Jackson County Early Explorers will transform the vocational building at Cedar Lakes into an interactive and educational playroom for children ages 1-7.

The playroom will be open from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, throughout the month of February.

“We are very excited to expand the playroom to offer new play-based learning opportunities to children,” playroom organizer Cheryl Miller said. “Last year families really enjoyed having a place to play with friends during the cold winter days when outdoor activities are limited.”

The playroom will feature Tiny Town, a child-size model of a community including an ice cream shop, bakery, post office, a car wash, park area, and veterinarian’s office.

“Role playing allows children to learn about their world around them,” Miller said. “It is through this interaction they work with other children to learn problem solving and communication skills.”

The playroom will also feature opportunities for children to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities. Art materials will be available for children to create their own masterpieces. Special projects will rotate daily including a collaborative quilt project, explore color exhibit and engineering challenges.

“Children learn best through age-appropriate play,” Miller said. “By making learning fun, you open the door to instill a life-long love for learning.”

The playroom is ran entirely on volunteers from the community.

“High School students and early childhood education students from WVU-P and Roane-Jackson Technical Center are paired with retired educators to gain valuable mentorship and help to provide a service to families in our region,” Miller said.

The Winter WONDERland playroom attracted over 500 unique visits by children under seven last year.

“We anticipate that this year’s event will be bigger and better than last year,” Miller said. “We look forward to seeing our friends from last year and meeting new families.”

Special sensory hours will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 to accommodate children who would benefit from a quieter environment. Families must register in advance to participate by calling 304-315-2151 or email jcearlyexplorers@gmail.com.

Memberships that cover entrance into all play sessions are available for $20/child or $35/for two or more children. Memberships may be purchased at the Community Foundation of Jackson County (108 N. Church Street, Ripley) or at the main office at Cedar Lakes on Feb 1, 4, and 6 during play hours. Members may go directly to the vocational building without stopping at the main office. There is no cost for accompanying caregivers. An adult must remain with child at all times.

The Early Explorers have began to transition to Appalachian Children’s Museum in preparation of occupying a permanent space in Jackson County to offer year-round programming to families in the region.

“These playroom projects give families and community leaders a small glimpse of what a children’s museum would look like and demonstrate the need for this type of programming in our region. We are thrilled to receive support to continue it until we are able have a permanent space,” Miller said.

The Explorers received grants from the Clay Center and the Jackson County Community Foundation to fund the project.

For more information about the playroom, visit acmwv.com.