One of the ways we are celebrating spring is by doing a unit study on birth and the animal kingdom in general. We visited a goat farm last weekend and learned a lot about caring for baby goats. This week we visited the Iowa Reptile Rescue and cuddled with snakes and other reptiles. It is amazing how much the kids learn when they are able to interact with animals and their caretakers. The caretakers know so many intimate details about the animals and were very patient and happy to answer all of our questions. It was such an intimate and educational experience! I think the photos do a good job of showing just how “intimate” it was – LOL!
Of course it is always fun for the kids to visit local farms, animal centers and zoos. However, to make the experience as educational as possible (without doing a lot of research or preparation) I do the following:
1. Find small groups, organizations or farms that offer programs our tours for small groups. You can learn more and get more of a hands-on experience if your group is between 4 and 10 people.
2. Find opportunities where the tour leader or host(ess) are the direct caretakers of the animals so they have not only a general knowledge of the animals, but also a more detailed knowledge that comes from daily interaction with them and so they are more comfortable showing and allowing interaction with the animals.
3. Find situations where the children will be able to hold and interact with the animals instead of being told “Ok, now, just use one finger and touch the turtle very carefully” or where they will be seeing them behind bars.
4. Use these tours as a way to support local farms and organizations. By paying for tours or classes or purchasing products at the farms, you are supporting local business and wonderful organizations like “reptile rescue” or ARL.
5. Listen to what excited the children about the visit and ask THEM questions. Usually this gives them a chance to recall some of what they learned and it may also inspire them to look up some of the answers.
I would love to hear about other trips other people have taken. I am always looking for more ideas! Some of our visits from this past month…. (original BLOG post from 2009 – we are transferring all old BLOG posts to the new website so everything is in one place 🙂