Now that we’re finally in the groove of homeschooling this school year, I thought it was about time to start introducing educational field trips into our lesson plans! The boys love hands-on learning more than any other teaching style I offer them, especially when it includes a full day trip to one of their favorite places close to home!
This post is sponsored by Visit Florida. A HUGE thank you to Visit Florida and their partners, LoveFL & SeaWorld for sponsoring our homeschooling day at SeaWorld, Orlando!
We’ve been studying Marine Biology as part of our homeschooling curriculum so, I knew SeaWorld would be the PERFECT place to get the boys’ brain juices flowing! Here’s the thing: When it comes to field trips, this season in life looks a lot different for many and I’ve heard from several of you, my friends and readers, that your children are most bummed about missing out on school outings and field trips that would have otherwise happened, had it not been for COVID. I wanted to make sure that we not only made the most out of our day visit to SeaWorld but also planned ahead to give other parents the know-how to have the most educational & stress-free field trip day possible!
Things to know before you go:
- DOWNLOAD THE MAP. Bookmark or screenshot the digital park map to your phone!
- PRE-PLAN. Make note of show times, pool & tank locations within the park if you’re not familiar, & carve out time for snacks or lunch!
- TRAVEL JOURNAL. Print THIS free travel journal for your kids & bring a pencil or marker!
- PROMPT GUIDE. Download THIS free prompt guide for you to utilize while you’re in the park!
- PLANNING GUIDE. Download the FREE planning guide to help you prepare for your field trip!
- LIMITED VISITING TIMES. Some areas within the park currently have limited visiting times! (I’m not sure if this changes but, from our experience the tanks & pools on the left side of the map closed at noon & Antarctica closed at 3:00PM.) You’ll want to visit those places first!
- PREP YOUR KIDS. Prep your kids ahead of time! We love rides but, the focus of this day trip was to explore the things we haven’t seen or done before with a main focus on learning! So before we arrived, I let the boys know that we were going to spend more time learning and working out of our travel journal instead of focusing most of our day on rides! It really helped to set the tone of our day!
- ASK QUESTIONS. The Ambassadors at SeaWorld are super knowledgable and willing to share any information they have regarding the animals & marine life you’ll see during your field trip! Don’t be afraid to ask questions & encourage your kids to communicate their curiosities as well!
- LOOK UP, LOOK DOWN, LOOK ALL AROUND. I was shocked how little I realized SeaWorld has to offer homeschoolers up until this trip! There are signs EVERYWHERE, I mean literally all around you, that include facts about the various marine life at SeaWorld and beyond! Even the Orca Encounter show, which is held at the beloved Shamu Stadium, has been tweaked with a large focus on education on Orca habits, conservation efforts, life in the ocean, and so much more!
- FREE CURRICULUM RESOURCES. Visit THIS LINK and scroll to the bottom of the page for free resources directly from SeaWorld for homeschoolers (or traditional schoolers & virtual learners of course!).
Now that we have all of those important things out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff!
The boys were super excited to visit the Dolphin Nursery because we recently had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the dolphins across the street over at Discovery Cove! Even though we learned so much that day, it was surprising how much was left to learn from the Ambassador in the nursery pool area!
We asked questions like, “how can you tell if a dolphin is a boy or a girl?” “how old are the dolphins in this tank?” and “how fast can they swim?” (I won’t tell you the answers so you can be surprised for yourself!)
One of my favorite things about educating at SeaWorld is the access to their newest addition-Sesame Street Land! It can be hard at times to find things that keep Linc (3 years) intrigued and interested in learning unless it’s physically hands-on or visually appealing (but even that still only keeps his attention for a short period of time)! Sesame Street Land truly includes the smallest of early learners in a fully immersive “playground”!
(If you haven’t had a chance, head over to my story highlight from our trip for live video of our time in Sesame Street Land with a close up look at the interactive stations and spots in this area of the park!)
There are several places to create, learn, interact, and engage all while learning! The best part?! They don’t even realize it! We always start with Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck where the boys are quizzed and timed by Cookie Monster to create the recipe shown on the screen! He displays the ingredients and recipe then sets a timer for the kids to select them!
The next spot you CAN’T miss is the Create a Monster wall! This is the perfect place for a cool-down and to let the kids run free! Once they create their own monster, their creation displays on a wall for all to see! They choose their monster’s color, nose style, mouth, clothes, & accessories! It’s so cute and kept all of the boys engaged for quite some time while Deck and I sat on a bench to cool off!
In the same area, you’ll also find interactive buttons for doors, windows, & mail slots! This is THE CUTEST! The characters make funny sounds, tell jokes, & ask questions!
We couldn’t resist a quick picture with Big Bird of course! Back before COVID hit, Big Bird would host a reading time at his nest at various times throughout the day! We can’t wait for that to hopefully come back eventually!
For more details about Sesame Street Land, visit THIS blog post!
Since you can’t possibly visit Sesame Street Land without taking a ride on Elmo’s Choo Choo, the boys all rode together! Once the train is on the move, Elmo asks the littles to point out the Caterpillar that starts with “C” and Snail that starts with “S”! The way that education and early learning is incorporated is truly fantastic and something that keeps up going back to SeaWorld over and over again for field trips!
MUST-DO things for Early Learners in Sesame Street Land:
- Create A Monster
- Try out Cookie Monsters Foodie Truck Challenge
- Talk to Elmo at Elmo’s Window
- Knock on Oscar’s Trash Can
- Make a call in the 2-Headed Monster Pipe Phone
- Touch ALL the buttons
- Take a peek at Yip Yip’s adventures through his mail slot
- Ring Bert & Ernie’s Doorbell
- Ride Elmo’s Choo Choo Train
- Say “Hola!” to Rosita
- Take the Bike Shop Tricycle Challenge in front of the Bike Shop
- Play the Wacky Washing Adventure at the Laundromat
After getting hands-on at Sesame Street Land’s interactive play areas, we headed to Shark Encounter! When I tell you all that we could have spent the entire day here, we LITERALLY could have spent the entire day here just in this exact spot! I think it goes without saying that the boys LOVE learning about sharks and SeaWorld has done everything right when it comes to educating their guests on sharks!
This is one of those places within the park that you really want to take advantage of the signage and walls around you! There are really fun, engaging facts all over the walls surrounding the entrance to Shark Encounter (the shark tank and aquariums)!
You can see how easy it is to prompt your kids with questions and reading queues! The signs and displays are fun, colorful, and full of pictures that make them WANT to read & learn from the environment around them!
Did you know?!
Sharks don’t have bones in their bodies! Crazy, right?! I literally didn’t even know this myself until this trip! (Which I feel slightly ashamed of since I’m the boys’ teacher, haha!) One of the Ambassadors gave us some additional fun facts about sharks!
Check out this display below! The boys thought this was really interesting! It lists the amount of people killed by various other factors only to display that 10 people or fewer die annually from sharks! Pretty wild to think about, right?!
For our second to last stop of the day, we made it to Antartica for a brief change in scenery and temperature! One thing to note about this area is that it closes at 3PM! Make sure to account for this during your trip because you won’t want to miss the up close and personal visit with the penguins!
You’ll enter the penguins encounter at the ride entrance of Empire of the Penguin! The ride is currently not running so the ride queue is used as the entrance for the penguin viewing area! When I tell you that you get up close and personal to the penguins, I truly mean you can almost reach out and touch them if that was allowed! We saw penguins as young as five months up to 30 years old and over 6 species of penguins!
My personal favorite? That brown furry guy below! He’s a five month old King Penguin!
The boys and I not only love how closely you get to the penguins above water but, how playful they are underwater in the aquarium viewing area!
How amazing is this?! We sat here chatting about how cold the water is for penguins, how they’re able to stay cold without freezing, and the type of fish that they eat (which you could see in the bottom of the tank)!
As the grand finale to our trip, we made sure to catch the 4:30 Orca Encounter show. We absolutely enjoyed our entire day at SeaWorld up until this point but, this was definitely the cherry on top to a perfect field trip and tied it up in a beautiful bow! The boys and I all agreed after leaving that the Orca Encounter show was the most educational, entertaining, & phenomenal thing we had experienced all day! With the knowledge I gained personally from this show, I feel like I could write an entire curriculum just simply on orcas!
Did you know that orcas aren’t whales?! Me neither! They’re actually the largest of the dolphin family! I know, I had no clue either, you’re not alone! The trainers talked to the audience about conservation, habits, and even showed us how they take blood samples of their whales to make sure they’re healthy! It was truly the most amazing end to a great day!
- Did you go by yourself?
- Yes! I know that not every family has the luxury of having their spouse available to go with them on field trips during the day with their kids! I have a full blog post coming for you all which I will update and link here on what our set up was and how I took all 4 boys to the park solo! It was GREAT! I promise that you can do it!!
- What’s the COVID situation?
- When you enter the park, you walk through a touchless screening tent where your temp is scanned! This was AWESOME and so much easier than any other temp screening we’ve had anywhere else! You then proceed to bag check & security! Masks are required & I never saw anyone breaking these rules or overstepping into our personal space!
- What was the crowd level?
- Not busy at all in our experience! We went on a Monday and only during the Orca Encounter show did we see more than just a handful of people in one location! We didn’t have trouble with social distancing at all!
- What is the mask situation?
- Anyone ages 2+ is required to wear a mask
- How did the boys do with the masks?
- Great!! They’re experienced in wearing masks when we’re out of the house! We always take breaks, drink lots of water, and I communicate with them that if they’re not feeling good about it anymore, we can leave!
- You guys did a lot! How long were you there?
- We arrived at the park at 11:30 and stayed until closing at 5PM! We really took our time though and could have easily done a large majority of the things we did, in just a few hours! It all depends on how quick you are to move from place to place and work through your Travel Journal!
- Did you do the Halloween Spooktacular?
- We didn’t! The Spooktacular is on weekends only!
- Did you do any other shows or just the Orca Encounter?
- We did watch Clyde & Seymore in their show! It was super fun and a great mid-day break!
- Was everything open?
- A large majority of the park is open. Atlantis was not running while we were there but Infinity Falls was if you have older kids looking for a water thrill! The one thing I will remind you to account for is the early closures within the park!
I hope this post has helped to encourage you to take your learning out of the house! It’s truly amazing how freeing it is for us as parents and for our kids when we step out of our normal environments to submerge ourselves in something new, especially when it comes to enhancing education! Make sure to follow along on our adventures this month for more schooling away from home!
This has been a sponsored post in partnership with Visit Florida & SeaWorld!