Review: How People Make Things at the DuPage Children’s Museum

“Mommy, how do you make that?” Do your children inquire as to why and how things work? The new exhibit at the DuPage Children’s Museum answers those questions curious minds ask. How People Make Things is based on factory tours from the television series Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood. Kids can explore how every day objects are made, what tools are used, and what the process is to create them. From the drafting and idea table, to the molds and technology used, children are able to see how common items like balls, crayons, and boxes are created.

DuPage Children’s Museum

The museum is located in downtown Naperville on Washington Street. The museum has a notice on their website saying, “When following Google Maps to 301 N. Washington Street, some visitors have been taken to the wrong location”, so be careful if you follow GPS as seriously as I do! The BNSF Metra line also has a stop nearby, if you would rather go by train. The parking lot is small and does fill up quickly on busy days, but they offer parking alternatives on their website. When we entered the building, the desk to purchase museum entry tickets was right in front of us. We were given a map and some information about the museum and the new exhibit and directed to the coat room. Here, you can hang your coats, rent a locker, and park your stroller.

How People Make Things Exhibit

The DuPage Children’s Museum has created a new exhibit, How People Make Things, based on the series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The exhibit will run between January 20, 2020 and September 6, 2020. The exhibit is located on the second floor of the museum and takes up the majority of the floor. The exhibit is divided into four sections: Cut, Mold, Deform, Assemble. Each station has hands-on opportunities for kids to explore those areas of creating an object. Every area also has video monitors showing clips from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, to bring back the adults to their childhood memories and earliest curiosities.

Cut

The first station is learning how people cut things to create everyday objects. The kids are able to cut with hand tools to shape wax blocks. My kids favorite activity in the cut station was the die-cut press machine. They used a press to cut cardstock into the shape to create a small box. They were excited to have created something tangible to take home!

Mold

In the center of the molding station there is a large vat of melted wax. Kids can scoop up the melted wax with spoons and press it into a steel mold creating different shapes and objects. After your mold dries, the museum asks that you recycle your wax back into the center to re-melt. This activity took more patience to wait on the wax to harden and then leave your shape behind.

Deform

In the deform area, was a hands-on activity of deforming a penny, flattening the cooper, and reshaping it through a press. The other deform station was steps to deform a wire and re-coil it into a spring. I found this neat to watch my kids realize how items are recycled into creating new forms of the material.

Assemble/Disassemble

The assemble and disassemble station was more nostalgic with the building of a trolley car. This area had cute hard hats, vests, and other dress -up clothes to put on and follow the instructions to build a trolley car. Once you have built your trolley car, there are instruction on how to crash it down the ramp (disassemble). My three year old loved the “disassembly” crashing activity.

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Exhibit Overview

Overall, the How Things are Made exhibit took about 20-30 minutes to complete. Some of the machines and tools used made me nervous for toddlers. My one year old wasn’t able to do many of the activities because of the tools and machines used. My three year old needed hands-on help with each activity. Using the paper press I had to keep reminding him about his fingers and the wax was very hot, so I helped him scoop it up. He enjoyed each activity, but none of them were able to be done independently, at his age. However, my five year old was able to handle all the tools and machines herself. She quickly became curious as to how inventors came up with these ideas and had so many questions about machines versus people making objects. Her questioning skills and creativity just flourished and she loved the exhibit. My overall best age range, for the exhibit, is 3-8 years old. Because the exhibit spans the whole second floor, it never became too overwhelming or loud. There is a quiet/nursing room on that floor, bathrooms on the floor of the exhibit, and a toddler play area.

Admission into the museum is $13 for adults and children. Children under one are free and seniors have a reduced rate at $10. Museum hours vary during the school year versus summer months. Please check the website before you plan your visit.

If you are looking for more Chicago Area Children’s Museums, check out these other museums in our area.

Past Exhibits at DuPage Children’s Museum

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit

By: Claudia Coyne
Originally Published January 20, 2019
Exhibit Ran: January 20 – May 12, 2019

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit is now open and will be at DuPage Children’s Museum until May 12, 2019. This new exhibit brings to life the themes presented in the award-winning PBS Kids television series created by The Fred Rogers Company that follows the adventures of 4-year-old Daniel Tiger and his friends.

In Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit children enter the world of Daniel Tiger and friends to explore the Neighborhood. Through immersive experiences, your kids can collaborate to solve problems, use their imaginations to transform their surroundings and play along with Daniel’s singable strategies as they learn life’s little lessons.

We had the pleasure of going to see Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit at the DuPage Children’s Museum on opening day! I had my four children with me, 6 and 7 year old girls and 4 and 2 year old boys, and all of us (yes, me too!) really enjoyed everything they had to offer. My memories of watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood come back to me every time we watch Daniel Tiger and visiting this exhibit really brought us into the magical land of kindness and life lessons that Fred Rogers first introduced 50 years ago.

Getting to DuPage Children’s Museum

We used the Waze Navigation app to get us to the museum from Tinley Park and had a very easy ride. The museum has a note on their website saying “When following Google Maps to 301 N. Washington Street, some visitors have been taken to the wrong location”, so be careful if you follow GPS as seriously as I do! The BNSF Metra line also has a stop nearby (Naperville)  if you would rather go by rail. The parking lot is small and does fill up quickly on busy days, but they offer alternatives on their website or have printed maps near the entrance with other lots to use. When we entered the building, the desk to purchase museum entry tickets was right in front of us. We were given a map and some information about the museum and the new exhibit and directed to the coat room. Here, you could leave your coats, rent a locker (small fee), and park your stroller. I was pleased with this area as it is often hard to have a stroller in small spaces and also hard to carry around 5 coats! The coat room is in a good location that we were able to go back quickly to get diapers and grab a sip of water if we needed.

The Exhibit

We headed up the elevator to the second floor and when the doors opened, it was as if we entered Daniel Tiger’s actual neighborhood! The excited gasps from my two and four year old sons made me realize we would be making this trip a few more times before it ends in May! I loved that every station was a whimsical recreation of a part of the neighborhood. So much so, that we actually felt like we were in an animated show. Mr. McFeely’s post office had adorable packages and letters that you could deliver to everyone’s houses around the neighborhood. Music Man Stan’s Music Shop had numerous interactive instruments made from spoons, keys, and washboards. O the Owl’s house had cute little nest shaped chairs and a bookcase full of books. There was a lesson and a fun message at each station and everyone’s favorite Daniel Tiger song lyrics were posted all over. I left the exhibit singing them and I might admit that I am still singing them as I write this!

Our Favorite Parts

My two year old ran around from station to station in awe and wonder the entire time. Though he spent most of the hour we were there pushing around a miniature Trolley, I am not sure he had an actual favorite part because he wouldn’t stop moving and told me he loved it all! He spent a good amount of time in Music Man Stan’s Music Shop playing the instruments and dancing around.

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My four year old son loved the clock factory area. You could spin a large crank to make the giant clock move and pegs that you added fell away with each second the clock ticked. I think he would’ve played with that all day if I had let him.

My six year old daughter enjoyed the dress up area, but sat in O the Owl’s room on a little chair shaped like a nest and read books most of the time we were there. It was a cute, cozy nook and she’s at an age that she insisted was a little old for some of the stations.

My seven year old was the one who proclaimed that Daniel Tiger is a “baby show” and said she was not looking forward to coming with us. However, once there, she was possibly the one who interacted the most at each spot. She went from station to station just like her baby brother, playing with every knob, ringing every bell, and having a great time. Her favorite station was Daniel’s house where they had a music player. There were different cubes with Daniel song lyrics on them and when you would put the cube into the player, it played the song. She also really enjoyed building a model of the entire neighborhood with cute blocks shaped like all of the buildings and houses.

A Grr-ific Ending

We headed downstairs and explored the rest of the museum for a while, then picked up our coats and stroller and headed back home. On the ride, the kids all asked if we could watch Daniel Tiger when we got home and my oldest led us in singing some of the memorable songs from the show. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has joined generations together by teaching those same lessons that our parents wanted us to learn when they introduced us to Mr. Rogers. This exhibit brought me such joy because of that link between my childhood and theirs. I got a few funny looks from my kids while I played at the stations, but those looks eventually turned into huge smiles and I left happy knowing we created some great memories today!

Exhibit Overview

The exhibit, created by Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in partnership with The Fred Rogers Company, brings to life the themes presented in the PBS series such as community, communication and emotions, which enables young children to understand their feelings and those of their neighbors.

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Walk the paths and hear the sounds of Daniel’s world as you encounter the meaning of empathy, gratitude, sharing and diversity in an environment of creative and interactive play. Through music, kids can also sing along with Daniel, work together to solve problems and even experience the contagious nature of kindness.

Along with the emotional lessons gleaned in the Neighborhood, your kids can:

  • Transform into to a favorite character with masks and costumes
  • Compose a song or play along with one-of-a-kind instruments
  • Visit the Post Office and sort, deliver and receive packages and letters
  • Create stories through the Movable Character Mural
  • Step inside the Clock Factory to play with a variety of clocks
  • Identify spots in one’s own neighborhood on the interactive world map
  • Write or draw thank-you notes and put them on the Thank You Tree.
  • Cozy up with a good book in O the Owl’s Reading Nest and
  • Stroll with a Trolley along the path, and ring the bell upon arrival!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit was made possible through local sponsorship by DuPage Medical Group. It continues its multi-year run as a traveling exhibit in Naperville and is scheduled to appear in two more North American cities through the summer of 2019.

Admission to DuPage Children’s Museum is $12 for adults and children age 1 and older, and $10 for seniors; it’s free for members and children less than one year.

About the Author

Nicole Majewski
Nicole and her family live in Bloomingdale. She is a former teacher and now stay at home mom of three adorable kids. Her family loves to be outside, exploring nature and getting dirty. In the winter months, you will find them at the local library or an indoor play place.

1 Comment on "Review: How People Make Things at the DuPage Children’s Museum"

  1. i love daniel tiger

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