Friday, December 9, 2011

Map skills at the zoo.

We like to go to the zoo...and often.  Now that we have our annual pass, we can go for free as often as we like:)

We also like to learn hands-on and out of the house when we can.  So, I look for ways to incorporate different types of learning into the zoo trips that we take.  This makes each trip unique, keeps the zoo interesting,  and helps us maximize the learning.

Today we went to the zoo and I decided to focus on "map skills".  What better way to learn "map skills" than at the zoo with a map in hand!  I like to let each child pick an animal that they want to see, find it on the map, find where we are on the map, and then route out the way to get there.  It is so much fun and the kids really get a kick out of being the one "in charge".  Everyone gets a turn and it takes us most of the day.

As we were coming up to the zoo the kids wanted to stop and look at the fish, turtles, and ducks from the bridge.  Here is a shot of them looking at a huge goldfish.

And, here is one of my Abby grateful that the Lord decided to give me a daughter!

As soon as we were in the gate, I gave Wesley the map and let him choose the first place that we would go.  I showed him where we were on the map and let him choose something that he wanted to see.  He chose the snakes and frogs.

He studied the map for a while and then, with a little help from older siblings, he pointed us in the right direction and we all followed.

The Arizona trail is always a favorite for the boys:)

So glad we don't have this in our backyard!

After that we decided to have lunch and play at the tree house.  This place is usually a stressful place for me to let them play as there are several different entrances and exits and it's hard to watch them all.  Abby got away from me as a toddler and it took us and our friends a while to find her...all the while, I am thinking about how close we live to the border, etc..  Since that day, the tree house has never been the same to me.  But, this time, construction was going on behind the tree house.  There was a fence around the area and therefore only one way to come and go...nice:)  So, the kids were treated to a rare opportunity to play at the tree house.

After lunch, we walked the African trail to get updated pictures of Wesley holding his toy safari animals in front of the actual animals at the zoo.  He requested this when he found out that we were going to the zoo,  Then he ran and packed all of the plastic animals in a back pack for the trip.  You can see the old pictures on a previous post by clicking here.  Funny how much he remembered the previous pictures and really wanted to take them again:)  You just never know what little thing will mean the most to each one of them and what they will remember.  Here are the updated pictures.  You can't really see the giraffe in his hand as it is camouflaged by the real ones behind him.

Actually all of the "real" animals are hard to have to know where to look but to him they are wonderful pictures!

Here is one of Seth playing with a giraffe in front of the giraffes.  These are great realistic plastic animals that we picked up at Wal-Mart for $1 each several years back.  For a few days following a zoo trip, they become the favorite toys of the preschool kids:)

Brennan and Abby both wanted to go to the "barnyard" area next, so they mapped out the way to get there and led us along the paths.  Here is a picture of Wesley and Abby studying the map together.

Nathan then wanted to see the Bald of his favorite animals at our he led us there.

Here is a great picture of all five of the older kids checking out a small pond on the way.  The photographer in me loves it when they all get together like this on their own:)

You can see my little free spirited two year old trying to jump right in!

Ransom just hung out for the day but seemed to really enjoy the excitement that he sensed in the older kids.  Although he doesn't look too excited here...haha!

So, an entire day was devoted to learning and practicing map skills, and enjoying a beautiful December Arizona day...the best time of year to be in Arizona!

What things do you do with your family to learn outside of the classroom?

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