November 17, 2018

Exploring Putnam Museum With Young Kids

When we went to the Quad Cities this fall, our kids were 7 and 9. Fun ages, but in the window between enjoying children’s museums (which they still love) and starting to appreciate science museums geared toward older ages. We went to Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa, and found a place that catered both to the children’s museum fans and science center fans in both of them (with a good dash of history and natural history thrown into the mix).

Things to know about visiting the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa (one of the Quad Cities) - What kids like, how long to expect to spend there, and what's not to be missed #Iowa #familytravel #museum

Disclosure: Our visit to the Quad Cities was hosted by Visit Quad Cities. Admission to the Putnam Museum was free thanks to reciprocal memberships I have with my Omaha Children’s Museum membership. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What to expect at Putnam Museum

The museum is rather large, and at first, may feel a little overwhelming. Where to go to first, was our question. We asked the lady at admissions what she’d recommend for kids and she pointed us toward the science center area, the Egyptian room and said not to miss out on the dinosaur augmented reality screen.

Testing out a simple machine at the Putnam Museum in Iowa
Putnam Museum has a lot of hands-on activities for kids to explore STEM concepts.

Those were good tips. The science center was the first spacein the museum you walk into, so that was easy to find. In it, kids and adultscould explore 45 hands-on stations. Some were loud, like really loud.

Putnam Science Center inside the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa
This was a magnetic exhibit that I wish I knew better how to explain. There were 45 areas in the science center and I’ve already forgotten how half of them worked.

My son was drawn toward exhibits with touch screens, like ones where you could compose music or edit a video.

My daughter probably could’ve spent the entire afternoon “playing” with the dinosaurs. In this room, you could stand in front of a screen and watch dinosaurs walk, crawl or fly by you. It entertained the kids for a long time.

Augmented reality exhibit at Putnam Museum
The exhibit “Back to the Jurassic” is an augmented reality experience that thrilled my kids. It’s a 5-minute program with dinosaurs that you can interact with on screen.

And me. I’ll admit it.

The museum is also part natural history museum, so like I mentioned earlier there’s a room with mummies and artifacts from ancient Egypt. That was an impressive room.

Ancient Egypt exhibit at Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa
Learning about mummies and Egyptian hieroglyphs at the Putnam Museum in the Quad Cities.

But there were may other areas to see that explore history,especially history as it related to the Quad Cities.  In that space, you walked through the history of these rivertowns, all the way back to the time of Native Americans. There’s a kids spacetucked in the back of this exhibit that allowed for dress up and pretend play.

If you have a kid interested in animals around theworld, you’ll encounter displays of animals throughout the museum. The exhibitthat featured river creatures and plants was very well done and interactive.The one with more exotic animals like a polar bear and rhino appeared a littlemore dated.

Things to know about Putnam Museum

We arrived at the end of the day and had about an hour and a half to explore.  We saw and played with quite a bit of things in that short period of time. I’d recommend allowing at least two to three hours here.

Playing with a robot at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa
My son tested a robot’s “vision” during our visit to Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa.

While we didn’t get to watch anything, there’s also an IMAX theater in the building.

Tip: Putnam Museum is part of the Association of Science &Technology Centers. If you have a membership to another ASTC museum (and inOmaha, that would be Omaha Children’s Museum), you can get free admission for up to four people. This is a great deal! Learn more about reciprocal membership benefits like the the ASTC program here.

Exhibit at Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa
Can any kid resist playing with air pressure? Kids can put a scarf in a tube and wait for it to shoot out the top. This area of the Putnam Museum entertained my youngest for a long time.

Putnam Museum is one of 250+ museums that belong to the ASTC reciprocal membership program. To find out all the kid-friendly museums like it that are within driving distance of Omaha, read this post!

If you go

Putnam Museum

Where: 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, Iowa


Things to know before visiting the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa - It's part science center, part history museum and a lot of fun. Tips on what to see and how much time to expect to spend there #quadcities #familytravel #museum

Plan a Quad Cities Family Trip

Want to visit Putnam Museum along with some other great family-friendly attractions in the Quad Cities (which are Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline and Rock Island)? Read on for some of my favorite places:

Fun Things To Do With Kids In The Quad Cities

Where To Stay In The Quad Cities – Illinois Side

The Figge Art Museum And Kids

Free Things To Do With Kids In The Quad Cities

Comparing Hotels Around The Quad Cities

Get Travel Inspiration Directly In Your Inbox

Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

February 24, 2014

5 Road Trip Essentials For My Kids

Mr. Wonderful and I used to be afraid of road trips with the kids. The thought of being trapped in a car with our children for longer than an hour made us sweat.

And then, we had to get to St. Louis – an eight-hour drive if we’re lucky. I recently wrote a Mom It Forward guest post talking about road trippin’, specifically escaping from the car on our way to St. Louis and enjoying unexpected stops. But, what about while we’re in the car? How did the kids stay entertained?

I turned to friends and Pinterest (and friends on Pinterest). Who knew…turns out I’m not the first to come up with a list of road trip essentials. I tried a lot of the suggestions from Pinterst (here are two I liked – DIY Home Sweet Home’s plan of attakc for a 16-hour trip and A Year With Mom and Dad’s 101 ideas) and especially liked what friends recommended.

Below are 5 Road Trip Essentials That Entertained My Kids

Melissa and Doug lace1. Melissa and Doug Lace and Trace Sets– I love these things. I picked one up as an impulse buy and it has become essential. My preschooler threaded and rethreaded and knotted and unknotted his set for at least an hour. It did not have the same draw on Mooch, so know that the under 3 crowd isn’t ready for it.

2. Melissa & Doug Water Wow Bundle Animals, Alphabet and Numbers Paint Kit – These were highly recommended by a few of my mom friends, so I got one for each kid. Thank God I did or there would’ve been some fights over it. If you buy one thing, but this! Both kids scribbled in these for a long time. And then once they dried up, they were able to reuse them. For a “coloring” book, this is as mess free as it gets.Water wow

3. Stickers and paper – If you have a toddler, there’s a good chance they have an unhealthy obsession with stickers. You can hand them paper – or a clipboard – but most likely they’ll just cover themselves with stickers. Who cares as long as they’re entertained and not screaming at you?

Any stickers will do – I save some I get in the mail or the ones kids get at the doctor. If your kid is a fan of a character or something, surprise them with stickers of it. Mooch loves dogs and cats, so I can’t go wrong with stickers of these: Eureka Stickerbook – Dogs and Cats Learning Playground Sticker Book

4. Snacks – This is obvious. I bend my own rules when we’re on the road and so I keep an abundance of snacks – salty, sweet, fruit, junk – and hand them out whenever kids get unruly. Things that go over well with my family:

Goldfish Crackers – Get 4 pounds of it for under $20: Pepperidge Farm Baked Goldfish Crackers – 66oz (4.1 lbs)

Fruit snacks – My kids tried Welch’s Fruit Snacks for the first time recently and now they’re hooked. This will be a staple from now on (and not just for road trips – they ask for these most days). Get a variety of them to have rotation, if you want: Welchs Fruit Snacks 36 Count 2.25oz (Mixed Fruit, Berries ‘N Cherries, Strawberry)

Apples – Who knew you could order apples in bulk on Amazon? Fuji Apples – 4 lb

Fruit “Squeezies” – My family isn’t particularly brand-loyal nor flavor-loyal on the fruit squeezable stuff – they’ll inhale anything I hand them. I think they’re made to be portable, but they’re kinda mess with my kids. Nature’s Child Squeezers, SpongeBob Grape, 3.17-Ounce (Pack of 60)

M&Ms – Doled out responsibly. Under $12 for 3.5 pounds, check it: M&M Candy, Milk Chocolate, 56 Ounce

5. Books – And lots of them. I brought library books they hadn’t read yet as well as a few of their favorites. Lift-the-flap keeps youngster self-entertained for a little while, but I ended up reading books while twisted uncomfortably from the front seat. Farley’s birthday was not long after the St. Louis trip and received an electronic reader and I totally wish I had it with us. At 4, he’s able to understand how it works. They come in different themes (like Disney). Here’s the one he got: Thomas & Friends Me Electronic Reader and 8-Book Library

What are some of your road trip essentials?

Disclosure: I received complimentary Welch’s Fruit Snacks to sample and write about. All opinions expressed in this post are mine. This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing an item through an affiliate link does not cost you extra, it simply helps bloggers like me keep writing about the things we love.