The Arlington Heights Memorial Library (AHML), one of our favorite museums in the Northwest Chicago suburbs,  is no stranger to museum-like exhibits. A few years ago they had an exhibit featuring buildings created with LEGOs by Adam Reed, a resident of Arlington Heights. When I heard that AHML had a new exhibit, XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness, perfect for children, we couldn’t wait to check it out for ourselves. Through 11 interactive stations, families are able to explore, understand, and express their feelings. We were not disappointed! What a perfect way to spend a couple of hours — and for free!

Highlights:

  • Interactive! This is a traveling exhibit from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh so it was made with kids in mind.
  • Kids are encouraged to work together. At the “Holding Hands” exhibit see what happens when they both hold hands to complete the circuit. A quote from Helen Keller pops up, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” You got to love these messages! Plus, who can resist an opportunity for your little ones to hold hands.

  • Sensory table fun. My little one immediately gravitated towards these little blue beads at the Reflection Table. Kids are supposed to close their eyes, feel the beads through their hands, and listen to the sounds that it makes.

  • Video fun. This may have been the highlight for my oldest. During Emotional Faces a screen prompts you to make a specific face (happy, surprised, disgusted) and records the face for a few seconds. Afterwards, the face is replayed as a collage on the screen.

  • Kids are encouraged to get in touch with their feelings. At “Release the Negative,” children can write down things that make them mad, sad, or scared.

Afterwards, they can release those feelings by literally shredding that piece of paper. My kids may have had a lot of feelings to convey because they kept finding reasons to shred the paper. No need to worry about those little fingers — everything was all very kid-friendly, of course!

They were also able to share their feelings on a “Response Wall” by answering the writing prompts, writing on a tag, and sharing it for all to see.

 

Another great way to express their feelings, self-reflect,  and then encouraging them to share it with others.

  • Puzzle fun. They could have literally kept going on and on with these 
  • Art fun. At the”Art Making” tent kids can create a gift box. They have a die cutting machine with a few box templates. They have art-making supplies to make the box pretty, then kids can gift an item. A few kids were making boxes for Valentine’s. How cute!

  • Read more! To reinforce the concepts of XOXO, they have books that you can read too.

  • Share the love. Until February 10, kids and adults are able to write a letter to someone recently diagnosed with breast cancer. In March, they will be collecting food for a local food pantry.

We Wish:

  • …we could have stayed longer!

Bottom Line:

Another reason why we love the Arlington Heights Memorial Library – they have fantastic, engaging, and changing exhibits for families and the entire community. I definitely recommend checking out the XOXO exhibit with the family. Do yourself a favor and stop by before they close in March. I bet you’ll XOXO it!

Tips:

  • Grab some of these recommended books to further instill the concepts of love, forgiveness, and friendship.


  • Visit during one of these library programs in conjunction with the exhibit:

Nitty Gritty:

Website:  ahml.info/xoxo
Location: 500 N. Dunton Avenue, Arlington Heights
Hours:  XOXO is open during regular library hours in the Marketplace and Kids’ World. Exhibit is open not until March 31.
Ticket prices: No tickets required.
Parking: Plenty of parking at the lot
Stroller-friendly?  They have stroller parking.
Crowded: We visited on a Saturday afternoon and it was busy at times, but not at all overwhelming.
What to expect:  A museum-type exhibit at one of our favorite libraries with 11 different stations

Fall in love with XOXO at Arlington Heights Memorial Library