The X'much Haltún Botanical Gardens
Field Trips can be so much fun! They count as educational days, but you really forget that you are learning when you step out of the house or classroom and adventure on a field trip.
The San Santiago Bastion, the eighth bastion of the old fortified city of Campeche, Mexico, completed in 1710, has in recent years been turned into a botanical garden. Last year, in search of a great, but not super adventurous field trip, we took our little crew to visit the X'much Haltún Botanical Garden.
X'much Haltún is home to an interesting collection of 200 species of subtropical plants in the region, which include a variety of plants and trees such as kapok, the sacred tree of the Maya, the Balche Campichy, and trees native to the region.
It also houses plants used as food crops in this part of the country, those used for medicinal purposes, and some ornamental plants. The garden is a tourist attraction as well as an environmental education center and the local schools often use it for field trips too.
We enjoyed the calm beauty of the garden where the walking paths that take you between the plants and small goldfish ponds. The children enjoyed fish watching and a swing from one of the trees, while we sat on a bench in the shade and enjoyed their exuberance.
It is not a large place, only about 700 meters square, but large enough to pass an hour or so of exploring. Imagine our delight when we came across the Mimosa Pudica plant. A small fern-looking plant whose leaves fold or curl up when touched. The kids had a lot of fun with that one, and then of course we had to come home and research why it does that!
A Botanical Garden Field Trip is Important for several reasons:
- It teaches children observation – using the free printable below you can have them record the names of plants they see and/or draw examples of them, either during or after the trip.
- It teaches children comparison – how does this plant differ from that one? What is the same? What do the differences mean for me as a person?
- It teaches children appreciation – how often do we rush through our days to the house, to the car, to the school, to the church, without ever taking the time to stop and appreciate the beauty of the flora and fauna around us. Botanical gardens cause us to stop, appreciate and even wonder at the beauty and complexity we usually take for granted.
- It teaches children about life – Just as plants have cycles of life, so do we. Just as plants have uses, so do we. Just as plants need care, so do we. There is life outside of technology, and though we can use technology to learn about plants and how to grow them to better serve humans, if we do not care for them, and work them we limit our own food and oxygen supplies.
- It encourages the children's natural curiosity and love for learning – seeing a Mimosa Pudica for the first time naturally brings out the question, “How does it do that?” and then “Why does it do that?” Finding the answer to something so delightful does not seem like “school” or “work” to a child. “What is it called?” “Will it do it again?”
X'much Haltún Botanical Garden is open to the public Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm. and there is a small charge for admission. If you ever get to travel Campeche, it is one of the places we recommend seeing!
To see more homeschool printables, click here.