What we did on our summer vacation…or…Now I know why I’m so tired!

For my daughter, 9 years old, summer was not really any different than the rest of the year. We homeschool year round! Because we do go to school all year, we don’t hesitate to add some hands on learning in the real world when we get a chance. This summer we did that by way of two extended “field trips”.
One interesting thing we did do in the late spring was to take a four day “field trip”. We traveled to Texas and went to two museums, a Renaissance festival and to Medieval Times Dinner Theater. Now, you might think that going on the “field trip” was interesting in itself. And it was! Here is what made it different. Before we went, we studied the three ancient civilizations on Time4Learning. (In the 4th grade social studies section which included Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Indus River Valley.) We visited the King Tut exhibit. Then went to a museum that contained Oriental Art, we were surprised to find they had a whole exhibit of art from the Indus Valley! My daughter was so excited that she dragged us over to the exhibit, bouncing up and down, because she recognized the art work in the exhibit as stuff we had learned in school. I was truly surprised to see how much of the social studies chapter she remembered as she told us about things in the King Tut exhibit and the Indus Valley exhibit.
To continue that excitement for learning throughout the summer, we built on the Renaissance festival and Medieval Times theater experiences by exploring the time periods that those two events represented. We made costumes. We built a castle, complete with working draw bridge and portcullis, and studied the methods used to defend a castle. We studied guilds, and learned about class distinctions. We cooked meat, bread and vegetables , that we grew over the summer, for a medieval feast. As the summer winds down, and the “new” school year begins, we continue to bake the rosemary bread. That, of course, leads to still more learning. Measurement of ingredients, how yeast works, and temperature became mini units of study, not to mention the smell of fresh baked bread!
We had a second opportunity to take an extended “field trip”. On that one we tied in learning from the T4L 4th grade science unit “Living Things” that we studied before we departed. While on our “field trip” we visited Calloway Gardens in Georgia. The Tropical Butterfly House within the gardens let us see life cycles up close and personal. We got to witness tropical butterflies hatching that many people in North America never get to see. We also learned how the gardens there are managed, changes in ecosystems, and how the natural systems there are protected. The next stop on that trip was the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. We got to see replicas of spacecraft and photos taken by the Hubble telescope. We climbed a rock wall that was supposed to be from the Mars Mining Company. There were many short movies, and the opportunity to land a Space Shuttle by way of the flight simulators. When we returned home to school, we began the T4L science chapter “Solar System and the Universe”. We had already been exposed to many of the space exploration vehicles mentioned within the chapter on our visit to the Center. It made learning the “book knowledge” so much more exciting because we could go back to the pictures from the trip and remember the hands on learning. We were informed by our daughter that Space Camp was in our future!
Thanks for reading and I hope your summer was great!