Getting Kids Out Into Nature

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Spring Break 2017 – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

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Looking Out Over the Paths and Trails in the Museum

Our first full day in Tucson during our Spring Break trip brought us to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This was one of my top favorite spots on our journey. We got there fairly early, though I couldn’t convince everyone to get there at 7:30 am for a guided bird walk. (It’ll be just one more thing for me to put onto my to-do list for my next trip!) I did get to see several cool birds at the museum, including cactus wrens and various hummingbirds. We were there for what seemed like the peak flower show, too.

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Ocotillo Blossoms

The museum has many different sections. Some are indoors and are typical zoo specimens, such as desert snakes, other reptiles, and insects.

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Coachwhip Snake

They even have a small aquarium where you can pay a little bit extra to pet a sting ray. There are lots of outdoor trails, too, which provide looks at plants and animals in more natural settings.

We spent some time looking at the critters in cages in the Reptile, Amphibian and Invertebrate Area.

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Learning About Tarantulas

A keeper was out with a tarantula to educate and answer questions. We also talked to a docent about the saguaro cacti, which grow within the park.

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Saguaro Cactus Pieces

We then meandered counter-clockwise through the paths. We jumped into a tour for a little bit, and learned about some of the plants we were seeing. We took a trip through a fake cave system – it was very well made, but stay out if you are claustrophobic!

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Mineral Specimens Inside the Caves
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Fake Bats in the Fake Caves

There was an area to dig in the gravel for small pretty rocks, and a place to learn about fossils and pretend to dig for them. I think younger children would enjoy these hands-on activities.

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Searching for Treasures
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Desert Fossil Activity Area
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Soil Creatures

There is a neat section in the center of the museum where there are all sorts of cacti planted, along with other colorful desert plants.

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Crinkly Cacti
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Yellow Prickly Pear Blossoms

It seemed like everything was blooming at once! I guess we hit the jackpot there. So many gorgeous shapes and colors.

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Organ Pipe Cacti
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Giant, Delicate Blossoms
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Cute Little Lumps Ready to Bloom

By the time we were wandering through this part of the park, the rest of our family were waiting up above for us to finish, so we hurried through the rest of the exhibits.

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Prairie Dogs
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Interesting Cacti

I would have liked to have spent more time in the aviary, as well as the hummingbird area. We didn’t even get to the Desert Loop Trail, or visit the art exhibits. We could have spent the whole day here.

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Palo Verde Tree, the stems can photosynthesize!

If You Go:

If you are going in any season, go early if you expect warm weather. The museum opens at 7:30 am from March through September. If you are in Tucson in the summer, consider attending on one of the evenings they are open late. The museum is mostly outside, so dress for sun and bring plenty of water and sunscreen. We appreciated that there are water bottle filling stations all over; the docents were good about reminding us to drink lots of water. There are restaurants on site if you need to eat. We got discounted admissions for this museum and other attractions by purchasing special tourist passports for the Tucson area.

Spring Break 2017 – Montezuma’s Castle

On our fourth day in Arizona, we reluctantly said goodbye to our lovely cabin in the woods northwest of Flagstaff, and moved our families south to Tucson. Along the way, we stopped at Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. This park is smaller than the others we’d visit on our trip, but it’s a unique treasure and…Continue Reading

Book Review: Treecology by Monica Russo

The latest book I’ve reviewed for you is Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests by Monica Russo. [Amazon link here.] This thin paperback is accessible for both parents and teachers. It is packed full of the science to understand all parts of trees and the environments they grow…Continue Reading

Book Review: Leaflets Three, Let it Be! by Anita Sanchez

I recently received a book for the purposes of review that I’d like to share with you today. Leaflets Three, Let it Be! is a picture book for children about identifying poison ivy. But it also shows the many uses of the plant through the seasons. It is written by Anita Sanchez and illustrated by…Continue Reading

National Parks Week 2016, and Review of National Geographic Guides

April 16-24, 2016 has been designated National Parks Week. This national event is a time to focus on and celebrate all that the National Parks have to offer us. During this week, admission is free to all parks, and special events are planned at many sites. The Park Service has created a special website for this…Continue Reading

New Tools Can Light a Spark

The summer is winding down, and the new school year is only a few weeks away. I find my thoughts turning more to planning and organizing, even as we try to soak in the last weeks of summer. Yesterday, Annika and I visited our local homeschooling curriculum store, Homeschool Potpourri. This place lacks glamor, but…Continue Reading

2015 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Romance! Flowers! Lush greenery! Excitement! My kids and I love the Flower and Garden Show. We look forward to it every year, and enjoy seeing the display gardens, shopping in the marketplace, learning from the seminars, and getting a jump-start on spring. This year Grandma got to spend the day with us, and it made…Continue Reading

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center – Spring Break 2014

This is the fifth post from our Spring Break Trip. We are almost done! The first was about hikes from the Catherine Creek Trailhead.  The second post was about the Vista House and Gorge waterfalls.  The third was about camping and exploring at Columbia Hills State Park. The fourth was about the Goldendale Observatory. We have one more destination to…Continue Reading

Goldendale Observatory

This is the fourth post from our Spring Break Trip. The first was about hikes from the Catherine Creek Trailhead.  The second post was about the Vista House and Gorge waterfalls.  The third was about camping and exploring at Columbia Hills State Park. Future posts will include: The Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center and History Museum in…Continue Reading

Othello Sandhill Crane Festival and Columbia NWR

The kids and I did our first big road trip adventure of the season on the last weekend in March.  We heard about a bird festival over in Central Washington, we had some free time, and we decided to go.  The kids had been requesting a trip to the desert, too, and no snowshoeing, please,…Continue Reading