Our travel projects
(A quick review)
I have a naturally creative bent. I find myself flying by the seat of my pants when we’re researching something [anything] new, and a cool project pops into my head.
One of the most satisfying things about homeschooling our children is seeing the “aha” moments they get when connections are made. And it’s especially gratifying when I’ve set something up just for those sweet, exhilarating moments. So in gearing up for our trip, we’ve done a few projects (usually on the fly) that will hopefully prepare these little minds of theirs to make connections as we go. Hello, teachable moments!
In doing this poster, Deron (10) and Jude (6) worked together and filled in facts from researching the information on their own. I think this is an invaluable skill all kids need to learn to do fast and to do well. They then picked 5 points of interest and drew them in boxes. The poster may not be gorgeous, but it certainly does the trick.
We did this as a page in our Homeschool Notebook. We researched, drew a picture, added our own printed photograph, a map, and wrote a fact or a few facts about the National Park. It was a quick, but informative activity.
Saguaro National Park (Cactus Study)
For this project, I googled and printed out a document about the types of cactus we would find in the Southwest. Then I picked the 11 that looked distinct enough to draw and identify. We took this 11″x14″ paper and folded it into 12 sections. Then each day of that week we took 4, talked about them and drew them. Deron decided to add a person next to the drawings of the cactus- I thought that was a nice touch!
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia was on my “must go” list for this trip. It was a bit out of the way, but we’re making it work. I haven’t been since I was about 10, and the beauty made a significant impact on me. The first picture was a rainy day project we did about General Sherman (the largest tree by volume on Earth). We researched the height of the giant sequoia, and drew it on really large brown packing paper (always have this on hand!), every 1/2 in = 1 ft. Then we draw a 6ft man to scale. It was fun to really see just how big these trees are! The kids were quite impressed!
The second project took an entire week. They don’t have many opportunities to self-pace for projects, so this was one of my goals. I printed out this worksheet, and it was on them (with my help of course) to complete it by the end of the week. I must say, it was not easy for them! But they did all of their research on their own! For that, I was super proud, especially of Jude. Here is Deron’s final work, straight from his Homeschool Notebook.
To download this page, click the link below. It’s my free gift to you. 🙂
As I was looking up things to do with the boys while we’re in Santa Fe, I saw that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is there! I love art and Deron does too, so this is a really fun thing we like to explore together. It was a quick study, but we watched a video on her life and her distinctions, discussed it together, then made this artwork based on her style. The first step was to print out pictures of flowers that they picked online. Then we cut a small window in another piece of paper and placed it somewhere on the picture of the flower. Then we sketched the main outline in pencil, then with a sharpie marker, colored a few blocks in washable marker, then finally used watercolors for the rest of the painting. I think they turned out great!
Back in September, we started learning about different important places in the world. One of them was San Francisco, mainly the Golden Gate Bridge. This page from our Notebook is a lot like the Grand Canyon page. If I had known we were going to be visiting the Golden Gate back then, we probably would have gone into a little more detail. This is Jude’s. He likes arrows. And at the beginning of the year we were still working on our lower case letters. He hated writing anything at that time. It’s amazing what a few months can do.
The point of me sharing this with you is this: your research projects don’t have to always be beautiful. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s all part of a process of learning and teaching your kids how to learn.