Life on the road is very similar to life at home in many respects. Stuff happens and it has to be dealt with. The big difference is being somewhere unfamiliar makes finding a store a little tricky sometimes. You never know what problems will spring up and it isn’t the problems in your life that define you; rather it is your reaction to the problems and how you handle them. Continue reading
I think sometimes people wonder what we do for entertainment since we don’t watch television. We do watch some television shows and have several DVD sets that we put on and watch every few nights. Both Sarah and I are big movie buffs and have watched many a movie over the years, though now we only have a few movies with us. I don’t mind watching t.v. shows on DVD though since there are no commercials.
Being a gamer made me think the game situation was critical to our plans to go on an adventure. We brought along board games that replay over and over well. Plus I brought along some of my card games, which we play pretty often. I went ahead and brought two of the board games that we developed (Zoning and Ancient Tactics) and I still get a kick out of playing them even though we have played them hundreds of times. The kids have brought along several kids games too and we occasionally have a family game night. I think it is good for math and social skills for kids to play board games. If I couldn’t have brought some games along I don’t think I would have set out on this adventure.
We have already seen some amazing things in this great country we live in. I always knew that America was a big country, but after driving through a portion of it I realize that it is huge. Montana is on of the bigger states and we didn’t get to see nearly enough of it, but what we saw was beautiful. Journey was allowed to choose what she did for her birthday and out of all the choices she picked to mine sapphires in Phillipsburg Montana. A man we had met on the road had suggested it to us and I thought no more of it at the time because we are always getting suggestions on where to go and what to do. We take them into consideration and try to see some of the things, but there is simply too much to see and do in this great country to do it all. She apparently liked the idea of sapphire mining because it is her birth stone. So our first order of business in Montana was to mine some sapphires. I bought two buckets of gravel and we picked through them about five times. When I buy dirt, I make sure I get everything from it! All joking aside though, the whole family had a blast and the sapphire mine was a very nice area. Journey got her blue sapphire and Miles found a garnet, which is rare and what he wanted. After mining we went into town and visited the candy store. I let Journey get a bag of candy for the family to enjoy while on the road and everyone was happy. I would recommend going to the sapphire mine if you are in the area.
To homeschool or not to homeschool? I think this may be a question more parents are asking themselves as the time to enroll their child(ren) in public school approaches. I did not really consider homeschool myself at first. Although, I think as a populous we can all see that the public school system is failing. Many parents would prefer a private school, and even charter schools seem to be gaining popularity as an alternative when homeschooling just is not an option for working parents. My husband and I always kind of knew in the back of our minds that we would probably need to supplement at home what we felt our children would be missing out on at school. However, when my oldest child turned four I decided it was time for him to start learning to read. I have been able to read since the age of three so I knew it was possible and saw no reason to wait until he began school, not to mention the kid loved being read to.
So the lessons began. I will admit it was somewhat daunting at first. Nothing is easy when first learning it, and being the oldest I think he didn’t really think a child could read. Most days we would practice letter recognition, when he had this task accomplished we moved on to sounds, next came putting sounds together, and the progression to full on reading shortly followed. He was able to read very well by his fifth birthday, and with this came the idea that if I could teach him to read why not just teach him myself at home. So I did. Continue reading
This year is the 100th anniversary of the national parks. There is also a really great program that started last year where all fourth graders can visit national parks and public lands for free. We somehow lucked out on this as our oldest is technically a fourth grader this year! It has been great so far on our adventure to have the opportunity to visit so many of these special places. Another great program they have is the Junior Ranger Program. This is a program that I feel really gets the kids excited to learn more about our protected lands. As a homeschooling mother I am always happy to expand on our education in a fun way.
When making the decision to go on the road our children’s education was a major factor in the overall plan. Since we were already homeschooling there weren’t any worries about taking them out of school to consider. Our thought was that learning the state capitol’s by visiting each one beats finding them on a map or reading about them in a book any day. So when we discovered this awesome Junior Ranger Program it was great. Our kids can get hands on experience learning about the places we are visiting in so many ways. This program consists of the children each receiving a book (even the youngest) with lots of questions and activities for them to complete all relating to the types of plants, animals, land, and things they can do to help protect these things within the park. They are required to complete a certain amount of pages, which varies from park to park, and then return it to a park ranger. Since it is part of our curriculum I encouraged them to go above and beyond what is required of them, and they always do! Upon completion of the book a ranger checks their answers, asks them some questions, to make sure they learned a few things, and then awards them a badge while they are sworn in as an official Junior Ranger. It is a great, fun program that we all enjoy participating in.
I consider this program to be our nature studies for science. To me it is so much more interesting and relatable for them to be doing these things hands on (in some of the most beautiful places in the country) than sitting at home looking at pictures or reading about them in books. We plan to visit as many of the national parks as we can and I am hopeful that they continue to be interested in this program at everyone of them. It is important to motivate the next generation to keep these places special and I think that the Every Fourth Grader in a Park program is an excellent way to get started with this endeavor.