We are getting ready to take a long family trip. It isn't a vacation, per se, because there will be no sitting on beaches soaking in the sun and no quiet mountain cabin off the grid somewhere. While it is getting away from our regular lives, it will be more like extended classroom time than a relaxing getaway.
With this in mind, I completed one of my giant trip prep tasks today. I got the educational materials completed and compiled. It was an involved undertaking because I fear wasting a moment of learning--especially because this isn't a trip that will be repeated for many, many years.
Each child will receive a personalized bag. In the bags, they will find booklets with lots of educational materials. There are sheets with each state bird, tree, flower, animal, flag, etc. that will require matching and (hopefully) spotting in real life. We will be passing through 10 states and one Canadian Province and we will be learning about each of those states. The children get points for correct answers and for correctly identifying a symbol while we are there (pointing out a sugar maple, for instance).
Because we will be covering thousands of miles, the books also have a few fun road printables such as a car scavenger hunt, tic tac toe, state license game, battleship, and many others. I printed up six different common code ciphers that the kids could use to write secret messages.
In trying to keep the luggage to a minimum, we are avoiding toys, generally. An entertainment tool that doesn't take up much space is a clipboard. Each is loaded with blank paper for the most part, but everyone has a handful of drawing step-by-step tutorials, each different from one another. If they can draw something new by the end of the drive, I will be satisfied that my time was well spent.
Everyone will have a book to read, we will have audio books, and I have some poetry to read and discuss during our long drives between sites.
In addition to all of the these prepared devices to keep seven children happy on the road, I have one device designed to help them remember the feelings, thoughts, and moments seeing all of the things;
I am requiring journals.
More specifically, Smash Journals.
If you haven't heard of those, look them up. They look so cool!
Sometimes I will give writing prompts, but most of the time I want everyone to fill the pages in their own way.
I have an entire bin of markers, crayons, colored pencils, glue, stickers and Washi tape to help each member of the family create their personalized book.
I cannot wait to see what they do!
My husband and I have been teaching the family about the sites we will be visiting since the beginning of the year. Ten months worth of lessons in anticipation of this journey, pilgrimage really. We have taught, but we have also given assignments and the kids have studied and taught the family different subjects as well. While Dad and I keep teaching, teaching, teaching on the trip, they will each have one specific opportunity to give an oral presentation about one of our stops. For instance, one child will teach us about the Niagara Falls, another about the Erie Canal, one about the head of the Oregon Trail and another about the Indian Mounds.
So, you can see a little bit of how home school works around here. I hope it is as effective as I envision. Learning about a place, seeing it in real life, then writing or otherwise recording your personal experience about that place will stick with them. I hope, in fact, it will change them.