Since we are homeschooling this year, we have begun looking at life very differently. We see everything from a different perspective. Everything is officially a learning opportunity. We aren’t actually doing much differently. Yet. But I am suddenly seeing that everything we do is an opportunity for the kids to learn something, whether it be math facts, science knowledge, or a Godly world view.
As I was thinking about our vacation, I realized that if I did just little extra work and put together books for the girls, it would become an official school field trip. We were planning on going to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White Sands National Monument, and Lincoln State Monument. There are tons of options there for learning.
So I began doing research. It ended up being more difficult than I thought it would be to come up with fun worksheets and information sheets but maybe that is because I was being too picky. (I have been known to have that characteristic once in a while.) I persevered, created some things, and came up with something that worked. In addition to the vacation books I made for the girls, they also picked up Junior Ranger program booklets at Carlsbad and White Sands and earned the patches for those places.
So here are some of the links to things that I used.
- Field Trip forms from The Unlikely Homeschool – http://www.theunlikelyhomeschool.com/2013/01/field-trip-log-printable.html
- What’s That Bug/Bird/Animal forms from The Crafty Classroom – http://www.thecraftyclassroom.com/HomeschoolPrintablesNotebookingIdentification.html
- White Sands National Monument kids page – http://www.nps.gov/whsa/forkids/fun-activities.htm
- White Sands National Monument curriculum materials – http://www.nps.gov/whsa/forteachers/classrooms/curriculummaterials.htm (I used the animal adaptations, plant adaptations, and kit fox lessons to create my own sheets for the kids to complete.)
- White Sands National Monument Fact Sheets – http://www.nps.gov/whsa/forkids/fun-facts.htm
- Word search for the older girls from Exploring Nature – http://www.exploringnature.org/db/detail.php?dbID=28&detID=1703
- Coloring pages from dailycoloringpages.com – http://dailycoloringpages.com/texas-wildlife-coloring-pages/texas-big-bend-animal-coloring-book-pages/ (These are for the Big Bend part of Texas but that area is part of the desert region we were visiting in NM so I used a lot of these for the younger one.)
- Desert animals coloring page by Sheri Amsel through Exploring Nature – http://www.exploringnature.org/db/detail.php?dbID=18&detID=1228
- various dot to dots of animals that would be found in the desert – http://www.dottodots.net/category/animals
- Teaching Mama printables from her blog – http://teachingmama.org/desert-animal-printables/
- and also from Teaching Mama – http://teachingmama.org/exploring-a-cactus-free-printable/
I created some pages for the girls as well. First was a page with a map of the US with the state borders and state abbreviations. They had to color the state of the place we were visiting and then mark approximately where it is found within that state. Below the map were several lines for the girls to write what their favorite thing was after visiting the park.
The next kind of page that I made had 4 boxes on it numbered 1-4. The instructions at the top said draw and label 4 things you would find in a desert. This type of activity gave them the ability to think outside the box, pun intended.
The next pages that I included were various blank notebooking pages so that the girls could use them for whatever they wanted. Some were used; some were not. Either way was okay with me. Each page had a box they could draw in and some blank lines. I used different formats for where the box was on the page and how big it was so that their imaginations could be sparked in different ways.
The final pages that I made were a kit fox activity on animal adaptations. I used the information from White Sands for the kit fox itself. Then I asked them to make a list of the different adaptations that are specific to this animal for its environment. They had to mark these on the picture of the animal as well. The final part of this activity was creative writing. They were given a blank page with a picture of the kit fox and asked to write a poem about the kit fox, an essay to describe the kit fox or a story about what a kit fox is, telling what the kit fox does during a 24 hour period of one day and one night.
Along the way, the girls picked up some additional information and those have been added to the books, which are 2-pocket, 3-prong paper folders that the girls each decorated to reflect their personalities. We found some at the visitor centers, some at the check-in desk at the hotel we stayed in one night, and some from the brochures we located about the places we visited.
You might notice that I do not have any links or comments about pages for Billy the Kid and Lincoln State Monument. There is a very simple reason for that. There are very few reliable websites for information on Billy the Kid and Lincoln. The story of the Lincoln County War and Billy the Kid are steeped in legend. Also, those that I did find were not kid centered and had an awful lot of information that I did not think the girls needed at this time. I also did not take the time to create anything for them. They are going to create a page from the blank notebooking pages in their books but we decided that seeing the play and going through some of the museums was enough on this particular subject for this trip. It isn’t far from my parents so we will have additional opportunities in the future to revisit this subject.
I was inspired by a post that I cannot locate about someone who created vacation books from her children. I thought it was a great idea so I ran with it and it was a hit with the girls. I wish I could find the post that inspired me so that I could give proper credit. If I find it, this will be edited to give credit where credit is due.
Next time you are off on vacation, consider adding a vacation book. It will not only add an educational, fun aspect to your trip (not to mention quiet time in the car) but it will be something they can come back to over and over At Home.