We were able to travel to the San Francisco Bay area for 5 weeks in March of this year with Daddy's job. We had some really excellent nature study opportunities while we were there. There is such a vast array of climates and biospheres in CA. We didn't make it to the mountains as originally planned due to snow and a very small rental car, but we were still able to visit forest, ocean, salt marsh/bay life, and dessert like hills around the south bay area. All were very interesting and valuable for school. It's so great to see the beauty and creativity of God's handiwork. We tried to take lots of pictures and do drawings in our nature notebooks as well. We'll cover our Ocean trips for today!
Santa Cruz - We went to Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz our first weekend in CA. It was February and very hot. It was the only time the children got to swim the entire month. And they swam in the ocean. The water was freezing, but the air was warm enough to take the edge off. After they were done with their swim, they were quite chilled. But it was a fun experience all right!
That morning in Santa Cruz we went to a really neat place called the Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab - http://www2.ucsc.edu/seymourcenter/ It is closer to the Bay area than the Monterey Bay Aquarium and way cheaper. It is small, but has really good, hands on touch pools with sea creatures that are definitely not at the Mall of America Sea Life Aquarium! Really fun! Worth it for small children too. Because of the price, you don't feel the need to stay all day long.
We also got to go to a Tide pool one weekday. Michael took off work early and we drove about 50 minutes to the nearby Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. We were able to watch nesting mother seals from a distance and search for sea stars, sea anemones, crabs, hermit crabs and all of the other tidal pool life right under our feet. Read Pagoo, by Holling Clancy Holling for a good taste of Tidal pool life! Visiting a tide pool is an excellent opportunity on so many levels. You get fresh air, nature study and the like, but it also provide you with an entry to so many other areas of study, such as the Moon, gravity, why there are high and low tides, etc. Take the time to learn about these things with your kids before and after a trip to a tide pool! Tide pool pictures for another day. I have to go to bed and I think they are on another SD card. oops! I will share one picture from a trip I took to CA a few years ago to visit my sister in San Diego. Down there we were able to visit a beach where the Seals have their pups as well. We could get a lot closer there and so I have better pictures of the seals. It was quite amazing! I really got to see this and these are WILD!! How Awesome! http://www.lajollafriendsoftheseals.org/
We were able to observe the elk fairly close. What an honor to see such beautiful creatures. Apparently they are overpopulated in the RMNP because their natural predators, Grizzlys and wolves are no longer in the park.
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FAMILY NATURE STUDY