Build It at Kohl Children’s Museum and a Museum Overview

Build It is returning to Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago on February 12, 2019. This popular exhibit includes a larger than life collection of building blocks that allow children to explore their creativity while learning about architecture, science, and storytelling and will be at the museum through June 30, 2019.

Your kids will be able to discover, stack, bridge, enclose, make patterns, name and symbolize using blocks, which are the seven stages of block play. Block play teaches several important mathematical concepts, including measurement, numeral awareness, part-to-whole relationships and social concepts such as sharing and collaboration.

The different blocks included in the exhibit include classic Duplo interlocking plastic blocks, Haba architectural wooden blocks and Imagination Playground large foam building blocks. Fat Brain Toys will also supply a large collection of blocks, including Dado Planks, Hexactly blocks, Edushape plastic bristle blocks and Twigs for two-dimensional patterning.

Throughout the exhibit, children will have the opportunity to explore and learn at several different stations in the exhibit including:

It’s All Looking Up!: Examine building on vertical and horizontal planes. Your kids can use blocks to fill in outlines and blueprint graphics of famous Chicago buildings on the walls, build on vertical Duplo and Imagination playground walls, build with magnet blocks on metal walls and build with Velcro-style blocks on carpet walls.

Build It, Test It, Shake It: Build and test the strength of their structures by using weights to see if they can withstand a downward force. In addition, children can also create structures on a shaky “earthquake” platform to test side-to-side stability.

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Shadow Boxing: Use light tables in their structures to investigate shadows and see how light affects translucent Magnatiles.

Free for All: Several zones will be set up with surfaces at varied heights and props such as toy animals, people, fabric, cars, balls, faux plants and trees, where children can use their creativity to develop imaginative worlds, storylines, and dramatic play, while focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Design, Math) concepts.

The “Build It!” exhibit was developed through the generous sponsorship of Wintrust, with additional support from Fat Brain Toys.

We have visited Kohl Children’s Museum numerous times and always love it there. In 2014, Louisa wrote a museum overview from the perspective of a mom with a toddler. Read her full account below.

Even though we spend the majority of our time west of the city, on occasion we venture beyond our side of Chicagoland for something really great. And Kohl Children’s Museum in the northern suburb of Glenview has been on our toddler-to-do list for awhile.

Our two-year-old started her adventure in the Whole Foods Market exhibit, which opened in October, and is basically the world’s best child-sized grocery store (OK, I don’t  know if it’s literally the best in the world, but it’s the best one I’ve ever seen). Emme loved pushing her cart, picking out fruits and veggies, and going through the checkout line like mommy and daddy.

From Whole Foods Market, we moved on to the Baby Nursery, where Emme played pediatrician. She rocked her baby, weighed him, and checked his vitals. Between the Whole Foods Market and nursery exhibits, our daughter could have easily played for an hour or more, but in the interest of journalism, we pressed on.

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Next, we headed to Water Works, a fun, interactive water exhibit (and what toddler doesn’t love a fun, interactive water exhibit), and finally, we checked out the Ravinia Festival Music Makers exhibit. The music exhibit was a hit—Emme banged on a drum, plucked a bass string, and danced in the video room where she could see her movements make patterns on a screen.

As we made our way through Kohl Children’s Museum, I noticed that if you have a baby, there are plenty of accommodations to make your visit enjoyable. First, there are several spots where moms can comfortably nurse a baby. In addition (and I found particularly exciting), several exhibits have a baby area, where your little one can do some tummy time, coo at herself in a mirror, and play with age-appropriate toys without being in the way of the bigger kids, making this museum a great option for parents of two (or more).

We ended our visit in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Art Studio, where we heard a special reading of the book Brush Strokes for Little Folks, a book by Jeff and Lindsey Whitehead, which honors the life of their son, Charlie Whitehead. Charlie lived with Cerebral Palsy, and the book features his artwork. From now until December 30, you can see a series of Charlie’s original paintings at the museum.

The Verdict

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What I love most about children’s museums is watching my daughter become engrossed in an exhibit and seeing her face light up when she learns something new. And Kohl Children’s Museum doesn’t disappoint. Yet, what I really appreciated about this museum is that it is manageable—there aren’t multiple floors or exhibits jam-packed into every available inch of space. Its spaciousness also makes it very stroller friendly, but if you want to ditch your stroller, there’s plenty of parking (and room for your other belongings) in the coat room at the entrance of the museum.

Kohl Children’s Museum is located at 2100 Patriot Boulevard in Glenview. General admission for adults and children over 12 months is $11; children under 12 months are free. Check out their website for more information about events, hours, membership, and lunch and snack options at the museum’s Cosi Cafe.

Interested in learning more about other local children’s museums? Check out our guide to Chicagoland Children’s Museums with exhibit information and age recommendations.

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie, her husband, and their kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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