Wednesday, July 27

Virginia (Marshall Tucker Band)

We wound up visiting two museums (they're right next to each other) on the same day - and both of them were having Homeschool Day!!  Excellent accident!  The boys enrolled in classes and had a chance to meet and play with other kids for a few hours, and I got to catch up on some much needed work in the lobby.  They came out energized and enthusiastic - and then we explored the museums together.                      If you're in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, try to hit both of these.......but before we get sidetracked, here is your animal-specific unit study for today. 

Horseshoe Crab Unit Study
Virginia Living Museum
At the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, living exhibits depict Virginia’s natural heritage from the mountains to the sea. Visitors experience animals native to Virginia in habitats, discovery centers, and interactive exhibits. There are hands-on exhibits, and the docents are fabulous with the kids!  The trail is nicely laid out, and easy to navigate, even on rainy days.  Before you go, make sure to pick up a museum study guide (choose your grade) to turn this trip into an even-more-educational field trip!
Learning about horseshoe crabs at the Living Museum - the docents encouraged hands-on learning and showed us many different specimens.  
Inside the museum, you'll find two large sun rooms with different Virginia ecosystems.  Learn about both the coastal and mountain regions, as well as the animal life they support.
Simulated caverns showcase nocturnal animals.  We even found our oldest son's relative.....the pack rat!
During the downtime, we got to learn what it would be like to be a turtle!  It's actually quite difficult to navigate!
Outside, on the trail, we learned how to distinguish the tracks of all the animals we were about to see.  While many of these animals were not new to the children, there was still a lot of information on the placards that they didn't know.  It's a bit like a zoo, but with animals strictly from the local area - such as the red wolf and bald eagle.
Their favorite parts about this museum?  The big one loved getting to see the bald eagle up close and personal (yes - we were only about three feet away...that's not a zoom lens).  The little one enjoyed the virtual dissections, like the frog one shown above.  He got to take apart the animals, and learn the anatomy, without having to get messy!

Mariner's Museum
The Mariner's Museum covers seafaring history of the Virigina coast, from the early explorers to modern day.  As a homeschooler, I appreciate the various study guides they offer online.  You can study everything from the Voyage Across the Sea (66 pg of lessons!), to the Birth of the Navy, or even the Battle of the Atlantic.  There are more than a dozen guides available!
One of the boys' favorite exhibits was the USS Hunley, a Civil War era submarine that has been re-created.  They discovered that it was a lot smaller inside than anticipated!  Nearby, they were able to design their own submarine and then discover it's merits and pitfalls in battle.  This was a great engineering exhibit, and we spent a lot of time here.
They were able to role play in the Captain's Quarters, seeing how well he would live in relation to the various enlisted men.  At another section in the museum, we were able to see the real submarine, as it is being restored in an underwater environment.  They love Underwater Archaeology, so this was another long-visited exhibit!  Check out our previous units on this subject :

  1. Maritime History & Archaeology
  2. Underwater Archaeology : Arabia Steamboat

Back in the Homeschool Days classroom..............the boys learned about hurricanes and created a house that would withstand hurricane-force winds (as provided by a leaf blower).  They learned about aircraft carriers and the role they played during World War II.  Then, they got to use ship flags to send signals - this sparked a few days of creating codes with ship flags.....   Gotta love the unit study bunny trails!!   

Happy Sailing!