You have summer trips planned to the museum, water park, state fair, and the shopping mall. Me, too! Some of these family field trips I am really looking forward to…others I am doing out of familial duty. Either way I love that I can add something more to each trip by hitting my public library both before and after we go. When I pay $100 for a day out at the Dinosaur Discovery event my kids better be able to get a head start on their archeology careers out of it.
Before we went to a dinosaur event we checked out several dinosaur books from the library and made a plan to find our favorite dinos at the show. It was almost an interactive KWL experience because the kids were shouting facts they knew at every giant dinosaur we saw (that’s an herbivore!) then asking me questions I had no idea how to answer. How long does it take for a triceratops egg to hatch? I promised we would refer to all of the books to answer those questions when we got home. Best practice would have been to keep a notebook of all of the great questions the trip generated, but we mostly used our phone pics to keep track of important ideas. And the bonus of not being able to answer every question was that I could say…”The next time we go to the library we can look for a book on that question.” Should I add that we could use the internet? Yes, and we did, but I really wanted to illustrate the usefulness of researching in books for my younger kids- and if you can’t hook them on dinosaurs I don’t know what else would work… except whales. That was our next trip.
The Witte Museum in San Antonio has a great whale exhibit that is overall for older kids and adults with a few younger attractions, too. Kids love crawling inside an actual size whale heart and watching a video about a whale eating a squid! Gross and cool at the same time.
The fossils above were perfect jumping off points for more research, along with the usual whale types, vertebrates, and how divers breathe underwater. I am lucky to have a library close by or I’d be on the internet researching all these questions and more.
Here are some suggested books for your basic summer trips with littles, use your library’s online catalog before your next trip and make memories and learning happen all at once (linked to Amazon in case you’re kindle readers).
Water parks, beaches, swimming: Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea, The Snail and the Whale, DK Eyewitness Books: Ocean, Don’t Be Afraid, Little Pip (learning to swim), Curious George Goes to the Beach
Road Trips: Amelia Hits the Road (LOVE this one for travel and family trips), How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Duck’s Vacation
Zoos, Animal Parks: Zoo-ology, Goodnight Gorilla, Pinkalicious and the Pinkatastic Zoo Day