I love Botanical Gardens! Growing up in St. Louis, MO my mom and dad would frequently take us to the inner city botanical garden. When I was older they became members there and we would go to special exhibits, concerts and dinners. I love everything about these places. The manicured gardens. The perfect flowers. The little signs that tell you what every plant is (even the scientific name!). The wonderful gift shops!
Sam and I have been to the Madison - Olbrich Botanical Garden (OBG) before, but never during the full blooming season. Today the colors were amazing.
But better even than the flowers was the butterfly exhibit! Right now at the OBG is a live butterfly exhibit in the indoor observatory. You get to walk around amongst luscious plants, gorgeous flowers and LIVE butterflies. The OBG staff did a great job of giving very clear instructions before we went in to see the butterflies (don't run around, don't touch the butterflies, don't try to catch them, don't play with their food dishes, etc.) so Sam was very well behaved.
They handed out laminated cards to everybody so you could identify the butterflies that you saw. Sam carried that card around and every time she saw a butterfly would try and match it or ask me to help her match it. I LOVED seeing her "working" like that without even being told to.
It made a huge difference to our outing too to have a task that we were working on. Since this week is a color themed week I focused today on asking her lots of questions about colors. We walked around outside first and each flower we saw we talked about the color. Eventually she started "testing" me on the colors which I thought was adorable.
Sam - What color is this one mommy?
Me - Those are pink.
Sam - Good job mommy!
The Nitty Gritty!
A lot of big cities will have botanical gardens so if you haven't checked yours out yet I would strongly encourage you to do so. If it is HUGE like the St. Louis one is and it seems like a daunting task with little ones, just treat it the same way you would the zoo. Most gardens will have a map of the grounds and you can break it up into sections. Do just small sections each time you go focusing more on the details and not trying to accomplish the whole facility each time you go. Bigger gardens may also have education departments that run classes, camps, displays and exhibits. These can be great programs for kids of all ages and even adults!
When we do this field trip again one thing I will do differently is be sure to bring binoculars, magnifying glasses and bug jars. Because of all the plants, flowers and water there is an abundance of great beetles, ants, worms, butterflies and bees to look at. It really is an amazing place to see critters. I hadn't thought of that before we went today. While we were outside at the garden Sam was noticing all the insects and next time (when we aren't in the middle of color week!) I may focus more on this.