Tag Archives: Field Trip

Zoo Field Trip – learning about more than just animals

25 Mar

WARNING:

Planning and map reading skills in use.

We recently took a trip to the zoo. Squirrel had a zoo map that he had saved from our last trip to the zoo (almost a year ago). As we are preparing to leave he makes a big deal about packing his backpack with the map. This was very important to him. But we didn’t realize how important until we got to the zoo and he pulls out the map and proceeds to inform us of what he wants to see and how to get there.

So, yes… We got to see lots of animals and observe their behavior in a controlled environment and all of the normal zoo stuff. The map reading was an extra bonus. I love unschooling. It’s amazing what they come up with all on their own.

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The very best home school curriculum available.

24 Feb

You Don’t Need This Book
…or any other book for that matter!

As an educating expert I get a lot of families asking me curriculum. What kind do I recommend, which ones do I use, how to find the best one. At the risk of losing out on many opportunities I am going to be extremely blunt. You don’t need them. I have seen too many people spend loads of money on special curriculum for each child (hundreds to thousands of dollars) only to find that school work becomes tedious, home schooling becomes a drag, and tensions between parent and child escalate as the child passive-aggressively battles the system that the parent has unwittingly brought into the home.

Curriculum is a billion dollar industry

Don’t get me wrong. I love curriculum. I am also very skilled at writing curriculum. A copy of my curriculum, written during my senior year of college (A+), is sitting in the art ed resource room at SIUE to be used as a reference and example for other aspiring art teachers. But the fact remains that you don’t need them. This point really hit home for me when I was browsing a bookstore one day. And there on the shelf in prime location was a preschool workbook on learning how to use scissors. Yes, some big wig curriculum publisher was selling this book. Incredulous, I picked it up and looked through it. It was full of thick black lines, straight lines, curved lines, dotted lines, some shapes. And the child would take a pair of scissors and cut along the lines. That was it. $15 dollars for a workbook that would be cut to pieces. It was mindboggling. And to think of the damage I was inflicting on my children by giving them a stack of scrap paper and bills to “shred” with their tiny scissors. Right then and there “You don’t need this book!” screamed through my brain. I even got the brilliant idea to write a book talking about this. I never finished it because it seemed too ridiculous to write a book you really don’t need talking about all the educational books you really don’t need.

Home schooling should be something different

Many of you started home schooling because of the failings of public school. So why bring that failing system into your home? All you have done is transplanted the same problems and frustrations from the classroom to the living room.

I was talking to a parent a couple of months ago. He is trying to home school his teenage daughter. He invested almost $500 on some nifty computer interactive curriculum set. But she never used it. Half the time she stayed at her mother’s house to avoid the school work. “What is she interested in?” I asked him. The simple question that most of us so often forget to ask. “Well, she likes cosmotology.” I then proceeded to launch into an explanation of how cosmotology could be the basis of all her learning from the history of makeup and hair and how it affected the world to the science of shampoo and hair dye. Every relevant “subject” could be covered using her main interest of cosmotology. I am afraid I might have scared him away, because I haven’t heard from him since then. But my point is, you don’t need fancy textbooks, computer programs, curriculums, or gizmos. You are better off using that money to invest in information or tools that are geared specifically to your child’s interest.

Home school groups are another tricky subject. (Especially since I am the founder of Pomegranate Gardens School). There are dozens of home school groups and schools out there. Sure, join up. I would love people to join me at Pomegranate Gardens. But think about what you want and need. If you are looking for a play group, do you need to pay membership fees for that? If you are wanting social connections there are numerous avenues for both parent and child. Please, think about how you are investing your time and money. If you want and need some real advise and support, get it. I offer most of my advise freely and generously, much to the detriment of PG’s educational consulting program. If you want serious guidance and support be willing to pay for it, but make sure you are paying for something that is worth the investment.

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race

16 Sep






This weekend we went to the annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race. This race has been going on since 1973. I remember watching the balloons take off from my hospital window when I was a kid recovering from surgery. I was hooked. It’s so beautiful watching the balloons fill up and launch into the sky.

The rules are the Energizer Bunny launches first. Then the other balloons (the hounds) take off in pursuit. The race ends when the bunny lands and the winner is determined by which team gets their bag of birdseed dropped closest to the bunny.

We managed to get up close to one of the balloons this year. The fire and the noise scared the little ones though. But the oldest got to hear the pilots talking about how the shape of the balloon affects the flight. Very interesting stuff.

Popeye Festival

9 Sep







This weekend we went to Chester, Illinois to go to the Popeye Festival. Chester is the home of E.C. Segar, the creator of the Popeye comics. Even though it was rainy and the parade was canceled, we had a lot of fun. We stopped by the Popeye museum, Spinach Can Collectibles. It was interesting to see all the old wooden toys and newspaper clippings of the people that inspired the characters as well as the list of home countries of people from around the world that have come to see the home of Popeye. The little ones were intrigued by the real live Olive Oyls and Popeyes walking around the town. We also drove by the new statue of Olive Oyl (unveiled this year) and visited the Popeye Memorial by the As the Crow Flies Bridge that crosses the Mississippi River. It was fun, and gave us the chance to talk to the kids about community.