Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hidden Gems {Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources}

On a trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park last year, we spent the night in El Dorado. The next morning we stopped at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources before heading down the road. I had decided to visit the museum because it was on our route and it was free to visit.

We arrived before the doors opened and ate our Spudnut Shoppe donuts while we waited. The new building looked pretty generic, but we could see oil derricks outside. The staff was very friendly and welcoming. They gave us instructions about where to head first and the special exhibits. 

The first stop was a special exhibit on the early settlers. There were dress-up clothes, a pirogue for photo ops, and lots of interactive exhibits designed with kids in mind. 

We walked down the hall to start our journey through time (in an elevator) to learn more about how oil formed in this area of Arkansas. The ride through time takes you to an old-timey saloon town complete with replica buildings and items on display, a two-headed calf, and old cars.
Smackover back in the day

Next you come to an art and exploration area. You can draw spiral doodles, draw your own motion picture, and create marble runs. We spent a while here letting them explore the different areas.

Before leaving we walked around the oil derrick display outside that also included some antique tools and an old-fashioned gas station.
One of the oil derricks

We didn't bump into any other families until we were walking around outside about to leave. It was nice to have the place to ourselves but sad that other people were missing out on this hidden gem.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Tips & Tricks {Entertainment on Long Car Rides}

We are preparing for our upcoming trip for Spring Break which means planning for a long car ride. Getting flights for 3 people is not really in the budget, so driving is the best option for us.

My boys love their tablets. But I'm not going to let them stare at a screen for 10 hours straight. So what's a mom to do to entertain her kids on a long drive?

Here are some of my favorite ideas from Pinterest I have used before:

1. Activity sheets

You can find lots of free printables on a variety of subjects. I like to print a map of the states we are going to drive through and highlight the route we will take. This is a way for my boys to follow along and see where we are and how far we have left to go.

I also like to print activity sheets related to where we are going. You can find word searches and puzzles for states, seasons, Disney, and many more. There are also travel bingo and scavenger hunts you can do from the car.

2. Surprise packages

This ties in with the map. I wrapped each package in brown paper (I found it for $2 at Dollar General) with a note on the outside that says, "Do not open until (fill in the name of a town)." This way my boys could follow along the map and have something to look forward to.

3. Stops along the way

Depending on how far we need to drive in a day, this can be challenging. We always need to stop for gas, restroom breaks, or food. I try to pick a unique place to stop along the way which is how I usually find hidden gems. If our stop is limited to getting food, I try to let the kids pick where we eat.