6 Bonuses to Taking a Trip to the John Ball Zoo this Fall
This year school is going to look a bit different. Whether your kids are in-person or learning at home, the opportunities for school field trips and off-campus enrichment may not be the same.
But this doesn’t mean our kids can’t benefit from educational trips this year – we saw this visit as the perfect field trip as a family!
1) It Gives the Kids a Field Trip
A field trip has so many benefits to learning!
They provide real-world experiences that help connect what students have read or heard about, to what they actually can see and apply.
In an article I recently read on Explorable Places, it explains how field trips are rich learning laboratories, like when you get to see an underwater ecosystem at an aquarium.
This is exactly how we felt when we experienced the aquarium at JBZ. (The penguins were a fave!) Not only that, but field trips have been shown to help kids become more empathetic and tolerant, and a study has even shown they can increase their test scores.
2) You can Experience BRICKLIVE
BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise was awe-inspiring, cultivating creativity and learning through the inspiration of play.
You must make a trip out to see these unbelievably intricate pieces before the exhibit closes for the year.
Can you believe it took one million 800 thousand pieces of ‘bricks’ to make the 40 animal replicas?!
Our kids (and full disclosure, us adults) were amazed at the creations like the elephant, panda bear and cubs, the cobra, and the penguin they thought for sure was from the movie, Happy Feet.
The many pieces it took to create this exhibit is a great reason to drive to John Ball Zoo, but it’s not the most amazing thing about BRICKLIVE.
BRICKLIVE inspired our kids to run home and make their own creations!
The problem solving it took to create something similar and the creativity to think of something amazing on their own goes beyond the “Wow, those are sweet!” moments inside the park.
Seeing BRICKLIVE added a portion of learning to our trip we didn’t expect and it’s been really cool to see that play out into the day to day start of the school year.
I’m homeschooling my children this year, and Carla’s kids are learning virtually. Because of homeschool, I look at every outing we take through an educational lens. The JBZ trip was exploding with learning experiences for both families.
“We’ve already had to use more creative and problem-solving skills to date,” Carla told me after our visit.
3) JBZ Provides Interesting Learning Resources
Of course, any zoo offers the chance to learn about animals, but we were extra impressed by the educational resources provided by the zoo to add to the visit. Their Resources for Learning page had so many options for enriching the learning experience.
We chose the Who Am I Scavenger Hunt, and the kids had fun searching out the different animals and learning more about each one. Next time we’ll do one of the Classification Tours for a whole new learning experience.
4) John Ball Zoo is Divided Into World Regions
We love that the zoo is divided by world regions. This is especially helpful for kids (and adults!) in connecting the animals they are seeing to a certain area of the world.
My kids are currently studying Africa, so entering the Africa region of the zoo and seeing animals solely from that part of the world made it easy for the kids to build on what they have been learning.
5) Kids can get Social Interaction in a Safe Way
Social interaction has been a hot topic this year. As each school is taking great precautions to keep kids safe it has been on many parent’s minds – how can we continue to give our kids the social skills they need for life and emotional growth?!
“What I didn’t expect from the trip to the John Ball Zoo trip was how much my kids didn’t shy away from talking, interacting, and asking all sorts of questions of their friends, zoo workers, and us parents – all while wearing masks,” said Carla.
The Zoo gave them the opportunity to be socially distanced protected by masks and yet have a completely ‘normal’ day out with friends.
“Driving home and hearing from our kids what they liked, how they enjoyed the zoo and time with their friends was semi emotional for me,” she continued.
“I could see in their eyes and behavior that the social aspect of the trip was as significant as the learning and fun portions.” – Carla
6) JBZ Safety Precautions Help Everyone Stay Safe
You can trust that your trip to John Ball Zoo will include consistent safety precautions.
This was very important for Carla, as she hadn’t taken her kids anywhere other than the park or on hikes since March.
“Our family is considered high-risk and we have been very cautious the past six months,” she said. Knowing that John Ball Zoo takes safety very seriously gave her the assurance to let this be her family’s first big trip since Spring.
We were impressed with the Zoo’s safety precautions, and here’s why:
- When you plan your trip you’ll have a specific visit time.
- Spots are marked as you check-in for 6 feet distances.
- Most visitors were wearing masks.
- There are hand-washing stations set up throughout the zoo.
- For the most part, other families were very respectful and gave each other time to check out the animals.
- Indoor exhibits require a mask and have staff limiting the number of people inside.
- The walking areas on the grounds are wide giving lots of room to stay socially distanced within your own group.