Thursday, January 31, 2013

making learning fun

I don't often talk about homeschooling on here. Not because I don't like it or because I'm super private (obviously) but because I feel like I'm pretty dang boring when it comes to school. I'm not one of those really imaginative moms that can turn every lesson into a game, nor am I a big fan of letting kids dictate their own curricula. I believe in hard work and academic excellence, because, honestly, when you get to college you're expected to know how to sit still, take notes, and learn what you're told to learn.

Generally, our school day tends to be a lot of seat work, a lot of repetition (especially with math), and not much in the way of fun*. So when we get the opportunity to shake things up a bit, it's pretty exciting.

Recently, we've been given an opportunity to go to Washington, D.C., a place I've been dreaming of taking my kids since I went there with my husband our first year of marriage. I love museums, especially good museums, and especially especially FREE museums that are good. And the Smithsonian museums are all that and a bag of chips. Plus all the historical sites coincide so nicely with what my boys are learning in their history.

In an attempt to make it as fun and educational as possible, I'm going to do several things. First of all, you know how doctors are infamously bad patients? Well as an artist, I'm really bad about teaching my kids art appreciation. I mean, they draw all the time, our house is full of paintings and drawings, but I don't really talk all that much about it. So I'm going to have them pick one painting and one sculpture from the Smithsonian Art museum and write some info on it. Later we'll take that information and make a unit study about the artists they've chosen. I'm including a link to the file I created for their note-taking in case anyone else is interested.

I've also been researching scavenger hunts to make all that museum time a bit more adventurous. Apparently there is a site called Stray Boots that does interactive tours where "clues" are texted to your phone and you get to explore using those clues. The Smithsonian also offers a free scavenger hunt for kids where you search for places that a dog called "Smithy" has been, and take pictures of yourself in his place when you find them.

All day long I've been stewing with excitement trying to plan this whole thing out. I'm going to be giving them backpacks loaded with all the supplies they'll need for our little adventure, including disposable cameras so they can document the trip in whatever way they want. I really look forward to seeing what they take pictures of. Usually our family trips are more in the way of camping, so we don't plan much besides what to eat and what hike we want to do. So it's fun to be a little more detailed in the planning. I know we're going to have so much fun.

If anyone is familiar with D.C., please feel free to share any hidden gems we should make a point to visit while we're there!

*Lest I sound like the mother of all duds, my kids spend PLENTY of time using their imaginations, drawing, building things, and being active. We just focus more on book work during school time. :)


the mumpers said...

Go to the ranger station near Washington monument and get a junior ranger booklet. It is free and fun. You can also print one out form the National Parks website. After kids complete it they can get a junior ranger badge. Paul has a couple of those from different historical and national parks. If you go to Mt. Vernon get a kids map , it has tasks and it s also fun to do. There is so much to do here. Let us know if there is any info we can help with. We are 30 min away from the city and Matt works downtown.

mrs.deane said...

Well, the Deanes lived there for about three years... I'm sure if I put my thinking cap on I could come up with a short list of "don't miss this" items :O) Is it sad that most of the first things that come to mind are food related? What are the actual dates of your trip?