We got off to a rocky start this week. Monday was a little harried, but as the week wore on, it got better. I had our assignment lists printed out, so we could easily refer to lesson plans and needed supplies. Now, if I could just remember to get some of the supplies in advance of needing them.
Our regular subjects, like spelling, math, and handwriting, didn’t need much prep, and we did well with those. We’re trying something slightly different with science and history. In the past, these subjects have been mostly reading, such as nature books or biographies, with a little bit of hands-on as time permitted. With an 8th grader and 5th grader, I want to beef these up more. For science, my 8th grader is doing anatomy. I see an acupuncturist for pain management and health supplements, so I take her with me to appointments as I can. My acupuncturist talks about how she analyzes different body parts to determine where and how to treat for certain symptoms. My daughter has found this fascinating. My plan for science is to spend a week on reading and a week on application with a project, vocabulary, and a few short answer questions.
My 5th grader is studying weather. Our area of Texas doesn’t always cooperate in the weather department. It’s mostly hot and dry this time of year and slightly hot and somewhat dry the rest of the year. Not that I’m asking for any dangerous weather patterns just for the sake of learning, but hands on for her will be slightly less dramatic. I’ve seen some projects where you can simulate clouds and humidity, so that sounds fun. We can always talk to my friend, Susie, who is a weather tracker extraodinaire. She is addicted to the Weather Channel and usually knows what’s going on just about everywhere. I remember a British show I used to watch, As Time Goes By, and the housekeeper always updated the household with the weather in the English Channel. That’s Susie without the British accent.
Our history of choice is Mystery of History. We are on Volume II, the Middle Ages, after spending four years in Volume I, Ancient History. Yes, we beat it to a bloody pulp. I can safely say we know where Mesopotamia was and can name a few Chinese dynasties. We concluded our long study with a museum trip to Houston to see the King Tut exhibit in April. It was outstanding, and even my then-first grader was spellbound. I don’t plan on spending quite as long in Volume II. I hope to include my oldest in a possible trip to Europe in the spring where we could visit one or two appropriate places, such as Notre Dame in Paris. Obviously, this is not an ordinary field trip, and it may not even happen, but I’m excited to even think of the possibility. In the event we cannot make this trip, then we will take advantage of the Internet to do some virtual touring of places that still exist, something that wasn’t nearly as prevalant with ancient history.
So, tell me, what is your favorite hands-on learning experience or field trip? I like to live vicariously through my friends.