Impromptu Field Trip and What the Turtles Taught Us

The internet is out…again. Seriously, we have the worst service but it is cheap and no contract and considering we have to make every penny count and we are only in this house temporarily I am stuck with the crummy service.

The problem is I use the internet when I homeschool. Sure there are things we do that do not require the computer but that only gives us about a half a day and I need to make every second count. If I don’t keep the kids busy then, well let me just say it gets quite loud and crazy πŸ™‚

So what to do, what to do? I opted to load them into the van and go to the local zoo. Normally when we go to the zoo I teach about classification, proper animal names, where they are found, if they endangered, etc. Today the tortoises decided the kids needed a refresher course in procreation πŸ˜‰


The picture above is a seriously cute baby tortoise following his Mama ❀

My kids have been subjected to “the talk.” When I was pregnant with Zen we sat the kids down and were open and honest in an age appropriate manner. They know mom and dad have a special relationship with just each other. They understand how fertilization occurs. They understand how babies are born. In fact C-Dog very much wanted to help the midwife “catch” Zen when he was born. Zen was born at 3:30 am so C-Dog was asleep. He was disappointed.

I am not scared of discussing the intricacies of life with my kids. I have no issue discussing love, mating, death, and everything in between. I never tell them more than they need to know at that moment and I also never lie to them. It is a balancing act. The following is what happened….

“Hey! What are those tortoises doing?”
“Are they piggy backing?”
“They sure are noisy!”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the zoo keeper lift his head in curiosity to how I was going to deal with this.
Game on!
Did I get embarrassed? Nope. I actually like that my kids don’t just ignore things. They are really observing nature around them! I think they notice more than I do. My reply was “They are mating. Procreating. Making babies.”
I noticed the zoo keeper smile and return to his job. Yes! I said something right! I wonder if it frustrates him that some parents laugh off the situation or shuttle their children away from the animals when they are being, well, animals!

My kids replied, “Oh OK” and that was that. Kind of. They did keep talking about babies and one of them mentioned how no matter who you love only a grown up man and grown up woman can actually make babies. The boys answered the girls’ questions. They all discussed how mammals don’t lay eggs, well except platypus. They took the conversation to a higher level and I got to witness them learning on their own. They never really needed more information, however if they had asked I would have answered. I only had to correct misinformation once or twice. Much of their speculation was right on target.

I love that my kids basically taught themselves and the older ones reminded the little ones what they already have been told. I was there to gently guide them and correct them as needed, but this wasΒ their moment.

To all the parents out there, this is my reminder to all of us that kids don’t always need books to learn. They don’t need the internet. They DOΒ need to be allowed to explore and ask questions. They need experiences. It is easy to forget this. I know I for one often get distracted by how many pages are left in their math books or how much writing has taken, or not taken, place. I get distracted with looking things up on the internet for them because it is easy and fast. I need to remember that some things they can discover on their own.

We had a lot of fun. Learning was had and memories were made. Thank you tortoises for taking that moment to, um, meet your needs so my kids could take learning into their own hands.
We also watched a tiger pee. I had to stop the potty talk because although my kids are seriously amazing they are also kids. Potty talk makes them laugh. Yes, the tiger is peeing in this picture. I didn’t realize it until afterward. I thought about deleting it. I prefer it here though πŸ˜‰


10 thoughts on “Impromptu Field Trip and What the Turtles Taught Us

  1. I vote for more real life/ direct experiences such as field trips and less internet/ secondhand education days! πŸ™‚ One of my friends homeschooled her kids when they were growing up and she has the most wonderful lessons. If you need any ideas for hands-on experiences, I am sure she’d love to share. When I lived and taught school near her, I used to borrow her artifacts to show my students. Kids remember the field trips but not the secondhand accounts as lessons.

  2. Found your blog recently and love it. I think it’s so important to foster curiosity and question-asking. It sounds like your children are very inquisitive, congratulations! πŸ™‚ Keep up the teaching and writing. I read the story about the grocery market trip, it was very touching. Best of luck in all, rooting for you and your family!! πŸ™‚

  3. Found your blog through the Huffington Post. I loved this zoo post. A cousin homeschools her little girl and I was one of “those people” who were against it- until I got involved with what they do. I’ve been to two zoos, a science museum, a renaissance fair, and many other trips. Now I’m jealous I wasn’t homeschooled. I’ll be adding you to my blogroll so I can check out your posts each day!

  4. Keep those life lessons and first hand experiences going. You are instilling a love of learning that so many children lack today. I regret that I didn’t begin homeschooling until mine were in 7th and 9th grade but I took them through high school. My youngest graduates summa cum laude from LSU next month at the age of 20. My oldest is back in college after taking a 2 1/2 yr break to work in a leadership role with a missions group, serving and leading others around the world. You are on the right path. Keep it going and I pray your husband finds meaningful work soon.

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