I threw the kids out in the backyard this morning with the threat of bringing out workbooks if they came back inside. Only Zahra pleaded with me, and that was because she wanted to make up for days of not practising, just hours before her piano lesson. Fine.
We had a very special field trip today. The mother of Zahra’s best friend is an entomologist who works and studies at McGill’s Faculty of Environmental Science. Since we had been studying insects, I asked Stéphanie if she would consider coming to our house to do a presentation to a small group of children (seeking out the experts!). She replied that she could do even better: give us a private tour of the Lyman Museum. Closed to the public, it houses the second-largest insect collection in Canada. Of course, we jumped on that opportunity!
Stéphanie has also written a book that Zahra has read cover to cover. Between that and the work we’ve done this term, I was pleased to see, during the visit, how much information about insects Zahra has retained. Noah, too, asked insightful questions; and even Leila remembered the three body parts of insects.
All of the kids were attentive during Stéphanie’s great presentation. They laughed at her story of spending hours, as a kid, watching ants and doing experiments to see what they would eat. They took turns looking at a tiger beetle under a microscope before we headed out into the collection where Stéphanie showed us wasps and bees, beetles and butterflies. She explained about their different mouth parts and fielded an assortment of questions from the kids and parents alike.
The last part of the tour involved live insects and even a tarantula. The kids got to hold a Madagascar hissing cockroach and a millipede. Zahra was pleased to see Chili, the same tarantula that she sees when she visits her friend. We were awed by what appeared to be another tarantula but what was just, in fact, Chili’s old skin. Did you know that tarantulas molt? And when they do, they leave behind a mostly intact skin. It was very impressive.
But the showstopper was the walking stick. Stephanie made us all laugh when she explained that the walking stick’s goal in life is to make you believe it’s a stick. It spends its whole day playing the role of a stick. She took one out of the aquarium and encouraged it to walk across the floor, but it was a bit sleepy, moving one leg and then freezing in midair before being prodded to move another leg, and again freezing in midair. The kids thought it was hysterical! It eventually started moving, and each of the kids took a turn holding it.
That visit was the icing on the cake to our study of insects. Speaking of cake…
We came home for lunch and to ride bikes in the driveway. Later, after Zahra’s piano lesson, we all stayed at Kimberley’s house for my belated birthday dinner, where I was thoroughly spoiled. The kids also worked some more on their play. It’s really coming along: a beautiful project directed by these self-motivated kids. A great ending to a great day!