Home»All»Our Obsession: Earning Enough Points at the Swap Shop to Buy Gold, Alligator Tooth & Entire Shark Jaw

Our Obsession: Earning Enough Points at the Swap Shop to Buy Gold, Alligator Tooth & Entire Shark Jaw

Houston Zoo Swap Shop Catfish
If you are looking for us, we’ll probably be at the Houston Zoo’s Swap Shop.  My kids are seriously obsessed.

We go one day, take our treasure to swap, come home and find the next. Each time the kids earn points to swap for one of their teeth, bones, rocks and treasures.

Houston Zoo Swap Shop1
Here’s how it works:

In nature or in a book, find something that interest the kids. Learn about it and bring the item to the Swap Shop. If you don’t have a shell or bone or physical item, you can bring in your “knowledge” or you can bring in a poster, report, diorama… anything to leave at the shop. Each day you can bring in 3 items.

Houston Zoo Swap Shop Bottles of Stones for Trade
The number of points you earn depends on what you know about the item, the quality of it and how much time you spent researching it.

We don’t have a master list, but from out trips, we know that knowledge alone is worth about 10 points, a poster board project is worth about 40-50 points and an actual shell, tooth, fossil or bone could be worth more. We saw a boy come in with a complete turtle shell, and he got about 1,000 points!

Houston Zoo Swap Shop Trades
We’re not too wild at our house, so we don’t have many teeth or shells laying around, but we have done a bunch of posters and reports… all at the request of the kids.

Drawing for Houston Zoo Swap Shop
Items in the shop are 5 to at least 5,000 points, so you can either swap the same day, or save up your points.

It turns out that I have a saver and a spender. Much like how a childhood job can reveal behavior about money, it looks like the Swap Shop can do the same.

Snake Skin from Houston Zoo Swap Shop
Brooke is 5 and likes to spend her points as soon as she gets them… but each time she’ll buy something for her 3 year old brother.

Joe is 7 and saves all his points.  He has a wishlist and is determined to get enough for some fools gold, alligator tooth & shark jaw.  He won’t share his points with his brother, but suggested setting up an account for James and helping him create his projects.

Interesting how the kids can learn about nature and about the value of points/currency and also reveal their attitudes towards both.  And they just think they are having fun.

Houston Zoo Swap Shop
Check out the Swap Shop at Houston Zoo for yourself.  It’s free with zoo admission and is open daily, 9:00 – 11:45 a.m. and 1:00 – 3:45 p.m.

Look for us there… you might just see our next report on the Monarch Butterfly.

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  1. Houston Zoo
    January 9, 2015 at 7:28 am — Reply

    We’re so glad that you and your family enjoy the Swap Shop! Even our employees love stopping by to see what’s being traded and some even trade themselves. Thanks for writing such a great post. Hope to see you again soon!
    – HZ

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