Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C.

Every week of the summer vacation, I pretend to travel to a new country with my kids. This week, however, I cheated a little. We went to Washington, D.C.

Literally.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


It's within a day's drive of our house in New England, and we took a 6-day vacation there.

But even if you can't physically visit Washington, D.C., you can follow along and use the resources I've laid out to help the kids learn about the capital of the United States of America.

(This post contains my affiliate link. If you click through and buy something from my site, the cost remains the same for you but I get a small commission. Boom. Full disclosure.)

Monday


Today was road trip day, driving to Washington, D.C. I'm used to serious multi-day road trips like our 44-hour round trip home for Christmas, so this was a piece of cake. Well, sort of. We did pull over for two pit stops in the first hour and a half...

We brought along a lot of standard road trip entertainment for the kids, but we also brought a lot of educational materials. And since they were trapped in the car with nothing else to do, they pretty much had to look at them (insert evil laughter here.)

I read out loud Capital by Lynn Curlee, and it was the perfect introduction to Washington, D.C. and its major monuments and important buildings. I learned a lot of the history behind the city and it was still concise enough to keep my kids interested. Even the preschooler.

Throughout the rest of the trip, I had all the educational books stashed up front with me. Periodically I'd read the titles to the kids and have them pick one they wanted to read. When they were done they gave a little report to everyone in the car.

I could lie and say that I didn't have to bribe them to do this by promising either a snack or a "fun" book next, but I won't.

The books we used were:
We also watched the DVD Inspector Gadget's Field Trip Series: Washington, D.C. and Virginia from Disney Educational Productions. My kids didn't know who Inspector Gadget was (more my generation than theirs,) but they were pretty happy with the movie nonetheless.

In looking for some "funner" fiction books set in or having something to do with D.C., I realized that there are sure a lot of mystery books set in Washington. Why is that?
Because they'd done all the reading up on the monuments and buildings in Washington, D.C., when the Washington Monument came into view the car erupted into awed chaos. From their reaction you'd think a spaceship had landed next to us on the highway.

It was really cool to see them so excited. Made me think that we should do the same for our next vacation, building it up by learning all about the location instead of just showing up and saying, "here we are!"

After we got all checked in to the hotel, we drove over to the Lincoln Memorial. We planned to use the subway most of the time, but this was just a quick evening trip and there weren't Metro stations on the Lincoln side of the Mall. (Don't know if it was because it's August and too hot for regular tourists to want to come here, or because it was evening, but it was super-easy to find a parking spot.)

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


As a bedtime story we read Underground Train by Mary Quattlebaum, a picture book about the Metro in Washington D.C. It was mostly to get my preschooler excited about riding the subway tomorrow, which she hasn't done since she was old enough to remember.


Tuesday


Unfortunately two of our kids didn't feel well this morning (and by "didn't feel well" I mean one of them barfed three times,) but they still said they wanted to go out, anyway.

We took the Metro to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, which was kind of crowded and not the best place for babies and toddlers. My poor sick kids dragged themselves around from bench to bench and just sat whenever they could, even though they wanted to be there.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


The National Archives are nearby so afterward we walked there to view the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. On the plus side, there was no line. However, the baby was getting cranky and the sick kids were at their limit. So we just sort of dashed in and dashed out. At least we tried.

The kids thought it was cool when we watched National Treasure that night back at the hotel, but in retrospect I would've probably watched the movie before going there to drum up some excitement for it.

Because let's face it, waiting in line to view old documents in words they can't understand and script too fancy for them to read could use a little drumming up.


Wednesday

Today we took the subway to the White House and looked at the view from the front and the back. My daughter said she wouldn't like everyone staring at her house and taking pictures of it all the time.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


After a brief detour to a nearby splash park called The Yards for playing and lunch (you do have to take the subway there,) it was back to the Mall to see the Washington Monument up close. We laid in the shade of the monument for a while and watched helicopters flying overhead to the White House and back.

We walked down to the WWII Memorial next, where the baby wanted to walk up and down a wheelchair ramp for 25 minutes and my 3-year-old wanted to know if we could go swimming in the fountain in the middle.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Even though there are signs all over saying "No wading," the pool was lined with people with their shoes off dipping their feet in. Is that not as disrespectful as wading? We told her no.

We'd hoped to make it all the way across the Mall over to the Vietnam War Memorial today, but it was too far for little legs to walk. Maybe some other time. When we got back to the hotel, I at least read The Wall by Eve Bunting as a bedtime story.

Thursday

This was a really rough day, mostly because someone should've stayed back at the hotel to make sure the baby took naps. But we didn't, and by the time we got to the National Air and Space Museum he was already visibly tired and irritated.

By the time we were going back he'd reached the level of screaming inconsolably and writhing on the floor of the Metro while the other riders on the car tried to look away and be polite.

We all took a nap back at the hotel, and then went out again after dinner to see the Jefferson Memorial and the FDR Memorial. I have to tell you, evening monument viewing is the coolest. The weather is perfect that time of day, plus you get to see the sun set in the backdrop. And the nighttime lighting on the monuments makes them look even more beautiful than they do in the daytime.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The downside is, everyone ends up going to bed at 10pm including the 3-year-old and the baby.


Friday

Having learned from our debacle of a day yesterday, Phillip took the kids out to the National Museum of Art and the National Museum of American History while I stayed at the hotel with the baby. Good choice, because he was exhausted 20 minutes after they left and slept for 3 hours.

When he woke up, we took the Metro and joined them at the U.S. Botanic Garden. It's not that big, but somehow we ended up spending a really long time here looking at all the different habitats.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

My kids liked the "jungle" best (you could walk overhead on the "canopy" level.) We also stayed for a long time in the Children's Garden which had flowers you could water. The baby methodically waddled back and forth with a watering can about 300 times until we had to pry it from his hands and haul him screaming out of the botanic garden.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We meandered up toward the Capitol building and had a snack in the shade out front. I'd read the kids House Mouse, Senate Mouse by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes before they left that morning, which actually gave them a pretty good feel for what goes on inside the Capitol.

By now the kids had been walking all day, but we decided to stop in and take a look around part of the National Art Gallery on our way back to the Metro.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Not sure the floor was supposed to be the most interesting part, but okay.

We read Madeline at the White House by John Bemelmans Marciano before bed, and turned out the lights on our last day in Washington, D.C.



Saturday

Today we filled up on hotel breakfast and made the drive home.

I brought along the DVD White House Pets from Animal Planet; Phillip and I learned a few fun facts by listening and my kids started yelling, "I've been there!" when the video showed pictures of Fala the dog at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Just like on the drive there, we used a mix of "fun" books and educational books. I'd more or less reserved the ones that would make good "review" books for the ride home, including:


This Washington D.C. coloring book is also awesome, with line drawings and a short paragraph about each of the landmarks.

I'm not sure that my kids bargained on having such an educational vacation, but honestly, I think they got more out of it than they would have otherwise. And we got to stop for ice cream on the way home, so everyone was a winner either way.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Visiting Washington, D.C. -- Even if you can't physically go to Washington, D.C., you can use the resources and links here to teach your kids all about the capital of the United States of America.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


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6 comments:

  1. I so want you to be my mommy. Let's face it, DC IS a foreign country! You did an outstanding job!
    I see a watering can present in the baby's future!

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    1. Yep, birthday shopping is made easy this year.

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  2. Are you sure you don't homeschool your kids during the school year but just don't tell us about it?

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    Replies
    1. Well, I think I might be homeschooling during the summer because I'm EXHAUSTED by the time September comes!

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  3. One of my first thoughts when traveling with kids is I hope there are nice bathrooms. Then when we get to where we are going it's usually how are we going to make sleep work.

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    Replies
    1. Those are really the only two things that matter when you have little kids with you, to be honest.

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