Nature Exchange

The Tulsa Zoo is a perennial favorite of ours. I think everyone has gone though an animal phase of some kind that could only be satisfied by frequent zoo visits. Since we have a membership, I ask the kids what two or three things are on their must-see list before we go. If we don’t plan ahead this way,  I feel obligated to make the trek around the entire zoo which always seems to wear the little ones and mama out past the point of maximum zoo enjoyment!

Sisters Zoo

my girls

Viggo Map

my map man

On our latest visit we decided to trade our treasures and exchange some nature knowledge at the Cox Nature Exchange. The Nature Exchange is located fairly close to the entrance of the zoo, near the train station.

Viggo Nature Exchange

To participate in the nature exchange, simply bring in any item found in nature, with the exception of most bird related items as those have too many protection laws to chance it. The Nature Exchange helper will assist you with identifying your specimen, and engage with you in conversation about your find.  You can then turn in your item and earn points for other items they have in the exchange. If your child doesn’t want to part with their treasure, they can also earn points for any knowledge they share. It’s a brilliant concept for those who love to collect specimens and ask questions and discuss them with others who are interested.

Listening Nature

 presenting our finds

checking speciman

comparing specimens

treasure wall

items you can trade

Honestly, things gathered from nature and brought home for study is one area where I have a hard time matching my children’s enthusiasm so I really appreciated this experience for them!

Willa Smile Nature

Everyone left with a plan for what they could bring on their next visit!

  1. The Nature Exchange sounds interesting. My daughter would love it. She is always collecting stones, sticks and other things she finds on the grass. At home we like to make stuff with the treasures, to also bring the season in our home. When it is autumn we will make decoration from leaves and maroons for example. 🙂

    I also feel obligated to walk through the entire zoo whenever I am there. But last time we rented a cabin near a zoo and I could buy a multiple day pass and we went in for 2-3 hours and that was great. The first time we went to a nice dino-exhibit, and the lions and elephants and the second time we went to the hippo’s, penguins and a lot of other animals. It was great for everyone 🙂

    I wish the government in Holland could see the benefits of homeschool. We are not allowed to teach our children. Except when they have a diagnosis, that they can’t go to school. And the law regarding homeschool will get even more strict. I live experiencing and discovering things with my kids and as a parent you have more time for that than a school has.

  2. This is so cool! I don’t think they have anything like this in New Zealand. I would’ve loved it when I was a kid.

  3. Hi Natalie, Love reading about your experiences. Your children are so darling! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Delightful.
    you might all enjoy a book called How To Be An Explorer Of The World by Kerri Smith.

    it is full if great little ideas for observibg and collecting and appreciating bature and the world.

  5. What dolls! As a homeschooling mother of three my hat goes off to you! I look forward to your posts and little bits of advice weaved through them. (I hadn’t come up with the idea of three things to see at the zoo before we exhaust ourselves!)

    In the future I hope you’ll be able to give tips and advice on homeschooling at home as well and maybe include us in your journey about what works, what doesn’t, at least for you.

    Also, thank you for some awesome ideas when we go through Oklahoma next!

  6. Your children are so beautiful and precious! Thank you for sharing their learning adventures with us, it is great to read about your experiences =) Makes me want to jump in there with you!

  7. This blog is amazing! Great ideias to do with the kids! BTW, your kids are so cute and you are a really good mother! Congrats! xoxox Ps. Come to Brazil with yours kids!

  8. I love an interactive adventure. We have to travel at least an hour to find that type of event where we live, which I “have a hard time matching my children’s enthusiasm for” 😉 It’s why it takes a community right?

  9. We’ve been to the Tulsa Zoo countless times (we live in Enid), and I can’t believe we’ve never done this! My daughter has had a “nature jar” for years. Anytime she finds something interesting we add it to this large glass cookie jar (makes a beautiful decoration too). I love that she remembers many of the items she sees and where she found them. Now it looks like we’ll also be hauling her large rock collection to Tulsa as well!

  10. I love the idea of a nature exchange, I wish our zoo had one! Love how you infuse learning in so many local contexts – do you have any good ideas for incorporating math into your outings? I was a math teacher before becoming a mom, so I am always on the lookout for new ways to encourage my son’s interest in the subject. Thanks!

  11. great idea! i can´t wait to see another great adventure!!! i don´t have kids, who knows one day i will use your method!!! hahahhaha… xo, nat

  12. Nat these are awesome adventures but please send help for those of us who don’t have access to these places and need help in finding the living in learning in a home environment.

  13. The Nature Exchange sounds like a good way of learning of all the little things around the zoo.
    I wonder if the Atlanta Zoo has the same program ?

  14. I’m guessing I’m not alone in being interested in how you run your homeschooling along with household. It’s not about being nosy just honestly curious. Not a lot of people understand what it’s like to homeschool so many kiddos and run a household too. I’d love to know if you get kids involved in chores or hire a maid or maybe Tay helps out. Do you rely on much help from family? Even thoughts on curriculum or books you enjoy using would be neat to know. Hubby and I are farmers with 5 boys we homeschool and it’s basically just us with out family around sooooo I love learning ideas from other moms how to make life work;)

    • I’m also wondering about this. I’m curious about what she sees as most important to teach as well. I am a teacher by trade and there’s always a debate over whether or not to explicitly teach things that can be done via technology these days… It’s just interesting to me! I do agree that there is LOTS of learning in experiences, but there’s also things you just need to be taught, in my opinion.
      That and the fact that I can barely take care of my fiancé and pup and get everything done around the house while teaching all day! She is a superwoman!

  15. It’s great here in my city, we don’t have that kind of experience with treasures, etc. I’m sure my godson would love making a experience this genre.

    Kisses From France

    • It’s great here in my city, we don’t have that kind of experience with treasures, etc. I’m sure my godson would love making a experience this genre.

  16. It’s great here in my city, we don’t have that kind of experience with treasures, etc. I’m sure my godson would love making a experience this genre.

  17. The concept of homeschooling sounds strange to me as it’s completely uncommon in Germany where I live. Don’t you think your kids are missing out on something, especially contacts to other kids?
    Plus you have them around all day long! No free time for you, always being surrounded by your kids. And you are no teacher – no offence, but don’t you think someone whos profession it is to teach could do a better job than you? You wouldn’t perform surgery in your kids by yourself after all, but have a doctor do it. So why teach them yourself when they could go to school?

  18. Great idea! One day you and your familly have to visit the Lisbon Zoo in Portugal, it’s wonderfull, and the Beauval Zoo in France too! Thanks
    beijinhos, bisous, kisses 🙂

  19. We just recently visited Oklahoma for the Cherokee Holiday in September. We got there a day early before the big events started, so we decided to go to the Tulsa Zoo. Best decision ever! When we went it was animals in the cold, desert, forest and the sea. My daughter LOVED it! When we go back next year, it will be a stop for sure!

  20. You earn points when you trade in natural items such as rocks, fossils, shells, and pine cones, just to name a few. You may then use your points to collect other items at the Nature Exchange, or bank the points for future use.

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