Though our homeschool often changes as our location changes many times our school has pretty much looked the same on the road as it did at home. The difference was our bookshelves full of books and curriculum had been condensed into one large Rubbermaid tub. Imagine lugging all of your books up four flights of stairs when the elevator’s out of order, we've been there, not fun! Back breaking! Limiting what we could take on the road really forced me to focus on what was important. There have also been times, when the bulk of our schooling really was spent on outings and field trips.
While staying in the Historic Triangle of Virginia, we were immersed in Early American history. Our curriculum pretty much consisted of outings to places like Jamestown, Yorktown and Colonial Williamsburg with frequent trips to the library to check out books and videos on that specific time period. Since I didn’t have a laptop at that time , and we didn’t have regular access to a computer, we went to the library often. When we wanted to learn about the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel or when we wanted to identify the ghost crab that we’d found on the beach, we went to the library. We counted a day trip to the Wright Brothers National Monument as an Ohio History day as we learned about the struggles and triumphs of that first flight. We took art classes at the local art museum and learned that Planter’s Peanuts began in Suffolk, VA. We went to the Great Dismal Swamp in search of bears and were so thankful when we left without seeing one.
In Tennessee, we learned about the Secret City of Oak Ridge, home of the Manhattan Project-an undertaking that was so secret that during the construction of the city, a shipment of mattresses were returned because there was no record that Oak Ridge existed. This trip led to a fascination of WWII and the atomic bomb. In the World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville, we traveled to the top of the Sunsphere and my husband and I reminisced about the Rubik’s Cube and other neat inventions of the day.
While my husband worked in Kentucky, we stayed in a travel trailer at Lake White State Park. Since we really didn’t have any money at that time, we often stayed at the camper and focused on Ohio History, visiting the nearby Portsmouth floodwall murals or enjoying the local wildlife. While we were annoyed by the early morning quacking of the Mallard Ducks, we enjoyed catching a glimpse of what we believe to be a mink or muskrat lazily swimming in the canal just after daybreak. The kids went swimming, fishing and rescued turtles from tires and snakes. We had contests to see who could find the most cicada shells and undertook a limnology (or study of freshwater ecosystems) study. The kids caught up on book work, added entries to their nature journals and we lazily spent the afternoons with one of our all time favorite family read alouds, Rilla of Ingleside. Evenings were spent on the screened in porch playing board games. It was during this time without internet, cell phones and TV reception that the kids each began writing their own book or memoirs of our travels.
In Alabama, we learned about rockets and the race to the moon, Helen Keller and other local legends. We visited a slave cemetery and spent time researching it in the library’s heritage room. We read Old Yeller and then went to a Coon Dog Cemetery. We have hiked and explored the area finding natural attractions like Cherokee Rock Village and Caney Falls that we will never forget.
In Georgia, we learned about the ancient Chin dynasty and China’s Terra Cotta Soldiers at the High Museum of Art. We visited Civil War battlefields and toured a Confederate Cemetery. We panned for gold while learning about Georgia’s Gold Rush, climbed Indian Mounds in the beating sun, learned about Martin Luther, King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement, the 1996 Olympics and hiked on fields of granite while trying in vain to catch lizards and skinks. Since we stayed in Atlanta, we were also exposed to many different cultures and ethnic groups, in some areas, a trip to Wal-Mart was like stepping into an International market place.
Before my husband’s job actually took us on the road, some of our favorite field trips were to Washington D.C., The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and a Florida trip which included St. Augustine, Disney World and Sanibel. My kids swear I am the only mom on earth that would make them learn about Disney by writing my own unit study before actually traveling there.
Most of the inspiration to the places we visited came from books we were reading or another study that we were undertaking in our homeschool at that time. For us, books and travel logically go hand in hand.