Meet our Intern, Arianna!


Meet Arianna, one of our interns from Decatur Public Schools! Arianna has been helping us plan some of our special events and doing some great behind the scenes work. Learn more about Arianna in her own words:


Hello! I am Arianna Davis. I am 18 years old and attend Eisenhower High School.I graduate May 19th, 2018. and after I graduate I want to go to college to become an event planner. I am an intern at the Children’s Museum and I  shadow Elizabeth. I chose the children’s museum because I knew that it could possibly be a good experience for me. Going into it, however, I didn’t know what to expect. Now I plan the ‘Young at art’ Projects and also I am helping out the museum with planning the major events going on, such as Fairytale Ball.

I like all the welcoming staff. Everyone here is so friendly and understanding. I also genuinely like the work I do here, from making crafts for the kids to helping out with the events.  The work is not only fun but probably something that will lead to something I want to do in my near future. I have been learning so much at the Children’s Museum and I am glad to have this experience.

Paper Plate Snakes

What can you make out of a paper plate? I bet the first thing that comes to your mind isn’t a snake! This week at Young at Art things got a little wild as we transformed paper plates into slithering snakes. It’s a creative lesson to teach children that basic items like paper plates can be used to make something extraordinary.

This art project is also a great opportunity for learning. Snakes are very interesting animals! They don’t have eyelids. Also, they can’t chew so they swallow their food whole with their flexible jaws. They can eat prey bigger than their head! Learning about animals is more fun with projects like these.

Snakes are covered in scales that create many different types of patterns. Children had fun coming up with their own patterns to decorate their snakes with such as dots, zig-zags, and stripes!

Cut up pieces of tissue paper were used as “scales” to decorate snakes with.

Let your imagination run wild and brainstorm what else you can make out of paper plates!

By, Kara Berk

Dream Weaving

This week at Young at Art we introduced a new topic-Weaving! Our project entitled Dream Weaving introduces weaving in a fun and creative way. Using different colored strips of paper, the children were instructed to weave a “blanket” and draw a sleeping person above it.


On top of the fun art project, children can improve many different skills when they weave. While holding the strips of paper, they are practicing the proper “pincer grip”. This grip involves using your thumb and pointer finger to grip an item. It is an essential skill used to write, hold silverware, and many other everyday tasks as well! Weaving also requires a great amount of hand-eye coordination to move the strips of paper in the manner they choose. Because of the intricate movements weaving involves, it takes a lot of concentration, which children will soon learn is a fundamental part of learning. With difficult tasks like these, it is important to remind them that if they make mistakes it is okay! Messing up and trying again is the best way to learn; Especially when the outcome is as beautiful as this project is!

Warm Hands Warm Heart

The weather is cold here at the Children’s Museum so we’re warming up at Young at Art! Last week children and families were engaged with a mitten art project. The focus of the project was creating fun patterns to decorate their mittens with. This may just look like a fun art project, but it is also assisting kids in learning some very important skills. By tracing their hands and using scissors to cut out the mitten shape, children are improving their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Fine motor movements involve the coordination of small muscles in the hands and fingers. Whether you’re cutting, writing, or eating with utensils, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are essential to everyday life.


Aside from fine motor skills, this art project helps children learn and predict patterns, so math is often regarded as the “science of patterns”. Learning patterns can be a great preparation for learning the basics of mathematics. Counting from one to ten or multiplying numbers by zero are both examples of patterns that may be looked over. Patterns help us figure out the answer to the question “What’s next?” Understanding patterns may not make us able to predict the future, but it can help us to better understand the world around us!





Brilliant Builders Sneak Peak

Brilliant Builders will happen the week of July 5th-8th. This is a jam-packed camp for makers, tinkerers, and engineers entering the 1st-3rd grades. Due to the popularity of the Museum’s Make Space, we decided to bring four full days of making to the children of Decatur. We’ll learn about design, circuits, and bridges in this busy week.


To start things off, every child will receive a littleBit circuit kit to use and take home at the end of the week. Cool! We’ll begin by teaching the basics of circuits and learn how to build on to the pieces. The first challenge will be to use the littleBits to create a monster that either moves, makes sound, or lights up. How would you build one?


The following days will have similar challenges such as building bridges, towers, and safe vehicles (for eggs!) Each challenge will have specific materials, time limits, and special requirements; but no instructions! Are you up to the challenge?

To top off the week we will be participating in a nationwide challenge with NASA. Check out the details here. Educators participated in the challenge and it’s tough! We’ll work in groups to create a gliding aircraft and share our designs with other kids around the nation.


Ready to sign up? Go here to register today!

Art-ology Sneak Peek

At Children’s Museum of Illinois, our main focus is on Art and Science… So why not have a camp combining the two? Witness how art can be found in areas of science like nature and space as well as learn how to create art with chemistry and physics.

A majority of the first day will be spent outside in nature discovering and experimenting with organic materials as art. We’ll learn about pigments from different plants, search the garden for colors, and use various found objects to enhance pieces of art. We’ll also begin mixing colors in a messy project to match what we see in nature.

nature brush

We’ll continue to get messy during the week by exploring the world of bubbles! Did you know bubbles are always round… or are they? Do different wands make different shapes? We will explore this possibility while making colorful bubble paintings.

bubble paint

The rest of the week will be SUPER messy and SUPER fun! We’re going to dive into the world of physics by creating splatter art from the second floor. That’s right- we’re going to drop paint from the second floor to create awesome and colorful patterns. And then we’re going to launch paint with catapults! Who knew art could be so exciting?

Our week isn’t over though. Our final day will be spent mixing colors and chemistry. Let’s mix different ingredients to create concoctions that fizz, pop, and explode! One thing’s for sure- we’re going to make a mess and it’s going to be awesome!

splatter paint

Art-ology will be hosted June 28th-July 1st from 9A-1P each day. A snack will be provided, but campers need to bring a sack lunch. This camp WILL be messy, please be sure to dress in play clothes. We have PreK Camps running in conjunction with this camp; but they fill fast! Check HERE for openings.

Padawan Training Camp Preview

With a new generation of Star Wars fans, CMofIL decided this summer would be a great time to teach children of Macon County about REAL galaxies far, far away…. And mix some Jedi fun in there too. Padawan (or young Jedi) Training will immerse children in a world of stars, astronauts, and planets as well as incorporate light saber fun, wookies, and tie fighters.


On the first day of camp we’ll learn about living in space. Experience how astronauts eat, write, and live on the International Space Station. They’ll even get a chance to build a small version of a space station. During the project children will need to find answers to questions like “where will the astronaut sleep?”, “where will he or she get food?”, “What will he or she do for fun?”.  I know I’d miss walking my dog every day. What would you miss?

The following days will center around the stars and planets. Crawl into our StarLab for a chance to see the stars and constellations up close. The planets Obi Wan and Yoda live on are fictional, but some of them are very similar to the planets in our galaxy. We will study the similarities and design and build a vehicle to use on various planets.iss_gallery_med_02_960x600


Perhaps the coolest part of this camp will be participating in a national NASA project. Our friends at the Glenn Research Center in Ohio have created a national design project for kids to participate in. Our campers will be given different materials and be challenged to great a vehicle that glides. I can’t wait to see what our campers create!

Plenty other activities await young Padawan at this camp such as an obstacle course, straw rockets, droid and light saber construction, and carbonite melting! Let’s see if our campers have what it takes to graduate to become a Jedi!


Padawan Training Camp will be held June 21-June 24 from 9A-1P each day. A small snack will be provided, but campers will need to bring a sack lunch. In addition to Camp 55, CMofIL will be hosting a Jedi Youngling Training for our PreK Camp for children ages 3-entering Kindergarten. PreK Camp is on Wednesday and Friday from 9A-11A. Due to the popularity of this camp, please check online for availability.


Goin’ Green Preview- Camp 55

Summer will be here before you know it and we’re mixing things up at the Children’s Museum of Illinois for our big kid summer camps! Each week we will highlight a different Camp 55 week (for kids entering 1st-3rd grade in the 2016-2017 school year) with information and a look into an activity or two. All of our Camp 55 programs run Tuesday-Friday from 9A-1P. During the day we will do hands-on activities, learn about related topics, and create pieces of art to take home. Let’s get started with our first camp this summer- Goin’ Green!

After receiving a grant from the Ullrich Foundation to update our outdoor space, we were able to secure more volunteers and opportunities for education. What better way to showcase our new outdoor space then with a camp? During Goin’ Green we will explore the outside world as well as work with Junior Volunteers and a Master Gardener to learn about the CMofIL’s garden.

The very first day we will plant seeds and see how they grow during the week. Learn about the different parts of a plant by dissection and looking closely at growing plants outside. A garden is an ecosystem, though, and the plants wouldn’t be able to grow without the help of other creatures.image1

Museum Junior Volunteers are taking care of a worm bin and campers will get the opportunity to learn about the important roll worms play. We’ll also create homes and feeders for bugs, butterflies and birds. Bugs may seem creepy and crawly, but we will learn why they’re very important to the environment and gardens.  IMG_2035

The museum understands that integrating art in science is not only fun, but beneficial to children. Campers will have the opportunity to create art with organic materials found outside. We’ll also make paper that can be used and then planted to grow flowers. It’s a super fun (and messy) project.

In addition to Camp 55, CMofIL will be hosting PreK Camps for children ages 3-entering Kindergarten. Many of the PreK Camps have similar themes to Camp 55 and run on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9A-11A. Due to the popularity of these programs, please check online for availability.

We hope to see you this summer!

Take Home Activities – Young at Art

Young at Art

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One of the newest exhibits in the Museum is Young at Art, our theater and art space.  It was installed in the summer of 2015.  This exhibit features a real curtain, stage, and light system for children to explore.  And around the corner, young artists will find craft materials to develop their masterpieces.

The Young at Art exhibit has already become an audience favorite.  Staff at the Museum keep costumes and puppets in supply for children to put on their own shows!  We hope that you continue the fun at home through the books and activities below!

Reading About Art:


One book we love is Draw! By Raúl Colón.  This wordless book encourages many questions from your student.  A boy named Leonardo begins to imagine and then draw a world afar.  First a rhinoceros, and then he meets some monkeys, and he always has a friendly elephant at his side. Soon he is in the jungle and carried away by the sheer power of his imagination.  He sees the world through his own eyes and making friends along the way.


Another great book is Little Melba and Her Big Trombone. By Katheryn Russell-Brown.  This book is perfect for little performers interested in music.  Melba Doretta Liston loved the sounds of music from as far back as she could remember. As a child, she daydreamed about beats and lyrics, and hummed along with the music from her family’s radio. At age seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger.  She spun rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century: Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie just to name a few.

Take Home Activity:

And what is a good art lesson without a craft?  Make sure to gather up some straws to create your own wind pipe, demonstrated here by Kate at Laughing Kids Learn.  First you can talk about sorting by size and color.  Then help your student gain cutting skills by trimming the straws to size.  And finally, talk about why the sound is different when you blow into a longer straw versus a shorter one!

Some questions to ask your child to encourage learning and exploration:

  • Which straw is your favorite color? Why?
  • What things do we cut?  (And remember, we only cut with adult supervision!)
  • Can you make your windpipe have a low sound? What about a high sound?
  • What happens if you blow harder? Now softer?


How can you support Children’s Museum of Illinois?

Many people don’t realize that Children’s Museum of Illinois is a non-profit organization.  We rely on a variety of sources to maintain our exhibits, staff the Museum, and to create educational programming. Much of our budget comes from grants from educational and cultural organizations.  But there are things you can do to support us and enhance your family’s experience at the Museum!

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-Visit the Museum (especially on special event days!)

You are the reason that we work so hard!  We love to see families in the Museum enjoying exhibits and spending time together.  You can participate in a Make Space Family Challenge, dress up for Fairy Tale Ball or chuck a pumpkin in October!

-Tell people about your visit

Tell your mom and dad friends about the Museum!  Invite them for a play date here in the winter.  And while we hope that everyone has a great time at Children’s Museum of Illinois, if you didn’t – please tell the staff.  We want to know how we can improve and ensure that your child gets the most out of her visit.

-Support our fundraising events

Besides our general donation form, we host two major fundraisers each year.  The Duck Derby is in spring and the Reverse Raffle in the fall.  When you buy a chance to win in either event, you show your support our mission and allow us to continue supporting students!


By either donating your time, equipment, or dollar, you help us enhance educational experiences.  This includes families that visit on the weekend, or students that visit from area schools.  Ask us about volunteering or donating today!

-Become a Corporate Sponsor

Another way to “donate” to the Museum is to become a sponsor.  If your local business is looking for a way to reach young families, you can sponsor an event or an exhibit.  We work hard with our sponsors to ensure a great return on investment!