The Natural History Museum is a whole world of wonder for both parents and kids. Most major cities have their own museum, such as the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, or the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh (two of my favorites.) When visiting, take your time and really study the various exhibits. From animals both modern and extinct to prehistoric life, and beyond; there are many fun learning opportunities.
Paleontology - The study of dinosaurs other prehistoric creatures
In this department you will find fossilized animals, big and small, along with prehistoric skeletons. The dinosaur room was an exciting place for my classmates and I to visit, as kids. We saw Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops, to name a few. Great fun for any child who loves prehistoric stuff. Seeing the massive bones and the overall size of each animal, seeing these exhibits will give kids the ability to imagine just how large these ancient creatures really were.
Archeology - Studying the ancient history of humans and their cultures
At the Carnegie Natural History Museum, you can actually watch the archeologists work on digging out artifacts out of a big, block of dirt. It is interesting to watch real scientists do their jobs in front of the public. When visiting the Cleveland Museum, scientists also dug out items from a large block of dirt, but at that time it was not public. A friend of mine used to work for the museum and he gave me a tour of the basement, and the archeology workroom. Even as an adult, it left an impression on me.
You can see exhibits of ancient cultures worldwide, such as the pyramid at Chichen Itza in Mexico or the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Learn through dioramas and narration how various groups lived their everyday lives by seeing pottery, tools and clothing.
Zoology- Plant and animal exhibits
Animal lovers will feel right at home here. From bugs to birds, mammals and more, see exhibits of various creatures. It is a good way to get up close and personal with nature, in detail. Dioramas and sometimes live animal exhibits are fun ways for kids to see what the world of animals is all about. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History rehabilitates injured wild animals, and sometimes it is possible to see an animal or two outside, in large pens, as they recuperate.
Geology, or the scientific study of how the world works
Here you will find everything you ever wanted to know about the earth's physical makeup such as tectonics (study of the earth's plates that cause earthquakes,) volcanoes, or the evolution of earth's general landscape, and atmosphere. In short, it is all about how the structure of the world works.
If you want to see gemstones in their original, uncut crystal formations, this is the place to see them. There are high quality specimens of different rocks and minerals, too. Often, there will be an explanation of how each type of element is used in our society today, such as coal, ore and others.
Give your family a fun-filled day at your local Natural History Museum. Browse their gift shops for nature and scientific gifts. By promoting your kids' interest in nature and science, you are giving them fuel to want to more know about these things later. Open childrens' eyes to our amazing natural world, so they will appreciate it for many years to come. In order for our future leaders to want to preserve and protect our world, it is a good for them to first have a basic understanding of what it is all about.