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Monterey Bay Aquarium

Share Your Story: Our Homeschool Field Trip - California

By grtlyblesd@aol.com

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Watching the jellyfish

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Playing with the hermit crabs

Field Trip Location / Website

Monterey Bay Aquarium

886 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA

Approximate Cost / Hours

Children ages 3-12 $17.95 (under 3 free)
Students age 13-17 or in college $27.95
Adults 18-64 and not in college $29.95
Seniors (65+) $27.95

Field Trip Description

Five times a year, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers free admission to homeschoolers. Reservations must be made in advance. During these special days, homeschoolers are offered a special orientation detailing must-see exhibits and special programs. They have their Discovery Lab classroom open to homeschoolers where they can get hands-on with animals, shells, bones, fur, and more.

I've taken children as young as 2 and as old as 14, and everyone loves going. It's a trip we look forward to each year. The aquarium IS stroller friendly.

Highlights

The hands-on exhibits were instant favorites. My younger boys liked playing with the hermit crabs, while my 4th & 6th grader were ecstatic to touch bat rays. We learned that male seahorses are the ones to give birth. We learned that octopi are tricky escape artists. We learned that otters have a million hairs per square inch in their coats and that they store their tools and snacks in their "armpit" area.

One of my children is particularly fascinated by sharks, so he soaks up everything he can while we're there.

We also learned more about Giant Ocean Sunfish this year--because there weren't any, and we asked why. Turns out, the sunfish from last year was getting too large for their crane to lift safely, so they released it. We learned that sunfish, as big as they are, only live about 2 years, and that they've been unable to capture another one because of dwindling population.

The otters are always a big hit, as are the jellyfish. This year's seahorse exhibit was very interesting, displaying a variety of sizes and types.

Tips & tricks

  • Bring jackets. It's chilly & windy near the ocean.
  • There are lockers, so you may wish to bring your own lunch and skip the overpriced, mediocre cafeteria food.
  • The gift shops carry different items. It's worth it to go into all of them if you're looking for something specific.
  • For follow up learning after the trip, you can ask each child to pick a specific creature you saw to do more research on and provide the family with a dinner time report on their findings.
  • Walk past the aquarium on the bike path to watch the harbor seals cavort in their sanctuary area (not affiliated w/aquarium).

Beverly Hernandez, About.com Homeschooling, says:

This has always been one of our favorite aquariums too. I can't wait to visit again.
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