Monday, September 30, 2013

Trip to the Zoo & Homeschool Learning

We took our kiddos on a trip to the Sacramento Zoo yesterday.  They had never been to the zoo, and I had been planning and looking forward to taking them since early this summer.  The drive is about 2 to 2 1/2 hours from where we live, and our kids were able to make it both ways without stopping.  

It was not crowded at all, which is nice in comparison to places like Disneyland because I could let our 2 year old run around a bit without worrying about him getting lost in a crowd of people.  

Three days before our trip, we lucked out spotting a Living Social deal for zoo tickets.  And, as you all know, I love saving some money :)

The zebras were our oldest's favorite.  She quickly sat down on the ground near the gate and just watched intently.

My 4 year old loved all the various monkeys and the chimpanzees.

Our 2 year old pretty much liked anything and everything, especially if it came up close to him.  The anteater was a funny looking creature!

As a homeschooling family, we took advantage of our trip to spur conversations and learning today, too.  The zoo's website has a listing of all of the animals, as well as fact sheets for each one.  These sheets include each animal's natural habitat, what they eat, how big they get, who their predators are, how long they live in the wild vs. in captivity and a map showing where in the world they can be found.  I showed my 5 year old how to navigate the pages, and she browsed through reading aloud about her favorites.  This was awesome because it encouraged new vocabulary (habitat, predator, gestation, captivity, diet, etc), geography (looking at the world map and finding their natural home), math (does the male or female weight more?, do they live longer in the wild or in captivity?), and various science aspects (how do these animals behave in the wild? how long is xxx pregnant with a baby?).

I am really enjoying the flexibility that homeschooling allows as far as being able to switch our learning plan for the day to reflect something that they are interested in vs. sticking to "the curriculum."  My kids were all so interested in the zoo...why not use it?  One of the greatest parts (to me): all this learning required ZERO worksheets!  They were engaged, having fun, and (at least Ellie) was learning how to research online for things that peak her interest.

Do you have a local zoo that you like to visit?  What are your kids' favorite animals to observe?

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