Posts Tagged With: museum

Make Believe Midnight: Ringing in the New Year with Children

Tomorrow night is the night when almost everyone stays up and greets a new day/month/year.  Possibly parties featuring champagne and dancing and lots of people come to mind.  To be honest, that was not really our scene BEFORE we had kids, so now that we have children, we are usually looking for ways to include them on this holiday.  After all, our years with them at home are limited.

Of course so far our kids have not stayed up until that late of an hour.  For one thing, they would be rather unpleasant the next day.  We have made a point of ringing in 9:00, and one year my husband change the clocks to look like midnight had arrived (they were not fooled or anything 🙂 )   This year we have yet to finalize our plans. There are several great events across the state that are geared for celebrating the new year with children.  Many of them feature make-believe midnight activities.  While we have not personally experienced the event, my understanding is that the Lincoln Children’s Museum even drops a ball at 8:00 (their pretend midnight hour).


Photo from

Noon Year’s Eve at the Omaha Henry Dorley Zoo

First Night of Play at the Omaha Children’s Museum

Make Believe Midnight at the Lincoln Children’s Museum

Countdown to the “Noon Year” Event at the Children’s Museum of Central Nebraska in Hastings

While Kearney, Norfolk and North Platte all have children’s museums or children’s discovery zones, none of them have any specific New Year’s Eve activities this year.  If you know of any additional optional New Year’s Eve activity for families in your area, please post it in the comments below or on the Odyssey Through Nebraska Facebook page.  However you celebrate, I hope you enjoy ringing in the new year!

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Would this not be a fun way to ring in the new year?  (School bell from Steele City in Nebraska.)  Image from Wikipedia

Categories: Annual Events, Frontier Trails, Lincoln, Metro, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

First Friday with Kids: Experiencing the International Quilt Study Center and Museum with Kids

Other than as bed coverings, one does not often think of quilts in conjunction with kids.  The International Quilt Study Center and Museum would like to change that.  And I think their quest has been successful so far.

Quilt folder

First of all, every child that visits can pick up a free folder that contains activities that correlates to the latest exhibits.  The current activities include a “Quilt Blocks” word search to find such terms as “Log Cabin” and “Flying Geese” with correlating pictures.  Going along with “The Secrets in Stitches” exhibit, the child can do a dot-to-dot that reveals a hidden shape.  Every time the students can choose to find their favorite quilt, describe it and even draw a picture to commit the quilt to memory.

Quilt Activity Center

An activity table with rotating projects sits out in the commons area.  (No, there are not crayons available in the actual quilt areas! So, moms, you can relax!  🙂  )

Quilt cart

While children cannot interact with the display quilts, the museum does not leave kinesthetic children behind.  A rolling cart is filled with activities that allow tactile learners to touch various types of quilts.  Piecing, applique, quilted and finished materials can be found in each mini drawer.  Not to mention quilt foam puzzles where each child can “create” a temporary masterpiece.

Other fun things about the museum:

The area full of doll quilts and furniture on the 3rd floor.    A few books and even a puzzle or two also can be found in this “research” area.

I must confess that one of my kids’ favorite parts of the museum does not involve fabric of any kind.

Quilt stairs

My kids love the stairs.  And I also must confess that if no one else is around, I might let them go up the stairs at a pace that is faster than a walk.

As far as the displays, children can actually visualize more in the pieces than what we give them credit for.  When I took my kids this summer, my daughter noticed shapes that I did not initially see (and a nearby quilt expert confirmed that she was correct).  My older kids enjoy the quilts without much explanation.  With younger kids, I try to play “I Spy” to keep them engaged.

Quilts stars and shapes

What shapes can you spy?  What colors can you see?  Easy questions for us, but they

You can even give your child an introduction to quilts before you visit.  Check out the online quilt explorer where you can “interact” with over 1,000 online quilts.  You can even “make your own” quilt online.   And if you happen to be a parent or an educator, you can also download curriculum, lesson plans and ideas on making the museum come alive for children.  Information is also available online for school group tours as well.  The website is full of ideas and information about quilts!

Quilts Lighted Sculpture

My kids also notice the beautiful outdoors statue every time we drive by.  When the intricate white sculpture is illuminated at night, the piece is even more lovely.  Tonight is the perfect night to see the place in person.  As I mentioned yesterday, the International Quilt Study Center and Museum is open later tonight.  You have an hour left to explore.  (Sorry – I meant to post this earlier, but I had outdoor clean-up to do today! 🙂

4 being thankful

And in case you want to check out other First Friday art walk events taking place in both Lincoln and Omaha, here are a bunch of links …

First Friday Information from the Lincoln Arts Council

First Friday in Downtown Lincoln

First Friday in the Lincoln Haymarket

First Friday in the Omaha Old Market

Omaha First Friday

Categories: Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Passport Pursuit Programs, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Off the Map: How did those Germans end up in Russia and then in Nebraska?

This is a bit of an unusual “Off the Map.”  Really the post could be titled “On the Move.”  Or forwarding address.  About the transition of strong German families from their homeland to Russia and eventually to here.  Many of them can be found in Nebraska, but of course there are “American Historical Society of Germans from Russia” chapters throughout the United States.

Last week this blog “visited” the official “American Historical Society Germans from Russia” museum.    I know the first time that we went to the museum several years ago my perceptions of who this place represented were a bit confused.  This group of people would consider themselves Germans despite the fact that they lived in Russia for a long while.

So, if they wanted to be German, why did they move to Russia?  The one word answer: destitution.  There was not enough land and a whole lot of war recovery going on.  (Fighting for one hundred years will do that!)  One unexpected person changed the plights of a weary people.  Former German princess and current Russian Empress, Catherine the Great.

AHSGR Catherine and peasant

Catherine the Great’s portrait close by a statue of woman whose life she changed by her giving of land.

With their large families, many Germans had outgrown their farms.  Catherine had an abundance of unplowed  land, and she needed occupants to fortify her country’s boundaries.     In 1863, she issued a life-changing manifesto on July 22nd.  I will give you a place to settle.  In return, you can make your own settlements, speak your own language and even have your own churches.  Plus you can leave at any time and do not have to even fight in Russian conflicts.    And this was for life, continuing on to even future generations.  This worked out well for all at first – she had people, they had land.  The German culture flourished for many years in the Volga River lands.

Until a few generations removed from Catherine.  Her grandsons were not so sure about this free land idea.  Or people in their country speaking different languages.  Russification was the order then – a blending of the conglomeration of people into a massive people group.  And not having people living in the country fight for Russia? Unheard of as is evidenced in the document below.    And since Russia fought Germany in both wars, this was a definite conflict of interest for these resettled Germans.

AHSGR Russia 1941 decree

While there was more of an influx of these “Germans from Russia” at certain times, really the immigration was often gradual.  Coming to America was not always easy.  For those who came earlier on, the promise of “free” land was helpful.  Yet being separated by 160 acres as was required for homesteaders did not make for a village.  The United States did provide opportunities for this group of downtrodden people but did still require a change of lifestyle and even language.

Enough people here in the United States have wanted to stay connected with these genealogical records that the “Germans from Russia” remain a strong group.  If you are interested in learning even more, definitely check out the museum in person or read the document at the link below.

This Friday provides even another interactive opportunity.  You can attend the Broda Dinner at the WSI Hall (1430 N. 10th St. in Lincoln) this Friday night, November 1st. Dinner will be served from 5-7 PM.  “Broda” meals are those that you put in the oven before going to Sunday service then enjoy after church.  (Yes – I had to ask.  But I recall eating many of these growing up!  Thank goodness for oven timers this day and age!)  Roast beef, potatoes, vegetables, rye bread, dessert and beverage will be served.  The cost for adults is $10 and children (12 & under) are only $5.  You can call for tickets in advance (402-489-2583 or 402-420-9580).  Or just show up at the door.

They will be having a quilt raffle.  Tickets for this will be available at the dinner.  If you want to see the quilt up close (beyond just the picture below), the beautifully crafted covering is on display at the museum.

AHSGR quilts

The “fan” quilt is on permanent display at the museum. The sunny yellow floral quilt is the one being raffled off.

A big thank you to the “American Historical Society of Germans from Russia” museum for letting me sneak in to take some updated pictures.  And for answering all of my questions right at closing time!

Additional research for this article was found at the NDSU “Germans from Russia Heritage Collection.”  Hopefully I summarized their information in an accurate way!

Categories: Nebraska History, Off the Map, People Behind the Place | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Riding” Tractors in the City (of Lincoln)

Did you guess our location from my pictures yesterday?

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Place at a Glance

Name/Location Larsen Tractor Test and Power Museum in Lincoln (UNL East Campus)
Website/Facebook UNL Tractor Museum; Larsen Tractor Museum on Facebook
Open hours Tuesday-Friday from 9 to 4; Saturdays from 10-2; closed major holidays
What to Know Mostly stroller accessible – (stairs to get inside but could use alt. entrance?)
Cost Donation
Parking Lot directly north of the white museum building
Group Tours Can definitely happen; smaller groups may work better
Museum Manners Do not climb on any tractors without permission (different guides have different expectations); no running as cement floors can be slippery
Recommended Ages About age 2 + to be able to sit on the tractors and really enjoy the fun

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One of the older tractors in the Museum.  Not exactly the same Ford Motor Company, but somebody happily borrowed the name.  Then produced some shoddy tractors.

A little history … the word “tractor” was not used in the general population until around 1906.  Around this time, they were being introduced to farmers and would have been widely successful.  Except for the fact that the machines broke down … A LOT!  A man named Wilmot Crozier had personal experience with this, so when he was elected to the Nebraska Legislature, he helped to pass the the Nebraska Tractor Bill.  This law required every tractor to be tested before being sold to the public.

This law was extended to other states.  In just under a century, 2,000 + tractors have been tested at the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory.  As this is the only test spot in the continental U.S., all tractor models must come here before they go to market.  This testing is usually done, partially by agricultural students, in the fall and winter.  The Tractor Museum Visitor’s Guide gives more details on the history and background of the tractor testing.

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The tractor test track is in the background.  Since the 0.4 mile track was not being used, the museum guys encouraged the kids to run the distance instead. I probably looked silly, but I jogged right along with them. 🙂

Although the museum part has been open for 15 years, the place was not exactly on my radar until I had boys.  We have now visited many times, and something about climbing on tractors never gets old for them.

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The huge room is filled with mostly tractors of every shape, color and size.  Some are easier to climb on and a few are more for just looking and enjoying.

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One of the few non-tractor machines.  A college professor used to drive this beauty daily to work.  And this car is only for looking, not for getting inside!

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One of my favorite thing about this museum is the retired gentlemen who give the tours.  My grandpa was a farmer, and as many of the guides are retired from farming in some way, these men remind me of conversations I had with my Grandpa Gus.  This gentleman had lived on a farm in his younger days, so he was telling my older boys all about his experiences driving these tractors when he was growing up.

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My daughter enjoyed the experience just as much as her brothers!

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This is the tractor that the kids are always free to climb in and “drive.”

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The room full of old-fashioned farming implements.  We will be exploring this sometime during the school year when we are studying pioneers.

P.S. For whatever reason, trying to find the exact location of the museum on UNL East Campus was a bit confusing to me as the white building is not directly on a main road.  Until I realized that the vertical stack is nearby.  Now I look for this every time and drive right there!

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The building directly behind the museum to the north.

Categories: Agriculture, Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Nebraska History, Wordless Wednesdays: Where Were We in Nebraska? | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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