W had his zoo class today and they talked about animal behavior and enrichments. Enrichments are what zookeepers put in the animals' cage that will create a positive reaction. The main one being appropriate food, and the other one being toys. The instructor put some stuffed monkeys in a glass pen and asked the kids what kind of environment they would need. The kids said things like "trees", "water and food", "places to get out of the rain", and "stuff to play with". We had walked around the zoo earlier and noticed the monkeys have baby toys, the goats have what looks like punching bags (for them to butt into), and the parrots have lots of fun-looking hanging things. The instructor brought in a hen, put her in the pen and tossed in some mealworms. The hen started clucking loudly and gobbled up every last one. It was obviously a "good enrichment" since it evoked a cute positive response from the hen. Common sense, yes, but still a lesson in there.
The kids then made some fun things for the meerkats. They put mealworms in a toilet paper tube and wrapped the whole thing in decorated paper. We went over to the meerkat pen and one of the zookeepers walked right in there and strategically placed all the "enrichments" around the pen. The kids watched as the meerkats found each one (and climbed high to get a few), rip them open and reach in to eat the mealworms. This proved to be a good enrichment since the meerkats got very active and playful. Cool class. Would have been even cooler if it wasn't pouring rain outside.
Before we left, W did 2 math pages, 2 reading pages, some copywork, read an A.A. Milne poem with me, and narrated back a story from Fifty Famous Stories Retold and one Aesops fable. B read the stories to him and as luck would have it, one story included this line: "the boy named Richard was called Dick" and the other one had this one: "The farmer took his ass to the market". From the other room I hear this riotous laughter. I think B was laughing harder. After a little while, B called to me, "OK, we're done reading about Dick and ass now." (insert more riotous laughter)