Build It! Architecture for Kids

There are lots of hidden gems in Cincinnati, and one of my favorite things to do with my kids is to discover and explore new-to-me places.

Tucked on picturesque, brownstone-lined Clark Street in Cincinnati’s West End is The Betts House, Ohio’s oldest brick home. This home was in 1804 by William Betts, who hand-crafted all of the bricks himself.

Back in the 1800s, the house was situated on a 111-acre working farm. Back then Western Row, today’s Central Avenue, was a quiet lane leading into the Betts’ farm (which was apparently known for its peaches).

The Betts House entered my radar as I was logging events into the Cincinnati Parent Calendar. Right now, there’s a special exhibit at The Betts House, which, once I read about, knew I had to check out.

Build It! Architecture for Kids offers fun activities on construction concepts for children. The exhibit is on loan from archKIDecture of Chicago until August 22 — so you have to act fast if you want to see it!

The exhibit consists of nine modules presenting architectural subjects including roofs, tools and shapes. Build It! encourages children to interact with each module, either on their own or by collaborating with other children or adults. Designed for children age three to twelve, the exhibit promotes visual literacy with activities on shapes, color and symmetries and provides hands-on opportunities for children to explore architecture and construction.

Kids can design a tree house, decorate a skyscraper, create a floor plan and build with nuts/bolts. Brightly colored, child-sized modules explore math concepts by using tessellations, ornament design, symmetry, scale, proportion, shapes, structures and composition. Through the manipulation of materials, children will be empowered to build, draw and create.

As someone with two English degrees, I loved how this exhibit presented STEM/STEAM in action. I think it’s important for kids (especially girls) to learn about engineering and math in a fun, hands-on way.

Julian is obsessed with building, and his personal hero is Iggy Peck of Andrea Beaty’s Iggy Peck, Architect. One of the “modules” was a bridge-building activity where we could design and construct our own suspension bridge with popsicle sticks and rubber bands. Julian, of course, wanted me to build this one:

But, he settled for the “train bridge” I made:

Truth be told, Harvey was a little young for this — but he’s always up for trying new things!

Build It! Architecture for Kids runs through August 22 at The Betts House (416 Clark Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45203). The museum is open Tuesday – Thursday from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, and every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month from 12:30 pm – 5:00 pm. Your best bet is to call ahead of time (513-651-0734) just to make sure you’re good to go!

A $2 donation/guest is requested, and parking is free on Clark Street (or you can use the street parking or garage on Central Pkwy). There’s lots of learning to go around at this historic Ohio house.



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