Fort Worth Zoo Homeschool Day

We love Homeschool Day at the Fort Worth Zoo!  We get to hang out with our friends but there are always special educational activities and keeper talks for the kids.

We were on our way to a talk on the Komodo Dragon but got distracted by this Gharial swimming right towards us.  Don't worry, They are behind glass!  The Gharial are the largest species in the crocodile family with average adults measuring 11 ft - 15 ft in length.

I love this quote by John Muir.  It's so true.  Our world is in a delicate balance and every change that happens in nature has some small affect on the world we live in. 

We got to the Komodo Dragon exhibit early because Nicholas wanted to be sure to get a good spot.  The Komodo Dragon is the largest living species of lizard with a maximum length of 10 feet and weighing up to 150 pounds!

We had the exciting opportunity to watch the Komodo being fed.  The keeper fed him from a distance because they are strong and can get aggressive when food is involved.

After the keeper talk, we went to an educational class in the amphitheater.  We learned about the corn snake.

We touched a real ostrich egg!

And learned about big toads.

Here is Rachel's interpretation of a toad!

We walked along some of the exhibits and Nicholas caught this cute dragonfly.  He always has a way with catching bugs of any kind!

As many times as we've been to the zoo, we've never noticed the Tasmanian Tower, a 25 foot climbing tower inside the Australian Outback section of the zoo.  Tickets are $3.00 and you get three attempts to reach the top.  Each time you slip off the wall counts as one attempt.

Nicholas got pretty high but he lost all three attempts trying to get over the ridge right above him in this picture.

We went back to another class and Rachel was eager to answer the keeper's questions.  I was so proud of her for not being shy!

She was really being brave today because she even decided that after the class, she wanted to go back and try the Tasmanian Tower too!

Nicholas was determined to give it another attempt and he went right past that ledge that had defeated him earlier in the day!

And he made it to the top of the 25 foot tower and rang the bell!  I'm so proud of his determination and persistance!

Of course, we HAD to stop by the aviary so the kids could feed the birds.  They LOVE this part of the zoo.

Nicholas is amazingly patient when he is trying to get a bird to come to him.  He held the food stick up to the bird and slowly pulled it away until the bird stepped off the branch and onto the stick.

He was so excited but managed to stay still so he could keep the bird on the stick.

He was even being a great big brother by teaching Rachel how to get a bird on her stick too.

She is not as patient and quite giggly when the birds start eating from her stick!

Next, Nicholas tried to lure the bird onto his hand...and it worked!

But why stop there?  He had the bird walking up his arm!

Mama always loves to see the Bengal Tigers, perhaps a little reminder of home (LSU's Mike the Tiger!).  Rachel was very concerned that the tiger in the bottom of the picture was dead.  I explained that she was just sleeping but Rachel watched her like a hawk and was finally relieved to see her pick up her head to look around.

Beautiful beast...

We headed towards the elephants and I noticed this neat sign.  What an easy way to break down the steps of drawing an elephant.  I'll have to try this with the kids when we get home.

My silly kids

Nicholas said the giraffe was looking right at him.  I think he was!

Rachel loved watching the Meerkats scurry around and in and out of their tunnels.  There is always a sentinel who stands up and looks around to warn the family of danger.

Ok, this picture was just funny to me.  It almost looks like a mirror image! Ha ha!

Dallas Blooms: Deep in the Heart of Texas {Dallas Arboretum}

The largest floral festival in the Southwest, Dallas Blooms has been a tradition for more than 30 years, and this year's theme plays homage to the beloved state: Dallas Blooms: Deep in the Hearts of Texans. Presented by Bank of America, the floral festival features more than 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs along with life-size Texas-themed topiaries, entertainment, food and special activities celebrating the state.

Dallas Blooms includes tulips, daffodils, Dutch Iris and hyacinths, pansies, violas and thousands of other springtime annuals and perennials that bloom throughout the entire festival, so the garden changes all the time. The finale of this celebration is the mass flowering of the garden's collection of 3,000 azaleas and 150+ cherry trees that bloom normally at the end of April.

Gracing the garden are life-size topiaries featuring the great symbols of Texas including two longhorns, two horses and the Texas Star-the perfect backdrops for photos and videos.

I love the Texas-themed displays so much!  They are beautiful and beam with Texas pride.

Giddy up, horsey!

There are plenty of activities for everyone during the festival including picnics and strolls through the garden, and plenty of gorgeous backdrops for photos and videos. A favorite tradition during Blooms is the Spring Tea held at the Restaurant DeGolyer by Gil's Elegant Catering. Seatings are available at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily in the DeGolyer Tea Room.  The price ranges from $47 to $57 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 214.515.6511 or online. The seated tea is for adults and children ages 13 years and older.

We enjoyed visiting the redesigned Lay Family Garden, one of the first large gardens originally named the Lay Ornamental Garden. It was given as a gift from Mimi Lay Hodges in honor of her late husband, Herman Lay. Renamed and reinterpreted, the Lay Family Garden preserves original iconic elements such as the waterwalls fountain and features a larger pond, a new 12-foot grotto and waterfall, and beautiful new horticultural accents.

My kids just thought it was so cool that we could walk BEHIND this waterfall!

We spent a LONG time at this waterfall.  On the wall and ceiling of the walkway we found geodes and fossils embedded with the other stones.  So cool!

There is always so much to see and do at the Arboretum...

Mommy and Me Mondays and Tiny Tot Tuesdays:
March 9 and 10, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
This family favorite activity is perfect for young children. Children's activities include face painting, petting zoo, nature art and Kindermusik.

-Western-style photo opportunities around a Chuck Wagon, pulled by two horse topiaries located at Café on the Green.
-Themed menus at Café on the Green feature classic and new Texas cuisine.

-Varied "Texas" musical acts -live - Country/western, "vintage" Texas swing, Spanish style guitar, banjo music. Check website for schedules.
-Pony Rides, 12p.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, March 7, 14
-Trick Roper, Sunday, March 8, 15

Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden:
Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the north end of the Arboretum.  This is really a full day adventure all its own.  Check out this post about one of our many visits to the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden.

This 8-acre scientific children's garden is where science and fun become one. There are 150 interactive exhibits, many of which include technology, where guests can learn about pollination, habitats, photosynthesis, electricity and more. Special daily activities take place throughout the garden as well as in the 9, 100-square-foot Exploration Center that houses the iconic OmniGlobe, plant labs, CSI-inspired mysteries and 3-D Mini-Theater.

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is located on the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas 75218.  The Arboretum is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for children 3-12 and free for Arboretum members and children two and under.  There is an additional cost of $3 per person for entrance into the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden. On-site parking is $15 or $8, if purchased in advance online.  For more information, please visit the Dallas Arboretum website.

DIY Hammock

I love my kids' creativity.  Rachel wanted a hammock in her room so she tied one end of a sheet to her bed and the other to her door knob.  It's a perfect fit...well, unless she needs to close the door.  Although she may need to tweak her design a bit, I love her ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Breakfast in Bed

Nicholas is so thoughtful and sweet.  He enjoys doing little things to show us how much he loves us.  I particularly love it when he serves us breakfast in bed!  Orange juice in a thermos and hot scrambled eggs.  He even thought of the salt and pepper!

Tour of the MCL Grand Theater

Both kids are taking homeschool classes at the School for Dramatic Arts at the Actors Conservatory Theatre.  Rachel is taking Imagination Station II and Nicholas is in Introduction to Theatre.  Today all of the classes got together for a tour of the MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville.

We viewed some mixed media art work in the hallway.  Since Nicholas is always catching bugs in jars, I fell in love with this piece called Turned Tables.  So creative!

In the painting gallery, Rachel picked the Roadrunner as her favorite piece.

Nicholas liked this painting of a tree from the perspective of someone looking up from the ground.

We got to tour some of the different performance theaters and learn about lighting.  The kids loved the disco ball!

We learned how the tiles on a ceiling can affect the acoustics of the performance.

This theater is the Black Box.  It is completely scaled down with black walls and black floor.  Productions can use it in any way they like - the stage and audience where ever they want them to go.

Rachel fell in love with the dressing rooms!

....and being on stage.  What a ham!

All the kids had fun in the locker rooms.  Who knew lockers were so exciting.  They climbed in and out of them over and over.  We eventually realized that as homeschool kids, lockers were a new experience for them.  :)