Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Zoo

Can I just say how much we are loving our membership at the Fort Worth Zoo?  We joined in March, and it's been a great "family time" activity as well as the perfect complement to homeschooling.  I love having the freedom to go whenever we want, and it's so nice to not have the pressure to see everything in one day, since that's nearly impossible.  We've been enough now that we know our way around, which really makes it feel like our zoo.

Feeding birds in Parrot Paradise

Hopping on for a ride!

Taking a spin on the carousel

Checking out a sting ray in the touch tank

Watching the river otter

Connor is doing life science this year, covering animals, plants, and the human body.  We're learning about various animals right now, and it's been a lot of fun to go to the zoo and see the animals that we're studying.  The Museum of Living Art (MOLA), the zoo's new herpetarium, opened just before we joined, and it's one of our favorite places to explore.  Since we've had an overview of amphibians and reptiles and then also an in-depth study of snakes, MOLA ties in quite nicely.  Connor was thrilled one day when he noticed that a coral snake's eyes looked cloudy, because he had learned that this meant the snake was getting ready to shed its skin.  Sure enough, when we went yesterday, we could see the discarded skin in the coral snake exhibit.  Lots of teachable moments (if I can get them to be still long enough!) and real-life examples--watching them basking under the lamps because they're cold-blooded, seeing an amphibian's smooth skin vs. a reptile's scales, seeing the heat pits that classify a snake as a pit viper, and of course, seeing lots of examples of camouflage.  Half of the fun is going from one aquarium-like cage to the next and trying to find its resident!

MOLA also has an interactive area where visitors can see (and often touch) animals up close and personal.  Again, this has been a great hands-on way to review, and both of the boys loved being able to touch the snakes that they've had out the last couple of times we've been there.

Even though I doubt it was intended when they chose the name for MOLA, I love the idea of thinking of these amazing animals as living, breathing works of art because it points to an artist--or rather, Artist.  Another great springboard for discussions: God's amazing creativity, His incredible attention to detail, His perfect planning.

The Fort Worth Zoo offers so many other great exhibits and attractions--I would be writing all day to try to describe them all!  Maybe I'll have to post again soon and focus on something else.  Suffice it to say that this has been a very good investment, and we're definitely getting our money's worth!

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