travelling as a unit study

I’ve heard it said a LOT: it’s so good, then, that you homeschool, so you can travel with ease.

Yes, it’s true. It does make approaching an education simpler when there are no teachers to consult, no workbooks to tote along, and no schedule to interrupt.

But this is not at all why we homeschool. (For our reasons, you can read here.)



Zach and Rachel in the airport

However, as with all homeschoolers everywhere, I certainly know how to travel with the intent of educating my children.

There is never a dull moment when we’re on the move, and it is fun. (The kids would like me to be honest and say there are dull moments: laundry hours and twenty minutes of math each day…yes, they still do that.)

And there are tough moments existing in a 4×10 space, especially when you value quiet.



Jim & Rachel doing geography with the globe

Why not make a unit study out of anywhere you’re visiting? 

It’s easy to satisfy all the traditional subject areas if your preferences are primed for that approach.

How to tackle traditional subject areas when you’re traveling:

Physical Education

Canoeing at a new lake, hiking on a new path, cross country skiing, skating…the sky’s the limit.

If you’re active and getting your heart rate up, you can call it phys ed.

You’re welcome!



Hiking around Kaslo
The hikes are the kids’ favourites, I jest.

Language Arts

What we do to write on our travels: journal our trip, write postcards, or add to the blog.

They think it’s fun to share their adventures with family and friends. (And I know they’re learning to express themselves).

With a teeny bit of review, I share grammar and spelling ideas after I’ve relished their writings…and I give them the freedom to sway from the convention of crossing every t and dotting every I.

You can read their earlier blog contributions here:

Math

To my surprise, early on, arithmetic comes up every day. I said it when I was in school, but I was wrong: math really is used every single day in some form or fashion.

Map study, distance, and speed is an easy discussion point when traveling, especially with the repeated question: Are we there yet? How much more time?

A discussion on how much-bottled water we needed to buy yesterday reinforced how many mL were in a cup, how many cups one person drinks each day, and how many cups were in a liter.



Wiedrick family near Kaslo hiking

Science

Geology is my children’s pastime, and rocks are everywhere.

As long as I have a few guidebooks, we can learn a few things about rocks as we hike.

I like to learn about foraging: which berries can be eaten, what flowers are medicinal. I tasted an Oregon grape yesterday, and spit, then spit again and again. (Turns out, I could have swallowed it without trouble; learned that after flipping through the guidebook.)

At 9 o’clock every night, all summer, I’ve had recorded on my iPod calendar, STARGAZE.

In the hometown valley where I live, it is a challenge to step into the yard, lay on the ground, and see anything more than a few clouds, or a lot of clouds. (Or maybe that was just this summer.)

Last night we laid feet away from the roaring Kaslo River and watched Venus make her entrance, then Jupiter, Mars, Saturn.

We found the basic constellations and the North Star. We saw two stars flash across the sky, and a half dozen red and blue flashing ‘stars’ move slowly from east to west…okay, they might have been planes.


History

There is always a museum.

I get that these can be dry, but it takes little effort to focus on one aspect to engage the child’s mind. Like, this town is the backdrop to your Dear Canada book about the Japanese internment in World War II.

Then they’re on the lookout for evidence.

Since we’re on a British Columbia road trip, we’ve decided to incorporate…

  • discussion on regions and their industries,
  • topography,
  • climate,
  • and government too.
  • There is time to reinforce the provincial flowers,
  • birds,
  • flags,
  • and major cities…

An M&M quiz will keep their attention.

One of the projects I completed this summer (& I can’t believe I completed it), was to make friends with the London Drugs photo department…

Okay, it wasn’t intentional.

I updated our family albums for the last three years. That’s a LOT of photos.

After finally putting it all together for a final perusal, I was mesmerized at how many times we’d left town, heading south, east, west, and north.

When I’d said we’d traveled quite a bit, it was easy to remember the BIG trips, to Africa, the Arctic.

But we’ve really buzzed around Alberta, BC, NWT, Washington, and California.

Never a dull moment for my camera. 

No matter the location, traveling next door, or out-of-country, it is fun. And what better way to remember those places than by turning them into unit studies.

Traveling might not have been the reason we began homeschooling, but certainly, our kids’ homeschool has been quite the education with traveling.


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

Augustine of Hippo

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