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School has started for most children across the U.S., but on Monday “Zoo school” starts and I am so excited. I have been cleaning the classroom, looking for cool biofacts, pulling books, making signs and creating curriculum. This year we will have 3rd graders and 1st graders from Lycee Francais New Orleans cycle through our zoo school.
Each grade will spend 4 weeks here with the zoo as their classroom and zoo educators presenting animals, teaching inquiry-based lessons on bird beaks, creating puppet shows with wetland themes, planting gardens and much more.
Studies show that children learn more when they are happy and being outdoors and involved with nature makes children happy. An opportunity to use the zoo as a classroom for learning about adaptations, endangered species, habitats and life cycles is something that may help improve standardized test scores. Improved test scores are great, but more importantly this is an opportunity to connect these children to nature and create adults that will want to make a difference in protecting nature and its inhabitants.
There are more tables to wash and lessons to prepare. The peacocks are already hanging around the outdoor classroom-perhaps they know that soon student lunches may find their way to the ground. Lunch outdoors, with peacocks nearby. These students are in for some fun.