By Erika Webb
Kids will be kids; some adults will be kids, too. Others have to be gently persuaded. Linsey Fasold believes in calling forth the wide-eyed child who exists in everyone and inviting each to play. Learning happens automatically.
The Light House Children's Museum is now open at 100 E. New York Ave. in DeLand. It's a place for kids aged 1 to 101 to enjoy "an enriching atmosphere where families, schoolchildren and friends can come to interact through play," according to the museum's website.
Light, in this case, is an acronym for: Learning, Inspiring, Growing, Helping, Together.
And that's how it works.
Ms. Fasold grew up in Minnesota where the then small Minnesota Children's Museum captured her attention and set her imagination free.
That small museum eventually grew to fill a four story building, she said.
She moved to Deltona six years ago and kept thinking downtown DeLand would be the perfect place to recreate her early learning experiences for those in DeLand, Deltona Orange City and surrounding areas to appreciate.
"That's what we had growing up. I have five kids and wanted something to do with them," Mrs. Fasold said. "I thought wouldn't it be great if someone did that? I found this building and it turned out I was the 'someone'."
She and her husband, Robert, are directors of the non-profit endeavor aimed at fostering positive family time.
"As parents we're looking to fill our kids' heads with specific things and sometimes we forget to step back and let the kids show us their world," Ms. Fasold explained.
The 5,000-square-foot main floor of the former SouthTrust Bank is filling up with ways to do just that.
Numerous exhibits provide opportunities for learning while engaging in the wonders of natural phenomena.
"From the sun during the day and the moon at night, our world is illuminated," the museum's website notes.
As the name implies the exhibit contains lights, lights and more lights, "from black lights illuminating plexi-glass rods to glow in the dark art work!"
Our World in Motion
Since kids are in perpetual motion, always learning, the exhibit lets them explore the concept of movement; it's filled with ramps, puzzles and all sorts of interactive displays to teach kids about motion.
Then there's Mirror rorriM.
"From the time of infancy we are fascinated with mirrors and our reflection. In this exhibit we will give the children an opportunity to explore more through their own reflective creations," the website states.
Windy days tousle hair and toss leaves and dust about. Overhead, clouds amble by.
"In the Wind exhibit children will be able to explore the wonders of wind in our air tubes, wind tunnel and other blustery activities," the website promises.
Light House wants to include every individual, even the tiniest family members.
"In Tot Town we have created a world that will promote growth of their gross motor skills using their five senses. With interactive art work, the Lily Pad Pond and a 3D fishing hole, the babies of the family won't have any time to fuss," according to the website.
Drip, Drip, Drop
Whether at the beach or standing in the rain, water is all around. The water exhibit allows children to explore bubble making, race foam boats down a water ramp, run through a water-free car wash and play in the lazy boat river.
Kids get to be a local police officer, a doctor at the hospital, own their own restaurant or run the local grocery store.
Many of the museum's exhibits and activities were inspired by things the Fasolds saw or experienced in different places. They recreated and tweaked those ideas.
"A lot of it was from our kids," Mrs. Fasold said. "We sat down and asked them what they would like to do, how they would like to play. They drew up some pictures and we kind of went off of those."
With children aged 11, 10 and 7, and 2-year-old twins, a broad range of ideas and interests were shared.
"Tot Town came from having toddlers," Mrs. Fasold said. "Everywhere we'd go they'd just get trampled, so we made a room specifically for toddlers to go and play."
The Tree of Imagination is one of the first things children see when they enter The Light House. On its branches hang costumes to be worn in The Neighborhood.
Among them are construction-worker garb, an apron and a veterinarian's lab coat.
Mrs. Fasold said the build-out took about three months. The museum has been open for a month, but the couple wisely used a huge downtown DeLand event to spark interest and conversation about their venture before officially opening.
"During the art festival, we opened the doors to give people a taste of what was coming and we got really good feedback," Mrs. Fasold said. "It's been very steady and we've heard from a lot of teachers who are excited to share it with their schools for field trips."
Group rates will be offered to home schoolers as well as to public and private schools and daycare facilities, she said.
The birthday party room, complete with tables and ready-to-paint pottery purchased from the owners of Clay Pigeons, was just completed. Partygoers get to spend an hour and 15 minutes in the party room but may play in the museum for as long as the party is scheduled.
Two and a half rooms in the museum will feature a variety of educational exhibits.
The topiary display is of the Everglades, but every six months the exhibits will change, "to keep things fresh," Mrs. Fasold said.
And since the museum is not for profit, she said volunteers, monetary donations and items to be used in the educational exhibits are needed and appreciated.
One type of connectivity is encouraged at The Light House while another type is not.
"We're probably the only place in Volusia County you're not going to get Wi-Fi," Mrs. Fasold said. "We don't want parents to come in and sit on the phone. The kids are saying watch me, play with me, interact with me and we tend to put them in front of the TV or give them our phone. I've done it."
Frenzied parents may just end up thanking her for what she's not providing. She's already seen plenty of positive results.
"They come in and they love it," Mrs. Fasold said. "They realize how much they can interact with their kids and by the time they leave they've had just as much fun as their children have. It's just that place we can all be kids again, I guess."
For hours, admission prices and group rates, call (386) 320-4575 or visit LHCMuseum.org.