Vacation with the kids!
A few weeks ago, I took a vacation with the family down in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Just taking a break from the Chicago winter was awesome … but as the thoughtful, responsible, and handsome father of a 6-year old girl that I am… I decided to see if I could turn the trip into a learning opportunity.
Working here at Learning Resources has taught me that one of best ways to get kids interested in education is to spark their curiosities. When kids starts wondering why, they’ll soon start investigating the how. And before you know it, they’re learning… even though they just think they’re building a sandcastle.
Of course, I’m not a walking encyclopedia, so my phone and Google played a huge role in creating these little lessons. Want to see how I did it? Check out my Very Curious Vacation below…
One of the first things we discovered was a Banyan Tree, which my daughter Quinn hadn’t seen before. As we checked it out, I began to ask her questions about why it had so many roots and how old it might be. Here’s what we learned about biology:
- Banyan trees are actually fig trees and they are the biggest trees on Earth by area.
- The biggest banyan tree alive today is in India and it covers 4.7 acres!
- Banyans are pollinated by tiny wasps
We spent quite a bit of time at the beach. As we were collecting shells, I asked Quinn where she thought they came from, why there were so many different kinds, and how she thought they wound up on the beach. Here’s what we learned about the ocean:
- Seashells are the skeletons of animals called mollusks. They help protect and camouflage those animals.
- There are over 50,000 different kinds of shells.
- Almost all seashells open to the right!
Quinn loves creating, and that includes making sandcastles. While we were building we talked about sand, where it came from (I was wondering about that too), and why it sticks together. Here’s what we learned about geology:
- Most sand is made of silica. It usually starts off as a large boulder, and is eroded down to its tiny shape by the weather over years and years!
- There are over seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains of sand on Earth. That’s 7,500,000,000,000,000,000!
- Under the right conditions, sand can actually sing!
Did you know that there’s a fantastic animal experience in Loxahatchee, Florida, called the Lion Country Safari? It’s a drive-through safari that features over 900 animals! It was the perfect opportunity to get up close with some awesome critters… and to spark Quinn’s curiosity about the natural world.
This handsome fellow is called an African Crested Porcupine. Here’s what Quinn and I learned about him:
- African Crested Porcupines are the largest porcupines in the world!
- When in danger, these porcupines will actually charge predators using their quills like swords.
- The Crested Porcupines live underground in burrows, and come out to forage for food at night.
Here’s an American Alligator. Can you guess what’s in the bowl? Alligator snacks! As we were watching him get fed, we learned that:
- American Alligators live in fresh water. There are over 1 million in the United States.
- The largest one ever caught was almost 16 feet long and weighed almost a ton!
- They can live to be up to 50 years old!
And least but definitely not least, we finished our Curious Vacation up by feeding a giraffe. We also picked up a painting for Quinn that was actually made by the very giraffe standing behind her in the picture. Did you know that giraffes could paint by holding brushes with their tongues?
Here are a few other cool giraffe facts…
- Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth—standing up to 20 feet tall!
- Giraffes only sleep about half an hour a day.
- Giraffe spots are completely unique to each giraffe. No two are the same!
Learning is Where We Play: