Kids museum great getaway during break

Published 12:19 pm Friday, December 20, 2013

imaginatation playground ii

The Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph. Submitted photo.

Christmas break is coming up, and many parents may be looking for something to keep their kids actively learning while still having fun and spending time together as a family.

The Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph, Mich. has the answer: family programs at both the original museum on the bluff and at the Discovery Zone below the bluff.

“Christmas break is crazy wonderful busy,” said Lori Marciniak, executive director of the Curious Kids Museum.

“We call them ‘family programs’ because we really hope that people do it as a family. We truly try to find topics that even adults will be very interested in,”  Marciniak said. “There’s something for everybody.”

“Journey of the Raindrop” will be offered at the museum, located at 415 Lake Blvd., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 26th through 30th and Jan. 2nd through 4th.

“This is going to truly be the life-cycle of water. We’re going to try to explain that we have the water that we have. It evaporates, and it comes back down, and we have water that dinosaurs drank, still on the earth,” Marciniak said.

“Kids can truly act like a raindrop. They’re going to go through the water filtration plant, and back up into the clouds. There’s going to be a little climbing area where they climb up into the clouds, and then they crawl through tunnels as ground water,” Marciniak said. “We completely transform the basement. It is truly amazing what Gina Mason, our education director, does with the basement.”

“Then, they’ll go into what we call ‘the collection room,’ and that’s going to be where all the crafts are, and we’ll do some hands-on activities that relate to the whole journey of the raindrop,” Marciniak said.

“Michigan’s Wildlife” will be offered at the Discovery Zone, located at 333 Broad St., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 26th through 30th and Jan. 2nd through 4th.

“We will talk about all of the different animals that are indigenous to Michigan. So, we want to talk about the cougars,” Marciniak said. “There’s really 10 million plus Michigan residents. …We’re talking about all of the wildlife in Michigan. So, we’ll have displays on a lot of different animals, and again, lots of hands-on activities.”

“Love Creek is doing a live animal show on Dec. 27th, and again on Jan. 3rd, at 1 p.m. on both of those days. They’re going to bring in animals that are ‘hard to love,’ which would be like snakes and skunks. They might not be that cuddly and fuzzy, but they’re still our residents, and we should know how to co-exist with them,” Marciniak said. “That happens during the family program on those days.”

“Both family programs are free with admission, which is $6 per person for each museum, Marciniak said. “You can get a same-day joint admission for $10, and you can come and go between the two museums all day long.”

For members of the museum, admission is free  to the family programs. Marciniak noted that memberships make great family Christmas gifts.

“You can buy a membership to either location for $65, and so that includes your immediate family. You could also buy a joint membership for $130, which would include grandparents. That joint admission also includes half-price admission to over 200 museums nationwide for up to six people,” Marciniak said. “If you buy one before Dec. 22, we have a special going on. You’ll get 15 months for the 12-month price.”

Beyond the family programs being offered over Christmas break, both Curious Kids locations have some newer exhibits.

“Up here on the bluff, we have greatly expanded our face painting area. That’s one of our signature exhibits,” Marciniak said. “We also have a new area, a building room with giant Imagination Playground blocks. You can create huge structures, and they’re very light. You can do just about anything with them.”

During the winter, the museum on the bluff is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays, and from 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

“In the Discovery Zone, we have ‘Toys: The Inside Story.’  It’s all about simple machines inside toys — pulleys and gears. There’s a gear table,” Marciniak said. “There’s also an electricity table, where you can close the circuit and make lights go on and fans work. That’s here through Jan. 5th.”

“Down at the Discovery Zone, on Thursdays we do a Family Fun Night. So, we are open from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Then, we’re open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays,” Marciniak said. “This Thursday, Dec. 19th, we will have live reindeer in the ballroom. We’re co-hosting that with the Silver Beach Carousel.”

More information about upcoming events at both Curious Kids locations can be obtained by calling (269) 983-2543.

We’re on Facebook, and our website,, has all kinds of info that people can check out,” Marciniak said. “We’re also on Twitter if people want to follow us there.”