It’s Back! The most fun your entire family will have this summer is returning to the Hands On Children’s Museum (HOCM) late June through August. The Summer Splash! Festival of Fun presented by WSECU will once again give your entire family a whole summer worth of fun and learning. This year’s theme is Big Adventures, sponsored by Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry, and HOCM has new exhibits as well as returning favorites to give you a summer you will never forget. Make your reservations online today!

Summer Long Fun

Hands on Childrens Museum Summer Splash Bouldering on the beach
Bouldering on the Beach is one of the new, just-opened exhibits that will delight kids of all ages during Summer Splash! 2021 at the Hands On Children’s Museum. Photo courtesy: Hands On Children’s Museum

Kick-off summer in a big way with the new Bouldering on the Beach exhibit. The fun new experience features a large boulder, along with other climbing elements, that kids of all ages can explore. Free climbing helps kids learn balance, confidence, and how to “feel” with their hands. Plus, it’s just fun! “It’s designed so that young kids of different heights can climb on the boulder and surrounding elements,” explains Amy Ginsburg, senior development manager at Hands On Children’s Museum. If your kid is into climbing and exploring, this new exhibit is definitely for them.

Dedicated to former long-time HOCM staff member Hannah Steinweg McDonald who unexpectedly passed away in December, Bouldering on the Beach will open mid to late June and will stay open throughout Summer Splash! and beyond.

Does your child like to dig in the dirt? HOCM is bringing two other new exhibits that are perfect for the adventurer or dinosaur lover in your family—and, seriously, who doesn’t love dinosaurs? The first one, Sluicing for Treasures, is sponsored by Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry and will be in the Outdoor Discovery Center all summer. At this large water exhibit, your child will get to sluice for treasures, which is similar to panning. Kids place a scoop of “rough” (a type of sand), in their hand-held sluice and shake it back and forth while under flowing water to reveal treasures. Treasure bags will be available for purchase and scoops of rough that may contain a treasure will be available for free. There will be gems as well as fossils hiding in the rough for kids to find.

The other new exhibit is the Dino Dig, which is also located in the Outdoor Discovery Center in the Puget Sound Beach. Here, your little adventurer can learn how to be an archeologist, digging in the dirt for dinosaur bones! This exhibit will be at the Museum year-round.

Have an art lover in the family? This year’s collaborative art project for the summer is the Scribble Stone River (sponsored by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc). Children who enjoy creative crafts will love this fun exhibit, also outside. There will be rocks and plenty of materials to decorate them with, including markers and paints. “Kids will be encouraged to make a rock to take home, but also to leave one so that, together, families can build a stone river over the course of the summer,” shares Ginsburg.  “We are really excited about it.”

Hands on Childrens Museum Summer Splash Sluicing
Similar to panning for gold, Sluicing for Treasures is a fun new exhibit the whole family will enjoy. Photo courtesy: Hands On Children’s Museum

In both July and August, visiting artists (sponsored by TAS Architecture) will be at the Hands On Children’s Museum on select days, with crafts and science activities for kids of all ages including native cedar art with Mary Jane Ides, Olympia Poet Laureate Ashly McBunch, and native storytelling with Itsa Shash.  And of course, your child won’t want to miss the Tinker Fairy, who will be making a special appearance both months as well.

Returning this year is Sock Skating (sponsored by Heritage Bank) indoors, on the second level, which is a family favorite. And also Mud Pie Mondays (sponsored by Lucky Eagle Casino & Resort), because what kid doesn’t like an excuse to get dirty and make some mud pies?

Monthly Special Guests and Activities 

Along with the awesome activities that will be going on throughout the summer, July and August are packed with special guests and activities.

For July, kids can set sail for adventures with the new take on the Cork Boat Regatta, a Sailboat Regatta (sponsored by Dairy Queen). Kids can make and then race their very own sailboats.

Back by popular demand in July and August, kids can try their might and courage on the rock-climbing wall. Harnesses and trained professionals are provided to give kids a taste of adventure at new heights!

In August, Solar Days (sponsored by South Sound Solar) are returning as well. There will be tons of fun sun-related activities including solar oven and sun art demonstrations.


  • Bubble Mania July 1-31
  • Native Cedar Art with Mary Jane Ides, July 9-10
  • Olympia Poet Laureate, Ashly McBunch
  • Rock Climbing Wall July 23-24
  • Tinker Fairy July 24 (11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Native Storytelling with Itsa Shash, July 29 (10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.)
  • Beehive Science with Lynn Brunelle July 31
  • Sailboat Regatta July 27-August 1
Hands on Childrens Museum Summer Splash Dino Dig
Let your adventurous child dig in the dirt and discover dinosaur bones in the new Dino Dig exhibit at HOCM’s Summer Splash! Photo courtesy: Hands On Children’s Museum


  • Sapling Structures August 1-31
  • Nature Painting with Isobel Coney August 6-7
  • Rock Climbing Wall August 13-14
  • Tinker Fairy, August 14 (11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Painting with Mimi William, August 26-28
  • Solar Days August 27-28
  • Olympia Poet Laureate, Ashly McBunch, August 29 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.)

End the summer with some fun for the adults with the Summer Splash! Gala (sponsored by Olympia Federal Savings) August 20. This year’s Gala, “Fancy-Pants Picnic,” will be an upscale, outdoor evening picnic for as many as 400 people as well as an online silent auction. Whether you attend the Gala or not, you are encouraged to bid on the silent auction items from August 13-20. Proceeds of the Gala will go towards the Museum Access Programs, which offers free or reduced admission to low-income families all year long.

To attend Summer Splash!, make your online reservations today. Reservations are now good for any length of time, so if your entry time is 10 a.m., you arrive at that time but can stay for as long as you like, until closing if you wish! Health Family Check-In will continue to be provided and is sponsored by Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Network. Summer Splash! Access Programs are sponsored by Macy’s. Sensory Friendly hour on Sundays will continue through Summer Splash! so all may enjoy the fun summer activities.

The summer is time for making memories and watching your kids grow. Take the time to learn and grow with them at the Hands On Children’s Museum Summer Splash!, where big adventures await.


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