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We’ve completed our first week on the road. We’re still trying to strike a balance between education and fun. Today, I based our itinerary on location, focusing on one particular area of town. That area happened to include two museums: the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum – probably one too many museums for Aidan.

Travel TipTravel Tip 10: Give your kids context.

Before leaving the States, both Nathan and Aidan started to read “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Nathan and I also read “Lust for Life” by Irving Stone about the life of Vincent Van Gogh. These books provided much needed context to what we saw in Amsterdam.

From Nathan: I couldn’t believe that eight people fit into a tiny space like that. I would have had a hard time not being able to make any noise, because I like to move around. I am glad that I was not a Jew in the 1940’s, hiding from the Nazis. It must of been hard for the Franks and other families to pack up all their belongings and move into cramped spaces.

Travel Tip 11: Go early or go late.Travel Tip

You’ll find the shortest lines at most museums first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon. However, we decided to sleep in this morning instead of getting in line at the Anne Frank House at 9:30 a.m. We paid by encountering an hour’s wait when we arrived at 11 a.m.

From Nathan: At the Van Gogh Museum, there were four floors filled with all of his paintings, sketches, and drawings. I never knew than Van Gogh drew so much of his inspiration from so many different artists. He also changed his style of painting so many times. I guess that he was trying to find out who he wanted to be.

From Aidan: The Van Gogh museum had LOTS of art in it. I asked for a kids’ treasure hunt. You had to find all these paintings and write their titles or your impression of the paintings. My favorite piece of art was Yellow House. I liked it because it had nice colors, and I liked that the piece was of something real.

Travel TipTravel Tip 12: Get the kids’ activity packs.

Most museums offer some sort of free kids’ explorer book. At the Van Gogh Museum, it saved us! It helped Aidan to engage with what he was seeing.

In between visiting the two museums, the boys climbed the I AMSTERDAM sign in front of Rijksmuseum.

From Aidan: I think that the best thing we did today was climbing on the Amsterdam statue. I gave my mom a scare when I climbed the highest point and stood up (see photos). It was quite fun.

See tomorrow’s entry for the boys’ surprise!