IMG_9868I KNOW that when my kids are having fun, they are more likely to remember what they are learning and to come back for more.  (My recent video, How We Teach Through Field Trips, shows how we used a trip to a nearby raspberry farm to teach our kids where food comes from and include them in the process of making jam.)  And yet, keeping learning light and enjoyable is admittedly something that I struggle with. There are lots of things that I can do well, but I am not, by nature, a clever or comedic personality. So creating a fun atmosphere or planning amusing activities is work for me. But, well, this blog is called Doing Life Deliberately for a reason. So I am convicted that this is an area I need to intentionally “step it up.”

I’ll share with you some ways that we have, over the years, truly enjoyed learning. I’ve asked the kids to share some of their favorites, too.

  • Science Labs- for several years we have joined friends bi-weekly for science activities. One of our dear friends took it upon herself to organize a schedule for the year (we were all using the same curriculum) and she would invite a handful of families. Every other week we would assemble in her home to wrap up each chapter. The kids would review the material together and complete a project or experiment together. The kids have made jello replicas of human cells to learning the periodic table through a game of battleship to adding mentos to a 2 liter bottle of coke. Every session was ended with a time of fellowship for kids and parents- we ALL enjoyed it!
  • Field Trips- who doesn’t love getting out of the house and letting someone else teach their kids for a day?? Some of the most fun field trips we have taken have been to a local nuclear power plant (they had a fantastic visitors program- it was fascinating!!) and a local park program that took half a day to explain to us how maple syrup is harvest (followed by a pancake lunch!). Not to mention zoo, local park programs, art museums, etc. Keep your eyes open- you’ll be surprised to find what’s available around you!
  • Guest speakers- Ask someone you know to speak to your kids (and invite others to join you) about their area of expertise. Better yet, have your kids tour where they work and make it hands on (if possible).
  • Museums- We have had great fun at many of our local museums! When we were studying human anatomy, we visited Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry wher they had a hilarious presentation on digestion that had us all rolling on the floor. Their human body section was phenomenal and hands on- tons of fun. We have also enjoyed Milwaukee Public Museum where they have a butterfly garden where they fly loose and you can observe them in a natural setting.
  • Videos- We don’t utilize a lot of videos, but once in a while, they can be great fun. One example I can think of is the video my friends made of their family processing the honey from their personal hives. It was an extended family affair where everyone came for a day to collect the hives and extract the honey. It was so much more fascinating to see it than to read about it in a book.
  • Mentorships- Do your kids have an interest in a particular skill set? Perhaps pairing them with a mentor would be a great way for them to learn in a hands on fashion. Whether wood working, computer programming, dog grooming or nursing, find a trusted individual to meet with your child who can share their passion in a personal and tangible way.

Well, now I am motivated to take a look at the calendar and plan out some fun experiences. I hope this encourages you, as well!

Do you have more ideas you’d like to share with the DLD community?? Please, share your thoughts below!! We’d love to hear from you!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha

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img_1617.jpgWhile we may be cooped up inside during these cold winter days, there are lots of ways to help the kids stay active outside- whether hot or cold. Here’s some ideas- see what works for your family!

  • Biking- take advantage of local trails, throw the bikes in the car and head to a local or state park, mountain bike, etc.
  • Walking and Hiking- again, take advantage of local trails, take a stroll through your neighborhood, or head to a local scenic destination
  • Geocaching- find an app on your smart phone, pop the kids in the car, and head out for a 21st century scavenger hunt. Don’t forget to bring a few small baubles with you to replace anything you take on your little adventure.
  • Tennis- lots of area parks will have tennis courts you can take advantage of. Bring your rackets and a set of balls and enjoy hitting some back and forth. You can look up the rules of the game online (if you don’t already know) and learn how to properly score.
  • Football
  • Baseball- again, many area parks will have local diamonds you can take advantage of. Call some friends and have a pick-up game! Or you can play catch and practice hitting on your own.
  • Take your kids to a local playground for some unscheduled playtime.
  • Disc/frisbee golf- though you can play with any frisbee, there are specific discs made for driving and putting that can be purchased at your local sporting goods store. Look up the rules online and locate a local course (again, found in many local parks) and enjoy a leisurely family round.
  • Frisbee- pass the frisbee around in your own yard, look up tricks online and try to recreate them
  • Ultimate Frisbee- much like the game of football, this frisbee game is high energy and requires teams. Look up the rules online and invite your friends to a pick up game, where they can join in the fun!
  • Jump rope- jump ropes can be purchased almost anywhere and this is a great cardiovascular activity. If you have multiple kids, you can give Double Dutch a try and even some tricks! If you find your kids to enjoy this, look up local jump rope clubs.
  • Sledding
  • Snow shoeing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Ice Skating
  • Rollerblading
  • Broom ball- in frozen weather, gather some pals to create two teams and head to a local ice rink. Players will need brooms and a ball to play this game of hockey in their tennis shoes!
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking/canoeing

If you’d like to see some of the ways that our family stays active, click here to watch my latest You Tube video: Homeschool PE Ideas What other activities has your family used for PE? PLEASE, share them below! We look forward to hearing some great ideas from you!!

Keeping Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha

  
Recently, we made our way to a local county park for a field trip to learn how maple syrup is made. Ever since reading Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I have been fascinated by the process. It was even more fascinating to walk through the process in person! Our guide shared the Native American legend of how maple syrup was discovered and demonstrated how the Native American extracted the sap from the trees with spirals made from sumac branches.  

Sarah uses a metal tool to push out the heartwood of a sumac branch to make a spial, just like the Native Americans would do.
 
We walked through the woods and talked about different ways to identify maple trees: gray bark, the shape of the leaves and the helicopter seeds (both of which would not be helpful in the winter months because they are absent from the branches), opposing branch patterns, mustaches, and belly bottons from previous tappings. The kids had a great time searching for animal tracks in the mud and learning how to determine when it was the right time to start tapping the trees.

Gideon takes a turn drilling for the spial.

Our guide taught us that we should be able to hug a tree without touching our elbows- if we can do that, the tree is big enough to tap. She then allowed the kids to take turns drilling a hole for the spial. After placing the spial, a bucket or blue bag is hung to collect the sap. 

Hannah uses a yoke to carry buckets of sap to the evaporator.
  Once the sap is collected, it is taken to the evaporator. It takes approximately 30 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. It takes several hours of heating the sap for it to condense down to syrup. When the sap is taken out of the tree, it looks just like water and is barely sweet. But as the water evaporates out of the sap, a caramel color appears and darkens, revealing the sweet syrup. We enjoyed tasting before, during and after the evaporation process! 

Izzy peers into the evaporator.
 After the sap is evaporated down to syrup, the syrup is cooled and bottled. We were able to taste test some of this wonderful syrup over a pancake lunch. Delightful!!

What are your favorite field trips to do with your kids?