Kalamazoo Valley Museum offers free Spring Break Hands-On Series



Spring Break Hands-On Happenings: “A Patchwork of Stories” invites visitors of all ages to explore five favorite children's books about African-American stories. Inspired by the current traveling exhibit “From Here to Timbuktu: A Journey Through West Africa” and the pictorial exhibit “African Americans in World War II,” the Museum education staff chose to create a week of free hands-on arts and crafts based on a different book each day. The books cover a range of writing styles from folk stories to autobiography, and from life in the city to life in the country. Visitors will get a glimpse of the rich culture and heritage of African Americans from both exhibits and the hands-on activities that will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. each day from April 1 to 5.

On Monday, April 1, visitors will explore Angela Johnson's When I Am Old with You. This Coretta Scott King Honor Book and ALA Notable Book describes the bond between a grandfather and grandchild. Sitting beside his grandfather on the porch, a child imagines a future of activities he will share with a grandparent. The importance of family relationships will be illustrated by folding a rocking chair, coloring a dog, creating a deck of cards, making lightning bugs, designing a beach hat and a baseball cap, putting together a tractor, and completing a fishing picture. Members of the Kalamazoo Fly Fishing Club will be on hand demonstrating how to tie flies.

Max Found Two Sticks, a Reading Rainbow Review Book written and illustrated by Caldecott winner Brian Pickney, will be the focus on April 2. The book illustrates how rhythm runs through a drummer’s blood all the time. Max has the rhythm, and he finds inspiration to let that out through the sounds and objects around his urban apartment. The related hands-on activities include assembling a flying pigeon, a rain stick, a bell necklace, a train conductor hat, a train, a tambourine, and a drum, decorating a pail drum and coloring a drummer. Children can also create a picture using the same scratch technique as the illustrator. A variety of percussion instruments will be available to let visitors release the drummer inside of them.

An Ashanti tale that describes the importance of names is the book of choice for Wednesday, April 3. Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott, a Caldecott Honor Book, tells the story of a father and his six sons: See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner, Stone Thrower, and Cushion. This West African folktale tells how each son lives up to his name and contributes to saving his father. The father decides to reward one of his sons with a globe of light, the moon; the trouble is, he can't figure out which son deserves it the most. Hands-on activities will include folding a path, weaving a spider web, decorating a mosaic mask, creating a falcon puppet, rubbing a fish skeleton, scratching a fish pattern, designing a fish, assembling a spider mobile, coloring a spider, and folding a 3-D moon. Visitors are encouraged to visit the exhibit “From Here to Timbuktu” and experience West African culture firsthand.

The true story of Pinkus Aylee, a black Union soldier, and Sheldon Curtis will be the focus on April 4. The story will stir emotions and bring listeners into the grips of the Civil War conflict and the injustice of slavery. Illustrator and writer Patricia Polacco passes along the story of Pink and Say, as well as the handshake of a generation of hands: the hand that shook hands with Abraham Lincoln. Children will be able to assemble a saddle bag, a union hat, a paper quilt, a train, and a family tree, decorate a poetry book, an Abraham Lincoln mask, and the American flag, and practice sewing. Pay tribute in the first floor gallery to African-American soldiers who fought during World War II.

The Hands-On series ends on April 5 with a true classic, Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach. The book is a 1992 Caldecott Honor Book, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration, a featured Reading Rainbow book, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Award. Faith Ringgold's quilt and book Tar Beach relays the story of Cassie Louise Lightfoot and her dream adventure from the roof of her urban apartment while her parents play cards. Hands-on activities include building the George Washington Bridge with craft sticks, making a star picture, and coloring the Union Building, a hard hat, puppets of Cassie and her brother Be Be, an ice cream cone magnet, and a picnic basket. Join with other visitors in quilting a burlap quilt.

The Museum, special exhibits, and hands-on activities are all free. Special daily planetarium shows and Challenger Learning Center missions and experiences will be available for $3.00 per person. Visit our website at www.kalamazoomuseum.org for times, titles, and age recommendations and restrictions.

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and governed by its Board of Trustees.