Short Education Programs

Art, history, crafts, technology, economics, local culture – we offer a range of single-session programs for grades 1-5 (and we can adapt them for other age groups). Schedule a program in your classroom, or visit the museum and combine it with a campus tour!

Penobscot Marine Museum Education Deaprtment

Marine Art: Be a Port Painter!

Students begin by painting a background scene showing water and land. Images from Penobscot Marine Museum’s art collection will illustrate the history of marine art. Students will finish their own pictures as a “port painter.”

The First People in Maine

Learn about Native American tribes in Maine, their culture, and where they lived. A variety of hands-on projects may be incorporated, including making pottery, birch bark canoes, wigwams and bannock – a traditional bread made by present-day Native Americans.

Maine and the Oriental Trade

Maine seafaring families the 19th century were as much at home in Hong Kong as they were in Bangor. Learn about Maine’s trade with China and Japan by viewing artifacts and images brought back by Maine sea captains. Themed activities include unwinding silkworm cocoons, painting silk cloth, and decorating rose medallion export porcelain.

Dandyfunk Detectives

Where did Maine ships sail? Who was aboard? After a short slide presentation, students play history detective with primary source documents to identify purchases of dandyfunk (a 19th century sailor’s food) ingredients. After we play detective we will make some dandyfunk of our own!

When is a Ship Not a Ship?

Shipbuilding has been important in Maine for over three hundred years. How is a bark different from a brig? We compare samples of shipbuilding woods, create a story about the sequence of building a vessel, assemble the hull of a wooden vessel, play a game to learn the different types of rigs that made some vessels “ships” and others not. Students make a model vessel to take home.

Sailor’s Valentines

In the 19th century, sailors brought beautiful works of art made with Caribbean shells home for their loved ones. Learn the intriguing history of sailors’ valentines as you create your own.

The Softer Side of Fishing

Fishing communities depended on whole families. See our replica fishermen’s mittens, made by the wife of a smelt fisherman from Winterport, Maine. Make your own felted mittens. Learn about an award-winning quilt made by the Island Fishermen’s Wives. Try your hand at duplicating the quilt using wooden pieces and a magnet board.

Fisheries in Maine

Cod, herring, salmon and more are the subjects of this finfish program. We will talk about boats, gear, and sustainability. Activities may include making a trawl line full of groundfish, playing a sardine packing game, and constructing a purse seine.


Lobstering is Maine’s most valuable fishery. Did you know that lobsters were the first kind of seafood to be canned in Maine?; that they were fished under sail and oar power before the use of power boats?; that they were once inexpensive and common? We will learn lobster vocabulary and make a model crustacean or lobster buoy.


Find out how lighthouses helped mariners, and learn the locations of lighthouses on the Maine coast and islands. Discover the principles of the Fresnel lens and observe a demonstration. Make a model lighthouse to take home.

Introduction to the Compass

Learn to use a compass and the names of the cardinal and inter-cardinal points. Discuss the difference between a real compass and a compass rose pictured on a map. Play Simon Says using eight compass points. Create a compass rose to take home.

My What a Big Map You Have!

Two gigantic vinyl maps (about 17′ x 5′) support a variety of activities to teach history, geography, fishery economics and more. Children participate in creating a story by populating a map with various objects and markers while sitting around it on the floor. One map covers Penobscot River and Bay between Old Town and Matinicus; the other extends east to Eastport.