Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our old stomping ground

    The boys remembered my promise for a real week off from school.  We've been looking so forward to an April vacation and we kicked off just right with a trip to the zoo.  I told all the boys as soon as they got up that we would be going to the zoo today but that since it was vacation they could watch TV, play video games, etc. and not get ready right away.  I counted on their enthusiasm to make sure they would be ready in a timely manner and it worked!  We read a few more chapters in Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone at breakfast and then the boys helped me pack lunches and get out the door.  We were planning to stop at the library and the post office today but decided to wait until after the zoo since Evan had a chapter book due back that he had not yet finished reading.  Alec offered to read it out loud to Evan in the car so we all got to laugh along with A.J. and his friends in the Weirder School Book, Miss Kraft is Daft.  We also had a great discussion in the car about the big bang theory.  I have no idea how Alec learned what that was but when there was a sentence in the book that talked about the big bang theory, Alec took it upon himself to tell Evan what that was.  Even though he knew what it was he didn't totally understand why scientists believe in that theory and started asking questions.  Next thing I knew we had talked about evolution, about the Christianity view of creation, we talked about our Earth's orbit, why and how we have seasons, the Earth's axis, the old beliefs that the world was flat and the Earth was the center of the universe.  We talked about hypothesis and theories and why scientists can't know for sure how human life started.  We talked about how theories change as new information is discovered and learned. We talked about how science is all about asking questions and trying to find answers; but I warned them that along the way it usually leads to lots more questions.   It was great. 
     It was a nice (if somewhat still cold) day and we had a great time at the zoo.   Now that I'm a homeschooling mom I tend to look for any and all types of learning opportunities.  We don't do things all that differently but I sure do look at things differently now.   When the kids were young or in school and I was "just a mom" looking to keep my kiddos occupied I would have known a trip to the zoo was educational but I would have been more focused on keeping them busy and less occupied with HOW it was educational.  Fast forward a few years as a homeschooler and it's like I have education radar-- I just tune into those times we're having discussions so much more!  In the car I was thinking WOW! What a great science discussion and we're doing all sorts of reading today too!  Once at the zoo I noticed how much attention the boys paid to all the signs and maps.  Ian started pointing out which maps appeared to have animals that came from Guyana (most of the maps and signs show what continent the animals are from) but Ian now knows exactly where in South America Guyana is located and started pointing out all the signs that showed that area in red.  Alec was having a hard time deciding between a few stuffed animals at the gift shop (yeah, I know I'm a total sucker for souvenirs!)  and started to read the tags on them; next thing I knew he was telling me all about poison dart frogs.  "Mom, did you know that they aren't poisonous when they're raised in captivity?  It's their diet that makes them poisonous!"  He told me the difference between the American and African porcupine and one nearby zookeeper remarked "Wow! He really knows his porcupines!"  The boys and I talked about the feasibility of buying a membership.  I told them how much the membership costs, how much we paid for today's admission and we talked about how many times we'd like to visit.  The older boys could calculate cost difference and we all decided it's a much  better deal for us to buy a membership.  They talked about past trips and things they remembered.  They asked a zookeeper why some animals never seem to be in their habitat and they offered to show us the armadillo.  She brought it out, the boys got to pet it, learn about it, ask questions, study it up close and even watch it walk/ waddle around the room.  We learned about their predators, and that one of the biggest predators is man because they apparently taste very yummy.  She told us that the armadillo is 4 years old (and Evan told us he's 6 so he's a few years older than the armadillo) and that they can live about 12 or 15 years.  We saw lots of animal babies, a new (to us) species of monkey, and lots of changes to buildings and habitats at the zoo. 
I was told I had to take a picture of the bunny

The peacock walked around like this all day

we saw baby lemurs- "they're so tiny!"

we saw baby Jacob's sheep

the camels were out today

The tapir came out to just as we got to it's enclosure

My kids learning about the armadillo

three banded armadillo

the baby giraffe

the zebras came running up to the fence

the alligator was right up close to us for once

we watched the American porcupine climbing around in it's cage

we ate lunch right next to a turkey

Alec showed me what it's like to be a bird
basking in the sun

such pretty colors on the turkey

Mogli was looking right at us

    After we were done at the zoo we headed to the library and the post office.  We were mailing out our culture exchange box and we learned all about customs forms and the high cost of international shipping!  Yikes! I don't think we'll be doing any more culture exchanges for a while!  We headed to the library and dropped off books for their annual sale.  The boys were amazed at the piles of donated books.  We didn't have any books on order come in (which disappointed the boys-- they REALLY want our next Heroes of Olympus book to hurry up and get here already!) but they found tons of materials to check out.  Alec must have checked out 10 books on animals. 
    I'm thinking that on our day off we learned all sorts of  things!  We did math, read books, talked about history, science and geography, learned all about animal ecology and animal habitats.  The more we homeschool the more I tune into the fact that learning is life and learning is to be found EVERYWHERE--- even on our week off! 


  1. Are your boys watching Cosmos? Nate is obsessed. It explains the whole big bang thing and has awesome graphics.

  2. NO, but I was thinking we'd have to check it out after I saw your post this morning.