Some of this learning started months before we departed. I ordered a huge stack of brochures from all the places we might visit. As a family, we had a great time sitting down and looking at all the options, as well as reading up on the places we had an interest in.
My oldest son (our resident ornithologist) researched and studied for months on the birds he might see, once he knew the basic route we were taking out West. He studied his bird books daily, and made a list of birds that he could possibly see. He studied migration patterns as well, so that he could work that in to the possibles. He brought along several bird books, binoculars, etc.
A few days before we left, I printed out a detailed coloring page of the Grand Canyon. I wanted to have that on hand, just in case. I made sure there were lots of sharpened pencils/colored pencils in their travel backpack. My youngest son brought along his travel art set.
We stopped by the library two days prior to our leaving and checked out several books on cd. (They ended up only listening to one in its entirety, "The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis.) I also checked out a book, Brighty and the Grand Canyon. Both boys are still reading/enjoying this book. I had never heard of it before I had done a little "pre-vacation" research. I was excited to find a book related to one of the places we would visit. We had fun as we passed the burros inside the fence at the Grand Canyon~~we said, "There's Brighty!" (Note: I'm not crazy....I also packed lots of movies, and allowed them to bring their video games! We were in the car for 5,000 miles, people!)
Before even pulling out of the driveway, my mom (their "Nana") gave the boys their own travel journals. (We had this all worked out ahead of time!) I required my sons to write/draw in their journals everyday. They are still adding pictures and details even during our "regular" school week this week. I told them they need to write down as much as they can before they forget. I know this will be a treasured keepsake for years to come.
Before the trip, my boys had sold some of their previously loved books. I told them this money was theirs, but only for more books. There were lots of books to choose from as we visited five National Parks. My youngest bought a great bird book, and both purchased Dover Coloring Books. I have just become acquainted with these Dover Coloring Books...they are great "big-kid-very-educational-kind-of-coloring-books! My boys asked me if this could be their "school" the day after we returned from our trip.... "Why, Yes!!"
|My youngest son chose a book on forest animals. When coloring, the point is to color to the animals' exact coloring. No purple woodpeckers here!|
|My oldest chose one on birds, of course! This particular Dover coloring book has all the birds pictured in the back.|