But, sometimes learning comes so naturally during fun times that it hardly feels like learning. We had a couple of those experiences last week in Florida. And I really love it when that happens.
We like low-key vacations, so our daily routine quickly became mornings at the beach and afternoons at the pool. There were three exceptions. On our last afternoon there, we watched a free (yipee!) ski show which included a young man ranked first in the world (in his age group) in barefoot skiing. That was really cool... and a bit painful to watch. How he doesn't get water up his...well, you know...is beyond me.
Another time we drove a half hour away and hunted for shark's teeth on a rocky beach known for it's toothy debris. Do you know about shark teeth? I didn't, so don't feel bad if you don't. Sharks have several rows of teeth with the front row sometimes holding over 100 teeth. They eat their prey so violently that some of those front teeth are bound to come out. No worries. The tooth behind the missing one (in the next row) simply moves up to take it's place and a new tooth begins to grow in the very back row. This is why shark's teeth are so plentiful on certain beaches.
The third excursion was a trip to the largest state park in Florida, Myakka River State Park. There, we went on a hour long air boat ride where not only did we learn a lot about the park's ecosystem, but we saw 13 alligators (by Sam's count) and a bald eagle. We also climbed a 35 foot tower...
...walked along a 85 foot canopy suspension bridge and then climbed a second tower which reached 74 feet into the air. At the top of the tower was a magnificent view.
Sam and Sadie had fun hunting for shells at the beach like a lot of kids do. What made their finds even more fun is that over the past month, we've been studying about the creatures that inhabit those shells and learning all kinds of incredible things about them.
You know how sometimes you find a shell that has a perfectly round little hole in it? Ever wonder what makes those little holes? It was likely a whelk (a sea snail). These seemingly sweet little creatures don't take no for an answer when the bivalve creature won't open it's shell to let the whelk devour it. So, the whelk excretes a shell softener and uses their proboscis (a long stalk) to actually drill a hole into the shell and eat the soft creature inside. Not so sweet now are they?
Oh! And we can't forget to talk about sea stars (also called star fish). They are such graceful and elegant creatures aren't they? Well. Did you know that instead of eating with it's mouth, the sea star's stomach actually comes out of it's body to begin eating it's prey? When it has partially digested it, it moves back into it's body to finish the job.
We started reading about Cnidarians yesterday- creatures that belong to the phylum that includes jellyfish and sea anemones. Let's just say I'm glad we didn't read about them before heading out to the beach.
I'll tell you what, though. Sometimes it takes being in a different environment to get a fresh realization of what an amazing God we serve....