Building a Zoo; Simple Play Turned Science

NO, we did not head out on a field trip today.  My boys created their own zoo this morning complete with cages, signs, medical care and lots of fact checking!

Almost as soon as Alec came down the stairs he started dumping out all the bins of toys.  He told me he needed the bins to make cages for all of his animals since he was going to make his own zoo.
He then asked his brothers to help him and tried to give them all assignments.  They didn't like his take charge attitude and left the room.

My first reaction was to tell him to clean up the mess.  He was making a huge mess and with our geography fair planned for his afternoon I knew he didn't have all day to play.  But I took a deep breath and thought about it.  

  • Who is he hurting?  No one. 
  •  Is he learning?  YES!!  
  • Can I live with a mess for a bit?  Sure. 
 Instead I smiled at him and said that sounds like fun, maybe you should make labels and signs for all the cages too like they do at zoos.  I was pretty proud of myself that I found a way to sneak writing into his play and he was eager and willing to take my suggestion! 

After that I left the room, in fact I went upstairs.

I didn't want to interfere or stop him from creating and I was pretty sure if I had to sit and witness the destruction of the playroom I probably would have.  I find that sometimes it's best to just get out of their way and let them learn and play.

I could still hear him though and next thing I knew he had recruited his brothers to help too by making several compromises.  They all took turns picking animals from each of their rooms for the zoo.

They pulled out all sorts of animals, made labels and found creative ways to arrange the bins.  I even heard Alec telling them that they would have a drill later on about a drowning animal and they would have to practice rescue techniques!

They put sea turtles and tortoises in the same cages,  otters and baby otters, toucans and Eagles, Jaguars and snow leopards, dolphins and Orcas.

They had cages with a kangaroo, koala, red panda, giant anteater, etc.

They "fed" the animals the proper food and cut up pieces small for baby animals.  They talked about amounts and weights of food.  They talked about protein versus vitamins, fish vs. meat, leaves vs. berries.

They labeled some of the cages, working together to try and figure out how to spell the names correctly.

They had machines to x- ray the animals when they were hurt or having a baby (a hand held laser gun from one of the remote control cars).

We got into a huge discussion when they talked about the manta ray being pregnant and no one was sure if they had babies or laid eggs (come to find out they lay eggs but they hatch inside the mom's body so she does appear to give birth to live babies but they're not mammals).

The baby otter was allergic to nuts and so once he ate one he got real sick.  Luckily they could x-ray him and find that out!  So Evan brought the baby otter to the hospital (me) and I had to take care of him.

They had shots and casts (special waterproof ones for the Orca and sea turtle).  It was adorable!


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