Around Mardi Gras, we took a several week vacation from Five in a Row to do a little unit on Louisiana, New Orleans, local flora and fauna, etc. We did all the usual things for this type of study. We mapped the state, found major cities, the Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain, and the Gulf of Mexico. We learned the state bird (brown pelican), mammal (black bear), reptile (alligator), crustacean (crawfish), tree (bald cypress), flower (magnolia), symbol (fleur de lis), etc. We colored a picture of the flag and now point it out wherever we see one out on the town. We talked about some things that make our city special like our street cars, our Spanish and French heritage, our local foods, and Mardi Gras. Much of this was sourced through some wonderful picture books that I can't recommend highly enough:
P is for Pelican by Anita Prieto
Down in Louisiana by Johnette Downing
Today is Monday in Louisiana by Johnette Downing
I Spy in the Louisiana Sky by Deborah Kadair
Any "output" (maps, coloring pages, etc) escaped the notice of my camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it. The field trips, however, did not!
We took a trip to the aquarium the day after we talked about swamp animals and the Gulf of Mexico to see the fishies and alligators.
The next week, we picked a sunny day to do the same thing at the zoo. We spent more time than usual in the "Louisiana" section of the zoo, pointing out all of the animals that we now knew some more facts about. Here are the kids in the "kid trap" (akin to a crawfish? crab? trap--I didn't pay enough attention, apparently!).
But the best field trip was the one we saved for Grandma and Grandpa's visit! We went on a swamp tour! This was wonderful. To be out in the swamp, seeing alligator, wild boar, great blue heron, snakes and turtles in their natural setting was a fantastic way to finish our study of Louisiana.
It just happened that the kids' music class (Musikgarten, cannot sing its praises enough!) was studying the marsh as well. Their teacher, Ms. Carla, organized a field trip to the Barataria Nature Preserve, part of Jean Lafitte National Park, about 45 min south of New Orleans. The field trip was scheduled for the same weekend the grandparents were here, so they got to tag along for a double dose of swamp!
|You can't read the sign in the background, but it says "Cypress Knees", which is Hazel's favorite natural landform. ;)|
The day was sunny and warm, perfect for a hike over the boardwalks through the swamp. We saw no alligators, but plenty of snakes and lizards. Jono evaded my camera, spending most of his time running ahead of the pack with Grandpa or Dad on his tail. If you've never been down to Barataria Nature Preserve, go! It's free, has a really nice visitor's center with information about the local wetlands, and miles of boardwalk to explore through the swamp!
We really do love living here!!