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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

My Summer at the Museum

Posted on: July 31st, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

Guest Blog by Education Assistant Abbie Murphy

Mountaineers Bear Hunt craft taught at the July guided family craft sessions.

This past summer I had the pleasure of working the Education and Engagement Assistant position through Young Canada Works. Some of the things I learnt include different events in Chilliwack’s vast history, how a museum operates, and many instructional techniques that will benefit my future career in teaching.

When I first started at the museum, the Mountaineers exhibit was being prepared to open. During the preparation for the exhibit opening, I learnt not only of Chilliwack’s historical relationship with the mountain ranges in the area, but also, the techniques and mechanics that are required to produce an exhibit. For example, for the exhibit to open, the lights must be rearranged to highlight the texts and artifacts. Along with the other summer student, Alec, I worked to reposition current lights and add light fixtures to ensure the exhibit features were clearly visible and shown at their best. After adjusting the lights, I had a new understanding of the meticulous work that had to be completed before opening an exhibit. Thus, my appreciation for the staff at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives increased.

One of the projects I worked independently on this summer were the family craft drop-ins that I led each Wednesday in July. Although the craft dates took place in July, I spent the majority of June researching Chilliwack’s history and finding a craft to associate with the topics I discovered. Once I had selected four major themes, Mountaineers, Chilliwack Flying Club and Airport, British Columbia Electric Railway, and Chilliwack Fair and Agriculture, I started planning related crafts. In addition to preparing interesting crafts for elementary aged children, I created matching and true or false games using historical photos from the archival collection at the museum. Although I would not consider myself a crafty person, I enjoyed creating and teaching crafts that reflected Chilliwack’s history.

Canadian Goose Marionette Puppet

Another important part of my position at the museum were outreach events. Outreach involved working at different community events throughout the summer, such as Canada Day and Party in the Park. At Canada Day, I had created and prepared Canada Goose parts out of construction paper for children to build and turn into a marionette puppet. During the outreach events, I learnt about the community’s different interests in Chilliwack’s history and was able to teach, using the games and crafts I had created, about some of the captivating topics in Chilliwack’s past such as the flood of 1894.

Although my time at the museum is about to end, I will continue to use the historical knowledge and experiences that I have received while working at the museum throughout my education, career, and personal life. I have gained a new appreciation for Chilliwack after leading walking tours, assisting in educational programs, and teaching crafts. Sharing the details of Chilliwack’s past, the architecture, the environment, and the people, has truly allowed for both my education and appreciation for the area to flourish.

Local History Kit-Sumas Lake

Posted on: July 11th, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

Last fall while attending the University of the Fraser Valley, I took a directed studies course with history professor Scott Sheffield. The purpose of my directed studies was to create a local history kit on Sumas Lake to be used by the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. Having worked at the museum the previous two summers, I was quite familiar with the current local history kits and the type of resources they provide. From my research, I gathered materials that best depicted the vast history of Sumas Lake and the impact its drainage had on the community. While working at the Museum these past few months I have been able to complete the kit, making it an available resource for educators.

Sumas Lake Local History Kit.

To provide a brief overview, located in the Fraser Valley between Vedder Mountain and Sumas Mountain, Sumas Lake blended the border between Abbotsford and Chilliwack. In its peak season, the lake could expand to as large as 33,000 acres; on average the lake spanned 10,000 acres for the better part of the year. The lake was used by the whole community. For new settlers, it was a place for family picnics in the summer and ice-skating in the winter. For the Stó:lō people, Sumas Lake and the land that surrounded it was an important part of the daily lives and culture.

Plans to drain Sumas Lake had existed for 30-40 years, previous to the 1920’s scheme. While previous iterations of the plans failed, the project undertaken in the 1920s had several phases, culminating in the creation of two pump stations which removed (and continue to remove) water from the natural occurring lakebed on the Sumas flats. The pumps, located at Barrowtown and McGillvary Creek, were the largest of their kind in Canada when initially constructed and were capable of draining water from an Olympic-sized swimming pool in twenty seconds. The pumps began working on July 3rd, 1923 and the lake was successfully drained by June 1924, nearly a year later.

The draining of Sumas Lake is a multi-layered and complex subject, and many aspects of the drainage were (and remain) controversial to this day. The purpose of the kit is to explore the controversy, such as the impact on farmers and the local First Nations, both at the time of the drainage and current today. Through the primary and secondary sources included in the kit, ranging from newspaper articles advertising meetings regarding the reclamation project, images of tractors on the dried up lake bed, to booklets written on the overwhelming mosquito population, students have the ability to engage hands-on with their local history and make inferences as to why the lake was drained and the impact the drainage had and continues to have.

Sumas Lake tractors on lakebed floor ca. 192-. (AM 616)

Like many of our other local history kits, the Sumas Lake kit can be adapted to suit various grade levels and educators have the ability to create their own lesson plans using the information and primary and secondary materials provided in the kit to suit individual class needs.

The Sumas Lake kit is available for booking by educators for the 2018-2019 school year and can be booked online or by phone at 604-795-5210.

Interactive Discovery Bins

Posted on: May 2nd, 2018 by Kelsey Ablitt

Do you ever see old items and get the overwhelming urge to handle them? Well have no fear, the discovery bins are here for you!

The Discovery Bins are located in the Community of Villages.

Located in the back section of our permanent exhibit is an interactive discovery bin station. The discovery bins provide a more hands on and interactive experience for visitors of all ages, though they tend to appeal largely to children. For children, these bins help them learn about and test out tools people once used in their home or to communicate with each other. For other visitors, the artifacts in the bins can be a trip down memory lane, as they see familiar items that may have been found in their childhood home’s kitchen.

We currently have six themed discovery bins available for exploration. The themes are farming, kitchenware, communication, travel, education and local First Nations history. In each bin various artifacts are provided along with interactive games and worksheets. The worksheets can be helpful in starting the conversation about what something is and how it may have be used. A Discovery Hunt booklet takes visitors through each bin as a type of scavenger hunt.

Do you recognize this artifact? Next to it is a glimpse of our Discovery Hunt Booklet.

Some of our most popular artifacts are an eggbeater, a rotary phone and a butter press. With the way technology has evolved, for some visitors these older forms of modern items can really puzzle some of our younger visitors.

On your next visit make sure to check out the discovery bins, you’ll never know what you’ll find!

Wrapping up the Classroom in Residence pilot project

Posted on: March 28th, 2018 by Stephanie Clinton

Guest blog by Lena Yacyshen, Classroom-in-Residence Coordinator

In December we posted a blog about a new education project we would be launching in the spring. Now that the Classroom in Residence pilot project has wrapped up, we can share a little more about our experience and the activities students participated in during their museum residency.

Students learning about Chilliwack’s historic downtown and making comparisons between the old and new architecture.

The Classroom in Residence Project is different from other museum education programs in that it is week-long and immerses students in the museum, Chilliwack’s history and community. We hosted two elementary school classes during the pilot project. The students learned a lot and made strong connections throughout the week, and we also learned a lot from them too. These two pilot classes have helped lay the foundation for the project moving forward and have also demonstrated the value of the project to School District #33.

Each day students participated in different activities in the community and at the museum. In the afternoon students were given time to slow down and reflect on the mornings events in personal journals. This kind of open ended assignment not only helps build students’ critical thinking, writing and drawing skills but also allows them to document their learning in a personal way. This balance of learning new things, (and having new experiences) making connections with what has been learned in the classroom while taking time to slow down, reflect and consolidate learning is an essential aspect of the project.

What did the week look like?

Day One: Students were given an extensive museum tour and shown around Chilliwack’s Historic Downtown.

Day Two: Students spent the morning at the archives learning about how material culture informs us about time, place and culture and the importance of preserving and having access to local documents. Students also used primary sources to examine land settlement over time in Chilliwack and learned how to conduct basic local research.

Students using primary sources to look at land settlement and development over time in Chilliwack.

Day Three: Guest speakers from Stó:lō Nation and Sq’éwlets Fist Nation discussed the current exhibit and other aspects of Stó:lō culture and history such as transformation/ origin stories and the impact of residential schools. In the afternoon students visited the library for a tour and an introduction to all the activities and learning resources available at no cost.

Day Four: Students were given a behind the scenes tour of The Chilliwack Progress’ newsroom and learned about local news from their award-winning journalists. Later, students created their own group newspaper, basing production on what the Progress’ team taught them.

Day Five: Museum staff gave a lesson on exhibit creation/design and students mocked up their own exhibits for the museum. Students finalize their best journal entry from the week and installed their own exhibit out of their entries (come by the museum before June to see it!). That afternoon, students hosted an open house for their parents and School District staff where they gave museum tours and showcased what they had been learning throughout the week.

Lessons Learned

Students captivated by (Albert) Sonny McHalsie’s story telling.

At the end of the week students were excited about all the new discoveries and connections they made in their hometown, and they wished the residency could have lasted longer. Students came away with a strong sense of place and a deeper understanding of many topics because of their unique experiences. Learning first hand from important Stó:lō community members and Elders allowed students to truly understand the hardships this community has faced, but has also given them a sense of the beauty and strength of Stó:lō culture. Learning behind the scenes at the library and newspaper gave students insight into how these institutions meet the needs of our community and contribute to our sense of place. Learning about Chilliwack’s past and present helped participants feel connected and more invested in our community. Program participants could see the museum (and all museums) as a place for living culture where there are links between the past and our contemporary environment. These collective experiences instill curiosity and a love of learning and we feel strongly that the students we have worked with will become life-long learners who are invested in their community.

A word from the Coordinator

My time at the museum as Classroom in Residence Coordinator has whizzed past me because of the fun, challenging and dynamic nature of the position. Everyday I learned multiple new things about myself, Chilliwack’s history and community, education, museum practices and more. I have been interested in pursuing a career in education outside of the traditional classroom, being unsure of what form that would take this type of local and collaborative approach to education has been eye opening for me. I can’t wait to see how the Classroom in Residence Project evolves over time- the possibilities are endless and the students that get to participate are truly lucky.

Heather Ramsay on our upcoming Writing Workshop

Posted on: March 7th, 2018 by Stephanie Clinton

Guest Blog by Heather Ramsay

I’ve always been intrigued by the number of different stories that evolve out of one place.

Heather on Elk Mountain overlooking Ryder Lake.

Heather on Elk Mountain overlooking Ryder Lake.

The paths we follow in our daily routines, the people we encounter, our histories, our connections all influence what we observe. These details add layers to our stories and the stories of the places where we live.

I’m a relative newcomer to this area. Before coming here, I lived in Smithers and Haida Gwaii, both places with a lot of stories. I wrote many stories about these communities while working for the local newspapers. Since moving to the Fraser Valley, I’ve completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and have deepened the way I think about stories.

When I think about Chilliwack, my mind goes to mountains, rivers and fields, but also to the minute details of the aging a-frame house where I live in Ryder Lake. The creaking noise in the hallway and the warp in the windows that distort the view. The elongated hoof prints in my garden. The soggy patch where the rain drips off the roof into the yard. Through these details a narrative can grow.

The idea for this workshop is to let your concrete observations conjure a story about place. I was inspired by Douglas Glover in creating this workshop. The author of several books, including the Governor General award-winning novel, Elle, Glover is also a gifted creative writing teacher. In his on-line magazine Numero Cinq, he created a community where writers could learn and discuss stories and techniques — where they could meander and be among people who shared his passion for words. He encouraged this community to think more deeply about many things, including place.

His series, What It’s like Living Here, inspired writers from Edmonton, Minneapolis, Saskatoon, Nantucket, South Korea and more.

“Stick to concrete evocation of a series of places. Pack in as many concrete evocative details as you can. Don’t be seduced into talking too much about motives, relationships, the past, etc. Let the self arrive through the details of place. That said, sometimes a lovely narrative arises through the details of place. Let it,” he wrote in his instructions to those who wanted to submit.

Although Glover shut down his site to new submissions in Fall 2017, all the words and lessons he curated remain. And his teaching continues in workshops like this. I invite you to join me in an exploration of this place. “My Chilliwack: What It’s Like Living Here” will be held on March 17 from 10 to 4 at the Chilliwack Museum. Come and write about your house, your neighbourhood, a favourite street. Bring photos to inspire you or write about the things you see in the Chilliwack Museum. Take us on a tour of this place through your eyes. Maybe your story will be in the Chilliwack Museum blog next time.


Register for “My Chilliwack: What It’s Like Living Here” online here.

Developing Local History Kits: Flooding Chilliwack

Posted on: February 14th, 2018 by Stephanie Clinton

Over the last half year I have been working on a third Local History Kit for teachers to use in the classroom. Last spring I worked with our team of SD33 teachers to create lessons around Flooding in Chilliwack. The kit focuses specifically on the floods of 1894 and 1948 which are well represented in our collection.

Chilliwack Progress Newspaper Clipping, April 21, 1948, page 5.

Chilliwack Progress Newspaper Clipping, April 21, 1948, page 5.

Flooding has affected many aspects of life in the Fraser Valley. Over the last 150 years since colonization it has resulted in major changes to the landscape around us. Dykes surround many areas of our city and the once Sumas Lake is now drained and pumped into the Fraser River, in part for ongoing flood protection. Learning about the historic flooding in the area helps us to understand the efforts that are made today in flood protection and gain a better understanding of the man-made and natural changes in our landscape.

The new kit has students exploring a variety of aspects of historic flooding in Chilliwack. In Grades 1 and 2 students can explore historic photographs to find out how a community comes together during times of emergencies and what changes after a major flood. In Grade 5 students explore the changes to First Nations communities when they were made to settle permanently on reserves, often in unprotected flood zones. In Grade 6 students can look at the consequences of living on a floodplain and investigate emergency preparedness today.

Chilliwack Progress Newspaper Clipping, June 2, 1948, page 8.

“Fight to rescue stock” Chilliwack Progress Newspaper Clipping, June 2, 1948, page 8.

The primary source reproductions in this kit span a wide variety of media, from official reports from the Fraser Valley Rehabilitation Authority to personal handwritten accounts. One of my favourite documents we uncovered during our research is a handwritten account of the 1894 flood by Rory Knight, who lived in Popkum at the time of the flood. At the end of his account he writes, “There was no such luck as no school for Gertie and I as we had Miss Harris and we went to school every-day,” [AM 0029]. Being able to share personal and local stories like this is what makes these historical events really come alive for students and helps them connect to the bigger ideas they are studying in school.

If you’re interested in exploring more about Flooding in Chilliwack you can check out our online exhibit Flooding Chilliwack: A History of High Water. I also found K. J. Watt’s book High Water: Living with the Fraser Floods an invaluable resource while beginning our research for this kit, the book can be accessed in our reference library at the archives.

The Flooding Chilliwack kit will be available to book in schools in April 2018. Booking can be done online through our shop or by phone at 604-795-5210.

Pilot Project to take place in the New Year

Posted on: December 20th, 2017 by Stephanie Clinton

If you’ve been to the museum in the last month or so you may have noticed a new face around the office. Lena Yacyshen has joined us as our Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator to help us launch a new education program this spring. Lena is joining us through the Building Careers in Heritage grant which helps to provide new graduates with work experience in heritage. She’ll be helping to coordinate this new project over the next few months.

Lena Yacyshen is our new Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator.

Lena Yacyshen is our new Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator.

The Classroom in Residence Program

This new pilot project aims to offer local students and teachers a chance to move their classroom to the museum for a full week of school. The program is designed following the concept of the Campus Calgary/Open Minds programs in Calgary which have been using local locations as learning spaces for students for over a decade.

The program brings a classroom into the museum for a full week of place-based and hands-on learning. Students will be interacting with the Museum and Archives collection, visiting community members and establishments, and putting what they have learned in the classroom to practical use. The program will aim to foster strong critical thinking and writing skills through careful observation of our local surroundings, while helping students to build a deeper understanding of their community. With our historic downtown and many community and cultural spaces close by, we will be able to learn, explore and reflect at these important spaces.

During their week here, students will be focusing on slowing down and taking time to observe and reflect on their surroundings. Using journals to record their observations, they will have a record of their experiences at the museum and archives to use for further learning back at their schools. By the end of their residency, they will have a strong understanding of Chilliwack’s rich history and of the variety of places they can explore within their own community.

Getting Ready

Students will be using journals to record their observations.

Students will be using journals to record their observations.

Over the next few months, myself and Lena will be getting ready to launch the pilot program. We are working with two SD33 classes alongside the classroom teachers to develop an engaging program for the residency. We’ll be pursuing funding opportunities to bring the classes here for little to no cost and we’ll be looking to connect with the community to expand the reach of the pilot.

Learning from other successful projects such as the museum school program at the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives, the Beyond Classrooms network in Kingston, ON and the Museum School network in London, ON, we’re hoping to be able to open the Classroom in Residence program to more classes in future years.

What are we looking forward to?

“Often when I have classes visit the museum for a 1-1.5 hour program I don’t have the time to answer fully students’ questions about what they see here at the museum and about the work of the museum itself. I’m looking forward to helping the Classroom in Residence take a deeper dive into the resources we have here and gain a meaningful understanding of our community and its history.” – Stephanie

“I am excited to show our Classroom in Residence students that the classroom is not just confined by their school’s physical walls and that learning opportunities are all around us. I am thrilled that Chilliwack and our community’s history will be used as a platform for learning and investigation for students. I believe it is valuable for students to experience education styles that put emphasis on slowing down and carefully observing, while relying on critical thinking and problem solving to complete a task. I also strongly believe this model will get students more excited about education both inside and outside of the traditional classroom, because of the sense of pride students get in applied learning.” – Lena

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Find out more about the educational theory behind the Classroom in Residence program by checking out this post by long time educator David Barnum for the University of British Columbia: http://teljournal.educ.ubc.ca/2017/05/open-minds-constructing-learning-in-the-community/ .

Are you a teacher in Chilliwack interested in taking part in the Classroom in Residence program? Feel free to get in touch with me at [email protected]

Getting Ready for the 2017-2018 School Year

Posted on: September 6th, 2017 by Stephanie Clinton

It seems like the school year just ended and we were getting ready for our summer programming only days ago, but here we are again with another year of school upon us! Aligning with the new BC Curriculum, we’re excited to be able to offer a variety of programs and resources that help teachers bring relevant local content into their classrooms.

What’s New?

Chilliwack's Chinatowns Kit

Chilliwack’s Chinatowns Kit

Our local history kits, created in collaboration with SD33 teachers, are currently available to book. We have two kits, with a third expected in late 2017.

  • Explore Chilliwack’s two lost Chinatowns with our Chilliwack’s Chinatowns kit, containing primary source reproductions, lesson plans and supplementary resources for your class. This kit is recommended for Grades 1-6, however the primary sources can be adapted for use with a variety of grades. Follow up your exploration of the kit with an exhibit tour of Gold Mountain Dream, exhibit open until Oct. 9th.
  • New this year is our Community of Villages kit. Recommended for Grades 6+, this kit contains 10-12 reproductions for each of five unique communities in Chilliwack: Downtown Chilliwack, Rosedale, Greendale, Yarrow, and Sardis/Vedder. Teach primary source analysis skills with this kit while introducing the historical thinking concept of continuity and change.
  • Currently under development is our ‘Flooding Chilliwack’ kit. This kit focuses on major floods in Chilliwack which have changed the surrounding area into what we know today. Stay tuned for further details!

Starting this week, our school programs are available to book online or by phone at 604-795-5210.

  • Our popular My Community program for Grades 1 and 2 has two new community options available. Learn about key developments and events in your local area with options to focus on Downtown Chilliwack, Sardis, Yarrow or Greendale.
  • Guided Exhibit Tours are available throughout the year. Our current exhibit, Gold Mountain Dream, focuses on Chinese immigration during the gold rush and contains local content on Chilliwack’s lost Chinatowns. Gold Mountain Dream closes Oct. 9th and our new exhibit will open Nov. 2nd.
  •  Back by popular demand is our Family Christmas program. Explore what it would have been like to celebrate Christmas in Chilliwack in the late 1800’s with hands-on activities.

Browse our 2017-2018 school program brochure here and book online!

Can’t find a program that fits your needs? If there is a specific local history topic you are interested in exploring with your students, you can always contact me with your program requests and questions at [email protected]

Museum Round 2

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by Stephanie Clinton
Stephanie and I playing Mahjong in the Gold Mountain Dream exhibit.

Stephanie and I playing Mahjong in the Gold Mountain Dream exhibit.

By Kelsey Ablitt, Education Assistant

Once again, I find myself shocked that the summer is nearing its end and my time at the museum is coming to an end. This summer, I was given the opportunity to work at the museum as a summer student for a second year. Last summer was a major learning curve, as I was newer to the museum and how it worked. This year, I was familiar with the place and the staff, creating a comfortable environment to jump right in!

May was an exciting and busy month as we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the historical society and hosted the British Columbia Historical Federation Conference. During the conference, I had the opportunity to go on a Hops Tour. Learning about a major industry for both Chilliwack’s past and present was an exciting experience. We toured hop fields that had been used decades ago when hops were a booming industry in Chilliwack.

One of my favourite things from this summer was our Cardboard City, held in the Chambers Gallery. After mapping out a section of the downtown area, we used larger cardboard to create the blocks. Once we had our blocks and streets mapped out, we decided to add a few historic buildings such as the museum, the British Columbia Electric Railway Station, the Paramount and a few historic hotels. Once this basic outline of “Chilliwhack” (our unofficial name for the cardboard city) was complete, we opened our city up for construction for two weeks. Within the first day we saw a great turn out, new buildings such as Sticky’s Candy and the Book Man were added. Over the course of the two weeks, members of the community continued to take part and add to Chilliwhack. By the end, our city limits were jam packed with various buildings, vehicles, people, even piper-cleaner powerlines and Cultus Lake. Cardboard City was one of the projects I was most excited for this summer, and I am beyond happy with how successful it was!

Overhead view of Cardboard City.

Overhead view of Cardboard City.

Having built a strong connection with the museum, I’ve learned more about Chilliwack’s history. Whenever I drive around town, I think of all the random facts I know about the various places in the community. As sad as I am to be leaving in a few weeks, I cannot help but look forward to working along side the archives and Stephanie, the Education and Engagement Coordinator, this fall as I will be creating a local history kit for my directed studies course. If I had not built strong connections at the museum, I may not have had the opportunity to combine my love of local history and education. I’ve had amazing experiences these last two summers and I cannot wait to see what opportunities will continue to come from having worked here.

Something Completely Different

Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by Stephanie Clinton

And now for something completely different!

One of the things I most love about running summer family drop-ins is the flexibility they offer visiting families. It’s interesting watching a simple concept we decide to focus on for a week become something completely different when the variety of voices that join in change and adapt it.

Cardboard Chilliwack Museum.

Cardboard Chilliwack Museum.

For the past two weeks we took over our upstairs programming room (we call it the Chambers Gallery as it’s the room where city council used to sit when this building was city hall) and transformed it into a cardboard City of Chilliwack. It was a simple idea, we’d map out an area around five corners, including some of the historic buildings in (roughly) the correct space. The rest we’d leave open, setting up tables of craft supplies for inspiration and creation stations for our visiting city builders.

Sometimes all you need to do is provide a small spark for inspiration and the creativity follows. We didn’t try to create an accurate representation of five corners from any one era, but let our city builders (visiting families and children) decide what the city needed. Some of the buildings were recognizable, staples of downtown like The Bookman, complete with Nietzsche watching in the window, Sticky’s candy and even a “Boozeny’s” (Bozzini’s). But other additions were wishful like the two cupcake factories that popped up and the house that opened up to the front door of Sticky’s. By the end of the two weeks of cardboard city we had connected (pipecleaner) power, streets filled with interesting businesses and people scattered throughout.

Is this all silliness?

Well yes, but maybe not all silliness. This is an informal learning environment – we had an idea of what might be learned from co-creating a cardboard city with our visitors, but there was lots of room for new discoveries. Not only did our visitors pick up on the few historic buildings we put in place beforehand and wonder about their history, but they were inspired to add something that they wanted to see in the city too. Ok, so maybe two cupcake factories is a little unrealistic, but what if we were inspired by our (real) city in the same way our visitors were by the cardboard city?

Cardboard BC Electric Railway Station.

Cardboard BC Electric Railway Station.

As our cardboard city grew and changed over the two weeks it was interesting to hear some of the conversations it sparked and listen to the enthusiasm of visitors. I’ll leave you with the words of one of our more reluctant city builders when he first saw the city, “Ok, this is pretty cool.”

 

While cardboard city may be over, we’re still offering a great line-up of activities throughout the summer. Check out our Summer Family Drop-in schedule!