One of the Zoo’s education specialists, Kathy McKee, recently visited Moulton Extended Learning Center in Des Moines, Jill Gilmore's third grade class. As part of the program, Kathy had brought Eloise the opossum, one of the Zoo’s education animals, to the classroom that day.
Shortly after her visit, she received a special surprise as a thank you and gift to Eloise: a homemade quilt!
I asked Kathy a few questions about her school visit.
What did the kids learn about Eloise that day?
They were focusing on habitats, so I used our habitat boxes and shared an animal from each of the five habitats represented by the boxes (wetlands, woodlands, rainforests, deserts, and grasslands). Eloise was our woodland animal and I talked about what she eats, her adaptations, and the fact that opossums are North America's only marsupial.
Eloise wrapped in her blanket
Was there a memorable moment when you were at the school?
I was impressed at how much the students already knew about animals and habitats, how well they identified what each box represented and the evidence they gave for their decisions.
What is your favorite part of doing school visits?
I enjoy meeting the students of the teachers that I have worked with in my teacher workshops and doing classroom programs that fit each class' curriculum. I love how excited the students get when they can learn about and touch the animals, and it is a great opportunity to dispel misconceptions people have about some animals.
Eloise checks out her new quilt
What was your reaction to receiving the homemade blanket?
I was very touched by the gift Ms. Gilmore's students made. I am so glad that they enjoyed and learned from their zoo program, and that they loved Eloise so much! Eloise is one if my favorite animals, too, and seeing her snuggled in her new quilt will remind me of a delightful class I was fortunate enough to visit!
Ms. Gilmore's 3rd Grade classroom with the homemade quilt