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No building, but that doesn’t hold museum back

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Explore Some More Children’s Museum doesn’t have four walls in Lakewood Ranch yet. But that hasn’t stopped the museum from taking its show on the road.

A nonprofit started in October 2008 by Lori Bollinger, the museum’s goal has been to find a location of 5,000 square feet or more in or around Lakewood Ranch to provide fun and interactive learning experiences for young children and their families.

Bollinger got the idea for a children’s museum when she realized how much her own daughter, Jordan, now 7, has learned from children’s museums around the country.

At the end of January, the museum spent several mornings at the Sprouts Child Development Center, a school for 2- to 5-year-olds at Harvest United Methodist Church.

“The children came in and we did one class at a time,” said Bollinger, who relies on volunteers from the Friendship Volunteer Center to help put on the museum’s programs. “We talked about dinosaurs and had the children pretend they were paleontologists looking for bones from a Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

To help them learn how to identify bones, the children were taught about their own bones.

The highlight of the classes, perhaps, was the manufacturing of dinosaur eggs from Ivory soap. A tiny dinosaur was imbedded in each scoop of soap, which was then modeled into an egg. When the children got home and took their baths, the tiny dinosaur would eventually “hatch” out of the egg, Bollinger said.

The classes are designed to make the youngsters think while having fun, said Jennifer Murphy, co-director of Sprouts.

“It was fantastic,” Murphy said. “It was engaging and educational all in one.”

A children’s museum in Lakewood Ranch would be patronized by hundreds of parents, Murphy speculated.

“If we had it, I think parents would be going there all the time,” Murphy said. “In this community, moms are always looking for educational things for their kids can do.

“They can provide opportunities for hand-on things,” Murphy added. “Lori does things that are age appropriate. If they can do something fun, age-appropriate and educational I think it will be a huge hit.”

Explore Some More Children’s Museum is hosting two upcoming fundraisers with the hopes of getting closer to the goal of a permanent home.

The nonprofit will be featured during Music on Main, scheduled 6-9 p.m. April 2 with proceeds from the event going to the museum’s future building plans.

The museum will host its second annual Kid’s Festival 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 1 at Greenbrook’s Adventure Park. It features a carnival and about 25 family-oriented vendors, Bollinger said.

“Last year we had more than 1,000 turn out for Kid’s Festival,” Bollinger said. “It’s a carnival with music and games.” A rain date is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 8.

To contact Bollinger about the museum, call (941) 524-7034.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.