Pittsburgh, PA – We are on the road! As we spend some much needed Q.T. with our family in Ohio… our road trip isn’t a break from our regular adventures, rather an instigator for all sorts of new trouble!
And so we find ourselves somewhere incredible: The Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA.
And let’s just get a couple of things straight right out of the gate.
I don’t know how. And I don’t know why. But if you had asked me about the top five cities I’d like to visit in America… well, I have to admit that Pittsburgh would not have been on the list. And, now that I know what I know, that omission would have been a HUGE, GINORMOUS mistake! Because, Pittsburgh is awesome. Especially if you have children. Let this be law.
They city is easy to drive. The people are friendly and helpful. And this city is packed with incredible and educational attractions for your kiddos.
Our latest adventure is but a sampling!
The dinosaur exhibit took our breath away. These fossil specimens are spectacular. And the museum displays them beautifully in their richly detailed habitats.
We were totally sucked into the land that time forgot. The museum uses touch screen displays and movies to bring these bones to life offering narratives, factoids and even questions that will not only blow your 3-year-old’s mind but yours too.
But there is something else that makes this museum truly special. They offer a unique approach in engaging your children. Once past the dinosaur hall, you enter a giant space that has learning nooks everywhere. But these are not displays for passive onlookers.
They have about 40 huge tackle/tool boxes. On each one is a painted animal. We chose the bobcat.
Inside was a real bobcat skull and a book about bobcats. In the raccoon box is a raccoon skin, etc. These boxes are stacked on shelves that border a large carpet flanked with benches. Child after child explored box after box. Quietly. Independently with parents looking on nearby. It was the kind of child driven exploration that is hard to find and create and yet magical when it happens.
I have to say this is really inspiring me to present some of the elements of our adventures in different ways.
A darkened hallway stocked with flashlights offers your explorer a chance to shine those bright lights into about a dozen dark windows filled with incredible habitats and ‘wild’ animals. This meant my little man had to find our for himself what was hidden in the display cases by using his flashlight and going on a scavenger hunt of sorts. VERY SMART IDEA!
That these exhibits are so interestingly (and in some cases simply) put together is no accident. It was put together through a collaboration of industrial design students, scientists, naturalists, and educators. Love it!
And, for one little explorer, the jewel in the Carnegie crown is this… a dinosaur dig.
Explorers are given a chisel, a brush, and safety goggles. They are taught true excavation techniques (scraping, no tapping or hammering) and set to work uncovering the bones of an Allosaurus. The model dinosaur bones are buried in a sand/wax mixture that forces the youngsters to focus and work hard, but with steady results. Brilliant.
Here’s a money-saving tip. If you are a Bank of America customer, the first weekend of every month, you can visit the museum for free. Tickets will also get you into the art museum. That said, we only made it through the first of three floors. Lots more exploring to do and luckily, I have just the right pal to show me the way!
More to come!
- Fine Motor Skills
- Independent learning
- Science, history exploration
- Exploring the world they live in
- Vocabulary, Language
P.S. Want to know how you can make this explorer vest for your little one, check out this post!