7 Pre-trip Educational Travel Adventures

{On the Go} *practical traveling tips & tricks for families
Have you ever driven the coast of California? A few years back, I enjoyed a tour exploring the history of William Randolph Hearst and his ocean-side home. Growing up, Hearst studied on the road with his mother while traveling throughout Europe. This is where his passion for art and creativity stems.

Only through freedom and environmental experience is it
practically possible for human development to occur.
{Maria Montessori}

Travel can be a wonderful way to spark curiosity. Any trip can be made educational weeks before you step foot into a train, plane, or automobile.

This summer our family will be trekking out to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our trip is two months away, but we’ve been studying for weeks already. We’ve been covering a variety of topics including: cave spelunking, the history of Native Americans, the geology of the region, as well as the presidents of Mount Rushmore.

{7 Pre-trip Educational Adventures}The key is finding a good topic to study.
Don’t limit yourself. Go beyond geography.
Find the story.

South Dakota is also a fossil heavy state so we are also
studying dinosaurs
. The girls can’t wait to participate in the Junior Ranger Archeology Program (PDF) and The Mammoth Site Jr. Paleontology Program on our trip.

Come and join our pre-trip studies!
You can easily make any travel adventure
educational AT HOME using the 7 tips below.

1. Reserve 101 books. Start off every travel adventure at your library! Not sure what to check out? We started our adventure by reserving these 20 picture books about dinosaurs. Click here for 35+ dinosaur books for kids.

Parenting Tip: Searching for books with a little one asking , “Can we get this book too, Mama?” can be a challenge. Check to see if your library offers online book reservations. This can be a lifesaver for moms. Reserve your titles and simply pick-up your stack at the checkout desk.

{35+ Dinosaur Books} *Plus 7 tips for studying them

2. Have your child create a report. Make this classic activity as simple or complex as you wish. The report can include detailed facts and information or be all drawings! Ours started with Melissa & Doug Textured Dinosaur Stencils, then it expanded to online research, and finally a c0-published document. In other words, a wonderful collection of drawings, fun facts, and about thirty staples!

{7 tips for studying dinosaurs}

3. Utilize the power of the iPad. Search for interactive and educational apps to entertain your child. We always check Common Sense Media before making purchases. Two highly recommended dinosaur apps include: the Ultimate Dinopedia: Complete Dinosaur Reference ($4.99) by National Geographic for older children and Dinosaur Train Eggspress ($1.99) by PBS Kids for younger kids.

Turn TV time around. In other words, if your kids are spending time in front of the boob tube, make sure they are watching an educational program. We kicked off with Dinosaurs and other Creature Features by National Geographic. We’ve got a list of 30 dinosaur DVD titles that we intend to reserve from the library.

Parenting Tip: Many educational programs showcase the predatory nature of dinosaurs.
Please use caution when selecting the right show for your child.

{30 Dinosaur DVDs} *Plus 7 outher resouces for studying dinosaurs

5. Themed puzzles can open the door to conversations. Find a puzzle just beyond your child’s skill level and work on it together. This offers you the opportunity to sit and quietly talk about your trip. We are working collaboratively on this 300 piece The End of an Era Cardboard Jigsaw Puzzle. It is the perfect conversation starter. Below are six of my all time favorite Melissa & Doug dinosaur puzzles:

{Awesome Dinosaur Puzzles} *Plus 7 tips for studying dinosaurs...

6. Celebrate with crafts and projects. Kids love to grab the scissors, glue, paint, and glitter. Looking for fun crafts? Check out the 20 Must Follow Moms Pinterest board for ideas. We are totally doing this Clothespin Stegosaurus activity.

{Clothespin Stegosaurus } *Plus 7 other ways to learn about dinosaurs

7. Be a tourist in your own town. While it is always fun to travel to new places, don’t underestimate the value of your local libraries, museums, and galleries. Search for events, readings, or exhibits that revolve around your topic.

Question of the Day

Where are you traveling this summer? If you’re having a hard time finding “the story” to run with, let me know. I am happy to help you brainstorm topics and ideas!

PS: Every Thursday through July, the Melissa & Doug blog — The Playtime Press — will give you the inside scoop from three top-rated blogger moms on their favorite tips & tricks for families on the go. Whether your travel plans include visiting a nearby city or heading clear across the country, your child will savor all the exciting adventures to be had along the way!

{On the Go} *practical traveling tips & tricks for families

Disclaimer: 2013 Blog Ambassador Let’s Lasso the Moon is proud to be part of the 2013 Blog Ambassador program. We worked hard alongside Melissa & Doug as an affiliate to explore fun ways to keep children inquisitive and to promote classic creative play. This post does include affiliate links. Click here to read our full sponsorship disclosure.

Image Credit:  Thank you to Katsuhito Nojiri for sharing her photo under Creative Commons.
See more of her work here at Sydney Treasures Photography.


  1. says

    Thanks for the post – give me some ideas on what to do before our summer trip to Italy. I love the two dinosaur apps you have. Have you tried “Oh Say Can You Say Di-No-Saur – all about dinosaurs”? It is also a great one.

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