Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mayhem at the Museum

Our Life Learner event today was the Natural History Museum. We had six families join us for a day of exploring feathered dinosaurs, sea creatures, snakes, dinosaurs, Africa, the Rain Forest and early man. This place is a pretty small museum, but the kids always seem to have a good time. Probably because they have each other and they spend a lot of the day in imaginative play, using the objects in the museum as jumping off points for their adventures. They are seals swimming away from the sharks and killer whales, small dinosaurs avoiding the T-Rex, doctors healing people (or dogs?), lions and baboons and gazelle in deepest Africa.

One thing these unschooled children are not is quiet and bored in a museum. I can't show you a worksheet that "proves" what they learned today, but I can tell you they had a blast and what they did learn will not soon be forgotten. I learned that grouper are all born female and some change to males later in life. They were all fascinated with a display that backlight some shark eggs, where you could see the developing babies inside the egg case. Some had already hatched and were swimming in the tank, others looked like they were about to. And one was younger then the rest and his yolk and umbilical cord were clearly visible. Very cool!

After about four hours, the kids were getting a bit too loud for even our unschool parent ears, and the staff was giving us looks. Who knew Duck Duck Goose was such a exciting game? We took them all outside to a park next to the museum. After a moment of complaint from A that she was bored and this place was no fun, they all hit upon the idea to crack open seed cases from some tree and plant the seeds. They worked hard at this for the rest of the time. E kept running up to me and handing me feathers for her collection.

One family was in the process of moving and had asked for some help. My friend and I decided to come over to help a bit. We stopped to get a bite to eat on the way at a nice little diner-type place. The kids all had fun drinking milkshakes and eating together. Then we rendezvoused with the moving family and helped them by watching the kids while the parents worked. We stayed until 8pm and then headed home. After a snack and a shower, my two were more than ready to crash!

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