A new exhibit at the Long Island Children's Museum centers around Mo Willems and his beloved characters. Visitors to the exhibit, which is open through May 14, can look for their favorite characters in the laundry machines, sound like Piggy and Elephant at the telephone booth, draw their own characters at the light tables and more.  Credit: Morgan Campbell

Amicus Phillips, 5, of Uniondale, high-fived his mother, Keshia Beckford, 44, after he accomplished an arcade-style challenge at the Long Island Children’s Museum — catapulting a foam hot dog through a moving hoop.

The carnival-style game is part of a traveling exhibit called “The Pigeon Comes to Long Island! A Mo Willems Exhibit” that opened recently at the Garden City museum and is included with admission through May 14. All of the games are interactive and feature the cartoon characters from Willems’ books — the hot dog game is a nod to his 2004 book “The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog!”

Kingston Sun, 5, from Jericho plays a hot dog throwing...

Kingston Sun, 5, from Jericho plays a hot dog throwing game at the Mo Willems exhibit at The Long Island Children's Museum in Westbury on Friday, Jan. 20. Credit: Morgan Campbell

“Mo Willems is the Dr. Seuss of this era,” says Margo Malter, director of exhibits for the museum. “I used to teach preschool before I worked here, and his books were incredibly popular.”

The books emphasize kindness, best friends and gratitude, says Maureen Mangan, director of communications for the museum. “Good messages we have to keep reinforcing,” she adds. She says she hopes that experiencing the characters come to life will encourage children to want to check the books out of the library and read.

The Pigeon Comes to Long Island! A Mo Willems Exhibit

WHEN | WHERE During museum hours at the Long Island Children's Museum, 11 Davis Ave, Garden City

COST Included with museum admission of $17 for ages 1 to 64 and $16 for 65 and older. Babies younger than 12 months are free.

INFO 516-224-5800, licm.org

Amicus Phillips, 5, of Uniondale, plays a ducking cookie game...

Amicus Phillips, 5, of Uniondale, plays a ducking cookie game at the Mo Willems exhibit at The Long Island Children's Museum in Garden City on Friday, Jan. 20. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Her goal seems to already have reached at least one child — Stella Chen, 5, of Hicksville. Already reading on her own, Stella picked up one of the books on display at the exhibit called “Waiting is Not Easy!” and sat reading it on a bench. Willems’ books also will be for sale at the museum store.

Here's what else children — and their caregivers — can enjoy at the new offering:

  • “Drive” around the exhibit in a wearable cardboard bus. Willems’ first book, in 2003, was “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” It introduced the silly city bird.
  • Spin the Laundromat washing machine and search for Knuffle Bunny and other characters caught among the clothes. In Willems’ 2004 book “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale,” a child and his father accidentally put the stuffed bunny in the wash. “I found the pigeon,” shouted Naomi Arevalo, 8, of Hempstead, to her twin sister, Sara, during their recent visit to the museum.
  • Dress Wilbur in different clothing and turn hand cranks to send him down a fashion runway — Wilbur starred in the 2009 book “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.”
  • Play a plinko-style game in a quest to get a cookie to Duckling from the 2012 book “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?” “I got it two times,” says Kingston Sun, 5, of Jericho, mesmerized by the pulley style system he operated to move the cookie up a board.
  • Make best friends Elephant and Piggie dance using zoetrope animation a la Willems 2009 book “Elephants Cannot Dance!”
  • Build Leonardo from the 2005 book “Leonardo the Terrible Monster” by stacking lightweight blocks that illustrate his head or his body.
  • Trace Willems' characters at the light table or follow Willems’ step-by-step video instructions to draw Pigeon freehand.
  • A variety of craft workshops will be offered for free during designated days, allowing children to make such items as a pigeon with movable wings, a Wilbur puppet, a spinning washing machine and more.

To complement the exhibit, the museum theater will feature Willems' newest production "Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The Musical!" from Feb. 11 to March 25  and Elephant & Piggie’s “We are in a Play!” from April 23 to June 3. The shows entail an additional fee — $9 for ages 3 and older in addition to museum admission, and $12 for theater only. Visit licm.org for show times.

Here are some other programs for families happening this winter at Long Island museums: 

Cradle of Aviation

An engineer who works on autonomous flying vehicles. An information technology specialist involved with cybersecurity. These are the kind of professionals that teenagers will interact with during a new, free career information series at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

Students in eighth grade through high school can attend any or all of Long Island STEM Hub Career Conversations, which are scheduled for 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays in the museum’s theater on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard. The next session, on Feb. 11, will focus on manufacturing. The remaining five sessions will each address a different career path, including energy, aviation, life and environmental science, engineering or health care.

Each session will feature industry professionals and representatives from Long Island colleges and universities that offer majors in related areas. The sessions will help students know what classes they should focus on in high school to prepare them for a STEM major in college.

“We’re not getting people relocating from Kansas to Long Island on a regular basis because of the cost of living,” says Andrew Parton, president of the Cradle of Aviation. “The hope is that this opens up some eyes, and with the kids a light bulb goes off. You can go to school here on Long Island, and you can get a good job here on Long Island in these industries.” 

Advance registration is required at either listemhub.org or cradleofaviation.org.

The Whaling Museum

See a real Narwhal whale tusk and whale blubber, experience story time with Elsa, enjoy complimentary ice cream and more during the first ever Narwhal Ball on Feb. 19 at The Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor.

"We transform the museum into a winter wonderland," says Gina Van Bell, assistant director. Participants in this full-day event will also create frosty crafts and go on an arctic scavenger hunt through the museum galleries. 

The Narwhal Ball takes place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and is $20 per child ages 2 to 17, $8 per adult and $6 per senior ages 62 and older. A limited number of timed entry tickets are for sale in advance. The museum is at 301 Main St. For more information, call 631-367-3418 or visit cshwhalingmuseum.org.

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