As we were driving up the coast on Highway One from San Luis Obispo to Big Sur, we saw signs for elephant seal view points. We weren’t sure whether we should stop (after all, we have just spent a summer watching loads of seals from the beaches in Seattle), but we made the quick decision to pull over and have a look. I’m glad we did. A park ranger handed us a pamphlet with loads of interesting facts about the seals and told us how the seals we saw on the beach were young juvenile seals and that the full-grown bull seals were more than twice their size! He explained how these seals were very nearly hunted to the brink of extinction by the end of the 19th century, but thankfully their numbers have slowly recovered.
As we drove up along the coast we listened to the audio version of ‘Island of the Blue Dolphins’ in which she describes a scene where two bull elephant seals fight each other for dominance of the beach. The kids found it especially interesting, especially after having just learned so much about the seals.
We later used the facts and numbers in the elephant seals pamphlet in our math lesson for the boys, and they showed extra enthusiasm for learning math because the topic was a relevant one. It’s pretty fascinating how well kids learn when they’re interested and engaged. It makes me happy to think of all that the kids are seeing and learning on our travels, things that will hopefully stick with them as they retain these vivid memories from their experiences.