My son modeled a beard and captain’s suit, steered a ship and practiced saying “Anchors Aweigh” in five languages during our recent visit to the Amelia Island Museum of History’s kids’ discovery ship exhibit.
The “ship” is actually a room within the museum that is designed to look like the deck of a ship. Kids can steer the ship, ring the bell and peer through a porthole, which streams old images of Amelia Island.
All the while as they play, they’re actually learning about our local history and the world of sailing.
The permanent addition to the museum opened in late November. It’s an interactive exhibit designed for “discovery-based learning,” a concept in which kids learn through play. It was made possible through the Margery Huston and Arthur Freas Children’s Initiative, so the ship was fittingly named the S.S. Margery.
My 4-year-old’s favorite part was looking through the telescope, just like the guys on “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.” I loved the chart that played recordings of sailors saying typical sailing terms in various languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese Italian and French. There also was a place for kids to raise any one of Amelia Island’s eight flags on the “flagpole.” What an awesome way to teach kids about our local history.
The ship features an area where kids can try their hand at tying sailors’ knots, with diagrams to guide them. There are barrels with trivia questions related to sailing; kids open the lids to find the answers inside. And — my personal favorite — there is a trunk full of old-fashioned costumes for boys and girls to play dress up.
Kids can also do a “treasure hunt” throughout the museum, finding evidence to help fill out their map and using old-fashioned embossers to mark their treasure map.
I’ve always admired how family-friendly this museum is; there are plenty of fascinating features that children can enjoy throughout the museum. But this new exhibit — designed specifically for kids — is an even bigger and better offering that makes this museum a must-see for families enjoying the area.
If you want to go:
Where: 233 S. Third Street, Fernandina Beach, FL
For more information: Visit the museum’s website at ameliamuseum.org