Learning While Having Fun At The Heard Museum

This week we took some friends with us to visit the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney. The Heard has over 6.5 miles of nature trails that wind though the diverse habitats of their 289-acre wildlife sanctuary. We didn’t follow any of the nature trails just because it was too hot but we did spend some time outdoors looking at the wildlife.

She Is Dallas info:   The Heard Museum is located at 1 Nature Place in McKinney, Texas. Admission is $9 adults, $6 seniors and children 3-12, Members and children under 3 are free.   Their hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9AM – 5PM, Sunday, 1PM-5PM, Closed on Mondays.  For more information, please call them at 972-562-5566 or check out the Heard Museum website.   You can also follow the Heard Museum on Facebook or Heard Museum on Twitter.

We looked at raccoons, ring-tailed lemurs, mongoose, coatis, and cavys.  We even got to pet a real armadillo!

boy petting armadillo

Then we made our way into the Native Texas Butterfly House and Garden where we found many different types of butterflies such as Monarchs, Queens, Painted Ladies, Hackberry, Tawny Emperor, Question Marks, Gulf Fritillaries, Variegated Fritillaries, Tiger Swallowtails, Black Swallowtails, Pipevine Swallowtails, and Giant Swallowtails.

What fun! There were butterflies flying all around us. Rachel got all excited and kept trying to touch them. It’s hard to explain to a toddler why she can’t grab at the pretty wings that are fluttering around right in front of her. They just seem to be beckoning her to touch them but I was more worried about her picking off a wing out of curiosity!

little girl looking at butterfly

Nicholas was so gentle with the butterfly that crawled onto his finger. I was really proud of how much he knows about butterflies and that he knows just how to handle them.

boy with butterfly on finger

The keeper took out the board that holds the latest chrysalis and emerging butterflies. Nicholas thought it was neat to see all the different sizes and colors of chrysalis. And it was amazing to watch some butterflies coming out of them right there before our eyes.

chrysalis

Inside the museum, there are many static exhibits displaying live snakes, spiders, birds, and bugs in enclosed habitats.   There are also lots of hands-on interactive exhibits.   My favorite interactive pieces are the tables full of fun things that kids are allowed to touch freely. There are shells, fossils, plant material, snake skin, feathers…all kinds of natural treasures!

Look at the giant ammonite fossil!

little girl looking at fossils

Some of the big exhibits in the museum are only on display for a limited time. In the past we have come here for their special exhibits on “Ice Age mammals” as well as the “Dinosaurs Alive!” exhibit (returning October 2011) in which giant animatronic dinosaurs are scattered throughout the nature trails and they roar and move around as you walk past them.     The current exhibit is called “Denizens of Darkness: From Bats to the Boogey Man”.   You’ll learn about bats and other creatures that are active at night–their purpose, their habitat and how they live their day at night. Study the moon phases and explore how our human limitations feed our imaginations. Muster the courage to look in your closet. Discover why there is nothing to fear.

The kids always love the big dinosaur fossil pit where they can dig in the sand to find pretend fossils. This is such a great idea for hands-on learning. Every kid loves to play in sand and this way they can experience the fun of discovering “fossils” while they play.

little boy on fossil dig

The Heard Museum in McKinney is a great place to visit for a nature walk or to learn about conservation, animals, fossils, and so much more.

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