Our family recently drove from Texas to Florida to help Grandma celebrate her 80th birthday. As we crossed into each new state, we stopped at the state welcome center. Welcome centers are always fun for us, we like inspect the displays of state attractions and colorful brochures and flyers. Since I am helping my 2nd grader to understand the concepts of state vs. country vs. continent this school year, I wanted to collect something to show that each state is unique and different from his home state of Texas. I mentioned this fact to the hostess at one Louisiana Welcome Center and she was enthusiastically supportive! She showered us with lots of lovely Louisiana specific items: beautiful calendars, interesting postcards, neon-colored pencils and more. She was even kind enough to go to the “back room” to search out the best brochures listing the important facts of Louisiana. It was her idea to give us two copies of several items- one to save whole and one to cut up for scrapbooks. My 2nd grader was thrilled to have bag full of treasures. As a home educator, I was thrilled that my son was learning about social studies without even knowing it. Our scrapbook will have many lovely pages featuring Louisiana!Not only did I leave that particular welcome center with a new appreciation of Louisiana hospitality, I realized anew that state welcome centers are a treasure trove of information for learning about US history and geography. Next time you take a road trip, don’t look at the welcome center as just a spot to stop stretch your legs. Take time to let the hosts/hostesses know that you are ready to learn about their state. Ask what interesting materials are available. Be sure to look for historical markers that might be near or around the welcome center. Remember to snap a few photos! All of these things will combine to become a living textbook for your children.