Nature Discovery Zone: VA Zoo

The Virginia Zoo has debuted their newest addition, and this time it isn't an animal. The Run Wild Nature Discovery Zone is the work of some of our local Rotary Clubs (who also donate dictionaries to local schools!) and lots of volunteers to bring natural play structures to life. The playground has stumps to stomp on, a sandbox to dig in, tunnels made of willow, and a maze made out of bamboo.
The zoo has made an attempt in the past few years to really engage children, through the VA Zoo Live stage, the splash pads, and now the nature  play area. The zoo's plan is to have informal animal pop ins in this area so that kids can see and possibly touch the animals.
The playground is located across from the Australia Walk About and does include its own set of restrooms. Lucky for parents, it is almost all in the shade and there are lots of stumps to sit on. Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to the zoo without a ride on the train. RT says it's his favorite animal there!

Eric Carle: Moonlight Nights & Other Illustrations

Eric Carle is a staple in the children's literature world even though he didn't start publishing until he was 40.  Although Hungry, Hungry, Caterpillar is his most famous work, Carle has illustrated more than 70 books. His artwork typically has vivid pictures on either plain white or deep black and blue backgrounds. He creates his look by using hand painted tissue paper in a collage.

Another note about Carle's books. If you look closely, he has done an excellent job of weaving in so many educational ways to use them. Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar is something I use even in second grade when teaching life cycles.  I use The Grouchy Ladybug when we teach telling time.  I read  Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me to third graders when we talk about moon phases. These books captivate children young and old. (For the record - older kids totally love being read to, even if they pretend they are too cool!)
Norfolk's always free and beautiful Chrysler Museum welcomes the Eric Carle Moonlight Nights & Other Exhibits from June 14th to September 8th. The exhibit is great for all ages. It has original art work of Eric Carle, showing how he creates his books. It also has interactive games for the kids and a puppet show experience that is also great for taking pictures. Several of Carle's books are available for the kids to read or for you to read to them. There is a magnetic board, activity bags, and peg boards to play on.

Want to check out the exhibit for yourself? Tomorrow, June 15th is a Family Day. They will have moonlit night crafts, visits from zoo animals which are featured in the artwork, stories, and local librarians around. At 10:30 and 2:30 a screening of the Eric Carle documentary will be shown and Astro will be entertaining.all day long  NASA will be in attendance, the Norfolk Public Library Bookmobile will be ready for checkout, and Applewood Book Party will have custom books available. Be sure to check out the Rainbow Puppet presentation at 11:30 and 1:30 also.
On July 11th and August 22nd from 5-8 you can come down to the museum in your pajamas and enjoy Moonlight Nights Pajama Party with s'mores and astronomy activities. Stuffed animal friends are welcome too. Chrysler's Tickle My Ears program, which hosts a monthly story time (we wrote about it here!), will meet June 20th, July 11th, August 1st and 15th all with Eric Carle stories. Tickle My Ears is open to ages 2-5 and meets at 10:30.
As a reminder, the museum is free and open to the public Tuesday-Sunday. Strollers are available free of charge. Also, don't forget to check out the Wonder Studio which has art that's safe for kids! You can see our write up on that here!
If anything, Carle's exhibit should be a reminder to read a ton this summer. Read to your kids; have your kids "read" to you. Ask questions. Just fifteen minutes a day can make a huge difference in their future. What a great way to start off the summer by mixing art, fun, and a little education! (Hey- just because this teacher is officially on summer vacation, doesn't mean I stop trying to force everyone to read!)

NFK Street Museum- Mural Walk

One of the many reasons we love Norfolk is because of the public art scattered all around. From mermaids to murals, the city is covered with them. Norfolk threw a party yesterday to unveil the 10 latest murals in the Railroad District Business Association.
This includes murals from John Hamersveld, Gary Wong, Tim Skirven, Mahari Chabwear, Earl Mack, Dathan Kane, Andy Harris, Hampton Boyer, Asa Jackson, and Charles Rasputin and was curated by the Contemporary Arts Network. The event was free and open to the public and had things to do all up and down the street. We started at Toast where they had a DJ and local merchants set up, then headed to their annex parking lot where Lava Presents had a stage with live music set up and Veil Brewing (which is coming to Norfolk soon!) had a tent selling craft beer. We kept walking down the street to Absolute Kitchen & Bath which was grilling outside and had corn hole set up. We continued down to the Kid Zone outside of Norfolk's 757 Makerspace and toward Oconnor's Brewing which had a whole carnival set up.

True to its name, the highlight of the day for RT was the trains that kept coming by us. We counted four big trains. We ate from different food trucks, Neil was able to drink several local beers, and we ran into some friends.
Want to check the murals out for yourself? You can get all of the addresses here, or see the map below. Be sure to stop and check out the many local businesses along the way! 

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