LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch resident Lori Bollinger sat at the beach in amazement as her daughter played, turning a collection of sand and buckets into a display.
The exhibit was reminiscent of one the family had seen at a children’s museum in Oregon. And Bollinger couldn’t get over how her daughter, Jordan, remembered what she’d learned.
It wasn’t the first time that had happened. It wouldn’t be the last.
And now Bollinger hopes to bring that same learning experience to East County children and their families through the creation of the Explore Some More Children’s Museum. Although the museum facility is still years away from construction, Explore Some More already is offering some children’s programming that can be brought to schools and different children’s events.
To help fund future programming, Explore Some More will host its first Kids Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 16, at Greenbrook Adventure Park in Lakewood Ranch. Activities will include carnival-type games, bounce houses and entertainment by dance groups, musicians and even a magician. Entry is free, but tickets will be sold for food and activities.
Bollinger, the museum’s director, hopes the fundraiser will allow it to provide free or reduced-price programming to schools and other organizations facing budget cuts this year.
“It’s going to be an awesome family day,” Bollinger said. “The museum will have information there to share with the community.”
Bollinger, a Greenbrook resident, came up with the idea of starting a children’s museum in the Sarasota-Bradenton area shortly after she moved here from St. Petersburg in 2004. She and her husband, Steve, had taken Jordan to a children’s museum near their home.
“We really saw the benefit,” Bollinger said, adding the family regularly would incorporate trips to children’s museums in their travels. “It was a great way for our family to connect. I saw (Jordan) really expand her knowledge. When we moved here, I realized there wasn’t anything like it.”
So Bollinger began planning for the museum, using her background in business and marketing and her love of learning.
“It’s a passion and it’s developed in to that over the years,” Bollinger said of children’s museums. “If it’s done right, we as a community can produce confident, wonderful children.”
The museum has been sponsoring a portable dinosaur dig for about a year and added a curriculum for the dig about five months ago, Bollinger said. The museum formally earned nonprofit status in October 2008.
Although a museum facility is still several years away from construction, Bollinger is making plans and exploring potential exhibits, which would create an interactive landscape for learning.
A few potential ideas include grocery store and art studio exhibits, among others.
“We’re so far away, but these are the types of things we’d like to include,” Bollinger said. “It allows the parents to learn along with the children and play with the children. They can learn together.
“This is a place where kids can come and be kids and not have to worry about damaging exhibits,” she added. “Kids learn through play. Being able to experience (things) hands on gives them a step up.”
Bollinger said she expects the museum to be between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet and cost up to $3 million.
For more information on the Kids Festival or the museum, visit www.exploresomemore.org.
Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 16. Rain date is June 6
WHERE: Greenbrook Adventure Park, 13400 Adventure Place, Lakewood Ranch
COST: Entrance is free. Tickets required for food and games.
BENEFITS: Explore Some More Children’s Museum
INFORMATION: www.exploresomemore.org or 524-7034