Friday, March 11, 2016

Love for Latta

I decided on a whim to take the trio to Latta Plantation after we dropped Jackson off at preschool. We've visited the plantation a handful of times, each time focusing on plantation life with slaves and a master. Since it was just the toddlers, we spent most of our time visiting the animals.

James was so curious today. He crouched down, carefully observing every animal. The chickens were especially vocal, which frightened Maddie. 

We spent longer than normal walking around, visiting each animal. Since I am choosing to exit the kids from speech therapy (more on that later), I was very intentional in conversing about each animal, having the kids name everything they see. We talked about the pigs being dirty and how they roll in mud to cool off.

One of the employees was feeding each of the animals. He kindly spread all the corn along the edge of the fence so we could inspect the sheep closely.

Once again, James was entranced.

Amelia has always loved the gentle sheep. Maddie was more relaxed around the sheep than any other animal.

There were historians and musicians practicing and setting up for a Gaelic festival tomorrow. Some of the living quarters were closed and there were cones blocking off sections. We were still able to go inside the kitchen, which is my favorite area. There was a time when I was stressed out trying to keep the trio on the correct side of the rope. They were much better listeners and more independent than the last time we visited.

The trio are obsessed with cooking, whether it's play food or real food. They each took turns pretending to cook outside.

Rather than attempting to explain conditions of slaves' living quarters, we talked about a big bed, a little table, square window, etc.

Once again, the employee fed the larger livestock closer towards us so we could watch.

He even let us help fill the trough with water. Maddie was especially delighted to watch the donkey drinking.

Latta Plantation is on the same road as the Raptor Center and Nature Museum, though I've never taken the kids to either of those places. I discovered today that the Latta Plantation Nature Center is free. We drove two minutes down the road to explore the exhibits. There were mostly turtles, fish, and lizard-like creatures.

I didn't take any pictures, but there were dozens of animal related coloring sheets, books, puzzles, and puppets. There was also a bin with snake skins, small skeletons, and other cool artifacts that the kids could hold. We passed around this turtle shell pictured below.

The nature center opened up to a forest filled with hiking trails, gardens, a lake, and even hammocks. We spent most of our time at this quaint little playground.

Amelia was at home playing in this tiny house with play food. She served me lots of pretend pizza and ice cream.

It must be a requirement to have outdoor chimes and orff instruments to play at nature centers. The kids took pleasure in creating music.

The greatest outdoor treasure was playing with vines. I'm terrible at estimating heights, but these were undoubtedly the longest vines I've ever seen. I had to refrain from trying to swing on one like Tarzan. Maddie and James chased after the vines as they tried to swing them back and forth to one another.

The forests were full of hidden gems and things to explore.

We spent three hours, most of which were outside, exploring local flora and fauna, as well as plantation animals. I felt a bit guilty that we went on such fun adventures without Jackson, but I also enjoyed the relaxed time with the toddlers. We will definitely return to the nature center, and we'll have to visit the Raptor Center one of these days. As always, I'm thankful to have the opportunity to stay home with the kids, as well as places to take them where we can explore and learn.

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