Board of Directors

Read our complete 2015 Community Report.


The newly renovated ThedaCare Physicians Doll Hospital at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) will be ready for little doctors and nurses on Wednesday, February 24. The exhibit is designed like an exam room at a pediatrician’s office and includes scales, stethoscopes and scrubs for kids to use as they give dolls check-ups.

As kids pretend to be medical staff they will learn healthy habits like the importance of washing hands, eating nutritious meals and staying active.

“Pretend play encourages problem solving, and if children are playing with others, it builds social and emotional skills,” said Dr. Kenneth Branstetter, pediatrician with ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Neenah. “Their language grows because a doctor or nurse speaks differently than a teacher or storekeeper. Kids can be anything they want just by pretending.”

“Play is important for kids’ cognitive development,” said Michael Wartgow, Chief Operating Officer at the BFKCM. “Our exhibits are created to have educational components, as well as encourage kids to use their imaginations. When kids enter the world of medical professionals in the ThedaCare Physicians Doll Hospital, they are also learning about different aspects of math and science.”

The renovation of the Doll Hospital was generously sponsored by ThedaCare, whose mission is to improve the health of the communities they serve.

The BFKCM has been empowering children, engaging parents and energizing the community since 1992. For more information about the BFKCM, including its programs and events, visit

Families are invited to explore how a healthy mouth is part of a healthy body at Miles of Smiles, an event at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) on Sunday, February 14 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sponsored by Delta Dental of Wisconsin, admission to the BFKCM will be free as various dental and medical organizations help celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month.

At Miles of Smiles, kids will learn from dentists, dental hygienists and the Tooth Fairy how to care for their mouth and teeth through various hands-on activities.

“It is part of our mission at The Building for Kids to create programming that benefits the community,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at BFKCM. “Delta Dental of Wisconsin, through Miles of Smiles, has helped us create a day where families can learn about the importance of dental health, as well as come enjoy the Museum.”

Delta Dental of Wisconsin’s mission is to improve oral health and wellness by extending access to care, advancing science and supporting an effective oral-health workforce. They have offered benefit services, claims processing, plan administration and award-winning service to employers throughout Wisconsin for over 50 years. More than 1.8 million subscribers and their family members trust Delta Dental with their dental insurance needs.

The BFKCM has been empowering children, engaging parents and energizing the community since 1992. For more information about the BFKCM, including its programs and events, visit

Is your family looking to visit The Building for Kids for the first time, but not sure what to expect? We can help! Our staff is here to make your visit as safe, effortless and fun as possible. Here are some common questions from first-time visitors:

How much will it cost?

Daily admission is $7.50 per person for both children and adults. Infants under 12 months are free, and seniors (age 65+) are $6.50 per person.

Where should I park?

If you plan to stay for more than an hour or two, your best bet is to park in the Midtown “Red” parking ramp, which is $2 per vehicle for a full day and a short half-block walk from us. The Red ramp is attached to BMO Harris Bank (located on 221 W. College Ave.) and has entrances on South Superior Street and South Appleton Street.

Metered parking on College Avenue is $0.75 per hour, with a maximum two-hour time limit.

What ages will enjoy The Building for Kids?

While our exhibits are accessible for visitors of all ages, most of our exhibits are geared toward ages 0-8.

Do you have any special programs going on?

Almost all of our programs are included with your daily admission. To see what’s available for programs, check out our event calendar. In addition, we always have a variety of art projects and activities in our da Vinci Art Studio that are included with your visit!

Can we eat at the museum? Do you have food for sale?

If you plan to bring a lunch, we have limited seating in our Dino Café. We have a vending machine with sodas and juices, but we do not have food for sale at the museum.

You can always leave for lunch and come back! Just ask for a stamp at our welcome desk on your way out. Feel free to check out Downtown Appleton’s restaurant guide for ideas!

Do you have a gift shop?

Yes, we do! Our gift shop is operated through our partnership with The Learning Shop.

Other tips for a smooth visit:

  • We often have field trip groups that are here during regular museum hours. To anticipate how busy it will be with school groups on any given day, check out our field trip predictor, which is updated daily.
  • If you love your visit (which we know you will!) and would like to purchase a membership, your daily admission can be applied to purchase a same-day membership. Just bring your receipt to our welcome desk before you leave!
  • We are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Feel free to call our welcome desk at 920-734-3226 ext. 15 with any questions. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Come Celebrate Japanese Culture at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum

The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) will be celebrating Japanese Culture on Saturday, February 6, from 11 am – 3 pm and Sunday, February 7, from 12 pm – 3 pm. The weekend will include a display of traditional dolls from Appleton’s sister city Kan’onji, traditional dress, food, music, origami and other activities that will help children learn about the Japanese culture.

The next Cultural Celebration will be the first weekend of April and will focus on German culture. The Cultural Celebration activities are included with daily museum admission or membership.

“The cultural programming at The Building for Kids give us the chance to celebrate different cultures in the community and across the globe,” said Julie Burns, BFKCM Educator. “It teaches kids the uniqueness of different cultures and what makes us all distinctive and remarkable.”

We evaded winter weather as long as we could, but the blustery, snowy days are finally upon us! It’s also time to start working on those resolutions you were so committed to last week. Of course, we think the best way for you and your little ones to shake your sillies out is to come to The Building for Kids. But, we have some ideas for you to stay active and avoid cabin fever from your very own home!

Super Duper Hopscotch!

Put your masking or painter’s tape to work by making squares on the floor throughout your home. You can put the squares adjacent to one another like traditional hopscotch or further away for a greater challenge. Then, see if you and your kidlets can hop from one square to the next! Challenge one another; can you hop from square to square on one foot? Can you get all the way from here to the kitchen without stepping outside a square? Use your imagination! Are you frogs hopping from lily pad to lily pad? Are you scientists avoiding stepping in hot lava? You might find you’ve helped the afternoon fly by and worked up a light sweat at the same time!

Freeze Dance!

Don’t freeze outside, play a freeze dance game inside. Turn up your family’s favorite tunes and get moving! Show one another your best dance moves, you could even pull up some YouTube videos of different types of dancing and try them out. Then, once everyone’s warmed up, shut the music off and call “freeze!” Admire one another’s frozen-dancer statues. Who can stay frozen the longest? Who makes the silliest frozen-dancer face? Try making this a competition and let the last dancer standing choose the next song. Your Zumba instructor will definitely approve of this activity!

Laundry Basket Ball!

You might have a rule in your house about throwing balls, but I bet you won’t mind tossing around a rolled up sock or two! Pull out a laundry basket and see if your little one can make a free throw from a foot away. Then challenge one another by pulling the basket further from the line. If it gets too easy, try making the basket smaller by using a Cool Whip container or popcorn bowl instead. This can become a team activity if the whole family participates. For an added challenge and a little cardio, try setting a timer and seeing how many socks you and your kidlets can get in the basket in a minute!

Closet Clean-Out Relay Race!

At this point, you’re bound to have some too-big clothes lying around. Make two piles of shirts, skirts, pants, hats and more and challenge your little one to a relay race. Who will be the first to get all of the clothing on over their clothes and then off again? You might decide to hang on to those old clothes instead of donating them so you’re ready for the next time you play!

Volley Balloon!

Do you have a balloon hanging around from New Year’s Eve? Put it to use with a rousing game of Volley Balloon! Get everyone to circle up, then count each hit as you work together to keep the balloon floating in the air. Once it hits the ground, challenge your team to beat their record and keep it in the air ever longer. You’d be surprised how eager your little ones will be to try again, and how out of breath the bunch of you might be after playing for a half hour!

What ever activities you choose to do, we hope you do them together! Engage and encourage your little ones and exercise your bodies and minds by talking, reading and playing together!

by: Arielle Loy, Fine Arts Coordinator


Families are invited to celebrate the new year at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) with Noodles Around the World on December 31 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsored by Noodles & Company, the event will include different noodle dishes every hour including Penne Rosa, Steak Stroganoff and Wisconsin Mac & Cheese.

There will be countdowns and ball drops at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., with dance parties and parades around the BFKCM to ring in the new year.

Noodles Around the World is included with BFKCM daily admission or membership. The BFKCM will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

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