Who says learning has to be boring and stuffy, or even in a classroom? As we get older, we start to look back and understand that sometimes the best things in life are learned through hands-on exploration, play, and even imagination! At Kaleideum in Winston-Salem (pronounced kull-EYE-dee-um), learning about the world in which we live is designed to engage visitors of all ages and to keep the smiles coming!
“Kaleideum” may sound funny, yet familiar. It gets its name from the popular kaleidoscope toys constructed with mirrors and colored glass, and beads. If you’ve ever used one before, you’ll know how when you peer into one end of it. Gently twist or rotate the kaleidoscope, you’ll see an ever-changing colorful array of shapes that shift into a brand new picture every time it moves.
Kaleideum strives to embody the same kind of ever-changing, engaging, and colorful experience as a kaleidoscope,. Piquing curiosity and encouraging guests of all ages to continue exploring and making discoveries! Like a kaleidoscope, the world around us is constantly moving and shifting. This fabulous learning environment helps to teach each visitor something new about the world in which we live.
While the name “Kaleideum” is relatively new to the Winston-Salem scene, the organization itself has roots in the Junior League nearly sixty years ago. When the idea of a permanent nature science center was proposed by four female members. What began as the Nature Science Center eventually morphed into SciWorks and moved into the location that today is known as Kaleideum North.
In downtown Winston Salem, the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem opened in 2004. In the years following, they received several awards and grants, allowing them to expand their exhibits and better serve families.
Only a few years ago, in 2016, SciWorks and The Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem merged into one organization creatively titled Kaleideum. A combination of “kaleidoscope” and “museum.” Today, its two locations offer an abundance of opportunities for interactive play and discovery right here in our backyard! Their mission is to inspire wonder, curiosity, and lifelong learning through the overlapping lenses of literacy, the arts, and STEM. Basically, their goal is to make learning FUN!
Two unique locations: Kaleideum North and Kaleideum Downtown.
Kaleideum Downtown has a bunch of popular permanent exhibits. Including a few that are designed for kids who love to climb! The colorful outdoor Kaleidoscape is a massive, crocheted structure perfect for physical exploration. Inside, the Beanstalk Climber connects the first and second floors. It’s perfect for a fantastical adventure with plenty of imagination.
They also have The Prop Shop. Which has over 1,000 square feet of “maker space.” There, guests can tap into their inner-creator to do some hands-on designing and tinkering with a variety of craft materials. The Enchanted Forest is a “forest village of folklore, fantasy, and fairy tales,” ideal for tapping into every imagination and encouraging play and storytelling. Food Lion Supermarket is a wonderful exhibit where kids can take control of buying groceries as they shop for “fresh” fruits and veggies, prepare them over toy ovens, and even practice exchanging money and interacting with a cash register. Those who love a sweet treat will definitely get a kick out of the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Factory, where kids can send plastic doughnuts down an assembly line, collect and pack them into boxes, and pack them into a delivery truck.
Kaleideum North’s exhibits are totally different from Kaledium Downtown, so it’s practically two museums in one! (Genuinely, pay for admission at one location, bring your receipt to the other and get same-day admission!) Kaleideum North exhibits include BioWorks, which features the museum’s small collection of live animals. Also, HealthWorks, which teaches all about human biology. Mountains to Sea lets kids explore the beauty and science behind North Carolina environments. Meanwhile, KidsWorks is a space specifically for smaller kids ages 5 and under to enjoy. There’s also a nature trail and a children’s garden where kids can get their hands dirty (literally.) But don’t miss the butterfly and hummingbird garden! Watch some of North Carolina’s native pollinators at work!
Another unique draw of Kaleideum North is their incredible planetarium. Here, enjoy a close-up look at the night sky even in the middle of the day! They regularly show educational programs projected onto their 50-foot dome! The designated audience for their shows ranges from preschool to adults. Plus, they have Music Laser Specials on the weekend. Enjoy 15-20 minutes of spectacular, colorful lasers set to your favorite music by popular artists like Beyonce, Queen, Taylor Swift, The Beatles, and so much more!
If you have a dino-lover in your life, then you’re definitely going to want to schedule a trip to Kaleideum North soon, as their newest traveling exhibit is called “Dino Discovery” and brings you face-to-face with animatronic dinosaur models!! Get a good look at different dinosaurs like triceratops, stegosaurus, albertosaurus, and so many more, and try your hands at paleontology at their digital fossil dig!
While spending a day at Kaleideum is a perfect way to pass some time, they also offer plenty of other opportunities to engage with their team and take advantage of their facilities!
Camp Kaleideum takes place over the summer and is for kids in PreK through 8th grade. Each camp is a week-long and themed with fun and relevant subjects like Bricks and Bots, Gotta Catch ‘Em All, Monsters and Mermaids, Fantastic Beasts, Code and Create, and so many more. It’s the perfect way to keep kids learning throughout the summer months. While knowing they are in safe and incredibly capable hands!
Exploring alongside your kids is one of the best parts of having them. But sometimes you need a little grown-up time. Kaleideum’s got it covered! Their Parents’ Night Out gives kids a place to hang, play, and maybe even make a mess while you are free to do…well, whatever you want! And don’t worry about dinner; at Parents’ Night Out, Kaleideum provides kids pizza and snacks.
Kaleideum’s Little Innovators program is another unique way to get your kiddos excited about learning! It helps equip little ones with interdisciplinary and hands-on STEAM activities that include activities focusing on storytelling, project-based learning, discovery, and exploration. Plus, grown-ups get to play along, too!
Kaleideum (and all of its previous incarnations) has been an important part of the Winston-Salem community for over 60 years. It isn’t going anywhere! The team behind Kaleideum has reimagined the organization and is working on a brand-new location in the heart of downtown. This new version of Kaleideum is the embodiment of the belief that when a community engages in a rich learning environment alongside people who may look, think, or believe differently from us, our learning and our ability to appreciate the viewpoints of others become much deeper.
The new Kaleideum will serve as a highly accessible community hub. Standing 5 stories tall and featuring 9 brand-new exhibits that allow for multiple types of engagement for learners of all ages and abilities. Be on the lookout for it to open in late 2023/early 2024!
For now, be sure to check out Kaleideum Downtown and Kaleideum North for a playful exploration of learning, discovery, and fun. Be sure to bring your camera – you’ll be making lots of great new memories together!
If you’re looking for another way to enjoy parenthood, why not book some pictures? I am a Winston-Salem-based photographer who loves taking pictures that let you hang onto these gorgeous memories for years to come. If you’ve considered scheduling a photo session for your little one, then I’d love to connect! Contact me today to find out more.