Monday, May 24, 2010

Tide Pool Discoveries

Oh my gosh, we had such a blast at the beach last week when we were on vacation. We went out on Thursday morning during low tide and discovered dozens of tide pools to be explored.

We found:
     2 hermit crabs
     3 sand snails that we managed to dig up out of the sand
     1 sand crab that wasn't too disturbed by our insistence that he stick around
     1 live shrimp
     2 dead jellyfish
     more than a few minnow fish

We spent a great deal of time playing with the tiniest hermit crab. He gladly graced us with his ticklesh little claws as he crawled all over our hands (as long as we kept our hands under the water). He was quite adorable. He would have easily fit on the end of a pencil eraser.

I would love to live near the ocean so we could explore the tide pools on a more regular basis. I think it would be a cool project to do a daily log of one of those pools. We could measure the tide pool's width and depth, then keep a log and drawings of what types of critters we find in the pool each day. That would be such an awesome science project. (And art... and math... and hmmm... what else could I work into that one?)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vacation Education

We are spending this week in South Carolina on Hilton Head Island. This is the first time I have been here. I've been very pleased with the area. The beaches, the pace, and the general atmosphere is great for taking time away from regular life.

While here, we've had the opportunity to do many things that have been good for fun and education.

On Sunday we visited Coastal Discovery Museum. There were many things to be done at the museum. The best part, of course, was that the admission to the museum was 100% FREE. I love FREE stuff that provides entertainment AND education.

We played dress up and pretended we were colonial kids.

We looked at a really large skeleton of a sea turtle. Seriously, we could have used that turtles shell to build ourselves a really awesome cave.

We walked through the butterfly pavilion and saw "flying flowers" and the caterpillars that make them. (Translation: We saw monarch caterpillars and swallowtail caterpillars, along with a handful of butterflies.)

We walked out on two different boardwalks that stretched out over the salt marsh. This, by far, was my favorite part of our visit. I thoroughly enjoyed walking out over the marsh. It was low tide when we made our visit, so the water was way down. We were blessed by visions of thousands of fiddler crabs as they went about the business of life. It was absolutely amazing. I really could have sat and watched those crabs for hours. Marisa was with me on this one. She would have gladly sat and watched the little crabs going about their business for quite a long time. Unfortunately, Kira and Daddy were way too impatient for that. They figured that twenty minutes of fiddler crab life was plenty enough for them.

When we were making our way back to the car, I came across an interesting creature. It appeared to be a caterpillar, but it was shaped like a scorpion. I couldn't see any type of stinger and whenever I touched it with a stick it would curl up like a grub worm.I did find some photos and learned that this was, in fact, a caterpillar. It's the caterpillar for a tussock moth. The one we saw was red/black fur and a red head with black antennae and tail.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Booth Western Art Museum

Yesterday we took the girls to the Booth Western Art Museum. I decided to make this visit because Kira has recently become enamored with pioneer life. As a way of expanding her exposure, we decided to go to the local Western Museum. Of course, it didn't hurt that the museum has a monthly FREE day that just happened to be yesterday.

We started with the American West Gallery where we saw sculptures and paintings and a real stage coach. We also visited the Cowboy Gallery that was filled to the brim with pictures and sculptures of horses. This was probably Kira's favorite art exhibit because she adores anything to do with horses. We moved on to the Heading West Gallery where we viewed paintings of the westward expansion and played with the "touchables" that are set out in the various galleries for the kids to play with.

Our final stop was the Sagebrush Ranch. The Ranch is an educational playground where the children can play and learn. There is a dress up section filled with western style clothes. There's a library section with about 50 different books to read, complete with comfortable bean bag chairs to lounge on and a loft bed to climb into for reading privacy. (We're definitely going to build a bed like that in the girls' bedroom so they can have separate beds in that tiny space.) The Ranch also has two different computer stations where the kids can play games.

The highlight of the ranch was the stage coach replica that bounced along with a TV screen that shows a wild west scene as you "ride" in the coach. Marisa was in that coach a few dozen times before we finally left the room. In fact, the girls would have gladly stayed another hour or two had the adults not demanded that dinner was much more necessary than spending yet another hour at The Ranch. This alone would be worth paying the normal admission price. I'm glad they have a FREE day, though. It's nice for families to be able to visit even if they don't have the money to pay. Trust me - when you have multiple adults and multiple children making a visit to the museum, that admission fee can add up really quickly.

I believe we will make every First Thursday of the Month our Booth Museum day. Even though we spent more than two hours in the museum, we still missed a few of the exhibits. We definitely have to go back to play at the Sagebrush Ranch, too.