Saturday, June 2, 2012

Claire in Kindergarten: School on Vacation

We vacationed in Vero Beach, Florida, last week.  Claire had finished her Kindergarten curriculum the Friday before we left on Saturday, but we still had a couple of days of school to get in to meet our state requirements of 180 days of learning. 

I really didn't want to do 2 more days of school after we got back from vacation.  So I found some "school" we could do on vacation (that really didn't seem like school at all).

Day 1: Airboat tour in Florida marsh

This was totally Will's idea.  (He has always wanted to do this and he talked with our lifeguards at our resort pool to find out the best place to go.)  He took Claire to do this one morning while I stayed with the boys at the resort pool.  He learned a lot too!

Cutest picture ever.  Capt. Bob talked to you through the headsets during the tour and everyone was miked so they could ask questions as well.

I asked Will what kinds of eggs these were and he said "bird".  Gee thanks.  That was helpful!

Yes.  That is an alligator.  And I'll just keep telling myself that it was far away from that airboat and Will used my super-long zoom lens to shoot this picture.  (I've watched a few too many episodes of "Swamp People".)

This Osprey is eating a fish up there.  (See the tail hanging below the limb?)  They eat a surprisingly large amount of fish each day. 

Will and Claire (and random man in background) after the tour.

Day 2: Beach & Sea Turtle conservation

The resort where we stayed in Vero Beach has a huge sea turtle conservation program.  Claire, David and I went out every morning at 7am to hunt shells and look for turtle tracks.  The resort conservation team was also out at 7am every morning to track turtle nests and mark new ones.  We saw turtle tracks (where loggerhead turtles had come to shore to nest) almost every morning and one morning we even got to see the eggs where the conservationist had dug down to the nest (to make sure there were eggs) and mark the nest. 
Ready to hunt seashells.  (David was actually hunting buried treasure.)

David preferred playing in the surf to seashell hunting.

Turtle tracks. 

The turtles come ashore, dig a deep hole and lay their eggs (up to 100 at a time).  Eggs are the size of ping pong balls.  Conservationists follow the tracks to the nest (usually where the turtle has turned around to return to the water), then dig to find the eggs to make sure they are in fact there.  We got to see these eggs one morning.  (The eggs will hatch around 60-70 days later.) 

The conservationists then cover the eggs back up and mark the nests (see below) to keep them from being damaged by beach-goers.  See the red stakes on the hill?  This is where nests have already been and hatched during the nesting season (which runs from May to October).  Most of the nests we saw were Loggerhead Turtle nests, but there were a few green sea turtle nests too.
When we got home from the beach, we checked out several sea turtle books from the library and watched an awesome documentary titled "Turtle: The Incredible Journey" by SeaWorld pictures. 

(Warning: my 6yo was a little traumatized at the beginning of the movie when several of the turtle hatchlings were killed trying to make their way from the nest to the ocean. She quickly recovered and enjoyed watching the rest of the movie.We explained that is just the circle of life!)
Good Turtle books:
Sea Turtles by Gail Gibbons
Sea Turtles-Eye to Eye with Endangered Species Series by Rourke Publishing
The Life Cycle of a Sea Turtle by Bobbie Kalman

I love that we were able to squeeze in a couple of school days on our trip ... and still have fun while learning!

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