Saturday, October 13, 2007

Zoo Trip

I have warned you that all I've been doing lately is either home schooling Madeleine, reading books in preparation for schooling Madeleine or running. Well, and of course, cleaning, laundry, cooking, et cetera, but what's less exciting than that? Perhaps running, which Superdad has called the subject of "the most boring blog posts ever?"

Yesterday, just to notch up the excitement level around here, the kids and I took a field trip to the zoo. Dad, freshly back from a week long sojourn to Germany and the Netherlands, decided to tag along since he'd missed us all ever so much.

The kids and I spent the past month studying various large cats; tigers, cheetahs, leopards, you get the idea. Considering themselves now experts in all things feline, the kids decided to observe their subjects in their natural habitats. Or, at least as close as you can get to their natural habitats when not living or frequently vacationing halfway across the globe.

Armed with paper, clipboards, colored pencils and crayons, we spent our afternoon parked in Big Cat Country at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Our first stop was the cheetahs, who were outside staring over a small ravine at a herd of impalas (something both Madeleine and Hank noted as being exceptionally cruel; Don't they want to jump over there and eat them, Mom?!) We observed through a sheet of glass the two cheetahs who playfully ran just an inch from our noses (Elisabeth jumped back in fright!) time and time again. We learned the two cheetahs were both males, and we surmised that they must be brothers that since, like other large cats, cheetahs do live on their own but, unlike other large cats, brother cheetahs are often the exception to that rule, staying together for life.

Here is Madeleine's drawing.

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed by it, and here's why. First off, she noted the cheetah's tear marks, the distinctive black line running from their inner eyes down their noses, which all cheetahs have and make differentiating them from, say, leopards, extremely easy. Secondly, unlike all other cats, cheetahs are unable to retract their claws; they need them to dig into the ground to help them run as quickly as they're able. Clearly Madeleine remembered, and noted, that interesting fact.

Hank's picture... well his was a bit less anatomically correct, but at least he got the spots. And hey, he's only four.

Next up, the lions, who were inside. They were slightly active, if you categorize yawning, preening and an occasional stretch as active. Still though, there was a wide rock ledge right in front of the lion and lioness in which to park art supplies and child-sized derrières, so the little artists got right to work.

We also saw a jaguar, a sleeping tiger (that lazy tiger has never once been awake in all our trips to the zoo) and a snow leopard.

Madeleine's tiger.

Hank's tiger, who looks very happy and awake for such tired cat, does he not?

And, finally, the full sheet, the pièce de résistance, the cumulative product of all the kids' laborious efforts. First Madeleine's masterpiece is shown. Hank's work follows immediately.


dad said...

I am thankful the plane landed in time for me to join you at the zoo. Colorful renditions of the cats by both grandchildren. One of the best days at the zoo as nobody there except cats and us.

terri said...

Now I want to see pics the kids drew of you running--LOL.

Seriously, cool that you turned the Big Cat house into a lesson. HOnestly, I go through that place as quickly as I can. It makes me cry--such majestic animals in such a small place! With such expressive faces!

OR maybe it's the hormones.

it's me, Val said...

Coming from an art phene, I am so so impressed by their art skills! What little artistes you have there, Cait! Great great pictures! You should frame those :)