Friday, October 05, 2007

Homeschool Day at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Today was one of two "Homeschoolers Take Over" events at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens this fall. We missed the last one because I procrastinated about registering and it filled up, but this one we got to attend, even though it was almost practically sort of gently raining, and the kids had a lot of fun.

Here come the homeschoolers! Look out, deciduous holly tree collection!

We were divided into three groups, and each group travelled with its own "garden teacher" through different stations where we learned things and filled out the little workbook we'd received at the visitor's center. Here we are learning about the caterpillars. This was very relevant to Benny, given his recent interest in the topic.

Benny urgently asked to see the milkweeds and monarchs. Eventually he located them himself. This isn't technically milkweed, but it's something else that is similar enough that the caterpillars like it. The garden teacher couldn't tell us very much about monarchs, but fortunately we were with a throng of overly informed homeschoolers. All through the tour, they educated the garden teacher on the ways of the Sioux Indians, the eating habits of monarchs, uses of papaya, etc. I love homeschooled kids. They're so awesome and insane.


Here he is examining the caterpillars with his magnifying glass:

Here they are in the rose garden, making bath salts with rosemary, epsom salts, and a baby food jar. Very cool. Sadie accidentally dropped hers onto the stone floor of this little gazebo, smashed it, and caused an international incident. Brooms were called in by radio, literally. For some reason, I got the feeling that our particular garden teacher was a little fed up with my particular children by the end of the day. Of course, it could have been that she was tired of getting corrected on horticultural fine points by 10-year-olds .

The roses are just coming on now for their second big bloom of the year:

Here's Benny making his rosemary bath salts:

Here's Sadie reading one of the signs. She kept insisting that she had to read all the little labels on everything, and she "read" each of the as very detailed instructions on how to look at and enjoy the plants. I said, at one point, "You know Sadie if you want to learn to read, we can work harder on your letters and sounds so you can read those for real." She gave me a withering glare and said, "I can wead them for weal now." Well okay.

According to Sadie, this one says, "Please look right at this flower and love it forever."

Here we're learning about the uses of tropical plants.

Benny specifically asked me to take this picture. Later, riding the shuttle tour around the garden, I asked Benny what was his favorite part. He said seeing a "real coconut" was his favorite thing, because that had always been his "dream." So many dreams, so little time. Fortunately, we don't have to waste any of that time at school, so we can look at caterpillars and coconuts all day.

Benny asked me to title this post, "Benny in the World of the Rain Forest" but I hardly think I'm going to take advice from someone whose lifelong dream is to see a coconut. :) After all, he has his own blog.


  1. What a wonderful day. Too bad your guide wasn't a little better informed though! I love field trips!

  2. Such great stories. My daughter used to "wead for weal" herself.
    Your son sounds a lot like my son. I have a feeling they would get along quite well.
    Hey, my dream is to see a coconut too....on a nice sandy beach somewhere. :)
    I need to go check out Benny's blog.