This week’s Tot School was on the road. I guess you could say we have a series of field trips! It was time for a trip. I guess our children have become accustomed to long road trips because Petra was asking for several weeks to “sleep” in the car and visit her grandparents. So when Thomas got the request to participate in the USMC Mud Run in Columbia, SC – we jumped at the opportunity. This is a 4 mile obstacle course with a LOT of mud. Pictures to come in a subsequent post. And it was very crowded. Parking and driving was a nightmare – over 14,000 ran in the race on Saturday! Jasper also had the chance to run on a mini course.
Since we were heading to SC, we went a little further north to NC and visited grandparents. It was a 10 hour trip in the car from start to finish. We usually make this trip mostly at night while the little ones sleep. But this time, we had to wait and leave after lunch. It still was much easier than one would expect with two toddlers. Petra complained very little and we didn’t hear a peep of whining or fussing from Jasper. He had a little car in each hand and was good to go. He is such an easy traveler.
At the grandparents’ house the children had a blast, and I think so did the grandparents. Both grandma and Papa Gerry are very interactive with the children which is great for us. This visit ended up being a mini farm tour for the children. I never really thought how perfect this location is for children, but what child wouldn’t want to see goats, cows, chickens, horses, and donkeys every chance they get. You can see the post and photos from this part of the trip HERE.
But to cater our trip to our children I googled the city of Columbia and we came up with a few options for the children. First we visited EdVenture – the south’s largest children’s museum. I was a little surprised that Columbia was home to a famous children’s museum. The museum was interesting, but disappointing. It looks much better online than it was in person. And it was OVERPRICED. More of this to come in a subsequent post. (sorry, this is the only way I know to seperate out the photos in to manageable slideshows)
The day after the Mud Run, we visited the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC and LOVED it. I’ve been to several zoos in my lifetime and this is by far my favorite to date. So this post is mostly going to be about our zoo trip because where else can you see lions, tigers and bears …. and meerkats, penguins, wallabies, and more. We went with a couple families who ran with Thomas in the Mud Run – so we had lots of older girls to help us. So you will see more than just my children in the slideshow below.
I’ve had a hard time not posting photos of all the animals we saw, but I’m sure you can imagine. The zoo was easy to walk from place to place – which made it perfect for toddlers and young children. But what I loved most was the interactive parts of the zoo. My favorite was the exhibit of Lorikeets – you could acutally go into the room with the birds and hold them. And this was free – no extra price. Jasper was quick to ask to hold a bird and I was able to get one perched on his arm in seconds. The birds were very friendly. One decided to take up residence cuddling with me. (I would have taken it home with me if allowed). Thomas purchased some little cups of nectar and they flocked to him for food. He had several perched on each arm and some on his head and shoulders. (there are pictures below).
Both Petra and Jasper also fed the giraffes. And we also watched the penguins get fed which was interesting. Unfortunatley, it was sprinkling the day we went and some of the extras were closed. Petra kept asking to ride the train and it was down for the day. But overall it was a great experience. If I lived nearby we would be buying annual passes.
In between all the excursions were a few normal tot school activities – especially cutting. Petra is still on a cutting kick with her new scissors. Every day, several times a day. Plus there was a lot of book reading. And while we were in the car we went through phonics and letter sounds. Petra was only about halfway cooperative, but it was wonderful to see Jasper so intent on listening and learning. His eyes didn’t leave the cards for a second while I went through each letter of the alphabet. I would hold up a phonics flash card and ask the children the letter, the sound, and words that started with that sound.
This was also there first time in a hotel room, in the same bed, sleeping in a room with us where we couldn’t close the door and get away at night. And they did fantastic! I was so very pleased to see how well they did.