MCM Access for Everyone Spring Fund Drive

Madison Children’s Museum will host its first annual Access for Everyone Spring Fund Drive to raise money that supports subsidized admission and programs for families facing financial, physical, and other barriers to visiting the facility.

To donate, participants can purchase and decorate a paper egg between April 1–10 that will be added to the museum’s giant “nest.” The money donated ensures that everyone can enjoy the museum, get an annual pass, or come for a discounted or free school field trip.

Eggs can be bought for $1, $5, or “name your gift” to support Access for Everyone. The eggs will be sold at a table near the front desk and via MadisonChildrensMuseum.org starting April 1. This is a great opportunity to get kids, families, youth organizations, and businesses involved in making a donation to support the museum and those who face barriers to access.

“Madison Children’s Museum is committed to creating a facility that is part of the fabric of our community,” said Cheri Dubiel Buckner, the museum’s director of Development & External Relations. “So many people have had the opportunity to enjoy the new museum. We hope you will join us in making sure it is truly accessible to all.”

Every year, Madison Children’s Museum provides more than $225,000 in free and discounted admissions, memberships and school visits to ensure that every child — regardless of background, ability, or economic means — is able to enjoy the new facility. Access for Everyone includes the following programs: Twilight Thursday, a free admission night the first Thursday of each month from 5 to 8; Access admission, which allows those on many forms of public assistance to pay just $1 museum admission; Family Access memberships, which start at $8 for those with financial barriers; events that serve visitors and members with special needs; SPARK! intergenerational programming for people with early memory loss; Access for School Kids (ASK), subsidized field trips for school groups in which a majority of the students receive reduced-price or free school lunch; and need-based scholarships for summer camps and other programs.

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Kids in the Rotunda – April 2

Overture Center’s Kids in the Rotunda is a series of free artistic programs designed for children and families which runs from the last weekend in September through April. This popular performing arts series on the Rotunda Stage offers a relaxed, kid-friendly environment in which to enjoy a diverse lineup of local and regional musicians, storytellers, jugglers, theater troupes, magicians and dancers. The programs run every Saturday at 9:30 am, 11 am and 1 pm (each performance lasts around 45 minutes). The 1 pm performances are sign language interpreted.

This week’s performer is Robbie Clement (Folks music & stories)

Robbie Clement’s energetic performances of songs and creative silliness combine music, comedy and storytelling with guitar, banjo, dulcimer, limberjack, jawharp and audience accompaniment. Recipient of the Parents’ Choice Award and the Children’s Choice Seal of Approval, Robbie makes music magic by sharing it in the time-honored way: friend to friend and heart to heart.

Art After Overture Saturday from 9 am – 5 pm. Stop by the Central Library for art activities, special book displays and more, inspired by performances at Overture Center for the Arts’ Kids in the Rotunda series. Activities will be available from 9 am-5 pm in the Children’s Room. This FREE event takes place every Saturday after Kids in the Rotunda.

Community Change

Have you heard about Community Change? We’ve only just discovered it ourselves. Community Change offers great local deals that benefit charity!

“The mission of Community Change is to provide charitable assistance through a unique method; everyone wins!

By approaching “giving” in a new way we can provide benefits to consumers who want their purchases to mean more than just savings. We can provide our partner charities with a benefit to their supporters and a program that assists them effortlessly. And we can provide an avenue where merchants can benefit local charities that have meaning to those consumers who patronize their establishments.

By combining the interests of those involved in our community we strive to create change through commerce based donations and good works through charity.”

The Community Change offers half price or better deals on gift cards and gift card packs at tons of local merchants, including Bouncy Town USA, Rock n Glam Salon, The Little Gym, Kittelson Swim, and more. Each purchase benefits a partner charity!

Community Change sounds like a great way to save money while also giving back! Have any of you used Community Change Cards yet?

Birthday Parties!

RM reader Katie recently asked if had done a post about good places to hold birthday parties, and we realized we hadn’t – although it’s something we’ve meant to do for months now! Thanks for the reminder, Katie!

We didn’t receive many e-mails when we asked for reviews, so we thought we’d list a few local places that we know hold birthday parties (follow links for pricing and more info), and we also welcome your reviews in the comments!

Half-Pint Resale just posted a great review of the Madison Children’s Museum birthday parties! And Kid-Friendly Madison has a discussion open for reviews on its Facebook page.

Birthday Party Packages:

Animart
Bloom Bake Shop
Bouncy Town USA
Fired Up Pottery
Henry Vilas Zoo
Madison Children’s Museum

Room rentals:

Goodman Community Center
Happy Bambino

RM reader Leigh sent us a review of Legacy Academy:

“We just had my daughter’s 6th birthday party at Legacy Academy in Fitchburg. To be perfectly honest, we chose them because they were by far the cheapest. She wanted to invite her whole Kindergarten class as well as her Daisy troop and a few other friends. Most places have a comparable base price, but there is a limit on the number of kids, and then you pay extra for each additional kid. At Legacy you pay one price ($150 as of February) for the rental of the space for two hours and that’s it – no additional fees and you get the whole place to yourself for as many kids as you want. For smaller groups you can host your party during an open gym time for $5 per child.

Aside from the low cost, we liked that you can bring in your own food and that there’s a huge variety of activities. Truly something for everyone. There’s a playset, a jumping tower (by far the most popular attraction for our group), a Nintendo Wii, air hockey, Lego, books and comfy couches, board games, a mini bowling lane, basketball, a small rock climbing wall, swings, balls… You name it. There are also plenty of activities for younger siblings – blocks, puzzles, board books. You can bring your own CDs to play during the party, there are refrigerators to use, and the staff is very friendly. We had a great time and my daughter was very happy with her party!”

We know there are a lot of other great options out there – we look forward to reading your reviews in the comments!

Kids in the Rotunda – March 26

Overture Center’s Kids in the Rotunda is a series of free artistic programs designed for children and families which runs from the last weekend in September through April. This popular performing arts series on the Rotunda Stage offers a relaxed, kid-friendly environment in which to enjoy a diverse lineup of local and regional musicians, storytellers, jugglers, theater troupes, magicians and dancers. The programs run every Saturday at 9:30 am, 11 am and 1 pm (each performance lasts around 45 minutes). The 1 pm performances are sign language interpreted.

This week’s performer is Clare Norelle (Multicultural songs & stories)

Clare Norelle brings multilingual songs and stories from around the earth to the Rotunda Stage. Clare has lived and performed in many parts of the world, and her appreciation for cross-cultural sharing is contagious. With participatory stories, fun songs, lots of movement, and friendly humor, she engages children and helps them feel connected with each other, with their communities, and with people and places far away.

Art After Overture Saturday from 9 am – 5 pm. Stop by the Central Library for art activities, special book displays and more, inspired by performances at Overture Center for the Arts’ Kids in the Rotunda series. Activities will be available from 9 am-5 pm in the Children’s Room. This FREE event takes place every Saturday after Kids in the Rotunda.

Kids in the Rotunda – March 19

Overture Center’s Kids in the Rotunda is a series of free artistic programs designed for children and families which runs from the last weekend in September through April. This popular performing arts series on the Rotunda Stage offers a relaxed, kid-friendly environment in which to enjoy a diverse lineup of local and regional musicians, storytellers, jugglers, theater troupes, magicians and dancers. The programs run every Saturday at 9:30 am, 11 am and 1 pm (each performance lasts around 45 minutes). The 1 pm performances are sign language interpreted.

This week’s performers are Meenakshi Ganesan & Kalaanjali School of Dance (Classical Indian dance)

For nearly 25 years, the Kalaanjali School of Dance has shared the drama of traditional Bharatanatyam-style dancing of southern India with southern Wisconsin. Vividly experience breathtaking stories of the East through the graceful bodies, percussive feet, vibrant costumes and dynamic expressions of the Kalaanjali dancers. Led by Meenakshi Ganesan, dancers of all ages will capture your spirit with the beauty, elegance and magnificence of classical Indian dance.

Art After Overture Saturday from 9 am – 5 pm. Stop by the Central Library for art activities, special book displays and more, inspired by performances at Overture Center for the Arts’ Kids in the Rotunda series. Activities will be available from 9 am-5 pm in the Children’s Room. This FREE event takes place every Saturday after Kids in the Rotunda.

Local Child Care Providers

We’ve spent the past few weeks focusing on how to choose the best school for your little one, and we realize that finding the best child care for your kids is just as difficult and just as important.

Below are just a few of the resources available in the area. We’d love to hear how you found your child care provider!


The Wisconsin State Journal recently published an article about Madison’s new Child Care Center online rating system.

The rating system, called YoungStar, is the Wisconsin Department of Children & Families’ (DCF) new five-star quality rating and improvement system for child care in Wisconsin. According to the website:

YoungStar will improve child care throughout the state, make it easier for parents to choose the best child care for their kids, and link child care provider quality to payments from the Wisconsin Shares program.

YoungStar sets a five-star rating system for child care providers based on education, learning environment, business practices and the health and well being of children. Through this rating system the state will address several key issues in Wisconsin’s child care system. It will:

– Improve the overall quality of child care
– Create a clear, understandable tool for parents to choose quality child care
– Create incentives for providers to improve services, particularly for low-income children
– Establish a connection between child care quality and the rate of Wisconsin Shares payments
– Help prevent fraud in the Wisconsin Shares system

With YoungStar, you can search for a child care provider based on: name, location, and/or star rating.

Have any of you used this new program to find a child care provider? Or were you surprised at how many stars your current provider received?

We at RM have also recently heard about Peace of Mind Nannies.

Peace of Mind Nannies was founded in 2010 in Madison by Ashley Jacobs.

According to the website: Our nanny agency provides full-time, part-time, live-in, live-out, summer care, after school, weekend, or even just for a night out! From house managers to mother’s helpers and everything in between, we can be the missing piece in your families’ Peace of Mind!

If you’re interested, Peace of Mind Nannies is currently looking for families and hiring nannies.

Have any of you found your nanny through this or another local service?

Edited to add: RM reader Jenifer recommended Satellite Family Child Care’s FREE referral listing on our Facebook page.

According to the website: Satellite offers city accreditation to child care providers who care for children in their homes in the Madison, Wisconsin, area. We support our providers with one-on-one consultation, free continuing education, equipment loans, support groups, respite care, and more. Satellite also provides child care referrals and parenting resources for families with young children.