Aquarium (or, Preparation is Key)

DSC_9896
We went to a great arts and culture fest before hitting the Aquarium. Silas asked for an “octopus” at the face painting booth, but was pleased to discover that it looked more like a jelly fish.

There was a lot of cool stuff to do in Baltimore–we didn’t even have time for everything we wanted to cover–but, unsurprisingly, the thing I was looking forward to the most was the National Aquarium.

DSC_9837
The Aquarium–that bit up in the top is their indoor rainforest!
DSC_9836
Ready to go in: “I will see a shark and it will be my friend with his teeth.”

My friend and former boss man Rob Bland used to say that you could do anything in 48 hours, given the right amount of preparation. Rafe Esquith writes about preparing his students before taking them to Washington, DC, so that they have some context for what they are looking at.

In that spirit, I worked, very intentionally, to prepare Silas for the Aquarium. We wore through our library card, checking out books on coral reefs, rain forests, and even the concept of an aquarium. Some favorites were My Visit to the Aquarium, Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea, and In The Rainforest (Magic School Bus). We also watched Finding Nemo, Ponyo, and Disney Nature: Oceans. By the time we got there, Silas knew a jawfish from an angelfish from a pufferfish. He was ready.

DSC_9880
DSC_9842

DSC_9850
Less prepared, but equally fascinated.
DSC_9854
Take my kid to a multi-million-dollar facility, and he will find some $10 puppets to play with.
DSC_9894
Jellyfish face with a jellyfish art installation
DSC_9845
Ibis in the rainforest

When we were home, he found a picture of an ibis in a book and told me, “We saw this bird like this in the canopy at the rainforest at the aquarium.”

DSC_9866
We went late in the afternoon, when the Aquarium website suggested it would be less busy. It was still completely insane.

DSC_9859

He loved the jellies–a whole exhibit of them. They looked like space aliens.

The only disappointment he mentioned was that the octopus was very hard to see.

DSC_9856 DSC_9909

I was proud of Silas–he observed all of the fish carefully, especially the ones in the bigger tanks where he could get close to them at his own toddler-y height. He loved “Shark Alley,” which is at the bottom of a ramp that wraps around the inside of a giant tank, full of sharks and rays. He may have rolled his eyes at some elementary school kids who were referring to clownfish as “Nemos.”

DSC_9927
After the dolphin show

All of that prep paid off. He pointed out things he recognized and said, “It’s just like in my book.” All of that prior knowledge gave him the scaffolding he needed to fully experience the Aquarium.

DSC_9925
Petra enjoyed the dolphin show–she even clapped and pointed at them.

 

 

DSC_9916
Someone’s going to complain that there aren’t enough Petra pictures. I was wearing her most of the day. Here are a few to sate your need for chubs.

DSC_9915

Meta

Aili Written by:

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *