My husband has been singing the praises of the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History for some time, and this past week I found out why. The museum is incredible and I’m so excited to tell you all about it! The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History is located on the campus of the University of Oklahoma, and is home to the university’s natural history collection and its ongoing research in the field. It took us about two hours to get to there from Tulsa, and when we walked in and took in the scale of the museum, I realized that this place was certainly worth a whole day trip. The museum has over 50,000 square feet of exhibits to explore, all filled with beautiful displays and more hands-on information for children than I think I have ever seen!
The first exhibit we visited was the Orientation Gallery which is filled with interactive displays that introduce the visitor to what the museum is about and tells about some of the exciting work that goes on in the research field.
Next we took in the Hall of Natural Wonders exhibit which had the most amazing dioramas depicting the biodiversity of Oklahoma. The scenes are really immersive and give the feeling of walking though the actual habitats.
In the Hall of Ancient Life you weave through the story of prehistoric Oklahoma and come face to face with some giant dinosaurs including the “official state fossil”, the Saurophaganax!
Everyone loved the Discovery Room where things get even more hands-on! Children can dig for bones, play and draw in this area. The museum hosts special activities here throughout the day such as crafts, stories and a chance to feed the reptiles that live there.
The wonderful staff at the museum were kind enough to give the children a little “backstage tour” of the archives and research at the museum, and let me tell you, it’s the real deal! To hear the paleontologists who are actually currently excavating dinosaurs from right here in Oklahoma discuss their findings was mind blowing. You guys, Jurassic Park has nothing on Sam Noble!
In addition to all the great things we saw on our visit, the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History also offers great educational opportunities such as the amazing Explorology which gives young scientist a chance to work in the field.
GIVEAWAY! – now closed
To enter to win free admission for two to the museum, just type “Saurophaganax” in the comment section below and two winners will be chosen at random. Good Luck!
My sweet people surprised me for my birthday with a day trip to Bartlesville to visit the Price Tower. Taylor and I are both Frank Lloyd Wright fans so they knew this was the perfect birthday treat.
It took us around an hour to get there from Tulsa, and as soon as you could see the Bartlesville skyline it was easy to spot the Price Tower. The building stands as “a tree that escaped the forest“ just as Wright intended. The Price Tower is the only skyscraper Wright designed to be brought to fruition. Having visited other famous Wright sites around the country, it was interesting to see the way Wright executed his signature style in this type of structure.
When we arrived for our two o’clock tour, we were told it was full. Oh no! (The lesson here kids is always call ahead!) However the staff was so gracious and brought in another docent for us and let us enjoy drinks in their restaurant, The Copper Restaurant and Bar while we waited.
Our tour started in the entryway of the building where in place of the mural that Mr. Price had requested, Mr. Wright offered the “generous” compromise of a painted quote by Walt Whitman. Then it was on the tiny elevator and up to the conference room and apartment used by the Price family. There were no photos allowed on the tour so I tried to snap a few each time we stepped outside.
Inside the little elevator
A view of the Bartlesville Community Center across the street
The last stop of the tour was Mr. Price’s office on the 19th floor and this was my favorite part. Even though the square footage of the space isn’t much, the natural light is amazing and you can only imagine Mr. Price feeling on top of the world running his business from such an inspired and modern place.
We had such a fun day and I loved hearing the children recognize some of the Wright design principles that are used in our own house, what they liked and didn’t like about them, and how it all made them feel. Their discussion reminded me of why I am a Frank Lloyd Wright fan. What he lacked in practicality, he made up for in uncompromising vision, and that is art and it awakens the mind to new possibilities.
Since I started writing this blog, several people have suggested we give Tours of Tulsa a try. We finally got a chance to do just that and I’m excited to share our tour with you!
We met our guide at the corner of 5th and Boston and got right to it. We were outside the Philcade Building and so we started with an explanation of the architecture and sentimental touches Waite Phillips used on his buildings. We also discussed some of the highlights of the skyline while we stood there, such as how the cupola at the top of the 320 Boston used to be lit according to the weather, and there is talk of bringing it back. It’s also worth mentioning that there are some super cute shops in the first floor of the Philcade Building so go check them out!
Inside the buildings the kids loved hearing the stories of the businesses that were originally located in the building. Penny and I both enjoyed hearing about the men ordering their wives dresses from the original Miss Jackson’s located inside the Philtower.
In the tunnel underground connecting the Philcade and Philtower.
We also visited the vault located underground in the Mid-Century Modern Building, the Atlas Life Building, and the Mid-Continent Building. All were full of great Tulsa stories which were shared with us in such a fun way by Tours of Tulsa.
When we left Viggo said, ” Mom, that was our best tour EVER!” So, there you have it!
Before I wrap it up, a big shout out to the guy pictured below for joining us on the tour and making it possible for me to actually appear in some shots!
I always love visiting the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. It is small enough to be easy but big enough to be an event and the staff is very proud of the history they are holding in the museum. It is a tucked away behind the airport, near the zoo. With an American Airlines MD-80 aircraft out front, it feels almost like an extension of the hangers nearby.
The staff of volunteers there are mostly retired pilots and air enthusiasts who are eager to share what they know about the exhibits and a little about their own air stories as well. If you go with children, I suggest engaging a guide right away, as they can be a bit strict with little ones who are on their own, but quite welcoming when they are allowed to do the guiding.
The first thing we played with at the museum was the flight simulator games at the front. They have a whole classroom set up with them, and everybody was really into it. I had to pry them off to actually go inside the hanger.
Inside the main room of the museum are several vintage aircrafts, some just to look at and some you can climb in, and lots of aviation memorabilia and information all around. I love looking at the old flight attendants uniforms. So cute!
Hello there, Will. The kids recognized this Oklahoma aviation fan right away.
The boys having fun with Bernoulli’s principle.
The upstairs of the museum is set up with a little library and play area. It’s fun and my kids would have probably stayed there for an hour if we hadn’t had to head out to catch the MD-80 tour.
Inside the MD-80 we watched a video on the history of flight, which I thought was interesting, but the kids were too pumped up on the things inside the museum to sit though the whole thing!
If you exit the front of the museum, to your left is the planetarium which has showings every hour and is usually running several options of films for different age groups and interests. You can find out more information on what is showing and also teaching resources related to the films on their website.
I am excited to share a beautiful Tulsa treasure with you this week. The children and I recently enjoyed a guided tour of the lovely Linnaeus Teaching Gardens. The gardens are located in Woodward Park, right behind the Rose Garden. We had a great time learning all about the plants and vegetables they grow in the garden and how the volunteers all work together to tend to the plants and landscape and keep the garden running. The garden has been around for nine years and is maintained completely by volunteers. In addition to general tours of the garden they offer several different educational options geared towards children including story time on weekday mornings and classes one morning a month each dealing with a different subject related to gardening. You can also just walk through and enjoy whenever they are opened!
Another happening at the gardens right now is a photography contest for kids ages 18 and under for pictures taken in the gardens. I brought along a second camera guy for this trip who was pretty excited about that idea.
The kids really liked the herb garden section. Who knew there were so many varieties of basil with so many distinct aromas? Yum.
A perfect pepper find in the vegetable garden!
The greenhouse was full of interesting plants including one that ate bugs, which is what the boys are looking at so intently.
Inside the office of the garden is a station set up with learning resources and even lesson plan ideas for children. Love!
We had so much fun getting a tour of the Hardesty Center for Fab Lab this week. The kids and I caught a peek of the finished Hop Jam guitar, which was made entirely at the Fab Lab, and it was so cool we decided we had to take a trip over there and see all they have going on!
Brandi was our gracious guide and took us around the lab to explore some of the great tools they have there. The first thing we got to check out was the 3-D printer. I was definitely curious about this. The kids got to hold some of the things that had been printed and we were all just blown away by the possibilities of the technology. So cool.
Next up was the laser cutter which can be used for engraving different materials such as wood, acrylics, plastics and more.
Then we headed out to see the large milling machine which was instrumental in creating the Hop Jam guitar. Brandi let everybody touch and explore several different materials that can be used with the mill.
Our class had a super cute visitor. My precious nephew Hanson.
Back inside the kids got to pick out a shape to have cut on the vinyl cutter.
This guy specifically requested “Toothless” and they were happy to accommodate.
Our last stop was the electronics section of the lab which was filled with just about everything you would need to bring your creations to life. The possibilities at Fab Lab are endless, and its great to know a place like this exists.
It was a beautiful morning in Tulsa a few days ago as we headed to the Woody Guthrie Center downtown. The center opened in 2013, but this was our first visit and it was a blast! I’ll be honest and tell you besides hearing my grandparents play his records when I was little, and his obvious calling card “This Land is our Land”, I really didn’t know too much about Woody Guthrie. The center certainly took care of that.
The story of who Woody was and his contributions to the world are presented in a sensory interactive way that brings him to life during your visit. There was very little reading required to enjoy this museum, so even the littlest ones were fully engaged. The first thing you come to is a theatre playing a movie about Woody’s life. I really didn’t expect to be so touched by this film, but the way they emphasized how “American” his style of traveling and taking in different influences from the people around him, got me. Maybe it reminded me of another Okie I know, just a little!
The Beatles exhibit now on display was an added bonus of musical fun. There was some major arguing over whose turn it was to do the “lesson with Ringo” on the drums. That was such a hit. Penny liked listening to the audio of them from one of their first press conferences. She said they sounded a little bit like One Direction.geez.
One more thing, the Woody Guthrie Center has a great selection of lesson plans of their site to supplement your visit. I used This Land is your Land for grade 3 before we went to spark some discussion, and plan to use the Dust Bowl lesson later this week.
Last week the kids and I made the trek to Oklahoma City to visit Harn Homestead with our homeschool group. Harn Homestead is the former home of William Harn who came to Oklahoma to help sort out land disputes after the land run of 1889. He donated half of the land needed to build the capital building, which is right down the street. His niece lived there until 1967 when she handed over the property to Oklahoma City so that children could learn about the life the Harns led. Which is where we come in..
The first stop on our tour was the farmhouse on the property. The house is set up in a surprisingly hands on way to teach kids about the work involved in farm and family life in the turn-of-the early nineteenth century. The kids could “cook” in the kitchen, play in the living room and get dressed in pioneer clothing. It was a full immersion experience and they loved it!
True to form River had his own interpretation of the pioneer look.
Next we visited the one room school house and the kids got a taste of what school was like back then. The visit was complete with bench seats, boys on one side girls on the other, slates and chalk, and a teacher who stayed in character as a pioneer schoolmarm. For a moment I was nervous about our modern manners holding up in this situation, but the children rose to the occasion and played right along!
Just like today, recess is everyone’s favorite part of the school day.
Our last stop was the barn where the kids were given a lesson on the Harn Homtead motto of , “waste not, want not”, by seeing how things on a farm can be used and reused in so many different ways.
When we planned the trip to Harn Homestead, I assumed it would be in a rural area but I was completely wrong. It is a six minute walk from the capital building, right in the middle of the city! Since the Harn’s are part of the history of the land run, Harn Homestead has land run reenactment days in the spring. Our day at Harn Homestead brought an important period in Oklahoma’s history alive and the children left with a personal connection to our state’s pioneering days. Thank you Mr. Harn and Ms. Wilson!
The Tulsa Zoo is a perennial favorite of ours. I think everyone has gone though an animal phase of some kind that could only be satisfied by frequent zoo visits. Since we have a membership, I ask the kids what two or three things are on their must-see list before we go. If we don’t plan ahead this way, I feel obligated to make the trek around the entire zoo which always seems to wear the little ones and mama out past the point of maximum zoo enjoyment!
my map man
On our latest visit we decided to trade our treasures and exchange some nature knowledge at the Cox Nature Exchange. The Nature Exchange is located fairly close to the entrance of the zoo, near the train station.
To participate in the nature exchange, simply bring in any item found in nature, with the exception of most bird related items as those have too many protection laws to chance it. The Nature Exchange helper will assist you with identifying your specimen, and engage with you in conversation about your find. You can then turn in your item and earn points for other items they have in the exchange. If your child doesn’t want to part with their treasure, they can also earn points for any knowledge they share. It’s a brilliant concept for those who love to collect specimens and ask questions and discuss them with others who are interested.
presenting our finds
items you can trade
Honestly, things gathered from nature and brought home for study is one area where I have a hard time matching my children’s enthusiasm so I really appreciated this experience for them!
Everyone left with a plan for what they could bring on their next visit!
We made it over to Claremore this week to say hello to Oklahoma’s favorite son, Will Rogers, at the Will Rogers Museum.
To get everyone’s head around what a guy he was, we watched The Story of Will Rogers, narrated by Bob Hope. The movie has great footage of him with several presidents which was cool for the kids to see because we have been all about the presidents lately!
In front of the building is the tomb and memorial of Will Rogers. Clever quotes are everywhere at this museum, and none more memorable than the one he requested for his epitaph.
” I never met a man I didn’t like” – Will Rogers
Inside the museum there are several rooms each with a different themed display. We enjoyed the large room devoted to family information and mementos. There were lots of photos and some Cherokee writings and bows and arrows which the kids thought were amazing.
Viggo and Penny checking out the display of miniatures depicting scenes from Will’s life.
The lower level of the museum is set up as a play area for kids. There are building stations and a mini stage and backstage area, much like the one Will had made for his own children at his California ranch. River and Willa took advantage of the ropes and things they had out for kids on the lawn.
I really enjoyed our day here. I love when the people working in the museum are genuinely excited about what they are sharing with their guests and that is definitely the case here. One man gave a talk on Will’s life using Will’s style of roping while casually tossing out his signature wit. He also stopped kids all though the museum to ask questions and give them the inside scoop!
I found this scavenger hunt on the museum site and printed them out to use as review once we came home. Scavenger hunt activities can be fun for kids if that is what you are focusing on, but I find they can also take you out of the moment a bit, so a lot of the time I will use them as a before or after supplement to our visit. It was interesting for me to see what they remembered!