When the cold, dark days of winter approach, Sandhill cranes migrate to warmer climes. Yellow-pine chipmunks go into a state of torpor, waking up every five to seven days to eat from their food stores. In parts of the state, long-tailed weasels change their color from brown to white, and keep on hunting.
Meanwhile the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture shifts to a new season of education, with cold-weather related activities for kids all over the building. Winter activities run from Friday, Nov. 29 through Jan. 5. They go from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends until Dec. 23, when they start going from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
For example, in the second alcove, near the biology section, there are activity sheets on how different local animals survive the winter, a maze for the path of the sandhill crane. On the fourth floor, near the paleontology collections and next to the paleontology open lab, there’s an Ice Age activity area with stamps and a play table with wooden ice age animals. Over near archaeology there’s a dramatic play hearth, where kids can play at combining local ingredients to make meals.
Andy Clark, Youth and Family Programs manager for the Burke Museum says that the hands-on activities help kids make connections with the surrounding exhibits.
“There’s a real mammoth in the galleries there. You’re not just playing with a mammoth on paper,” she says.
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, and from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, there will be daily Arctic storytime at 11 a.m., with items from the museum’s collection that kids can touch, including a walrus tusk, a sperm whale tooth, orca teeth, polar bear fur, a harbor seal pelt, and baleen. From 2 to 3 p.m., kids can participate in a “blubber glove” experiment, feeling what icy water feels like with and without a layer of blubber.
And there’s lot to explore in the museum itself, which reopened in October in a bigger space, with places where the public can watch researchers at work. (For more information, check out this story.)
“It’s amazing being in this epic space,” Clark says.
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
4300 15th Ave. N.E.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on First Thursdays.)
Tickets $22 for adults, $14 for youth aged 4-17