Friday, April 17, 2009

Schooling at the Zoo

I’ve been going to the Dallas Zoo for a long time, but only recently realized what a great resource they have at their Nature Exchange! It’s in the Children’s Zoo area, right near the bathrooms.
You can read the details on their webpage, but to sum it up:
* Children bring in items from nature. Up to 5 items per visit. Things like shells, rocks, bones, animal cast-offs, animal homes (cocoons), seeds, leaves, pressed flowers, fossils, dead bugs.
* They share with the staff what they know about the item.
* The staff then awards points to the child based on what the item is, how unique it is, and how much they know about it. The more they know about it, the more points they earn. The staff there is extremely knowledgeable and takes time with each item and child to teach them more about what they brought in.
* After getting their points, the kids can go “shopping” in the Nature Exchange to “buy” other pieces of nature. Many choices exist including seashells, animal bones, crystals, shark teeth, all shapes & sizes of rocks, and much more!
There are also many things in the exchange that are for ‘display only’, but very interesting to look at and learn about!
Here are some pictures of our last visit to the Nature Exchange with some friends!
Listening to Gerald teach them about their objects
2009-04-15 071
Investigating a grub worm!
2009-04-15 086
Items for display & trade
2009-04-15 072 2009-04-15 073
Testing a rock to see if it’s limestone (it wasn’t)
2009-04-15 074
Bug answering questions about her acorn, bark, and leaves
2009-04-15 075
Bug just loves it, and was already planning her next visit before we left! An incredible learning opportunity for child or adult – I know I learned a lot right along with the kids! It’s also a definite plus for homeschoolers, or any fans of Charlotte Mason! You get points for bringing in a Nature Journal too!
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:7-10)
The earth is the LORD's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. (Psalm 24:1-2)

1 comment:

Ginger said...

That was a whole lot of fun! And the kids came home and immediately started looking for new nature objects to share next time we go! What a gem that place is. I love it.