Funday Sunday – Other Cultures

Funday Sunday returns for 2012. Except where noted, these popular family-friendly programs are offered in two sessions, beginning at 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. Funday Sunday is included with the price of admission. The programs are appropriate for children of all ages, with adult help for children under age 5.

Central America – January 29
The Great Lakes Children’s Museum is teaming up with the International Student Club at Northwestern Michigan College to bring you and your children a cross-cultural exploration. Students from the Club will come to the Museum to share their Central American culture and heritage with us. There will be a special reading of Conejito, an English-language Panamanian folktale and special activity to accompany it, as well as Spanish language games.

New Orleans – Mardi Gras – February 12
The Great Lakes Children’s Museum continues its cross cultural exploration with an age-appropriate Mardi Gras experience. Karen McCarthy, French teacher from the Pathfinder School will lead songs and talk about some the heritage of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We’ll have a pretend parade in the Museum with beads and doubloons. Children and families will be able to make a fancy mask—Mardi Gras style.

Ireland – St Patrick’s Day – March 11
Explore Irish culture and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a family with music, stories and fun. Sing some traditional Irish songs. Learn about the adventures of gentle giant, Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill). Make a leprechaun shamrock to wear on St. Patrick’s Day. Decorate a potato to create a homemade Mr. Potato Head.

Turkmenistan – March 18
The NMC International Club will present another Funday Sunday at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum. Nargilya Gasanova, from Turkmenistan, will read a story, and share the culture and experiences of her homeland. Nargilya came to Frankfort as a high school exchange student and chose to return to northern Michigan for college.
This program will be offered in only one session at 3:00.

More to come…

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Holiday Happenings

Over the Christmas break we will be offering all kinds of special programs for school-age and preschool children alike. Unique activities will be offered from 11 am to 3 pm each weekday.

Countdown to Noon 2010

A perennial favorite is our Countdown to Noon on December 31 (more details below). To give everyone time to finish their projects, this activity starts right at 10 am, when we open. We spend two hours decorating the ball, filling the time capsule, and making hats and noisemakers. At noon we drop the freshly decorated ball and balloons from the ceiling to great fanfare and cacophony. Join us for the family-friendly celebration of the New Year.

Feed The Birds, Monday, December 26
Bring the birds up close to your window by making them treats to eat. We will be using oranges, seed, ice cream cones, cereal, peanut butter, dried fruit, and more. Yum tweet yum!

Snow Fun, Tuesday, December 27
Have some fun experimenting with and learning about snow and ice. Make and take a snow-”flakey” craft or two.

Tell Me A Story, Wednesday, December 28
A story will be read every hour on the hour, followed by an activity to go with it. Special showing and telling of Katy and The Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton at 11 am and 2 pm.

Michigan Mitten Day, Thursday, December 29
M is for mitten! Come and learn about our great state with a mitten scavenger hunt in the museum and “mitts”-on activities in the Great Lakes Room. Bring a pair of new mittens or gloves and we will donate them to Boots for Kids.

Snow Fun, Friday, December 30
Have some fun experimenting with and learning about snow and ice. Make and take a snow-”‘flakey” craft or two.

Countdown To Noon, Saturday, December 31
It’s midnight somewhere! Ring in 2012 at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum! Come anytime after 10 am to decorate the big ball and make noise makers and party hats. The countdown and ball drop will be at noon. That’s a whole 12 hrs before Time Square! Craft activities and time capsule making continue until 3 pm. To see more photos of our 2010 Countdown to Noon, visit our Flickr page.

Get Crafty! Monday, January 2
Are you just itching to make something? We will set out an extravaganza of craft supplies for you to experiment with. Everything from craft sticks to pipe cleaners! We will provide a creative assortment of scraps and really cool stuff for you to use to express your creativity.

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Make your reservations for the 2014 Gala Fundraiser: Building Brighter Futures

2014 Gala logoThe Great Lakes Children’s Museum is building brighter futures – with your help! Our fabulous Annual Gala is taking place this year on Saturday, April 26 at 6:00 pm. Hosted at The Inn at Black Star Farms, this elegant event is a must for your spring calendar.

The annual Museum Gala is our single biggest fundraising event of the year. In order to reach 2014′s fundraising goal of $40,000, we need you! Tickets are available now. Make your reservation online by clicking here, calling the Museum at (231) 932-4526, or talking to us in person during your next visit.

At the Gala page you will find information regarding advertising, sponsorship, corporate tables, auction donations, and more.

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Funday Sunday through April

Funday Sunday Logo - websiteFunday Sunday is offered from 1:30 to 3:30. It is usually in two sessions: one at 1:30 and one at 2:30. Funday Sunday is an opportunity for multi-aged families to engage together in a shared art or cultural activity on a Sunday afternoon. Activities are appropriate for children ages 2 and up; however, children age 6 and under may need adult assistance. Funday Sunday often includes a special guided hands-on craft activity that is more elaborate than the Museum’s regular crafts.

Amy Cyr – January 12, 2014
Winter Collages: Make paper collage winter pictures. Patterned paper will be cut into shapes and glued to a background. Details can be drawn on the pictures as well.

Ann Drake – January 26, 2014
Kaleidoscope Fun: Discover the mystery of kaleidoscopes and what makes them so beautiful. We will play mirror games and do crazy mirror experiments. You can make your own kaleidoscope to take home.

Kat Brown – February 9, 2014
Joyful Movement:
Join Kat for an afternoon of movement, music and playdancing! This class involves the whole family to participate in the fun and laughter! The objective is JOY! Who couldn’t live with more joy in it!

Karen McCarthy – February 23, 2014
Mardi Gras Family-Style: Learn about New Orleans culture in this child-friendly Mardi Gras celebration. Hear stories and music from New Orleans, learn to dance a Cajun two-step, and make Mardi Gras masks.

Dede Alderman- March 2, 2014
Musical Voyage: Take a musical trip around the world! Listen and play drums and percussion from around the globe, and learn songs and games. Join in the kid-friendly drumming circle. It will be fun for all ages.

Robin Bransky – March 23, 2015
Hand-Felted Egg Shakers: Using mild soap, water, natural sheep wool, and a plastic egg shape, you can make your own egg shaker! The process is a lot of fun and you come out with a unique musical instrument to take home.

Melissa Johnson – April 13, 2014
Gyotaku: Explore the swimmers of the Great Lakes and an ancient fish printing art form from Japan! Make your own fish flags using paint, fabric, and a few familiar fish models.

Tom Kaufmann – April 27, 2014
Instrument Petting Zoo: Kids of all ages can blow a horn, strum a guitar, bow a violin, play with rhythm instruments, and try some unusual instruments like a singing bowl and a theremin.

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Great Lakes Children’s Museum Seeking Candidates for New Executive Director

Traverse City, MI – The Great Lakes Children’s Museum announced today they have begun their search for highly qualified candidates to fill the role of Executive Director for the museum. The Great Lakes Children’s Museum is a non-profit museum dedicated to providing hands-on exhibits and programming for young children and their families to engage their imaginations and to learn. The museum’s Board of Trustees will be seeking candidates who have a passion for developing places for children and families to have a safe space to learn and to play.

The search for the new Executive Director comes at an exciting time for the museum.

“The Board of Trustees has been working hard behind the scenes for over a year developing a vision for the museum that will sustain us for years to come,” said former Board of Trustees President Ellen Fred. “We have a new strategic plan and have worked together as a board to build capacity to move the museum forward.”

“We also have new exhibits in the works that will engage children and families in remarkable new ways. And we’re in the process of examining our programming and community outreach to be more effective as a leader in children’s learning and advocacy,” added Board of Trustees Acting President and current Vice President Matt Missias.

The Great Lakes Children’s Museum takes its leadership role very seriously as a place in the community for children to learn through exploration and free play. Walking in to the Children’s Museum will fill you with a childlike sense of wonder and imagination from the bright colors and the constant activity of children engaged in the museum’s many attractions. The museum’s staff works hard to ensure that all children have exciting opportunities to learn by doing from our youngest visitors on up. The organization, however, doesn’t stop there. Through our PLUS programming, we work with area organizations to ensure that every child regardless of who they are or where they come from has a safe place to play and learn. Through our many educational programs, we try to extend our exhibits through arts and education programs. Through our work with community events, we bring the museum to the community whenever and wherever we can. And as part of the Discovery Center~Great Lakes, the Great Lakes Children’s Museum has a commitment for educating about and being a steward for the Grand Traverse Bay and surrounding waterways.

The Great Lakes Children’s Museum will seek a new Executive Director who has the vision, experience, and capacity to operate a museum and who is enthusiastic about being instrumental in helping the organization grow. The new Executive Director will head up daily operations, fundraising, and community outreach among other responsibilities, so the Board of Trustees is eager to find just the right candidate.

“It’s really all about the kids,” explains Erica Mohr, Great Lakes Children’s Museum Board of Trustees Secretary. “We want someone who is enthusiastic about kids and what the museum has to offer.  We are blessed to live in an area with phenomenal natural resources and a strong community who cares deeply about the people who live here. Our next Executive Director will be able to step into a leadership role in shaping kids’ learning experiences in powerful ways.”

The Great Lakes Children’s Museum will accept application packages until February 9, 2014. Information about applying for the position can be found at here.



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Peace Day – January 20

My Brother Martin

On Monday, January 20 we will again be offering special MLK Peace Day programs and activities from 11 am to 3 pm in celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Traverse City Schools are closed, so we are open!

To encourage children to think about diversity, tolerance, and acceptance, there will be Peace Day readings  at 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm and 2 pm , featuring the books My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris (11 am & 1 pm) and It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr (12 pm & 2 pm).


its-okay-be-differentVarious hands-on peace activity stations will be set up in the Great Lakes Room from 11 am to 3 pm.  Activities will include age-appropriate experiences with messages about anti-bullying, peaceful communications, and cooperation.


Join us at the Museum for lots of Peace Day fun!

These activities and the free admission are part of the Embrace the Dream series being offered in the Traverse City region from January through March. For a complete listing of the community-wide events view the calendar…

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Executive Director to Depart in January

John NoonanOn December 23, the Great Lakes Children’s Museum announced the departure of their long time Executive Director, John Noonan, as he embarks on the next phase of his career.

Noonan has been the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Children’s Museum since 2002 when he assumed the position to lead the then burgeoning museum. Since then, Noonan has overseen the growth of the Museum, its move to its present location in Elmwood Township, and has been instrumental in shaping the Museum as a place for families and children to share in learning and imagination with one another.

 “It has been my honor to be a steward for the Museum over the course of the last 11 years,” said Noonan. “While it will be hard to leave an organization that I’ve enjoyed leading for so long, I know that it’s time to hand the reins over.”

Noonan will leave his post on January 17, 2014.

Past President of the Board of Trustees Ellen Fred said, “I’ve worked closely with John for many years, and I can honestly say that his dedication to the Museum has been inspiring. He has done so much, both publicly and behind the scenes, to create a safe space for families to come and learn and play. Without a doubt, he will be missed.”

Among the many accomplishments of Noonan’s time with the Museum has been the move to its present location in Elmwood Township to be a part of the Discovery Center. Noonan’s leadership made the vision of a world-class museum facility in Traverse City a reality. As Executive Director he navigated the organization through the construction of the building, the forming of partnerships with other Discovery Center organizations, and the development of exhibits and programs that are designed to spark the imagination of the child within. In his relentless commitment to serve children in the community Noonan has been an ambassador for the Museum, whether through his many community service efforts or in his dedication to help underserved populations by prioritizing important programming like the Great Lakes Children’s Museum PLUS+ Program.

“John’s capacity to use his resources to be an advocate for children and families has been the hallmark of his time as Executive Director. He’s made a difference in the lives of literally thousands of children and families. We can’t thank John enough for what he has done for the Museum,” said Board of Trustees President Nick Trahair. “Whoever becomes our next Executive Director will have big shoes to fill.”

Longtime Museum Administrator Martha Balfour will serve as interim director while the Board of Trustees conduct a search for qualified candidates for a permanent director.

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Special Holiday Programs

We are offering some special programs for family fun and learning throughout the holiday break. Programs and activities run from 11 am to 3 pm.



Holiday Science, December 23
Learn the aerodynamics of reindeer, why some trees stay green all winter, why dreidels spin, and much more. Special “Legend of the Trees” presentation at 11:30 and 1:30.

Closed Christmas Eve and Day, December 24 & 25

Get Crafty, December 26
Are you just itching to make something? We will set out an extravaganza of craft supplies for you to experiment with. Everything from crafts sticks to pipe cleaners! We will provide a creative assortment of scraps and really cool stuff for you to express your creativity.

Play With Some Clay, December 27
Part of our special holiday offerings for kids of all ages. (not just toddlers this week) Play with several kinds of clay. Make your own beads. Design a sculpture. Take home your creation.

Feed The Birds, December 30
Bring a few feathered friends right up to your window with munchies you make to put outside for them. The birds will love you, and so will the squirrels.

Count Down To Noon, December 31
Countdown to 2014 at Noon with the Great Lakes Children’s Museum! Can’t wait till midnight? It’s midnight somewhere in the world. Watch the ball drop and make some noise. New Years activities begin in the Great Lakes Room at 11:00am. (Party hats, noise makers and time capsules) Count down at 11:59am. Activities continue until 3:00 pm.

Closed New Years Day, January 1

Get Crafty, January 2 (repeat)
Are you just itching to make something? We will set out an extravaganza of craft supplies for you to experiment with. Everything from crafts sticks to pipe cleaners! We will provide a creative assortment of scraps and really cool stuff for you express your creativity.

Snow Much Fun! January 3
Part of our special Holiday offerings for kids of all ages. (not just toddlers this week) For a real cool sensory experience, we will bring the snow inside to scoop, turn colors, and melt. Try out some wacky science experiments with snow and ice. And . . . make a snow-“flakey craft or two to take home.

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Meet our Dancers!

Kelto-smLars Kelto – Our Star!
Lars Kelto is a talented and creative community member who dedicates his skills and talents to many worthwhile organizations such as the Traverse City Film Fest and the Old Town Playhouse. We feel very fortunate that he has agreed to dance for the Great Lakes Children’s Museum. We got to know Lars as one of the parents who regularly attends Toddler Time. Last year he brought his delightful daughter to the Museum nearly every Friday morning. His three-year-old daughter now has a new baby sister, so we hope to continue to see Lars and his family at the Museum for some time to come.

When asked about his participation in SwingShift for the Stars, Lars responded, “I’m very excited to have the chance to dance for one of my daughter’s favorite places, and a great community asset. By December, I want everyone in the area to know what the Museum is and does, and to have raised a shockingly large amount of money!”

We cannot adequately express our heartfelt gratitude to Lars, who has graciously agreed not only to perform at all of the events, but will spend hours of his free time learning the routines. We hope that his daughter realizes what a hero she has for a dad.


Lauren Harris – His Instructor!
Lauren Harris is an Associate Instructor at the Dance Center. Lauren has been instructing and choreographing since 2001 with Detroit Country Day High School, Taylor Dance Program and Ballet Americana/Ballet Americana Jazz. Her extensive training includes Classical Ballet, Classic Jazz, Jazz Funk and Tap. She has performed with Ballet Americana, Member of Midwest Regional Dance America, under the direction of Joy Squire, Patricia Lorenz and Leif Lorenz; performing Corps, Solo and Principal roles in The Nutcracker, Graduation Ball, Les Sylphides and additional original works. Lauren was selected and attended American Ballet Theatre Intensive 4-week Summer Programs in 1999 and 2000 in Detroit; and ABT 6-week Summer Intensive in 2001 in NYC. She has recently married and moved to the Traverse City area. We are so pleased to have her be part of our SwingShift and the Stars team!

To learn more about the event, visit SwingShift and the Stars website.

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SwingShift and the Stars!

SwingShift LogoThe Great Lakes Children’s Museum is proud to be a part of the Sixth Annual SwingShift and the Stars, a dance-off charity benefit in Traverse City. The Museum is one of six charities picked to benefit from the event, which is modeled after the popular Dancing with the Stars television show. The dancing events are held in the historic and beautiful City Opera House at 106 East Front Street in Downtown Traverse City. We are so excited to a part of this remarkable community event.

SwingShift FullwidthFunds raised from this event will be used to provide free admissions to disadvantaged and underserved children and families in our community through the Museum’s +PLUS program. This program helps ensure that the Museum is accesible to everyone in our community, regardless of their economic situation.

Lars Kelto and dance instructor, Lauren Harris, will represent the Great Lakes Children’s Museum as they compete for the top prize. Tickets for the events sell out quickly, but the Museum acquired a special block of tickets for our donors, members, and friends. Contact the Museum if you would like to attend.

Dance events will be held on the third Friday of the month starting in September. The dates are September 20, October 18, and November 15, with the Grand Finale event on December 20. In addition to fabulous entertainment and a great competition, there is the opportunity take dance lessons before the event and then to dance to the SwingShift band! To learn more, visit SwingShift and the Stars website.


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Mad Science Monday – Through August 19

MSM-clr-webEvery Monday from 1 pm to 3 pm we will have fun science activities for the whole family. With school out, we’re offering hands-on science that will appeal to older children. Children six and under can participate in the joy of discovery with adult assistance.

Energy Bus, June 24
Here comes the bus! Find out what energy is all about. With hands on experiments we will explore electricity and magnetism. Live Energy Bus demonstration at 1:30 and 2:30.

Going Buggy, July 1
Love those creepy crawlies? Discover what makes insects such special creatures with hands on activities. Invent a bug, make it, and take it home.

Nano-Mania, July 8
Enter the world of the extremely small! Drop in and enjoy the fun of participating in hands on Nano Science investigations. You will be fascinated by things so small that you can’t even see them with your own eyes!

Wild About The Weather, July 15
Calling all weather watchers! Learn about clouds and storms. Make your own mini weather station.

Our Marvelous Moon, July 22
What is the moon really like up there in space? Did you every wonder how the moon keeps changing its shape? How big is it really? Discover craters and much more.

Science Rocks! July 29
Hands-on geology is fun! Learn about old fossils. Mix up a batch of edible cookie rocks.

Sandy Science, August 5
Sand is some of the best stuff on Earth! Not only is sand great to play with, it’s filled (to the top of your bucket) with fun science.

Wild World, August 12
What is the fastest animal? Which animal can jump the highest? Find out about animals with some really wild hands on activities.

Sports Science, August 19
Have you ever wondered why ice skates have metal blades, why tennis balls are fuzzy, or how Frisbees fly? Would you like to learn to swim like a shark or balance like a gymnast? We will have fun filled experiments ready for you to try and discover the science behind the sport.

No Program, August 26

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Children’s Art Fair – Friday, August 16

2011 Art Fair - 1The Great Lakes Children’s Museum will host its 11th Annual Children’s Art Fair in conjunction with Friday Night Live in downtown Traverse City on Friday, August 16. Join us at the east end of Friday Night Live (in front of the Chase Bank building) from 5:30 until 9:00 pm .

All types of artists have been accepted. We have had children displaying jewelry, photography, visual art, fiber arts, and even stuffed animals.

Expressing their creativity and learning business skills, the exhibitors have a great experience at the Children’s Art Fair. It’s also fun for the customers!

This event is made possible through the generous cooperation of the Downtown Traverse City Association.

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