When’s the last time you visited the Museum of Natural History? I had the opportunity to do so last week and viewed exhibits through the eyes of my second-grade granddaughter, Ava. Quite a treat and experience.
Ava’s class is studying birds. Each student has a bird journal in which is kept notes, pictures,
observations and facts. They have gone on a birdwatching trip to Central Park and this was going to be another excursion and opportunity to learn more. Each student has his own “bird.” Ava’s is the robin.
We piled onto a yellow school bus. This one had lap belts! After buckling ourselves in, we headed west, through Central Park, and arrived at the Museum along with seemingly hundreds of other schoolchildren of various ages. We first headed to a small gallery of stuffed New York City birds. Ava quickly found her robin, sat on the floor and wrote in the journal. Others did the same.
The second space we went to was a large hall with about 30 or so dioramas of assorted
species of birds with different habitats: marshes, open prairies, woodlands, swamps. Most students walked briskly, covering all the exhibits; Ava was deeply interested in only 3 or 4 and so we spent our time in front of those. In one exhibit, a baby crane had his head entirely in the mother’s mouth and we talked about how the mother gathered food for it and possibly even partially mushed it up, making “baby food” for its young. In another, we talked about why a particular species was practically extinct.
Our last stop was a short walk through the dinosaur area. We learned that birds are descended from dinosaurs! Ava wanted to know where the skin
was from all these creatures. I explained as best I could; she also had a hard time understanding how we could draw them without actually seeing their skin. We discussed the clues that a skeleton provides in “connecting the dots” and finishing the picture.
It was a lovely outing and the best part was that I got to see it through the eyes of an inquisitive and interested 2nd grade child!