Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chesapeake Children's Museum in Annapolis, MD

We ventured out to the Chesapeake Children's Museum today with a bunch of friends, not knowing what to expect. We ended up having a great time. Upon arrival, we were worried based on the appearance of the dilapidated house, but we were pleasantly surprised when we walked in. There were several different rooms that had various important elements that were linked to the Chesapeake bay.
The main room had a 10 foot boat for children to board and "sail" which was parked right near a small wooden dock. There were also many fish tanks that had various animals that can be found in or near the Chesapeake bay. The staff was friendly and we were given permission to take a corn snake out of the cage and hold him, pick up turtles from a small indoor "pond", and look at different types of frogs and geckos. The room also had a train table and tons of different blocks for kids to build various types of structures.
Some of the other rooms included a doctors office with a real (but old) dental chair, a bunch of X-rays, and some microscopes. Literally "stuffed" in the closet was "Stuffee", a 7 foot man who unzips to spill out his various cotton organs. There was also a small kitchen and shopping area, and two different arts and crafts areas that used recycled materials to provide the children a fun way to do projects while saving the environment.
The basement also offered another area to do arts and crafts as well as several bunnies that could be taken out of their cage, and a music area with a piano, bongos, and some other types of drums. While our visit unfortunately was hampered by rain, there are also outdoors nature walks as well as an underground railroad walk that we were told is very educational. Along the nature walk, several different types of wildlife are frequently seen in the surrounding areas. Despite not being the newest or fanciest of attractions, at 3 dollars per person, and after spending several hours having fun with our friends, we are definitely planning a trip back when the weather warms up.

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  1. That's great Brett! I have thought many times of going there but could never find anyone who had been or any writeup about the place. With that said, I kept putting it off - not wanting to pack 3 boys up and travel there only to find it a dump and waste of time. Do you think what it offers is more geared to the preschool set or do you think elementary school age kids would find it of interest? Morah Becky

  2. It is more geared toward younger kids, but if your kids enjoy holding animals, there were a few that we were allowed to take out of cages to play with. However, the day we went was rainy so we couldn't do the underground railroad trail which I am sure would have been for kids that are a little bit older. Also, when we pulled up, we were disappointed by the appearance of the place, however, we were very happy when we got inside as our son and friends spent hours playing with the blocks, standing on the 8 foot boat, and touching the animals. He also enjoyed having tables to do arts and crafts (of which they supply materials).

  3. I feel obligated to mention that this place, while fun in the end, is not something that I would hype to people as a go-to destination. It is not chock-full of a day's worth of activities like a Port Discovery, nor is it as open or spacious (allowing kids to run around) as Storyville (adjacent to the Rosedale Public Library). It's cramped, poorly lit, and just barely adequately maintained. However, having said that, the kids really had a great time. There were animals to hold (although there was no trained animal guide to do the holding - you/I had to do it your/myself *ahem*), there was a lot of imagination equipment with educational benefit, including the dentist's chair, and there was an arts and crafts section (with kitchen knives - OMG!) with a whole host of little choking haz- I mean decorations to put on what the kids were making. Basically, it was one person's fulfilled dream to make a children's hands-on playplace in their home, and it was a lot of fun, if equally weird. I would go again - preferably with a whole group of friends like last time, and certainly not alone - but only with people who know what they are getting.

    The kids had a great time. However, because the place is so unsupervised, and because there are so many things that on their own would not be considered child-safe, as much as they might be family-friendly (like animals that are great to pet, but can bite if mishandled, or scissors that can cut, etc.), as an adult you really need to be actively engaged in what your kids are doing there. At the same time, however, it isn't the type of place where the adults will necessarily have a good time just because the kids are having fun - you need to have someone to hang out with, for your own sanity.

    That's still a recommendation, but with qualifications.

  4. Seth, I completely disagree with almost everything you said here. These places are not supposed to be for adults, they are supposed to be for children. Adult supervision is required wherever you go as your children should not be unsupervised anywhere that you take them.Additionally, petting any animals involves some semblance of risk, but everything was fine and the animals were all in cages and only allowed to be taken out with permission and an explanation. Further, the scissors are out for children that want to play with arts and crafts. Obviously, the children need to be supervised, but you need to keep in mind that each place is not only meant for a 2 year old. Children at age 4 or 5 are perfectly capable of handling the rounded edge metal scissors. Additionally, only more expensive places or publicly funded places tend to have a large group of guides. Most places do not have this sort of expertise unless you are paying more (essentially for that guide's salary). While the place was not new by any means, it certainly provided quite a bit of fun and different options for children.