Due to COVID-19, the History Museum is closed.  The Playing in the Past pre-school activity time and the tour are offered as online activities.

A young boy and young girl paint with watercolors at Free First Fridays at the San Mateo County History Museum
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Playing in the Past

Preschool Activity Hour

An exciting hour of crafting, exploring and storytelling held the first Friday of the month. Each month there is a different craft and story. Starts in the Wells Fargo Learning Center.

Due to COVID-19 concerns we are temporarily moving our free first Friday activities online.

Listen to a Story

clipart of a sailboat

Make a Sponge Boat


  • Sponge (can use the plain sponge or ones with a scrubbing side)
  • Wood Skewers (or craft stick, or straw)
  • construction paper (or regular paper)
  • scissors
  • tape


  1. Take a pair of scissors and cut the corners off one end of the sponge to create a point.
  2. For the mast, take a skewer, cut a 5-inch piece, and poke it through the middle of the sponge (make sure it’s in the middle so the sponge will not tip over). If you are using a craft stick or straw, cut a small slit in the sponge first, then insert the stick/straw.
  3. To make a sail, cut a piece of paper in either a triangle, square or rectangle.
  4. Push the skewer into the sail at the top and bottom. If you are using a craft stick or straw, cut a slit into the paper at the top and bottom and push the stick/straw through the slits. You can wrap a piece a tape around skewer (the part that’s right under the sail) to keep the sail from slipping down.
  5. Fill up your tub or sink and sail your boat!

Visit Ships of the World

Learn more about ships in our exhibit Charles Parsons’ Ships of the World.

Online Tour


The next online Free First Friday event will be on Friday, February 5 with the story Year of the Ox: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac.

Bonus Story

Jon Miller, our 2018 San Mateo County History Maker, recorded a story for our online Free First Friday in May 2020.