Your landlubbers might not turn into seafaring experts in a day at the Chicago Children’s Museum’s new Boats exhibit, but they’ll certainly leave more comfortable climbing on a vessel. The climbing is the key, as the museum has found boats of many sizes to explore from top to bottom, inside and out.
Kids can helm a two-story fishing boat, with a galley and sleeping space in the bottom and a steering wheel at the captain’s station up a narrow staircase. They can luff the sails on a sailboat, or find comfort in the closeness of a kayak.
They’ll learn how boats of all sizes move through the lake waters: by machine (the power boat), by man (the kayak) and by nature (the sailboat).
Once they find their favorite cruiser, your new sailor can grab one of the many fishing poles to hook a worm, crawfish or perch and learn about the fishlife that inhibit the Great Lakes.
If your kiddo is more comfy on the ground, he or she can man the bait shop, taking charge of their math skills by selling worms and fishing licenses with the money provided.
There’s a knot-tying station, where young sailors can learn about and replicate knots used on a boat, and two boxes of costumes for play as a captain, a mermaid or even a beaver.
The exhibit is perfect for kids who are just learning to walk up to age 10. Lake Michigan, visible through the windows that line the outer wall of the room, serves as the perfect imagination boost.
If you go:
Chicago Children’s Museum
Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays
Free with museum admission