Instrument Petting Zoo – Week 8 of 52 Weeks of Experiences

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If you haven’t joined our 52 Weeks of Toddler/Preschooler Experiences and explored all the ways you can have fun together, check out this post and then this post.

WEEK 8 – Instrument Petting Zoo

To see all our experiences, click here

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Last week we attempted shell gathering, but she pretty much wanted to move on after picking out two shells. So I decided that this type of experience that needs more focus and interest should be left for when she is older if she likes it then. She has never been a fan of methodical activities, they bore her too quickly. Instead more creative things that allow her the freedom to improvise have been what she is most happy with.


This entry is supposed to cover “Music Man Stan Music Shop“. After thinking it over, I decided it was not a smart idea to take a hands-on, rambunctious toddler to a music shop. Maybe if I had attempted it a few months ago when she was more cautious, that would be better. But we are currently in a “run, grab, explore, drop, go get something else” stage. Lots of energy and excitement.  Not a good combination for an independently owned store with expensive instruments.

However, we were lucky that  a local Philharmonic Orchestra was holding a community event complete with an “Instrument Petting Zoo”, a perfect alternative to the music shop for a two year old.

There were several areas set up with different instruments that they were allowed and encouraged to try out with the help of musicians. I didn’t see anyone as little as Lexi – most people interested were either adults or older children, especially in the classical instrument section, but she was so in awe of these real size pieces that we had no trouble keeping her from running around like she often does.

The first instrument she went to was, of course, a violin. I could tell how amazed she was to be able to hold a full size violin versus her child sized Mendini. And then when she took the bow and a beautiful sound came out…. Wow! Even I was impressed.

IMG_2757 IMG_2763

She came back to that violin two more times that afternoon. The next part was wind instruments. She has a small trumpet at home, not a real small trumpet, like her violin, but a plastic toy one. It works the same and makes sounds but it is not a real instrument. It’s well known that it takes a lot more effort to produce sound from a real wind instrument than, let’s say,  a toy one. So after a few attempts, she actually blew into it hard enough to create a sound, as can be seen by the open palm of the musician signifying the  words “There you go!”

Slide trombone was next. That’s the one instrument she does not have at home, but she knows all about it from shows, apps and books she uses. She was also able to play it and loved sliding it back and forth. And then, of course, Daddy needed a try 🙂

IMG_2793  trombone trombone2


The outside section had some percussion instruments and all sort of  miscellaneous “sound makers”. I was pretty impressed with the xylophones and am now considering getting a real one. Toy xylophones don’t come even close to the sound that a real instrument produces. It is really beautiful!



Finally to cap the day of music, we listened to the youth ensemble play. For a girl who rarely sits down, live classical music is something she will actually be still for.


These are just the photos of us coming back from the bathroom. She has been such a reliable bathroom goer since about a month after she potty trained. I am still periodically amazed at how easy it came to her.



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  1. Backwards Day
    (Daniel Tiger episode tie in, Backwards Day book tie in)
  2. Ride a pony/horse
    (Berenstain bears book tie-in)
  3. Go to the airport and watch the planes land.
    (Curious George episode tie-in, Curious George book)
  4. Go to a music shop and explore the instruments
    (Daniel Tiger episode tie in)
  5. Go to a train museum SEE OUR WEEK HERE
  6. Jump in Puddles (Weather contingent) (Hello, Fiends book) SEE OUR WEEK HERE
  7. Feed ducks at the park (Curious George book)
  8. Dance in the rain (Weather contingent) (Olivia book )
  9. Plant something from seed and watch it grow OR plant a garden
    (Curious George episode tie in,  Little Critter bookCurious George book)
  10. Climb a tree
  11. Gather shells (Berenstain Bears book)
  12. Ride a trolley (Daniel Tiger themed)
  13. Go to the lake to look for tadpoles
    (Curious George episode tie-in, Curious George book tie in)
  14. Go on a scavenger hunt in the woods
    (Curious George episode tie in, another Curious George episode tie-in Berenstain bears: nature’s guide (this is a great book for a scavenger hunt and it rhymes)
  15. Fly a kite SEE OUR WEEK HERE
    (a great rhyming Berenstain bears book, Curious George episodeLittle Critter book)
  16. Roast marshmallows by the fire
    (OLIVIA tie in)
  17. Play in the snow (Location contingent)
  18. Go to an aquarium
    (Berenstain Bears bookLittle Critter book, Curious George book)
  19. Have a picnic – complete with basket and red checkered blanket. (Berenstain Bears book – another great funny rhyming book)
  20. Lay out and look at stars (Curious George episode tie-in)
  21. Go camping unplugged (phones turned off)
    (Daniel Tiger episode tie in, Curious George episode tie in, Little Critter book tie in, Curious George book tie-in,  OLIVIA book tie in other camping books)
  22. First movie theater movie (Curious George book)
  23. Go to a petting zoo!
  24. Listen to a thunderstorm (Weather contingent.)
    (Daniel Tiger Episode tie in, Little Critter book tie in)
  25. Have a Family Movie Night with snacks  SEE OUR WEEK HERE
  26. Run around the grass in a park, barefoot, as a family
  27. Pick fruit at a farm SEE OUR WEEK HERE
    (Daniel Tiger episode , Curious George book)
  28. Make Snow/Sand Angels
  29. Make pinecone and peanut butter bird feeders and hang them in the yard
    (Curious George tie-in)
  30. Draw with chalk on the driveway/sidewalk
  31. paddle a canoe down the river
    (Curious George episode tie-in)
  32. visit a tidepool  (Weather contingent)
  33. Egg Dying (Curious  George book)
  34. Go to see a boat show (at Christmas)
  35. Go on a sunset cruise on a boat
    (Curious George episode tie in)
  36. Make giant bubbles in the yard SEE OUR WEEK HERE
  37. go to a waterpark
  38. go to  Botanical gardens
  39. Go bowling
    (Curious George episode , Curious George book)
  40. Jump on the bed/couch/furniture together (5 Little Monkeys bookSEE OUR WEEK HERE
  41. Get long newsprint/butcher’s  paper and trace/color your hands, feet and bodies!
  42. Make cookies together
  43. Play Hide and Seek
  44. Build a fort out of blankets and pillows (The Fort that Jack Built book)  SEE OUR WEEK HERE
  45. Go to the Zoo
    (Curious George episode, Curious George book)
  46. Go on a family bike ride through the woods
  47. Make newspaper planes
  48. Get a few giant cardboard boxes play pretend with them!
  49. play tennis
  50. play miniature golf
    (Curious George book)
  51. Ride a roller coaster SEE OUR WEEK HERE
    (Curious George episode , Curious George book)
  52. Ride a train
    (Berenstain Bears book tie-in)


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  • Reply
    Mrs Loquacious
    May 9, 2014 at 5:59 AM

    I love this instrument “petting zoo” idea so much!! Now I’m totally going to see if there is one in our area (although DD has never shown an interest in musical instruments like Lexi has)! DD did shell-picking on an impromptu outing with her nanny, and apparently she enjoyed throwing the shells back into the ocean more than actually locating shells. Two shells did make it home with her though! 🙂

    How are things going with the “planning” / prepping Lexi part of 52 Weeks, since you are so busy with travel?! I’m finding that for us, so often the opportunity for a great impromptu experience happens before we can even read about it, but usually DD finds the moment pretty amazing anyway. Like lying on the grass, for example! Not a biggie for most people but since we are condo-dwellers in downtown Vancouver, we don’t have the same access as those with yards. We were out playing in the shared playground for our complex and since the grass looked so inviting, we decided to take off our shoes to feel the fresh new blades between our toes. That ended up with all three of us on our backs staring at the clouds of early evening, and DD loved this unplanned experience so much that she regularly throws herself down on the grass at the park!

    Love Andrew’s new cut, BTW! And I like strawberry blonde on you!!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      May 9, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      Yeah I am finding that we have to build on existing reading because things are usually more spontaneous. However there Re certain entries that I am preparing beforehand knowing we will do them soon like fruit picking.
      Most entries we have done we already had a base from reading.
      Also I am anticipating making a bigger deal out of certain things and prepping like mini golf.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    I think I understand why you would call it a ‘wind instrument’, but a trumpet and trombone are both from the brass ‘family’. The flute, saxophone, clarinet and oboe are all woodwind instruments.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    I hope they sanitized the instruments in between the kids trying them out :).

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      May 9, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Ew, of course. There were pretty much no kids trying these out, just a few adults which is a little better:) … We actually made sure they re-sanitized the pieces in front of us.

      • Reply
        May 9, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        Thank goodness!

  • Reply
    Tammy Root
    May 9, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Hey Elena! Love this post. Quick question — where is Lexie’s swimsuit from??

  • Reply
    Tammy Root
    May 9, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    Thanks Elena. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mamma Pea
    May 9, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    That dress tho! I’m currently obsessed with bubble dresses, and shorts! Don’t have any yet, just love them!

    As someone said the trumpets are brass, but you do use wind…so eh..close enough. And things like the clarinet or saxophone are reed instruments. And then there are things like flutes, wind.

    But, I just looked it up. They’re ALL wind instruments! Just subcategories of them. So you were right. lol

  • Reply
    May 10, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Just a heads up that it’s actually a glockenspiel that Lexi’s playing in the photo – not a xylophone. Lots of people get them mixed up though 🙂

  • Reply
    May 12, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    I was looking at your nursery posts (I love nurseries!) and I was wondering if you have ever considered doing a review on what you wish you hadn’t spent the money on (especially since you are co-sleeping). I always think it’s interesting when mom’s go back and say “I wish I hadn’t spent the money on x,y,and z.”

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      May 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      Considering that we don’t use anything bought for nursery except for decor and the dresser, I’d say the crib is the biggest waste. But really, it depends on the kid. Alexis wouldn’t sleep at all if she wasn’t co-sleeping, but plenty of kids sleep in the crib. I like the idea of co-sleeping from developmental standpoint and probably have that arrangement regardless on whether we had a crib or not.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    This is such a cool activity! You are so lucky to have such awesome things for kids to do so close to your house. We also stayed local and did a little trip down to the library.
    Also, that dress she has on is so pretty.

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