Advice wanted

Next week the demons are on Spring Break & it’s looking good that we will spend one of those days down in DC on the Mall.  Visiting the Natural History museum is a given plus probably hitting up the Air & Space.

We went to the Mall a few years ago with the boys & they loved it.


Mayhem was/is so eager to see everything that he runs from thing to thing without really seeing anything. His goal is to see the next thing, not look at what is in front of him.

Left to Mayhem we would have run through the whole Natural History museum in about 45 minutes.

He’s less intense about it now, but ‘what’s next?’ is still his driving force.

What I need help with is how to make him slow down & look.

I almost want to give him a 6 page questionnaire about the exhibits & insist he complete every question before his is allowed to leave the building.

But I want this to be a fun trip too.

I am no good at making up games to make learning fun or to make a tedious time exciting or any of those things some parents seem to do so effortlessly. (Neither were my folks. You learned because you had to & you endured tedium because tedium happens. I don’t think it ever occurred to them that they could make things like that fun. Oh there was the rare game of travel sign bingo on long trips, but we’re talking twice in 15 years.) 

I’m also not having much luck at coming up with something to make an excited boy slow down and really LOOK at things.

So I am looking for ideas that will be interesting/fun for him that will encourage him to take more than a millisecond looking at the animal in front him.

Some kind of “find the….something or other” or “lets count how many times we see…something or other” Maybe get him to write things down (since penmanship is still a major issue with him we try to make him write as much as possible for practice). We have an assortment of cameras that the boys can take & use so maybe a photo chase…?

And obviously Havoc will be participating as well, so maybe a competition of “who can…something or other..first or the most?”

Clearly I am hopeless with this & need your help

Any suggestions will be appreciated

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13 comments to Advice wanted

  • Helena

    A camera scavenger hunt would be great – how about 6 kinds of fur/skin markings, 5 different tails, 4 kinds of feet, 3 sets of teeth, 2 babies and 1 animal 'I could fit in my pocket' – no animal to be used for more than 1 category

    or – 2 animals from each continent (would need to read where they come from) or 2 each of swim, fly, eat grass, eat other animals, have more than 4 legs, extinct

    or – if I could have 10 animals in my own zoo which would I have – take photos – and what would I need to buy to feed them (reading the info) – can include extinct animals

    and are Mum and Dad going to join in the camera hunt too?

  • Kai

    I like what Helena offered and would add that if they're taking pictures of four different this and 3 different that – to include penmanship/writing, make sure they have noted in a notebook which animal it was that the photographed. I like Helena's last suggestion too about "which animals I'd like in a zoo" and what to feed them, etc.

  • Jennie Hart

    They are both great ideas and then they could make the 'product' into a scrapbook page that you would be able to creatively direct? xx

  • humel

    What they said! I was going to say exactly the same, obviously….!

    Or maybe I'm still thinking of the blog hop, because I was going to suggest looking for 'something' beginning with each letter of the alphabet (could be a feature, eg tusks, rather than a particular animal's name each time)… Which clearly isn't nearly such a good idea, so I say go with Helena's :)

  • col12

    We like a good game of I Spy when we're out and about! Don't need any supplies and not much thinking required! Good luck and have fun!

  • Crystal (Lukasmummy)

    ask the museum if they have a schools pack or see if they have a website. All of the museums we have taken the boys too have had one or the other usually both, I know we are in the UK but it's always worth asking sometimes they don't have them on display but they might offer something. Hugs Crystal xx

  • Ptooie

    As I read through this I was thinking of a little questionnaire with things like "What is the most interesting thing about this animal/creature?" but Helena's ideas totally rock. I may have to try that the next time I take my girls to a museum.

  • Rinda1961

    I like the "I spy" idea. Two things we do:
    1. Bring a sketch book. Have the kids draw something in the exhibit.
    2. When we go to a museum, we start by studying the museum map. We let each kid and adult choose the 1 rooms/exhibit that they most want to see. We visit those exhibits. And then go to the cafe for a snack. That way there's not a rush to see everything.

  • SciFi Dad

    This doesn't involve penmanship, but what about giving him an inexpensive (old?) point and shoot digicam with a promise to print out some of the better ones and make a scrap book together. Would that interest him? You could incorporate some journaling to get him printing too, I suppose.

  • Nicole K

    Yeah, I was thinking camera related OR do a points thing.
    Every correct answer gets a point and that translates to a souvenir amount, if that makes sense?

  • Andrea @ The Creative Junkie

    I'm liking the ideas already listed – I was actually thinking of I Spy while reading your post but saw that that idea was already mentioned.

    I adore Washington … I was surprised to discover how pretty a city it was!

  • Cindy Carlson

    You could have a word hunt in the exhibit descriptions, or at least have him take pictures of both the item and its card if it's something he's interested in. That way you can do the scrapbook thing and have the info he doesn't take it in while you are in front on the item. My kid's class is going to American History on Tuesday morning, and I am going along with. Maybe I'll see you. =] Good luck, and if you want an awesome lunch out, try Ten Pehn. It's about a block away from Natural History to the North at Tenth and Pennsylvania: There are also great Mexican and Indian restaurants over that way. Let me know if you want details. Have a fun trip!

  • Comfy Mom

    Thanks for all the ideas! DH & I are part of the hunt as well