Our trip to Montreal was decided when we came across a list of the best Insectariums across North America, and since we were doing a unit study on insects it seemed like the perfect reason to go. It’s within driving distance from Boston, they speak French, which we are currently trying to learn, and the city had a ton of other great things for us to see and do. We like to have a nice mixture of field trip related ideas, but also family fun related ideas, since the main reason for wandering together is to be together.
We went to Montreal the first week of September and we enjoyed their Indian summer weather, the city was beautiful yet crowded with traffic since they seemed to be doing so much road work. We made good use of our road trip to the city with a stop at an Indian museum in New Hampshire, this stop was not planned, but we saw the sign for it and since we’d been studying the Native Americans in this region it worked out perfectly. We also had a stop at the Ben and Jerry Factory in Vermont, where we took a tour and watched some ice cream being made. And then of course the most important part, eating some of that ice cream. Once in Montreal, we started every morning with bagels at Fairmount Bagel, not a bad way to start the day, I’m telling you! Our time in Montreal went quick and we filled it with as much as we could. The insectarium was really fun, I’m confused by my own fondness of the place since I had never appreciated bugs until we began to thoroughly study them with the boys. But man they’re awfully pretty when they’re dead and pinned inside a little box. And learning about the importance of each little bug is incredible really, I mean what state would this earth be in if it were not for the dung beetle? They have an exhibit of giant stick insects dressed up in clothes! That’s enough to convert any bug hater, I think!
Learning about any particular topic and then immediately going to see that topic in a real world setting is beyond anything I could have ever dreamt for as a child, slumped in a school desk desperate for a glance out the window to imagine another reality other than the one I sat in. Even something as basic as a bug study can really grow into something much larger when you try to incorporate the outside experiences along with your books. We had spent time raising our own butterflies and then, later, ladybugs in our home. We captured an injured Katydid and tried to nurse him back to health, to no avail. We spent a ton of time in different butterfly houses in and around Boston. We traveled to see caterpillars when they were visiting the Museum of Science. We also viewed the Imax film, Flight of the Butterflies when it came to the museum. We were storing up all of these hands on moments with these insects and it was making the study of them so real and concrete in our young boys’ minds. In the film mentioned above, they explain the process of tagging the Monarchs on their 4 generation journey. And when we were walking around the Botanical Gardens in Montreal, Liam spotted a tagged Monarch and was over the moon to see one of the tagged butterflies in person. And he completely understood that the butterfly he saw in September was most likely the butterfly that would soon lay her eggs, which would then become the generation of Monarchs to travel all the way to Mexico to spend their winter months in the warmth before setting out to start the cycle all over again.
That tiny butterfly spotted 307 miles from our own front door is still bought up by the boys, it holds a certain significance to them, having discovered it so far away from our home. Having the ability to open up their world beyond our own area code is a blessing that we both appreciate and delight in. I think the facts we’ve stored up about insects will last us long into the future, because we’re creating remarkable experiences for the kids to absorb the wonder that is learning.
Accommodations and books used for this trip:
We stayed at the Omni Mont Royal : we often stay at this chain of hotels and we have always been very pleased, and the kids enjoy the goodie bag they are given upon arrival. It is filled with playing cards, crayons, coloring book and stickers.
Books used during our insect study | My Best Book of Bugs | The Alphabet of Bugs: An ABC Book |1001 Bugs to Spot | The Usborne Big Book of Big Bugs: And a Few Little Ones Too… | Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies: Take-Along Guide | The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive | The Honey Makers | Ladybugs | Monarch Butterfly | A Butterfly Is Patient | The Beetle Book | Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World | and Eric Carle has several books on insects which we love, and you can even get them in My Own Very Hungry Caterpillar Coloring Book which the kids love! And our own collection of Geoworld Bug’s World Collection of 10 Real Insects has begun over at our house.
And other ideas of what we did during our time in Montreal | Old Montreal | Notre-Dame Basilica | Mount Royal (where seemingly tame raccoons come up to you at night to be fed! We went every night!) | Biodome | and the above mentioned Botanical Garden and the Insectarium |