The Monterey Bay Aquarium (if you’ve never visited) is truly a world-class aquarium, perhaps (arguably) the finest aquarium in the world. The exhibits are incredible, spectacular. The location (Monterey’s Cannery Row, situation in an old sardine factory) is stunningly beautiful.
And, if you homeschool, the Aquarium offers a series of “Home School” days each year, and invites homeschooling families to visit the aquarium free of charge. For us (a family of six), this represented a savings of $180, which more than paid for our hotel room and a meal. We combined this trip to the Aquarium with our visit to the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission, so for us there was a science, history, and religion component to the trip.
We visited on January 12, and we prepared for the “field trip” the week before. We made an aquatic habitat at home, using a big sheet of paper, crayons and markers, and by coloring and cutting out the individual animals (available in the Education section on the Aquarium website) which were pasted onto our habitat. The boys enjoyed it (and since I’m not a very “artsy” homeschool teacher) as a fun art activity in addition to the science that they learned.
During our visit, there were a lot of volunteers and docents (who are very friendly and knowledgeable) at each exhibit to talk to the kids and answer their questions. There were a lot of “interactive” activities, including the opportunity to work with arts and crafts, touch a lot of different animals, and even observe the dissections of several specimens.
The fact that the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers these “Home School Days” to the homeschooling community is a tremendous gift that deserves a lot of appreciation. I’m very grateful to them for opening up the Aquarium to homeschoolers, and giving us all an opportunity to learn.