Starting the new year with creativity and fun
By: Terry Rader
As another new year starts, what better time to make an ongoing commitment that gives your children a place to express their creativity through play? The Greensboro Children’s Museum (GCM) will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019 and they intend to kick things off with an all-day special event to honor the GCM co-founder, Jerry Hyman on Jan. 4, with a reduced cost of $2 admission per person for the entire day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hyman’s imagination of having an interactive, hands-on museum dedicated to children took flight on a business trip to San Francisco in 1990 where he happened upon a brochure for the Exploratorium. This ignited his curiosity to explore museums for several years until he finally realized his vision when the GCM doors opened on May 15, 1999. From the help of Cynthia Doyle (who put the initial team together to launch the creation process in 1994), the hiring of the first GCM Director Tim Goetz in 1997, to when P. David Brown offered the space on a 3.17-acre lot at 220 N. Church St. in 1998. The dream came together with a lot of help from his friends.
The GCM’s 37,000-square-foot building is thriving along with 400 other children’s museums across the country. The GCM encourages children and their families to touch, talk and have fun while learning in the many exhibits offered. This includes indoor exhibits of Our Town/Main Street that includes a post office, theatre, pizza place, construction zone, health center and more along with a transportation area with a real police car, ambulance and fire truck for children to experience how it feels to be in a public service vehicle in a safe environment.
GCM’s Reaching Greater Heights expansion program umbrellas a three-part capital campaign. Phase 1’s outdoor play plaza was completed in summer 2017 and features two 30-foot tall Neptune XXL Climbers with a connected 25-foot suspended net tunnel. Phase 2’s indoor interactive water exhibit was completed in fall 2018 and provides waterproof smocks to keep the kids dry. Phase 3’s technology exhibit will begin in 2019.
“We have two types of programming, paid classes and pop-up programs, which are free with admission,” said GCM marketing manager Illayasah Shabazz. “Pop-up programs are activities families can enjoy while visiting the museum. Although our website lists them as recurring events, there isn’t a set interval in between them.”
On Jan. 5, children will be invited to start the year by unleashing their creativity in various mediums at the Art Studio pop-up program.
“We enjoy adding to the experience of an all-day trip to the museum with staff-led programming that is included with admission,” said GCM lead educator Johlynn Harrelson.
Young visitors can participate in hands-on early coding concepts and explore working with robots including Cubelets, Cubetto and Ozobots at the Tech Spot. For the music lovers, Music Makers will perk up the morning with percussion instruments and sing-a-longs. The events continue with Science Lab, Busy Bees and Story Time classes every week designed to spur a child’s imagination and inspire them to create and learn while having fun.
Shabazz confirmed GCM to be the first children’s museum to open an officially licensed Edible Schoolyard in May 2010. GCM is proud to have its program based on chef and author, Alice Waters’s original program in Berkley, California. This outdoor classroom offers an opportunity to learn about growing, cooking and sharing fresh, locally raised food. The Edible Schoolyard’s indoor kitchen offers cooking classes for children ages 6 to 8, 8 to 11, 11 to 14, and adults ages 18 and up as well as family classes where younger children may accompany their parents.
From kids cooking and creating on Jan. 10 to adults classes including healthy eating on Jan. 14 to learning knife skills and how to prepare winter soups on Jan. 15, the joy of cooking will be explored with hands-on participation while learning about the importance of eating well beyond new year’s resolutions. The cooking school classes are listed and described online.
Shabazz said that Science Lab is available periodically to explore the scientist that exists in every child and that these pop-up programs are designed to stretch children’s imaginations while building teamwork and problem-solving skills. The next program is on Jan. 12, where GCM will be inviting the Triad junior scientists to join together in a limited seating, paid program for a special Mission Moon Challenge, and the first LEGO League that begins on Jan. 9.
GCM summer camp registration begins on Jan. 7. The summer camp day will run from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. for ages 6 to 14, and from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. for ages 4 to 6. There will be a special event during camp hours on the last day of every camp and parents are encouraged to join. Whether inside or out, GCM delivers fun in all facets of participatory learning. Camp schedule and prices are online.
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer/editorial/content/copy, poet and songwriter, part-time co-op community outreach/wellness at Deep Roots Market, certified herbalist and flower essences practitioner and pet/house sitter, formerly an ad agency creative director, copywriter, branding strategist and Earth Harmony columnist, a storyteller on a mission to raise awareness for creative people, grassroots, sustainability, holistic wellness and underground happenings in our community.
Jan. 4, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Jerry Hyman Day, $2 admission, Jan. 5, Tech Spot, 11 a.m.-noon, recurring event, Jan. 5, Art Studio, 3:30 -4 p.m., recurring event, Jan. 5, Music Makers, 3:30-4 p.m., recurring event, Jan. 6, Story Time, 1:15-1:45 p.m, recurring event, Jan. 6, Science Lab, 3:15-3:45 p.m, recurring event, Jan. 7, Busy Bees (members only), 10 a.m.-11 p.m., recurring pop-up programs and more events at the website. 220 North Church St., Greensboro, 336.574.2898 Hours: Mon. 9am-noon (members only), closed Mon. afternoons, Tues., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Wed. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Thurs. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 1 p.m.-5 p.m