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Week of the Young Child: Free, family friendly activities scheduled from April 18-May 4

Desmond Buermann enjoys some fresh popcorn during a local pow-wow; M State in Detroit Lakes will be hosting a Traditional Powwow on Thursday, May 4, from 5 to 7 p.m., as part of this year's Week of the Young Child celebration. (Submitted photo)1 / 9
The basement of the Becker County Museum is in the process of being converted into a science center, with activities geared toward children and families. (Submitted photo)2 / 9
Dads enjoy joining in the fun of Week of the Young Child activities with their children just as much as moms do. (Submitted photo)3 / 9
Pow-wows are a big part of growing up in area Native American communities; Cordelia Smith and Verena Buermann are wearing two different styles of dance outfits. M State in Detroit Lakes will be hosting a Traditional Powwow on Thursday, May 4, from 5 to 7 p.m.4 / 9
Verena Buermann is a frequent participant in local pow-wows; M State in Detroit Lakes will be hosting a Traditional Powwow on Thursday, May 4, from 5 to 7 p.m., as part of this year's Week of the Young Child celebration. (Submitted photo)5 / 9
Detroit Lakes' Week of the Young Child celebration has been expanded this year; activities start April 18 and continue through May 4. (Submitted photo)6 / 9
The Becker County Museum will be hosting a scavenger hunt and a variety of scientific activities during Week of the Young Child festivities on Tuesday, April 25.7 / 9
Clifford the Dog (and friends) hopped on board the imaginary train during last year's Week of the Young Child festivities. (Submitted photo)8 / 9
Activities held during Week of the Young Child are designed for parents and their preschool-aged children to enjoy together; all of this year's activities are being offered free of charge. (Submitted photo)9 / 9

Every year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children sponsors a weeklong celebration known as the Week of the Young Child, which brings public awareness to the importance of early childhood development and education.

In the Detroit Lakes area, the April 24-30 event has been expanded to include events taking place this week, as well as in early May.

"We have so many fun things planned that we couldn't fit them all in one week," says Detroit Lakes Early Childhood Family Education Coordinator Fran Rethwisch, who is a member of the Week of the Young Child planning committee.

The festivities kick off this Tuesday, April 18, with a "Big Rigs" event at the Detroit Lakes City Garage (508 Front St.). Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., kids and their parents can come tour some extra-large utility vehicles that will be on display, including a fire truck, sanitation truck, semi trailer truck, cement truck and ambulance.

Then on Thursday, April 20, the Detroit Lakes Public Library (1000 Washington Ave.) and Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School (601 4th St., Audubon) will both be hosting events.

According to children's librarian Jess Nanik, the local library will host a "Picture Book Putt Putt" from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

"We'll have a mini golf course set up in the basement of the library," said Nanik, adding that parents and kids can come to the library's front desk and sign up to reserve a set of golf clubs and balls for a specific time, then go through the course at that time.

"It's for all ages," she added. "As long as they can pick up a club, they can play." That evening, LP-A's ECFE program will be hosting a Dad's Night at the Audubon elementary school cafeteria from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

When the Week of the Young Child officially gets underway, daily activities are planned from Monday through Sunday, April 24-30.

On Monday, April 24, M State's Detroit Lakes campus (located at 900 State Highway 34) will host "Music with MacPhail" from 6 to 7 p.m. in the college's conference center.

Last fall, the Detroit Lakes School Readiness, Mahube-Otwa Head Start and Laker Prep School joined forces to obtain a music education grant through the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis.

"Since October, the kids have been participating in music sessions with MacPhail Center staff on Skype," Rethwisch explained. "That Monday, the teachers they have been Skyping with will be here with some instruments for the kids to listen to, and they'll play music for the kids to dance and sing along."

On Tuesday, April 25, the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center and the Becker County Museum will both be hosting events from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"We'll have science activities and a scavenger hunt," says the museum's programming director, Emily Buermann. "At the same time, the DLCCC will also be hosting free play time in the Backyard (the Center's three-story indoor playground)."

Because the museum and the DLCCC are conveniently located across the parking lot from each other on Summit Avenue, kids and their parents can go back and forth between the two facilities and spend as much time as they like to explore the activities available at each site, Buermann added.

On Wednesday, April 26, the library will be hosting Picture Book Craft Night from 3 to 5 p.m. According to Nanik, there will be a series of children's books set out at different stations, with a craft activity tailored to each book set up alongside.

"Kids (and their parents) can read the book, then do the craft for each book, or they can just do the crafts, or read the books," Nanik said. "They can just drop in for 10 minutes, or stay for an hour." On Thursday, April 27, Vergas's Trowbridge Creek Zoo will be bringing some of their animals to the Lincoln Education Center (home of Detroit Lakes' ECFE program, at 204 Willow St. E.) between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

According to Rethwisch, anyone who visits the Vergas zoo on Saturday, April 29 can mention the Week of the Young Child and receive a discount on admission. Visit www.trowbridgecreekzoo.com for details.

On Thursday, April 27, the library will be hosting Storytime for kids preschool age and younger from 10:30 to 11 a.m., and then on Friday, April 28 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., there will be a special "Baby Bounce" Storytime designed specifically for kids between 0-18 months of age.

"We do rhymes and bouncing, sing songs and of course, read books," says Nanik. "It's all geared toward very young children."

Also on Thursday, April 27, the Washington Square Mall will be hosting its annual Week of the Young Child Spring Fest from 3 to 5 p.m.

"We have more than 20 booths signed up, and counting," says Rethwisch. "There will be preschool activities set up, along with information about all the resources available."

La Barista is providing refreshments, and there will also be pizza served for all parents and children in attendance.

"We will also have an introduction to our Born Learning Trail, with activity stations set up for interactive parent and child activities focused on literacy and movement," Rethwisch added.

On Friday, April 28, the gymnasium at Lincoln Education Center will be open from 10:30-11:30 a.m. for kids and their parents; the Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics program staff will also be offering a fun parent-child interactive activity.

The 7th Annual Detroit Lakes Bicycle Rodeo is also set from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 29 at Kent Freeman Arena (1300 Rossman Ave.).

The annual Model Train Show at the Washington Square Mall will be open throughout the weekend for kids and their parents to explore together as well. The show's scheduled hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 30.

Last but not least, there will be a Traditional Powwow at the M State Conference Center (Room C101) on Thursday, May 4 from approximately 5 to 7 p.m.

According to Buermann, the county museum and White Earth Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) are co-sponsoring the event, which will include a free Community Feast at 5 p.m. and the Grand Entry at 6 p.m.

"We will be bringing in some folks from White Earth Natural Resources to talk about how wild rice is harvested, as well as the impact of pollution on the annual crop," she added. "Wild rice will also be served during the feast."

Buermann added that local early childhood education providers will also be doing some Native American-themed educational activities leading up to the May 4 event, such as what the regalia and dances included in the traditional powwow really mean.

"This event is designed to bridge the gap between the two (native and non-native) communities," she said. "It's a great opportunity to ask questions about the traditions of the powwow."

Both Buermann and Rethwisch noted that the Week of the Young Child is "a great way to bring together the communities in this area to have some fun and celebrate our children." For more information, contact the Lincoln Education Center offices at 218-847-4418.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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