Monthly Archives: February 2013

Bear Creek Park Zoo

IMG_1043For families living on the West Side of Houston (areas like Spring Branch, Memorial, Copperfield, Cypress, Katy, & Jersey Village) ~ this is quite the treasure.  In the middle of Bear Creek Pioneers Park is a small wildlife habitat and aviary containing rescued and rehabilitating animals.  Many have been injured and are not capable of surviving in the wild.   Locals just call it “Bear Creek Park Zoo”.

While not as expansive as the Houston Zoo located in Hermann Park, we thoroughly enjoy a closer view, slower pace, and the fact that it’s FREE.   The zoo is situated along War Memorial Drive on the end closest to Eldgridge.  Visitors find a walking, stroller, and wheelchair friendly path leading to an aviary and a string of fenced areas.

The aviary contains various birds like owls, macaws, peafowl, doves, pigeons, and parrots.  If you are fortunate (or perhaps unfortunate!) you’ll be able to witness the aviary keepers feeding the birds of prey.  It’s an interesting opportunity to witness how these birds dismember rodents to eat.  Our children enjoy talking to the macaw that often mimics their words.  It’s a terrific opportunity to listen to the various calls each bird makes.

IMG_1054

For about 1/3 of a mile, you’ll find a row of fenced enclosures.  We enjoy watching bison, pot-bellied pigs, goats, emus, donkeys, sheep, and deer.  Over several of the enclosures are signs giving details of the history of the animal, feeding preferences, and scientific facts.  Built into the fences are “camera ports” where you can take up-close pictures of the animals.  Like the larger zoos ~ the animals are more likely to be active on days where the temperature is moderate.

Recommended ages:  All.  This is the perfect visit for all ages.  Those with small children will enjoy the fact that they can get a closer view than at larger zoos.

How do I set up a trip?  The zoo is FREE and open to the public 7 days a week from 7am to 10pm.  Our Cub Scout Den enjoyed a specific program regarding the aviary.  E-mail the park to coordinate staff directed events.

A note about parking.  There is plenty of parking all along the zoo.  Feel free to start at any point and meander around.

What else is there to do nearby?  Explore Bear Creek Pioneers Park!  Really, the park offers so much that it’s easy to make an entire day of it.  Playgrounds, War Memorial, Tennis Courts, Walking Trails, and more.

IMG_1046

Categories: City Parks, Day Trips, Elementary, Free, High School, Houston, Middle School, Toddlers / Preschool | Leave a comment

WaterWorks Education Center

IMG_1202Yesterday we had the pleasure of visiting the WaterWorks Education Center in Humble with our local homeschool group.  I cannot speak highly enough of our experience ~ both from the ease of coordinating the Field Trip and our experiences on the tour.The tour began with a 15 minute slide-show presentation explaining water, the water cycle, ground water, and how the City of Houston captures, cleans, and distributes water.  Our presenter did an excellent job engaging the children (and adults) with questions throughout the presentation.  She was also open to students asking questions during the presentation instead of requiring they wait until the end.

We were then led to an interactive exhibit winding around behind the theater.  Children were given a clipboard and asked to “find” answers to questions. Younger children/pre-readers were given a list of pictures to participate in a “scavenger hunt” on their own level.  I loved that the employees were available to help the children if they were interested in finding everything in their sheet ~ but weren’t overly concerned if the children just wanted to explore the exhibits on their own terms.IMG_1213

We ended in a “classroom” setting with tables and chairs.  Another presenter spoke in further detail about the water cycle.  We then played a game where various “parts” of the cycle were scattered around the room.  Each station had a box of pony beads & a large “die” or “cube” to be rolled.  The children were each given a lanyard.  They picked a starting point, grabbed a bead & then rolled.  The die for that “station” would have each “next step” in the water cycle on each side.  Depending on what they rolled, the students would proceed to the appropriate station and collect another bead.  This was a great way to reinforce the various ways that water *moves* throughout our world.

Each child was given a bag of “goodies” to take home including: crayons, coloring/activity books, stickers, bracelets, and cups.  There were also resource materials for parents & teachers to take home.  

IMG_1204Recommended ages:  The center is completely prepared to meet the needs of any age group.  Even as a homeschool group bringing toddlers to high school age students ~ they were able to adapt & split the presentation to meet each student on their level.  I made the mistake of failing to inform them ahead of time that the majority of our registrants were young elementary age ~ they still quickly and without any fuss adapted the program.  For that, I am incredibly grateful.

They offer programs for public, private, and home school groups.  They also offer tours for adults.  They are willing to adapt the program to meet the needs of your group.  I think that this would be a perfect trip for our Cub Scout Pack to earn their Weather Belt Loop and Pin.

Anything we wish was different?  At this time, visitors cannot tour the actual treatment facility.  It was quite cold the day we visited.  We were told when the weather is nice, they will go out and look at the various parts from the Education Center parking lot ~ but it’s not possible to actually walk through the plant.IMG_1208

How do I set up a trip?  Call or e-mail WaterWorks Houston.  There is a form available to download that can be e-mailed along with your request.  I would suggest inquiring as to which tours are most appropriate for the age group you plan to bring.

A note about parking.  DO NOT USE YOUR GPS ~ it’s not going to be correct.  WaterWorks provides directions & a map on their website.  Use them!  The directions can seem a little counter-intuitive (as you are asked to make a right turn in order to u-turn), but once you are there it makes complete sense.  There’s also several, albeit small, blue signs to help keep you going to right direction.  You must check in at the security gate and all adults must present a valid picture ID.  Parking is ample and directly in front of the entrance.

What else is there to do nearby?  We’re still exploring the area ~ but here are some places we’ve visited in Humble.

Categories: Elementary, Field Trips, Free, High School, Humble, Middle School, Toddlers / Preschool | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.