Welcome, autumn! This is definitely my favorite time of year! With its graceful falling leaves, brilliant hues of orange, and cool nights --- Autumn makes a bold arrival! Time for apples, song birds, cinnamon, sweaters and new colors. Time for all five senses to be awakened.
I know what you're thinking. It's also time to cover some major ground in school. True. I'm with you on that -- but as you think about teaching strategies for October, how about taking time for a few interesting field trips? Field trips can be a wonderful way to enhance book learning. And the best part is that we don't have to spend a lot of money.
May I suggest hay rides, pumpkin-picking and lovely leaf-collecting for the younger children? That's always fun. Perhaps a trip to the zoo or petting farm would be a nice outing. Better yet -- perhaps dad can get off and go with you! If not, how about asking grandparents or a fellow homeschooling family to join you?
I guess by now you can sense my enthusiasm for all kinds of fun field trips! I absolutely love to experience the outdoors for hands-on learning...
...My mind can still picture the guys when they were small, in their coonskin caps -- muskets resting over their shoulders -- ready for an outdoor hike in the wilderness as they pretended to be Daniel Boone and Davy Crocket. Outdoor wilderness? Our own back yard, or the park.
Many a night at dinner time -- I used to announce my ideas for (what I thought would be) a great adventure. Some of my ideas completely bombed, but some went over quite well. Museums usually flopped, but historical sites ruled the day.
Once I read about Mrs. Wright (Orville and Wilbur's mom) allowing her boys to play in the woods so that they could closely observe and study the way birds took off, flew and landed. Imagine that! I discovered that we should never doubt a mom's ideas about how her own children might best learn. Meaning, if people think you're crazy because you're studying bugs in the back yard, so be it.
Back to the dinner table.... Wouldn't you know it? My three men often suggested visiting battlefields. Yes, we're (somewhat) in Civil War territory, but c'mon -- how about some culture, guys? We're also near D.C. and all the museums ---- remember? My response to the battlefield idea was usually, "How about some place without canons, snakes and so many, well, -- slain?"
I admit that some very successful learning came from having visited those battlefields -- amidst the canons, relics and -- yes... fallen soldiers. Gettysburg, Antietem, Manassas. I tried to look on the bright side, and saw these trips as my chance to study the southern ladies' Civil War recipes, or the Northern ladies' fashions. The guys, in turn, were troopers when I oohed and ahhed over the First Ladies' gowns at the History Museum in D.C.
Field trips don't have to center on harvest activities --- I encourage you to be creative as you think of fun things to do this fall. Obviously, our locations in different parts of the country will dictate what choices we have.
My opinion is that field trips should be whatever you want them to be -- as long as there's learning involved. It could be a lovely nature hike, or a full-blown visit to the Grand Canyon.
Whether it's observing the interesting foliage, or doing some fall planting --- try to think of things that will not only enhance what your kids are studying in school, but things that will enrich your day, such as fostering a spirit of cooperation and appreciation among the children.
My favorite field trips? Pumpkin-picking, meeting dad downtown for lunch, hearing The National Philharmonic orchestra, and visiting George Washington's Mount Vernon. Colorful, memorable times, with an awakening of the senses. In my eyes, they were all great field trips, because we learned something each time!
Enjoy the day, and enjoy autumn. As always --- with God's help, keep being the best mom you can be!