7 engaging activities with Kids in Spain

We just finished a month in Toledo, Spain.  Traveling with kids is wonderful and challenging. We didn’t try to cover the entire country but what we did cover, we think is worth sharing,

Here is our scoop….

We took 2 quick trips; one to Grenada and one to Barcelona, and a day trip to Valencia to get a taste for some of Spain’s offerings.

Here’s a roundup of what we did:

  1.  Grenada – we visited the AlhambraIMG_5586and then… spent some time at the beachimg_0822

    Spain is great for Churros, don’t forget about the Porrasimg_0733image

  2. Cathedral in Toledo

    Toledo Christmas lights in the street

    Toledo Cathedral at Night

    National pride was strong while Catalan stressed the national unity.


  3. Greco Museum in Toledo
  4. The Prado in Madrid see how we attempted to teach our kids something about art on our visit HERE.img_0966img_0969
  5. Valencia Spain has an incredible aquarium that our boys loved!  We were there in November and it wasn’t crowded at all.img_0866img_5728
  6. In Barcelona we learned about Dali and Gaudi.  La Segrada Familia was incredible and we would go back in a heartbeat.  The Dali Museum did not disappoint, but please know that this is not directly in Barcelona.  It is about an hour and a half or so away.  All in, we loved Barcelona and wished we could have spent more time there.

    Dali is sooo cool



    The coolest church I have ever been in. Period. Period.

  7. Zoo in Madrid was a hit and in November there wasn’t much of a crowd at all.

    The Madrid Zoo was really a nice zoo


    All in, we loved Spain and will miss it, but alas….all roads lead to Rome.  So next up on our journey is the Eternal City!

How to get kids (and parents) through the Prado…and learn something.

I would not consider our family as a truly “artsy” family, as in I have zero drawing talent.  I still use stick people.  But, art is important, and can be interesting to look at.  Sometimes.  But we have three boys that would rather start fires and collect rocks than look at art.  So, knowing that, I decided to try something different for The Prado Museum,  (El Museo National del Prado), I channeled my inner teacher.  I sought out some supplies.  Then, I made my kids listen to me.  Sort of….

Here’s what I bought at the Prado, before we visited:

  1. The Prado Guide
  2. These bookmarks
  3. Mateo at the Museum
  4. Little Story of the Prado Museum
  5. Goya for Children
  6. The Great Art Treasure Hunt
  7. A map that I picked up from the info desk

This was in the bag of stuff I picked up from the Prado gift shop.  Yep….I went to the Museum WITHOUT kids to get some very Prado Museum specific items.

  • I could not find all the items in Amazon, but hopefully you get the idea.  Also, the bookmarks I purchased are the 2018 version but I could only link to 2016.
  • I went back to look through the online gift shop for the Prado and could not find ANY of these items.
  • If you want to repeat what I did, unfortunately you’ll actually have to go to the gift shop and purchase some of these things in person.
  • On the up side, the Museum is free Monday-Saturday 6-8pm and Sundays and holiday 5-7pm.  So, one night I headed in to pick up my supplies.  Then the fun began.  Sorta.

I read through Mateo at the Museum and Little Story of the Prado over the course of a week or so with the boys.  Little Story of the Prado has quite a bit of information, so I broke it up over several days and just read a page or two at a time.  Then I talked about it with the boys, at dinner as we were in the car…  And talked.  And talked.

  • And about once a day I asked them why was the Prado named the Prado?  (Hint:  Prado means meadow in Spanish)
  • Who was a major driving force in helping the Prado come to fruition?
  • What was stolen from the Prado a long time ago?
  • Why were the paintings moved and where to?

The boys had lots of opportunities to tell and retell this information so they knew at least some stuff before the big day.

  • Every time we came across a reference in any of the books about a piece at the Prado, we looked it up in the Guide so they could see exactly what the piece was going to look like.

Another book that we spent time looking at was The Great Art Treasure Hunt.  Our 4 year old loved it and while not all the pieces in it are at the Prado, it really helped him look at different art with detail while paying attention to other elements and “finding” other items in a painting.   I would highly recommend it for any younger kids.  These books gave our kids quite a bit of exposure to several pieces that we planned to see at the Prado.

After all this, it was time for me to get MY ducks in a row.

The night before:

  • I marked on my museum map where several pieces were that we talked about and wanted to see.  The Prado is just so big and overwhelming and I didn’t want the boys to get burned out looking at art that they didn’t know anything about.  So, knowing that I would have limited attention from the boys, we just planned to see certain pieces.

And the day of?!  How did it go?!  And why did you buy bookmarks?

So glad you asked!  We went to the Prado in the morning because the boys are much better off first thing in the morning.  Once we got there Joe dropped us off because there was a protest of sorts going on (true story).  He went to find parking which was an entirely different story, but the boys and I headed inside.  I handed out 2 or 3 bookmarks to each kid.  These bookmarks had a piece of a painting on them so the boys needed to be really looking around to find their paintings!


Fransico de Goya, Pero semibundid (Half Submerged Dog)

I was sure to give the youngest one the more recognizable one and the hardest ones went to our 14 year old.  Poor guy!  So, the boys played a bit of a treasure hunt type game and then we referred to our map and hit the rest of the paintings that we had in mind (we focused on Spanish painters, and the Dauphin’s Treasure (that were stolen years ago and then partially recovered!).  The most memorable piece for the boys was the Queen standing with one hand on a set of blueprints (for the future Prado) and her other hand pointing out the window at what would be, the finished Prado Museum (she died before it all came to fruition, but this painting is a tribute to her).


Bernardo Lopez Piquer, Maria Isabel de Braganza

At the end of it all….I think the boys learned something.  I don’t know if they loved it, but there are some paintings they should recognize.  We tried our best to keep it fun.

For anyone wanting to try sometime similar in a museum of their choosing, here’s what I recommend:

  1.  Pick where you want to go
  2. Buy/borrow/rent some material specific to the themes at that location
  3. put the time in and teach it to your kids, well in advance
  4. review and talk about it often, just 2 or 3 minutes a day helps
  5. prepare and map our what you’re doing so there’s limited “down time”
  6. incorporate some type of game
  7. keep it short and to the point, don’t try and do EVERYTHING
  8. a good attitude will go far in having some fun!

More In Ireland…

We did some math and realized we needed to get out of Schengen https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area?wprov=sfti1

In order to come back in time for Christmas and what not.

So far the Emerald Isle has been pretty beautiful. We lucked out and got a really nice location for an air B and B. We can see harbor seals swim in the bay from time to time! More to come!

Here is our view for the next few weeks! We live a very wonderful life!

France and Italy whirl wind!

Hi Friends!  It has been a while since our last post.

We are now in Slovenia and are settled in our nice country cottage, nick named the Apple Tree Cottage.

10 Things to do when staying in an Air B and B:

  1. Video the place when you get there, pictures work too
    • Take pictures of dishes, glasses, to get a count etc
    • Anything that is already broken
  2. Ask for specific directions on washer and drier, appliances.
    • Driers in Slovenia have condensers for the water not vents, who knew!
  3. Ask for directions before you get there for how to use the door lock
    • “Lift up on the handle and then use the key”, who knew!
  4. They don’t actually want you to use the wood fired oven, even though they promote it on the listing…
  5. Internet Access doesn’t always mean internet access, sometimes it just means they have a router and you must do the rest to set it up.
  6. Bring your own knives
  7. Bring your own food storage, Tupperware…
  8. Sometimes sofa cushions are called sofa beds
  9. Ask for a discount ahead of time, weekly and monthly discounts are significant
  10. All communication should go through the Air B and B app, this way if there is a dispute, Air B and B can see the progression.

Paris is so charming.  We had a whirlwind tour.

Food, Food, Food!!  Louvre, Catacombs, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame:

Sarah Fell in Love with Italy!

Parma Cheese, except nothing less than the DOP Parma!

Balsamic:  Anything less than 12 yrs isn’t Balsamic… don’t be fooled…

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta, Whit was in heaven.

Warm people. Very clean, hospitable and we can’t wait to get back.

Sarah said she felt like she could half understand what people were saying!

A Guide to being a good Slovenian team player (mostly sourced from a snarky Slovenian, I am just the conduit, not poking fun at Slovenia)…

  1. Wood, have lots of it!  Use it to heat your house as needed, but definitely pile it up neatly and in good order.
  2. Mow lawn, as frequently as your neighbor mows their lawn.  Preferably right before your neighbor mows.
  3. Vegetable Garden: as big and well kept as your neighbors.
  4. Flowers: in the garden and around the house, well kept and colorful
  5. Have a wine yard, not quite a vineyard, but some vines for making home vino
  6. If you don’t have #1-5, have a job that pays for 1-5
  7. Conserve: fuel, water, everything
  8. Sort your garbage: paper, plastic rubbish, compost
  9. Skip shower a few times per week, have a beer or wine instead of showering.
  10. Have a hay rack or at least a picture of one, Kozolec

pictures to come….