Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Field Trip!

I took a day off yesterday to chaperon Tommy's field trip.  We spent the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and we had a BLAST!  (And yes, Kelly and Moose, we got a wee bit turned around and ended up taking 68 into town which meant that we passed right near you guys!  I recognized the route, fortunately, from the day we did the Run Forrest Run 5k that day!)

Did you know that you can take up to 40 hours a year to volunteer at your child's school?  It's true.  You have use vacation or personal days, or even take unpaid leave, but it's so nice to have that kind of support for parent involvement.  California's not the only state, either, as Nevada has enacted a similar law.  It's worth looking into, no matter where you live.  

As a teacher, I've always scheduled several field trips every year.  I love to see kids out in the world.  They are so different when they go out!  Kids that can drive you to distraction in the confines of the classroom can be so enchanting in a more natural environment.  They are funnier, more clever, and sweeter in every way.  It's nice to see them like this, because you take that memory back with you and it let's you see the best in them even when they may not be 'shining' at any particular moment.

Tommy and I had such a great time!  It's a beautiful aquarium; world class, actually.  And the Monterey Bay itself is one of the most fascinating ecosystems in the world.  

They do a fantastic job on the exhibits.  They have one deep sea tank that holds 1.2 million gallons of water...that's more than all the other tanks at the aquarium combined!  But it's so cool, because you can see sharks and tuna and school fish in an area that allows them to behave naturally.  Fascinating!  Is it just me?  I can watch fish swim for hours.

The touchpools were one of our favorite areas for sure.  These bat rays can be 'petted' by leaning over the railing.  So cool!  We also touched sea cucumbers (ugh!), star fish, and sea crabs. 

The Secret Lives of Sea Horses is their special exhibit right now.  Oh, my!  What a sweet, amazing creature!  Can you just die...look at his little tail, wrapped around that seaweed.  Eric Carle has a beautiful book called Mr. Seahorse, that I highly recommend.  His style of collage art is very inspiring and kids love to make their own animals.  I have them paint large sheets of plain construction paper (I like tempera paints for kids, because they are non-toxic and wash easily from clothes!) then tear the paper into different sizes.  Those swatches of paper are then used to create different shapes and creatures.  They are always, always beautiful.

The jellyfish have been there for awhile, but they are never stale.  I can watch them for-ever.  They are eyes, no brains, no spine.  Mind boggling!

But truly, these Leafy Sea Dragons were the showstoppers.  I can't do them justice (I'm still learning how to use my camera, especially without the flash!) but they were unreal.  In case you can't tell, he's sort of swimming downward, his head toward the lower left of the frame...he has a long snout, like a sea horse.  I couldn't take my eyes of these!

This just cracked me up!!!  Here's Tommy, playing with a wooden penguin display.

Here's his classmate, playing an interactive video game based on the penguins. are the very real penguins, just behind both of these boys!  haha!  I had to encourage them to actually abandon the fake penguins and go spend some time with the actual penguins.  I still giggle, just thinking about it!

There are shows and activities, including watching the feeding times, and a two-story exhibit of the kelp forests...did you know kelp can grow 12 inches in a day?  I can't tell you how sweet it was to get my teacher-geek on with my very own Big Boy! 


  1. you've made me even more homesick. what a great day!

  2. 1.2 MG of water weighs 10,008,000 lbs. Working at a wastewater treatment plant that's the first thing I thought. You're definitely correct! The Monterey Bay Aq. is top notch. moose

  3. Do you remember when you were on a list to adopt a penguin???

  4. Thanks for the field trip....the aquarium used to be one of my favorite places when I was a kid. It was just a small one in Calgary and I doubt if it's still there. I might have to check next time I'm up there.

  5. Michelle, you should totally come back! How much fun could we have?!?

    Moosie ~ Dang. It makes me *shudder* to remember the boys tapping on all that glass! Can you imagine that thing springing a leak and all 10 million POUNDS of water flying at you?!?

    Tracy ~ HA! HaHa! That's SO FUNNY that you mention that! The docent was talking about how these penguins are not from the snow, but from South Africa. And you know what I thought? I thought, "I always wanted a tropical penguin." haha!

    Linda ~ is that the one that's inside the zoo? Or do they have another one?

  6. Isn't the aquarium the greatest? Many years ago Kelly and Robert gave us Grandparent passes for Christmas. We have continued to purchase them every year. The aquarium is losing out there, we have 12 grandchildren and 11 of them still qualify to get in free.

  7. Pat ~ that's great! I love that. :) Honestly, they seem like the kind of folks who'd be happy to lose money, as long as you're using it and enjoying yourselves!

  8. 1. I can't believe you touched a sea cucumber.
    2. Did you know male sea horses are the ones who are "pregnant?" For real!!!!
    3. Girl, I'm so all over anything remotely collaborativey/van de walley.