Hands-on Happenings

Children at the museum
Hands-on Happenings


Our hands-on programs are designed for children ages 5-12 and their families. Hands-on activities highlight different parts of the Museum's permanent and temporary exhibits and collections. Participants will make arts and crafts to take home and see demonstrations or performances where noted. Annual favorites include Safe Halloween, Chemistry Day and Festival of Health. ALL PROGRAMS ARE FREE.

Contact Annette Hoppenworth at ahoppenworth@kvcc.edu, or call (269) 373-7955 to find out how you can become a Museum volunteer. Volunteers are recruited throughout the year.   All volunteers are required to fill out a background check.

  • For the Birds
    February 22, 2020
    11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    “For The Birds,” the first in a new series of family programs that takes a unique approach to inclusivity, is being offered at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 22. The special event will include three unique performances, crafts, music, movement, live birds, storytelling, and a bird-themed quiet room for visitors with sensory needs. The program is free, but seating is limited. Get your tickets in advance at kalamazoomuseum.org for three separate free performances.  

    Cheryl VanEngen and Kim Shaw, the author and illustrator of the book As You Grow, will be on hand during an 11 a.m. session with Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra education personnel, who will lead an interactive musical storybook presentation. While VanEngen reads, audience members will infuse the story with musical sounds and rhythms. Instruments and cuing assistance will be provided by the KSO. KSO staff will also be promoting their sensory-friendly concert/storybook program with a drawing for free concert tickets. The book As You Grow tells the story of a mother hummingbird, her babies, and their nest. It teaches the importance of humility, respect, and friendship. Copies of the book will be available for purchase, and the writer and illustrator will sign autographs.

    At 12 p.m., staff from the Kalamazoo Nature Center will present their Birds of Prey program. See live birds and learn about their habitats and their characteristics. Uncle Kooky, also known as Aaron Wright, takes the stage at 1 p.m. with an energetic, interactive concert focused on birds and nature. He is a children’s singer-songwriter who has performed for more than 25 years. Come sing along, dance, and move. Uncle Kooky CDs will be available for purchase.

    Brenda and Rich Keith from the Kalamazoo River Valley Bird Observatory (a Kalamazoo Nature Center program) will explain how they band birds, including tiny hummingbirds. Bird banding is used to understand breeding and migration patterns. Misty Klotz and Lindsey Kemmerling from the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary will share information about their special bird programs and facilities. Autism Therapies staff will be present to offer ideas for your museum visits as well as how to enjoy birds and nature for families with children on the spectrum. BNK Treasures will have medical information seat belt covers and window clings available for purchase. These items are designed to alert rescue workers to children, adults, and family members with special needs.

    A sign language interpreter will be present for all three presentations. The book, As You Grow, will be available on a large screen, and tools such as noise-canceling headphones, fidgets, weighted lap covers, stretch bands, wiggle cushions, and hummingbird puppets will be available. A quiet room with bird toys, puppets, games, activities, and puzzles will be available during the program. Calming materials such as a spinner, therapy ball seats, and Hukki stools will be at activity stations. A wide variety of bird-related arts and crafts will be open to all visitors from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Families are invited to come enjoy this inclusive, interactive program and to offer suggestions to make this and future programs even more welcoming and accommodating.

  • Spring Break: No Missing Pieces
    April 6-10, 2020
    1-4 p.m.
    Crafts and activities each day taken from different picture book explore what it looks like to be included.
    April 6: The Invisible Boy
    April 7: Beautiful Hands
    April 8: The Proudest Blue
    April 9: I Am Enough
    April 10: The Big Umbrella

  • Juneteeth Celebration of Freedom
    June 20, 2020
    1-4 p.m.
    Join us for a community celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Open to all ages, this event will include live performances, vendors, visual art, a lecture, and more.