When we do go, we choose to go for Michigan's birthday weekend. They have costumed interpreters and hands on activities for the kids. The girls would tell you that they love the fact that they have free birthday cake as well! This year there were very few people at the museum on the day we went. It actually felt like they had opened the place just for us!
They maintain a rotating exhibit and I was THRILLED when I realized that the exhibit was about creative writing and book making. It had artifacts from famous authors and detailed the writing process. If you know anything about Peanut, she LOVES writing. She will often say that when she grows up she is going to be an author and artist.
The girls were most impressed that they had the actual pads that Laura Ingalls wrote The Long Winter on. It was awesome to see her words in her own penciled handwriting. I loved that the copies of the books they had in the display were the EXACT versions that I had as a girl, and we still have. I should have taken some pictures of the original pencil sketches that Garth Williams did for the books.
The museum was focusing on the War of 1812 this particular weekend. They had an interesting mapping exercise for the kids. They gave them map of Michigan during the War. On the top and the sides they had simple coordinates (capital letters along the top, numbers down the side). They took a piece of yarn and tied it horizontally around the paper and then another that was tied vertically, so that the pieces intersected. The yarn could slide up and down the paper. So, they were told which "latitude" and "longitude" coordinates to find. The slid the pieces of yarn where they needed to be and then were able to find and mark an important battle during the War.
After the noted all the important battles, they had a large magnet board with a map and based on the information given, they were able to mark the battles on the magnet board with flags depending on who won the battle. It was a very neat exercise and tied in so well with the Michigan History class the girls completed in December. The teacher there spent considerable time talking about the War of 1812.
The younger girls decided to make bonnets like a lady of the time period would have worn. Such a simple craft, I wish I had seen it before we covered Felicity in our American Girl Book Club class at co-op, it would have been a fun craft for the girls to do. It was nothing more than a large foam circle, some fake flowers and wide ribbon.
Peanut was excited to spend the morning at the museum. She says it is one of her favorite museums to visit. In addition, she was wanting to earn the Living in the USA badge for American Heritage Girls. She had completed several badge requirements in her Michigan History class, but was able to finish all but 1 at the museum.
We spent alot of time talking with this interpreter about the life of the Native Americans. Again, Peanut loved this because she just finished up the Native American badge, so many of the things she had seen in pictures, he had to show her there. Things like glass wampum beads, fur pelts, Native American games, etc.
Sweet Baby is checking out a tortoise shell, used to play a game. We are doing Apologia's Swimming Creatures for science and had recently learned about sea turtles, so she was really interested in checking out the shell.
Finally, in the one room schoolhouse, they had a piano. They were not sure how old the piano is, the docent thought late 1700's or early 1800's. They keep the keyboard locked, but he asked if any of the girls could play. When Peanut said she could play, he opened it up for her and let her play. It was really sweet of him. My heart just smiles when I hear Peanut play.
We have really enjoyed our time visiting some museums lately. I love seeing the girls excitement when they see something or hear something at a museum and it connects with something they have learned at home with me.