By Calie Joy Herbst Special to Published Mar 06, 2014 at 11:41 AM
It's been a rough winter, even for hardened Wisconsinites like us. If the frigid temperatures have kept you and your kids inside, you may want to check out the latest green-built exhibit at the Betty Brinn's Children's Museum for a taste of the outdoors. 

The "Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl: Home Sweet Home" exhibit aims to help children learn about and appreciate natural resources, but I learned a few things myself. I never knew, for example, that the Smokey Bear icon was named after an actual cub who was badly burned from a New Mexico forest fire in 1950. Thankfully, he was rescued, and his image sparked the well-known nationwide campaign for outdoor enthusiasts to be more responsible.

Kids as young as two and as old as eight or nine will love exploring realistic woodland settings like the Ranger Station, where they can dress up as park rangers, work the radio and learn about natural resources through an interactive video kiosk.

Young visitors will learn the importance of protecting the environment through a variety of hands-on activities. They can practice using a rain barrel, sorting recycling and conserving electricity with a light-up generator in the playhouse. They can even visit a campsite, where they can snooze in a tent, build a fire, fish in a rowboat and roast marshmallows.

For kids who just need to burn off some energy, the exhibit is lined with tree trunk tunnels, balance beams and a mini rock wall. There's also a nature-inspired pinball machine that kept some children occupied for quite some time. Others will enjoy working with quiet activities like the large 3D nature puzzle, tree trunk building blocks and wind machine.

The exhibit runs through Sunday, May 4, and is included in the price of admission to the museum. You can find out more here.

Calie Joy Herbst Special to
Calie Herbst is a teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools and editor of She received a Bachelors in Spanish and Sociology from UW-Madison and a Masters of Teaching Spanish from Marquette.

She has travelled extensively through the Spanish-speaking world, but her favorite place in the world is Milwaukee. She lives in Bay View with her husband, two year old son, Hudson and her two dogs. She and her family love to check out the latest events in Milwaukee and spend time at their cabin in Winter, Wis.

In her free time, her ideal self enjoys doing yoga, reading one book a week, and cooking with organic, local foods. Her real self just ends up watching terrible reality television.