Because we have been learning about life cycles (particularly by observing caterpillars) and the newness that Spring brings, the family make a trek to the Discovery Center Museum of Science and Natural History for their Spring Egg Festival. There was quite a show out, and the grounds had so many activities for us to do. First Aidyn climbed into the cockpit of a rocket ship and pretended to be an astronaut. Then we let him lead us through a maze of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Aidyn had a ball twisting and turning, finding dead ends, and finally breaking free at the end!
Then we went across the way and walked through this impressive Cacti Garden with rocky trails and gigantic cacti, some of which looked like tentacled undersea creatures. We then stopped to play at a bubble-blowing station. We then spied a Children's Garden, so we explored that. A caretaker of the garden invited Aidyn to stand on a colorful slab of cement that said "MAR" for March. She then asked him to point his hands straight up in the air. Looking closely, we saw the the tip of his shadow kissed another colorful slab of cement that said "12," which is what time it was. We explained to Aidyn that he was standing on a sun clock and he was the hands! Afterward, we played hopscotch, read about vermicomposting, and marveled at the beautiful flowers and animal-shaped hedges.
Then it was time for the egg hunt. Aidyn got a simple white basket with his name on it, we waited in line, and then off we went searching the grounds for hidden eggs. Scores of children participated, so I was proud when Aidyn walked away with a full bag. We planted ourselves in the shade and cracked open his prizes until we heard our stomachs growling.
After lunch, Aidyn poked his head through cut-out boards of dinosaur scenes. He pretended he was an apatosaurus and then a baby triceratops. The beautiful sound of beating drums alerted us to the Aztec Dancers, so we gathered with a crowd to watch. Several dancers, decorated in long, exotic feathers and some in animal-headpieces, shook their wrists and heels which were wrapped with clinking shells. Outside their dancing circle, two others banged on the drums and incense filled the air. It was quite a sight!
Aidyn then said he wanted to "do crafts," so we walked to the Arts and Crafts table and were surprised at what we found...Large arachnids and scorpions, meal-worms, and roaches waited in little clear boxes. The lady behind the counter invited us to hold a tarantula. When I asked Aidyn if he'd like to hold one, he carefully shook his head. To help him see that it was okay, I held my hand out as the lady placed a surprisingly colorful and hairy spider that took up the whole of my palm. I have never held a tarantula before, and it was quite a sensation. I held some other spiders as the lady gave us a mini-lesson on them, and Aidyn listened intently. We also checked out a turquoise-colored scorpion, pet large meal-worms, and spied a dozen roaches. We saw cases of other insect specimens, most of which were brilliant, natural colors like teal and silvery yellow. We touched old turtle shells of massive sizes, played with plastic representations of tadpoles and frogs through various stages of change, and toured a little are called Walden Pond. (I loved the reference to Emerson's pond that much inspired Thoreau!)
At Walden Pond, we were allowed to grab small nets and attempt to catch tadpoles, which proved much more difficult than it seemed. The whole family had a go, but we all came out empty-netted.
On the whole, this was an amazing outdoor smorgasbord of fun and exploration. For me, it epitomized the beginning of Spring and set the tone for the rest of the season.