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U.P. Children’s Museum has activities aplenty

January 5, 2011
By CLAIRE ABENT Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - While wit, whimsy and wonder are always the order of the day, the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum has a whole host of special programming that varies from month-to-month and week-to-week to fit all ages and all interests.

One of the most popular programs is the Second Thursday series, which is a themed evening held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month, said museum executive director Nheena Weyer Ittner.

The theme for this month is "Princesses and Pirates" and is geared toward pre-school and elementary-aged children and their accompanying adults.

Article Photos

Children enjoy special programming throughout the year at the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, story time and work on projects. There are daily, weekly and monthly events for children of all ages to take part in and they include dressing up, experiencing reptiles and volunteering at the museum. For more information or to get involved, contact the museum at 906-226-3911.
(Photos courtsey of Nheena Weyer Ittner, Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum)

"The kids are encouraged to dress up and there are loads of activities around that theme," Ittner said.

During the night there will also be "Unexpected Music," which exposes the young people to a different genre of music or instrument and a special community member guest, who everyone will get to meet.

"It's someone the kids can meet and experience and shake their hand," Ittner said. There is also the usual Fruit and Veggie Ventures, Ittner said, where kids get some experience with the aforementioned products.

Ittner said that the program often has 100-200 people participate each month. In February, the Second Thursday will have a Valentine's Day theme, in March the theme is Environment Green, and in April in the theme is Eggs, Bunnies and Fun.

Every weekday at 11 a.m., the museum hosts a program for the youngest children, called Mr. Jim's Toddler Clubhouse. It creates a unique environment for toddlers and their caregivers to have a special project and "together time," Ittner said.

The programming, which lasts about an hour, varies in theme and sometimes is more self-directed, but there is always someone there from the museum to help, Ittner said.

The museum has also introduced a new program on the third Wednesday of every month from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., called "Lizardry: Balancing the Scales of Reptilian Truth." It is hosted by local veterinarian Dr. Cheri Shevy, who will provide children will some casual interaction and learning experience with various reptiles.

"There are always lots of critters to touch," Ittner said.

On the second and fourth Fridays of every month from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., kids at the U.P. Children's Museum have the opportunity to rock out with the School of Rock.

"It's for kids who are interested in playing rock-n-roll," Ittner said. "It's an opportunity to have a performance feature without having to pay a ticket price."

On the first Friday of every month from 4 to 6 p.m., there is Explainer Trainer for kids age 8-18. Explainers are volunteers at the museum who are leaders in the exhibits, help out in the museum store and also help out at special events.

They are needed at all times of the year and can volunteer any day of the week. It is a good program that helps to motivate young people and teaches leadership, Ittner said. Contact the museum to reserve a spot in the training.

There are also two programs that have special training days for older kids, Kid Business, a youth entrepreneurial program, and 8-18 Media, a youth journalism program. Contact the museum for more information.

Special events, such as Lizardry, the Second Thursday and Mr. Jim's Toddler Clubhouse, are all free with paid admission or membership. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday - Wednesday, until 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information about any of the programs, visit or contact the museum at 906-226-3911.

Claire Abent can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her e-mail address is



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