Friday, January 14, 2011

Saguaro National Park

"S is for Saguaro (suh-WAHR-o), the cactus with branches like arms.
It can live for centuries in the desert. Sharp spines protect it from harm."
~ G is for Grand Canyon : An Arizona Alphabet

Our last field trip, during our visit to Arizona this past November, was to the Saguaro National Park.

"Enormous cacti, silhouetted by the setting sun, for most of us the Giant Saguaro is the universal symbol of the American West. And yet, these majestic plants are only found in a small portion of the United States. Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants, on the edge of the modern City of Tucson." ~ Saguaro National Park Website

When we arrived to the park, we headed to the visitors center to pick up activity booklets and check out discovery packs (containing a variety of tools to assist in completing the 12-20 page desert-themed workbooks) for the Junior Ranger Program.   Even though the program is geared towards children ages 5 and up, they were kind enough to let Snuggles participate as well!

Our next stop was the picnic area, where we ate lunch and got started with some of the assignments in the activity booklets. 

Hubby and the boys then went exploring (they were searching for a saguaro to study) while the girls and Snuggles stayed with me, close to the picnic area, observing all the wildlife.

We then all headed into the park, as "Desert Detectives," searching for certain plants, animal tracks, nests or nibble marks on cactus, and other clues that animals leave behind.   We also had fun looking for, and identifying, some of the birds in the park including Gambel's Quail, Cactus wrens, Red-Tailed Hawks, Cardinals and Turkey Vultures.  We even saw a couple Roadrunners! 

Twinkle Toes was very happy when she "finally" found an animal hole and was able to check it off her list!

It was so neat to see all the different cacti and even a few "skeletons."

Hubby also took a picture of all of us next to the cactus we choose as our "family favorite:"

After completing the workbooks, and answering some question from a Park Ranger, all the children were awarded official Saguaro National Park Junior Ranger certificates and badges.

Well, with our late start in school this past fall, traveling in November, and then our Christmas break, we may not be as far along in this year's science textbook as I would like, but I am thankful for all the extra learning opportunities our children have had this year! 

To follow up our field trip we've been doing a bit of reading and coloring:

America's Deserts: Guide to Plants and Animals Cactus Desert (One Small Square) Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus (Tree Tales) Cactus Hotel (An Owlet Book)Deserts   Cactus Soup A Desert Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk in the Sonoran Desert Cactus Cafe a Story of the Sonoran DesertThe Cactus Coloring Book (Colouring Books)


  1. I think it is great you visited a national park with your kids and participated in their junior ranger program! My husband and I LOVE the national parks and always take the kids whenever we can. At this point my oldest daughter (9) has 16 junior rangers badges/patches. She is so proud of them! I have no doubt that children develop a love of science, their country, and the natural world because of these programs. The national parks are such a treasure and source of beauty, thanks for sharing your photos!

  2. This is one of the best ways to learn. Hands on science :)

  3. Thanks for sharing about your trip. I will be in Tucson in a few weeks and will have to check this out. I also didn't know that children could earn ranger badges through the national parks. I think our family has a new vacation goal!


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