Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Our local homeschool group met today for a field trip to the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. It’s been hard to hit the local parks and wildlife attractions in this area; so many of them were severely affected by either Hurricane Ike or Rita – we could still plainly see the effects of Ike. The visitor’s center was closed (destroyed, more or less), and there was debris in the trees higher than out heads – that’s how high the water was after Ike. I wouldn’t have thought that after two years there would still be such visible effects of the storm, but they were definitely there.
I talked to one of the ladies who works out their about the stickers for our Houston Wilderness Passport, and she left them for us since the Visitor’s Center wasn’t open, so yay! We got our stickers!!
We took a hike, longer than expected, along the butterfly trail, using our study guide to talk about leaves and plants and the changes that the hurricane might have wrought, how things might have looked before and during the storm and how plants and animals might have adapted to live in this environment.
On our way back up, we came across a letterbox hidden in a tree. We were looking for birds nests and debris from the storm up in the branches and one of the kids pointed out a film canister. We didn’t plan on letterboxing, so none of us had our stuff, so we took a picture.
We headed back up to the very sad-looking visitor’s center and the kids found owl pellets. I’ve been wanting to get some and examine them, so this was definitely a highlight of the day. They found bones from birds, mice and crabs in the pellets. Who knew poop could be this interesting?
After that, we re-hydrated, sanitized nine pairs of child-sized hands and four moms, and loaded up to head down to the bay where more crab shells and lots of water bugs were found.
Then we went back up to one of the wildlife viewing areas to check out the pools and bogs. We found a lovely little spot that was filled with blue crabs. The kids spent almost an hour fishing for crabs!
By then it was well past lunch, so we went back to SFK’s house and ate, then put the kids in the yard while we moms put another layer of papier-mache on the maracas we started earlier in the week. When they were dry, we brought the kids inside in shifts to paint them.
Then we fed the kids dinner and put them in front of a video for a bit – they were exhausted!
We made it home at 10:40 this evening. It was a long, tiring, amazingly satisfying and throughly enjoyable day. At some point next week, my boys and I will be notebooking our trip. They drew a few pictures to add to their Nature Journals while we were crab fishing, and we’ll fill in the rest of our study guide. We’ve been so busy today that I haven’t really had a chance to sit down with them to hear about what they learned. I know the owl pellets will feature in big – on the way home they were telling me all about what they planned on telling Daddy when we got home.
After days like this, I just can’t imagine ‘school’ ever being our norm again.
This entry was posted on September 2, 2010 by HT. It was filed under Art, Daily Review, Field Trip, Group Lesson, Science, Socialization and was tagged with benefits of homeschooling, Field Trip, homeschooling, letterboxing.