BELTON — When the Gill family visits the Bell County Museum, Emma, 9, Kyle, 6, and Ian, 4, make a beeline for the archeological room.
But Saturday, the family of six made their way upstairs to join the dozens of families who were getting into the holiday spirit during the museum’s annual ornament workshop.
“I like coming here because it’s educational and fun,” said Emma as she organized her materials.
At a nearby table, Jamie Ellis, 10, focused intently on tying knots and threading beads onto his dream catcher, while his sister, Emily, 8, carefully glued the final touches onto her winter wonderland creation.
Children had their pick of two ornaments, both tying into the museum’s current exhibits: a dream catcher and a snow globe-inspired winter wonderland ornament.
“I look forward to this workshop every year,” said Troy Gray, program coordinator. “The kids really take their time and they get really creative.”
The dream catcher was inspired by the Bison: American Icon exhibit, on display until Jan. 7, and the “snow” element in the winter wonderland was a play on the museum’s permanent cotton exhibit. Cotton was Bell County’s primary cash crop from the 1800s to 1930.
Children had their pick of adornments to go inside their winter wonderlands, including miniature penguins, snowmen, deer, a sleigh and a train. The scene came together with cotton balls acting as snow, a small mirror to represent a frozen lake and the small figurines glued to a wooden base. A clear plastic cup encased the wintery scene.
“I already have a spot picked out for where I am going to hang this on my tree,” Emily Ellis said.
For the Gill family, visiting the museum is a staple.
“Since I home-school my children, the museum is a great resource for us and the kids learn so much here that they can’t learn in a textbook,” Raylene Gill said. “Since we are a large family, it’s not always easy to find quality free events for us to do as a family, and they do a great job here.”
In addition to the free supplies and class, families were treated to hot apple cider and Christmas cookies.
“The community really loves this event,” said Stephanie Turnham, museum director. “They can turn what they make here today into mementos they can cherish for years to come.”