Just before Father’s Day, Milena and I visited The Building For Kids (Appleton’s children’s museum) with my sister and her three girls.
I’ll start by saying that I really wish museums had different rates for children! I’m okay paying $7 or $8 for myself, but I’m always surprised when I have to pay the same amount for a 2 year old who I knew might throw a tantrum two minutes into the visit and have to be removed. (Thankfully, this didn’t happen, and we had a nice time.)
But on to the museum!
The first floor really inspires pretend play, with a doll hospital, grocery store, and restaurant. However, most of these areas had very few items to play with (my sister mentioned that there used to be more), so we didn’t spend much time here. We did, however, spend a lot of time playing in the Gulfstream Jet with its realistic cockpit and control tower! The girls had a great time pretending to be both passengers and pilots.
The museum centerpiece is the huge Story Tree with 5 tree forts to climb in. Varying degrees of difficulty offer kids of all ages fun and challenging make-believe opportunities. (Most of the climbing areas were netting, and I didn’t really want to have to climb in it if Milena decided halfway up that she wanted out, so she didn’t get to try out this exhibit!)
The first thing Milena and I saw when we went up to the second floor was the Happy Baby Garden – for children 0-3 years of age. This over-sized garden drew Milena right in! The slide alone was a big hit, and I think if her cousins had been young enough to play in there with her, Milena would have spent the majority of our visit here.
The second floor has numerous other permanent exhibits including a digger, a heart slide, a golf simulator, and a water room.
The museum also has a nice art studio. We visited right before Father’s Day, so the girls each got a (large!) lump of clay to make presents for their dads (or grandpas). Milena enjoyed “making” a bowl and then painting it for her grandpa, but my sister and I didn’t enjoy having to carry the wet clay projects home with us! Plus, they weren’t ever fired, so none of them lasted very long.
My only real complaint was regarding the fire truck. Milena had a great time dressing up like a firefighter and pretending to drive the truck and play with the fire hose. I thought it was pretty neat that there was even a “control station” where you could press a local city’s button and hear real emergency broadcasts over the truck’s radio – until firefighter Milena was asked to respond to a woman who had overdosed and was currently unresponsive! I’m all for realism, but I’d much rather she respond to a cat stuck in a tree.
The Building for Kids is located at 100 W. College Ave., Appleton (Phone: 920.734.3226). Hours, directions, and parking info can be found here.