Saturday, 3 February 2018

Homeschool Day at the Calgary Zoo

When making the decision to homeschool, one of our daughter's biggest concerns was socialization. Changing from a daily schedule of before-and-after school care plus full-day school to being an only child who homeschools would be a big change so we wanted to be sure there would be opportunities for interaction with other children. As it turns out, we didn’t need to be overly concerned. With a little research, we’ve been able to find plenty of programs and drop-ins for homeschooled children and families where kids have the chance to work together. An added benefit of our traveling is having the chance to work with children and facilitators from different areas of the U.S. and Canada. Nothing can beat hands-on learning for bringing a subject to life for a child.

We try to take advantage of opportunities here at home as well. One of our ventures last year was Home School Day at the Calgary Zoo (sadly they are not currently offering a homeschool program.) This program had the advantage of covering areas of the provincial curriculum so we could fit it in easily with our desired learning outcomes.

Learning about lifecycles 
The day started out cold and blustery so we were happy that much of our activities were indoors. The day was organized into a morning and afternoon session by grade group. You could register for one or both, depending on your preference. Grades 3 and 4 started the day with "Croak, Lifecycles of the Young & Slimy" where the kids learned about the life cycle of insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals. There were lots of opportunities for the kids to ask questions and participate in the program that ended with a skit for the moms who joined in by creating the "scary" music at the appropriate moments.

Learning about all of the things that are made from plants, including ginger ale
After a lunch break, we gathered at the Karsten Discovery Centre for the afternoon sessions. This time, grades 3 and 4 would be working in the Conservatory on "Green and Gorgeous" where they learned about plants and botany. They learned about what makes a plant a plant and looked at the many ways the lives of humans and plants intertwine. After identifying several plant species in the Living Garden, the kids tried their hands at sketching their favorite (notebooking.) This was followed by time in the lab where they had the opportunity to dissect a flower and identify its parts. This worked in well with the lifecycle study as well as providing an opportunity to work with a partner.

I really appreciated how the instructors made sure to keep all of the students involved and to make sure they had opportunities to interact and work together during the sessions. Attending homeschool days at local (and far away) venues certainly enriches our homeschool.