By now it's no secret that I'm an advocate for a strong mix of book learning combined with experience for the ultimate education.
That's how my sister and I run our homeschool: a strong combination of "traditional" schooling with a hefty dose of art/theatre/karate/other and field trips + hours of reading and educational videos.
Currently Zoboomafoo and Wild Kratts preoccupy my son's time, so for his birthday, the family drove to Charleston for three specific adventures.
Creature Adventure 1: Raptors!
My son's name is Falcon (a family name), and he is enjoying bird watching at this life stage. On our drive down to Charleston we stopped at the Birds of Prey Center in Awendaw.
We watched various raptors perform (or refuse to perform) their flights: a falcon reveled in diving at raw meat, a kite snatched treats from the air, and a tiny burrowing owl followed the trainer about happily.
After the show we wandered about looking at owl chicks, various hawks, eagles, and other proud and mighty sky rovers.
Creature Adventure 2: Ocean Creatures of the Inter-tidal Zone
Since last year Falcon has been asking to go to the beach for his 9th birthday. As the time drew closer, he narrowed on the time period: low tide to find tide pools and tide pool creatures.
We couldn't completely accommodate--low tide was 4 am-ish-- but we did spend Thursday evening discovering a treasure trove of shells at Folly Beach, one of the best shelling beaches in the area.
Our return Friday morning after a King Tide the night before did yield several tide pools where we discovered a LIVE jellyfish, limpets of various sorts, and small fish.
We also found two discarded crab exoskeletons in perfect condition--until the waves rolled in!
Creature Adventure 3: Petting Zoo and Lemurs
An hour outside of Charleston on the way home is a small petting zoo/animal rescue center called Bee City Zoo.
This zoo has creature encounters for sale: 15 minutes with a lemur or kangaroo or spider monkey or a few other animals. I scheduled a lemur (hello, Zoboomafoo!).
Before the encounter, we wandered the zoo where we got to pet kangaroos (for real! I didn't know that was a thing), alpacas, goats, an alligator, a ball python, and camels.
The zoo also has well-designed cages with open spaces and activities for many monkey species, deer, and even a Siberian tiger.
I didn't tell anyone other than my sister about the lemur encounter until we were in the room and the trainer walked in with the lemur on his shoulder.
Momo the lemur was rejected at birth, so trainers raised it to be around humans. It leapt from shoulder to shoulder, played like a cat, groomed us, and had the best time.
We ALL loved the experience.
Once we returned home and after the cake and present, Falcon closed the day watching the Zoboomafoo lemur adventure, this time with personal experience guiding the watching.
I think that pre-teens and teens lose the wonder of these early shows because experience/"real life" takes over their focus. My hope is that adding experience to the viewing makes this kind of learning REAL LIFE because it is our family's life.