Making History Fun
For Little Ones

Making History Fun for Little Ones

It’s funny how the nature of your adventures changes when you become a grandparent. When our children were young, we didn’t plan as much. The most important thing to remember was to book the campground 11 months in advance. If we neglected to make that reservation, we had to piece together a trip with two days in one spot, three days in another, etc. Made for interesting, yet always fun vacations!

Priorities also change when you have grandchildren, all of a sudden you want to offer some exciting adventure that the kids will remember long after you’re gone, in other words, defining your legacy. . . “I remember Grandma Gail / aka Nana taking us to all kinds of cool places!”

So, with that in mind, we sat down with our granddaughters to plan a day out, hoping to be able to add a memorable adventure to our legacy. On that day, with the weather cool, gray and gloomy, we all agreed that we should spend the day indoors.

Since we were in Sturgeon Bay, the Maritime Museum sounded like a good possibility. On the way there, I tried to make it sound as exciting as possible. Kelsey, usually the spokesman for the group, asked, “Any fun things to do there, like rides?”

Hmm, I hadn’t thought about that, but offered, “I don’t know, let’s go find out, I did hear there’s an interesting exhibit about Sea Dogs there.”


She countered, “Interesting usually means adults like it, look there’s a pizza place across the street, let’s go there instead!”

At this point, the rest of the girls agreed that pizza might be a better choice, and unfortunately for me, also noticed the ice cream shop next door.

Sydney, quiet up to this point, noted, “I’m not hungry yet. Nana, do you think there are any real dogs there? I really miss Addy.”

“You know, Syd, I miss Mikey too. I know how much you like the Clifford the Big Red Dog stories, I bet there are some cool stories about dogs at the exhibit. I also heard there are computer games, puzzles and craft activities for kids there.“ 

With that additional information, the girls agreed it might be fun. As we walked into the museum, they immediately noticed the gift store on the main floor. Hmm, I thought, an educational souvenir might add to the “memorable” part of this visit, so, as any self-respecting grandparent would do, I agreed to buy everyone a souvenir at the end of our visit.

Following the museum guide’s direction, we took the staircase to the second floor where the exhibit was showcased. Several items immediately caught the girl’s interest: the huge puzzle of a seadog set up on a child sized wooden table and a desk with crayons and pencils to create a dog mask or sailor’s hat.

As the oldest, with a real love of learning, Teagan ignored the crafts, and continued on through the exhibit’s entrance. She began reading about Sinbad, a mascot dog from World War II. “Hey Grandma Gail, can I watch this movie about Sinbad?”, she asked.

“Sure,” I said, noting that it wasn’t too long, and the seating area was just right for a small audience. With Teagan settled in for the movie, I went back to the others. Devyn was just finishing her Sailor Hat. She put it on her head, and posed for a picture. Emma continued her work on a Dog Mask, asking for more colors to complete her mask of Addy.

Kelsey, after completing the huge dog puzzle, wandered to the back of the exhibit. She quickly came running back, “Hey, there’s a video game about the Coast Guard and their dogs! Devyn, do you want to play it with me?”

The rest of the visit went swiftly. When the girls completed the crafts and games, they strolled around the exhibit, looking at all of the pictures. Teagan gladly took charge and read the stories about real life dogs and how they served as companions, warriors and lifesavers at sea. Moose, stationed in Sturgeon Bay, won the vote as their favorite dog. They liked his name and the fact that he is a big, goofy, lovable fellow.

Driving home, I felt that we had pulled off a memorable, and educational visit. We learned about Sea Dogs and Door County’s nautical history through some wonderful, hands on exhibits. As promised, we ended the day at the gift shop, then walked across the street for some pizza and ice cream. It doesn’t get better than that!