Dinosaur Train, Dino Dan, Jurassic World (the Lego version at least) This is my life with two little boys. They love all things dinosaur. They dress up as dinosaurs, I step on dinosaur figurines. My 2 year old can pronounce complicated dinosaur names better than his own name and will correct me if I call a pteranodon a dinosaur (it’s a pterosaur in case you’re wondering). For my oldest, meeting Dr. Scott Sampson, the paleontologist from Dinosaur Train ranks in his top 3 life moments.
Luckily for us Quad Citizens, we have quite a few Jr Paleontologist activities available in our own backyard.
For those that need to dig:
Head to Division Street to get your dino dig on! There are two opportunities for Jr Paleontologists to practice their digging and brushing and fossil hunting techniques. Once is the Dino Dig area of the Putnam Museum
Located in their outdoor area, your little dino trackers will get to work to unearth fossils hidden in the rubbery “dirt”. Tools are provided. After your kids have dug to their hearts content.
Just down 12th street, at the Fejervary Park Learning Center, there is a giant sand pit where where kids can dig, and maybe find a dino bone or two. The Learning Center opens for the season mid April and is definitely worth visiting if you haven’t been to this hidden gem. Bonus for lovers of trains and dinosaurs, they run a G Scale train on Sundays.
Dinos with a hike
Sunderbruch park in Davenport is worth packing a lunch for and taking the kids out on a hike. While the trails are mainly used for mountain biking, there are plenty of trails for hiking. Along the main paved section, you’ll find a statue of dinosaur bones, big enough for kids to run through. There’s an egg that can be climbed through and while your kids are frolicking through the bones, you can take in the beautiful scenery and prairie landscape.
While it is a little more of a drive. Outside of Iowa City you will find the Devonian Fossil Gorge. Massive flooding in 1993 and 2008 washed away soil and revealed a fossilized ocean floor that predates dinosaurs! Kids get to see fossils in place, not in a museum. There is a map/guide available that identifies the fossils. I haven’t taken my boys yet, but this is on my list for warmer weather.
For the more academic outing or for days when the weather is not cooperating. I cannot say enough things about the Fryxell Geology Museum on the Campus of Augustana. That place is awesome. I recently brought my 2 boys there and now my 5 year old is set on studying Geology at Augie. Did you know that an Augustana Paleontologist discovered a dinosaur in Antarctica? The Cryolophosaurus (or King Cryolophosaurus as my Dinosaur Train watching kids know him) was discovered by Dr. Hammer. The museum is tucked away on the campus of Augie and has a cryolophosaurus skeleton, and skulls of lots of other dinos and prehistoric creatures (more pterosaurs) There are tons of awesome fossil and rocks. The place was surprisingly kid friendly. There was scavenger hunt for kids to find different rocks or fossils. The staff gave my kids flashlights to examine things closer with (so they didn’t touch everything). My son even brought a rock he wanted an opinion on and he got to sit down with a geologist and get an explanation. One of the highlights was the fluorescent rock display where you can see different rocks glow under a black light.
Heads up, the museum is closed during the summer, so be sure to check it out before school gets out for the summer.
What did I miss? Do you have a favorite dino spot in the QC or nearby area?