As a former teacher, current part-time nanny, and a librarian who has witnessed many busy summers in the Children’s Room, I know that kids can get stuck in summertime rut of computers, video games, and TV. While the library is always a great place to find books to read, attend storytime, and collect SRP prizes, I love to recommend some local educational getaways for the family, and of course some awesome books from the children’s nonfiction section to supplement learning. Just because school’s out on summer vacation, doesn’t mean your brain has to be.
Think of it as summertime field trip, and field trip day is the best day of the whole school year! This year I am watching a four-year old and an eight-year old, which is pretty much the perfect age range for these enrichment activities. To be honest, I am probably more excited about our little trips than they are. Luckily I can keep my cool under pressure.
The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History: The University of Iowa is my alma mater, so of course I have been through the relatively short loop of Iowa’s 500-million-year geological, cultural and ecological history on the first floor on many occasion. But with an afternoon to kill and an arsenal of absurd snapchats to take (I recommend a slow-mo video of a swimming chase from the Dunkeosteus exhibit, a prehistoric fish from the Devonian Age), it was a fun and interactive way to learn about Iowa’s natural history and thousands of animal species of past and present.
If only we could have made it out without a visit to the gift shop. Parents you have been warned. The museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday 10-5, Thursdays 10-8, and Sundays 1-5, and it’s FREE! Books about natural history, habitats, fossils and animal species can be found in the 500’s section of the children’s nonfiction collection. More information about the University Of Iowa Museum Of Natural History can be found at http://mnh.uiowa.edu/
The Putnam Museum: Growing up in the Quad Cities, the Putnam museum was a Saturday afternoon staple that basically multiplied in coolness by a million when it added one of the first National Geographic GIANT Screen Theaters in the world, among the largest screens in Iowa.
The IMAX features a rotation of documentaries and popular children’s movies. The first film I saw was the National Geographic documentary Amazing Caves, which managed to trigger claustrophobia and agoraphobia in one fell swoop. Good times. Located less than an hour away in Davenport, this is a highly anticipated upcoming day trip for my kids. Right now the Putnam is featuring a HUGE exhibit through September, “The Discovery of King Tut.”
The exhibit features more than 1,000 artifacts and recreations of treasures discovered in Tutankhamun’s Egyptian tomb by England’s Howard Carters in 1922. The Putnam also recently added a Science Center, which has more than 45 hands-on activities that enhance STEM literacy. The Putnam is open Monday – Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 12-5. General admission is $7-8, plus additional fees for special exhibits and movies. (You know the additional fees drill, right?) Enjoy! Books about King Tut and Egyptian life can be found with the call number j932 in the children’s nonfiction collection. Find out more about the Putnam Museum at http://www.putnam.org/
The Blank Park Zoo: One of our most popular special performers during the summer at ICPL is the Blank Park Zoo Show and Tell. This past week we met a guinea pig named Olaf (his sisters Elsa and Ana stayed home), a millipede, a tiger salamander named Chip, and a blue-tongued skink, Marley.
Whether you were able to attend and want to see more or you missed out this year (have no fear, the Zoo will return next summer!), the Blank Park Zoo located in Des Moines is a fabulous way to spend a summer day. The library even makes this summer outing more cost affordable by providing children free admission to the zoo with completion of the first level of the Summer Reading Program.
Everyone has their favorite animals to visit at the Zoo, mine happens to be the river otters. What’s yours? The Blank Park Zoo is open from 9-5 everyday, check out the zoo website to plan your visit! http://www.blankparkzoo.com/