A few weeks ago, on a rather drizzly Saturday morning, we took a family field trip to the zoo. We saw a variety of animals, but spent most of our time in the Children’s Zoo section with the prairie dogs and the reptiles. Conveniently, this corresponded to the April’s focus over at the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Our Outdoor Hour at the Zoo began with a ride on the carousel for the older two while the younger two watched. We did offer to Z-urchin the chance to ride as well, but he was not at all interested.
Z-urchin is wearing my sweater because it was a little colder than we were expecting and Princess K- whose jacket we forget- was wearing his jacket. Next, we headed over to the Children’s Zoo section and stayed a long time watching the prairie dogs. We were all enchanted by the sweet baby prairie dog and fascinated watching them dig and forage around for things to munch on. The zoo had a model of a burrow, depicting the different rooms the prairie dogs build for different purposes. They have a nursery, bedrooms, a listening spot, and even a restroom. One thing I learned that I found quite interesting is that several generations of a family might live in a burrow for 20 years or more; which makes me wonder why they end up moving. Is it destruction or disintegration of their home? Enemies? Troubles with food or water supply? The zoo also has kid-sized prairie dog tunnels in which to walk, crawl, and play. We were in no hurry, so the kids spent plenty of time exploring these.
After the kids were finished playing and watching the prairie dogs, we wandered over to the bird and reptile area of the Children’s Zoo. They have a fun place to take pictures, a little statue of a tortoise, a grassy area where several large birds and birds of prey rest, and buildings that contain a baby American alligator, a tortoise, the cutest little baby turtles, an iguana, and a California king snake. The kids had fun getting their pictures taken.
I was fascinated by this baby American alligator- even though we were separated by a wall of glass, a little tendril of fright zipped through me. He looks like he is smiling- but those teeth! Perhaps it was the creepiness of a predator smiling while staring me down- like he was eagerly anticipating his lunch. Princess K really loved the baby turtles and stood watching them for a long time. We learned how to tell a turtle from a tortoise: look at their feet! Turtles feet are equipped for swimming in the water, where they live; tortoises have club shaped feet to handle walking- slowly- on land, where they live.
We saw several large birds: an owl, a hawk, and a turkey.
Next, we wandered over to the petting zoo. The kids got to pet goats and sheep, try out getting up on saddles, and see donkey. I saw the funniest thing- a goat resting on a bench. That is definitely a first for me.
Finally, we had lunch by a rope web the kids loved climbing in and on and Z-urchin found a new hat.
That was our Outdoor Hour field trip to the zoo! We did go outside a number of times in April, but unfortunately, did not have a nature study or walk time. We had birthdays, company, and life get in the way.
I look forward to getting back into nature study this next month with garden flowers and crops as our focus. Speaking of flowers, one thing that delighted me was that X-man noticed a Bermuda Buttercup at the zoo- a flower (weed) we have growing in our backyard that he drew in his nature journal last month!
One of my favorite parts about nature study and nature journaling (though it’s true that I have many favorite parts) and truly, one of my favorite parts of homeschooling itself is getting to see the growth and development blossom before my eyes and I get to see the result of his learning. It is exciting and a great blessing to me.
Many heads turned in our direction as Daddy strolled our four children on our way back to the car. We didn’t care! We were having fun! Though it was drizzly and a little cold- it was a beautiful day!