It has been all about hangin’ out inside for the latter part of last week for us, with degrees well into the 100’s here in the DC Metro area. So along with trips to the library, my friends and I are thinking cool, indoor-fun ideas–malls, museums, science centers–you name it. Mini-day trips that double as old-school field trips, the ones that we always loved as kids.
Field trips are a great way to throw in a little bit of fun, sneaky learning, and Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I were grateful to have been invited to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History this week, thanks to Kleenex and The Motherhood.
Kleenex is on a mission to ‘save the fieldtrip’ and they know that budget cuts in many areas mean that field trips are not priority #1. So in order to help fund this incredibly important component of children’s education, Kleenex is committing $500,000 to keep field trips as a part of the educational curriculum. I love it.
Our friends at Kleenex and The Motherhood took a handful of local DC Metro bloggers to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History during our DC-heatwave not just to be kind and keep us cool–but rather to celebrate field trips, to spread the word about the Back to School Sweepstakes, and to introduce some new, snazzy Kleenex packaging to the world. Here’s the skinny:
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History & Kleenex ‘Save the Fieldtrip’: The day before we headed down to the Natural History Museum, I took a few minutes to look at the museum’s website. Nothing crazy–just to give Maddy, Owen, and Cora a chance to get a sneak peak about what we’d see while we were there–to activate schema a bit, get their memories going–and to get some questions rolling around in their brains.
Nearly every museum in the country has a website at this point, so it’s a simple step but a really important one if we want our families to get the most from a day trip.
We skipped the Metro adventure due to the heat and instead walked the block or so from the parking garage, and we met our friends in the main entrance near the huge elephant.
My pals, @thienkim @MinkyMoo @wifeandmommy @ciaomom @noteverstill @teachmama @GoonSquadSarah @JanineNickel @thenagainphoto, their kids, and Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I met museum docents, Donna and Francis, and Joe, from the Kleenex team. And we were ready for our afternoon! We started with the Forensic Anthropology Lab, where we passed mummies, skeletons, and where we learned about forensic science and all things boney.
Our educator was incredible–she spoke to the children in such a way that they were completely engaged and enthralled without being frightened. (Because seriously, we were around a ton of bones! If they thought about it–they maybe would be nervous!). Instead it was approached from the standpoint of a mystery to solve: children had to figure out to whom the ‘mystery bones’ belonged–male or female? old or young? It was really awesome. This exhibit is open only through January 2011, so I highly recommend a trip before it’s gone; I will definitely do what I can to get the kids there this fall.
We took a secret back elevator to the Discovery Room–one of our most favorite spots in all of the Smithsonian museums. It’s a hands-on room where pieces from all of the museum’s exhibits are, but here they’re put in a ‘kid-friendly, please-touch-me-and-learn-more’ kind of way.
the Discovery Room drawers (photo thanks to Tech Savvy Mama)
A little one almost loses an arm in the Discovery Room.
In the Discovery Room, kids can use microscopes, touch artifacts, dress up, read books, color, go through collection drawers. There’s enough in this small room to keep children and adults busy for hours. It’s fabulous–and a must-see at the Natural History Museum.
Cora holds a HUGE centipede (I think).
We moved toward Insect Zoo, where we saw the most enormous insects we’ve ever seen, and for the first time, we were there when a traveling insect cart of sorts was set up. It was like a Bookmobile but Insect-style.
Two guides gave us the skinny on the insects, and they invited visitors to hold them. Not my cup of tea, but Maddy and Cora were game. One of our favorite spots in the Insect Zoo was hidden in a far corner–the bee hives.
Not only can you see bees working in their hives (behind a plate of glass, obviously), but you can see how the bees travel from outdoors and then return to the museum. There’s a little entrance, a long, skinny path they take, and they bring the pollen back to the hive to make honey. It was incredible, and my little bumblebee could have stood there for hours.
We fell hard for the Butterfly Pavilion, an exhibit that requires tickets but one that is simply incredible. Cora was handed the ‘Can you find the butterfly?’ sheet, so she made it her mission to identify the butterflies she saw. It was tough–because the butterflies are constantly moving–but she did what she could with the sleeping butterflies we found.
The Butterfly Pavilion hide-and-seek sheet was a great, hands-on, fun way of getting kids more involved with the exhibit. And the comparing skills–looking closely for colors, patterns, sizes, and shapes–is so great for little eyes.
We ended our trip with the Imax show, The Grand Canyon Adventure: A River at Risk, 3D. It is a beautiful show–just the right length for young museum visitors–about the need for water conservation and the ever-changing Colorado River. Put to music by Dave Matthews Band, it was our first Imax show (seriously!), and one we’ll never forget. Lunch at the Atrium Cafe at the end of our field trip was a great time to relax and recoup a bit. It was a fantabulous day.
And as silly as it sounds, the super-cute new Kleenex packs that we received made this mama (who can’t seem to shake her wicked summertime cold) very happy. Yes, I’d like to stop sneezing myself, but if I’m going to sneeze, I’m more likely to smile a bit when I reach for the snazzy, modern Kleenex purse (or backpack) packs. Good-bye, old Kleenex packs that rip after the first use. . . Hello, new, easy folds with happy patterns!
The really awesome part of this day was learning a bit about how our children’s schools can win money for field trips in 2011-2012! The Kleenex brand Back to School Sweepstakes will award 100 schools a $5,000 award to be used toward field trips during the 2001-2012 school year. Starting in July, you can enter the sweepstakes with a few simple steps:
- Visit www.Facebook.com/Kleenex
- Click on the ‘Back to School’ tab at the top of the page
- Vote for our favorite participating school -OR-
- Register the school of your choice by clicking ‘Add a School’ box and filling out the digital registration form
Voting ends September 14, 2011, and winning schools will be notified September 15. I’d say it’s worth our while to head to the site, register our schools, and try to secure some funding for some incredible field trips!
fyi: Big thanks to Kleenex and The Motherhood for inviting me to participate in the #KleenexFieldTrips campaign. Our tickets to the shows and lunch were provided, and though this is a sponsored post, all opinions here are my own, influenced only by my three little museum-goers.