If you are looking for ways to engage your kids in a museum visit, you have a lot of options. You can let them be exhibit critics, bring some surprises with you or take strength in numbers. Something else that works really well is to tailor your visit to something your kid is interested in (read a round-up of some options here). Sure, that seems like a no brainer, but it isn’t always easy to tie in what they love with something in your area.
Well, my Dad pulled together the BEST museum visit for my 2 year old…completely on a whim. After watching Disney’s “Planes” over the weekend he decided to take him downtown to the National Air and Space Museum. Once they got there, they started hunting for the planes that they had seen in the movie. How perfect is that? It was something that my son had been talking about non-stop and it gave them a purpose for the visit.
Do you have a “Planes” fan also? I’ve done my best to pull together the reference points so you can recreate this visit. A few points to remember
- Most of the planes in the movie are not one specific model. They are a mash-up of a few different kinds. My Dad knows planes and could figure out what was a close match, I used the PLANES WIKI
- Sometimes, especially for young kids, it is all about the “look” and the color. They may be CERTAIN they have found Skipper…even if the make is all wrong. Nothing wrong with that if they aren’t ready for the fine distinction between types!
Also, this is important, take some to tell them the REAL story behind the airplanes they are looking at. The airplane I have labeled as “Dusty 2” is actually the Spirit of Columbus, which Jerrie Mock flew to become the first woman to pilot an aircraft around the world! There are a lot of interesting and powerful stories there that kids can connect with. If they are young, it is ok to use the movie references to get ’em hooked and then keep building on the stories when they are ready.
OK! On to the specifics….
If you are at the museum on the Mall, you can find the Jolly Wrenches, Skipper, Leadbottom, and Ripslinger
Out at the Udvar-Hazy Center you can find Dusty 1 and Dusty 2 and show them what a real Crop Duster looks like. If you go to the Restoration Hanger you might catch sight of a forklift, and get to see a lot of cool conservation work being done!
My son LOVES Chug the fuel truck. You can find that at the museum, but you can see photos in the Archives
What other characters would you like to “follow” through a museum? Maybe something from a favorite book, TV show or movie? This could be fun to continue exploring!