Arts and Entertainment

A kids' haven; KiDiMu celebrates their birthday with a community party | Kitsap Week

A young child explores the
A young child explores the 'Old Town' exhibit at KiDiMu.
— image credit: Brad Camp

A party at a museum may conjure up thoughts of listening to a  string quartet while eating wine and cheese.

But at the Kids Discovery Museum’s (KiDiMu) Birthday Bash on Bainbridge Island on June 4, expect to have ice cream, face painting and rock music tailored to those who still need help tying their shoes.

In celebration of KiDiMu’s first anniversary at its new location, the party will engage the area’s youngest museum patrons. The kid-centered museum will throw a kid-focused party complete with free museum admission, a bouncy house and live entertainment.

“What a thrill to share a birthday party with an entire community,” said Susan Sivitz, the museum’s executive director.

Since moving into their new digs, KiDiMu (the only children’s museum in Kitsap) has experienced an increase in visitors from off-island. Before they moved the few blocks down the street, Bainbridge residents made up almost 70 percent of their clientele. Now, attendance is split 50-50. Half are Bainbridge visitors and the other half consists of families from others areas in Kitsap, as well as Seattle and beyond.

Their old location was further away from the ferry terminal. And as anyone who has ever walked with a two-year old can tell you, the difference of traveling a few more blocks can be immense. The museum’s new location is easier for little feet to reach on their own. Their building is in a new development immediately visible when walking from the ferry into downtown.

Sivitz believes this increased exposure has drawn more visitors. And, for those arriving by car, its location at the corner of State Route 305 and Winslow Way makes it easy to find.

Sivitz said having a place built specifically for KiDiMu, as opposed to trying to fit a children’s museum into an existing structure, has really made their new location feel like home. The building is cozy, yet gives visitors lots to discover. And it was designed for families with small children. The open loft-like second floor allows parents to keep an eye on kids below.

Inside KiDiMu, guests are greeted by a wow-factor: an indoor tree house, complete with wooden ladder and a twisty slide.

On a recent visit to the museum, kids explored every inch of the space, from the Totally TOT area, designed especially for those three and younger, to the real electric car that kids can crawl in, out and around.

Sivitz said at KiDiMu, they practice “sneaky learning.” Children learn and grow through stimulating play. She added that because children grow and change so quickly, each visit to the museum brings new discoveries and skills.

For example, at the mock grocery store, kids shop for food, weigh pretend fruit and load and unload carts. (What happens to us as we age? Why do we lose our joy for unloading groceries?)

The museum is filled with real-to-life things, but at a size and level for children.

In the Medical Center, an X-ray light-box hangs a couple of feet from the ground. Walls have mouse hole-like entrances allowing children to quickly access different rooms. Tables are lower and chairs are child-sized. It’s as if the museum designers took a special shrink-ray gun and shrank adult things down to a manageable size for children. The shrinking didn’t damage the quality or durability though.

A good example of that is the ATM machine, complete with buttons that work and a realistic screen. Sivitz said the machine is so true-to-life, it won’t allow a withdrawal if there isn’t any money in the account. (It’s a good lesson to learn at a young age. Teach them young so they can avoid pesky overdraft fees!)

Upstairs at KiDiMu, kids and adults alike have fun running experiments in the “Science Hall.”  Interactive activities teach lessons in gravity and velocity, as well as cooperation and critical thinking.

Over a squeals of delight as children worked the mechanics of science experiment, Sivitz said, “We are here to stay. We feel very embraced by the region.”

Saturday’s Schedule:

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Bouncy house, sidewalk chalk drawing, face painting and tattoos, KiDiMu tile painting ($50 donation).

10 a.m. to noon: Police car and fire truck exploration, free popcorn from Popcorn Chef.

11 a.m.: Motsimoyo Marimba Band, free candy from Bon Bon.

1 -3 p.m.: Free ice cream from Mora.

1:30 p.m.: Roberto the Magnificent.

3 p.m.: Grand finale — rock ’n’ roll dance with The Not-Its!

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