Tag Archives: field trips

eXercise and eXcitement – Blogging Through the Alphabet

X exercise excitement

I was just going through some pictures from a couple of weeks ago and found these images of the girls playing on the tires playground at a local park. They made me smile so I thought I would share them as a reminder to us all that we are never too old to have some fun. Often people seem to think that once a kid hits about 10 or 12 they don’t want to play at the playground anymore. My girls all get excited about heading out to a playground (providing it isn’t too hot!) and getting some exercise.

X tire playground

 

X tire exercise

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Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

Passive Teaching – Middle School Monday

National Parks and passive teaching

I often forget just how effective passive teaching is. By passive teaching, I mean setting up a situation where the student is “invited” without words to participate in something that will educate.

A year or so ago, I stumbled across a set of DVDs about America’s national parks. They have sat on the shelf. I have often thought it would be interesting to pull them out to view but the right opportunity just never appeared. Until the other day.

I had some time and wanted to watch TV. I saw those and decided that I wanted to watch them. I knew the girls were in the living room and honestly, I expected them to leave to play in their rooms or outside when I put these on. Guess what? They didn’t.

National Parks DVDs

They hung around, still doing their own things. But they were listening. I know because every once in a while, from behind the couch, I would hear “wow!” or “I bet that’s neat.” It was whispered and not necessarily meant to be heard, so I never responded. I loved that they were paying attention, even if they were only hearing things, while keeping their hands busy with activity.

Then again, the other evening, I put a disc on to watch. My oldest daughter was on the couch reading. She very quickly put her book down to watch with me. She often commented about things she thought were neat. At one point she got up and left the room. I thought “Nice while she was here and I’m glad she watched as much as she did.” Just a moment later she returned with coloring materials in her hands. She proceeded to watch more with me. And, when I was about to turn it off, she asked if I would leave it on and watch more with her. So, I did. We still have 2 discs to go, too!

I had no thought that in doing something interesting for myself that it would attract their interests. I always hope so. But I never plan for that. Now, though, I have a daughter who has an interest in visiting a number of different national parks. In fact, she asked if she made of list of the ones she wants to see, if we could go visit some of them in the next couple of years. She understands that some are very far away and we can’t just up and go. But her interest is piqued. And isn’t that what we are hoping for? Interest?

It may be short lived or fleeting. But it is there. If we feed that interest, who knows where it will go. So, on our next trip to NM, I am hoping we can detour through Carlsbad (not really too far out of the way) and visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park again. It is first on her list.

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Visiting Texas Rangers – Blogging Through The Alphabet

V Visiting the Texas Rangers

I really like to visit museums. I really enjoy it. If I could visit museums and historical sites every single day, I’d be thrilled. So, when my mom was visiting and mentioned that she wanted to visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, I was excited.

V Texas Ranger Museum

We headed over to the museum and enjoyed reading the historical markers that are out front. We would have appreciated less heat but the markers were interesting.

V Visiting the Ranger Museum

Then we went inside. The girls really surprised me, which was a nice thing! They were given scavenger hunts at the desk and they were excited to find the answers. They hunted down every answer, reading an awful lot of information in order to find the answers. I loved that they did it with energy and enthusiasm.

V Ranger scavenger hunt

We also watched a fairly lengthy documentary on the history of the Texas Rangers and how they have been viewed throughout their history. From the wild west through wars, government and society changes, their place in law enforcement has changed and evolved with the world around them.

We learned about cattle rustlers, Bonnie and Clyde, wire cutters, and border skirmishes. We learned about the Rangers’ places in Texas history and how they helped, and sometimes hindered, progress. It was interesting.

V Ranger artifacts

One of the biggest surprises for me – how much the girls enjoyed looking at all the weaponry and reading about it. Weapons are a big part of the museum displays and that was really interesting. There are even a couple of pistols that you can lift to feel just how heavy they are (almost 5 lbs!). Another big part were displays related to different Rangers of specific importance. One of the girls commented on how interesting those displays were.

This was a fun learning experience that taught me to look forward to these expeditions because I never know when I will be surprised. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is definitely a place worth visiting if you have the chance.

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Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

Also linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew Round-up.

Field Trip Inspiration {Round UP}

Rocks, Gems and Minerals Show – Middle School Monday field trip

Rock Gem and Mineral show field trip

Every year we look forward with excitement to the rock and gem show. It comes to town sometime in the spring and we always go spent time wandering through the exhibits/vendors.

What we love about this is that we can touch all sorts of minerals, rocks, gems, fossils, and fossilized wood that we don’t have access to otherwise. We take advantage of the show coming to town as an educational opportunity. And we are seldom disappointed!

fossils touch table and more

We always find vendors who love to talk to children. They enjoy spending time educating the girls on the various items they have displayed. They will tell them where items come from, the qualities of the objects, what they are and how they were created (in the case of fossils and such). This year, one of the vendor was a science teacher. Talk about a man in his element! He had such fun talking with the girls. His excitement was contagious and the girls enjoyed it, too. We probably spent 20-30 minutes with this manwheel to spin, walking all around his display, seeing items under the black light, learning how to identify minerals, and getting lessons in geography.

Another of the girls favorites is the wheel of fortune – you pay a quarter and get whatever is sitting on the number the wheel lands on. Sometimes it is just a few rocks. Sometimes it is a large, lovely shell. Sometimes it is a gorgeous gem or mineral. The man who runs this always tells the girls about what it is they have won if he knows. He enjoys it as much as they do.

Between studying all the rocks, gems, and minerals, not to mention the fossils, and the jewelry and trying to figure out how some of it is made, we spend several hours at the show. Our town is known for its mammoth site (recently it has become part of the National Park Service) and there is always a booth there. They often have worksheets or activity sheets for the kids to pick up.

cracking geode

This year, there was a man there advertising the fossil pit up in Mineral Wells. He and Miss J got to talking and boy, did they discuss things for a long time. From the fossils he was displaying to her favorite type of fossil (shells), they had a good ‘ol time and Miss J walked away with several new additions for her collection. We also have found another field trip we would like to make.

If you have a chance, a rock and gem or mineral show is a wonderful learning opportunity. We have found that vendors enjoy talking to children and educating them when possible. They love the curiosity and the kids love to learn. So, take the chance if you get on. You might just come home with a treasure haul like ours.

At Home.Rock and Gem Show

Sharing as part of the Homeschool Review Crew Field Trip Inspiration Round-up.
Field Trip Inspiration {Round UP}

WASP WWII Museum – Middle School Monday

WASP field trip

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were a group of women who did great service for the United States and its Allies during WWII. After the men had left for war, there was a great hole left and these women trained to fill that hole. Over the course of the years, over 1800 were accepted into the training program and about 1100 graduated, going on to serve on various bases around the US.

The WASPs ferried aircraft around the country, served a tow-target gunnery pilots, some as test pilots, and in various other capacities. They flew military planes though they were only recognized as civilian pilots. Over all, they flew over 60 million miles in 78 types of aircraft. These aircraft went from the smallest trainers to the fastest fighters and the heaviest bombers of the time. 38 WASPs gave their lives during this time.

In 1977, the women pilots were finally recognizes as WWII veterans. In 2010, their contribution to the war was recognized with a Congressional God Medal.

Sweetwater, TX, and Avenger Field is home to the WASP WWII Museum. In a 1929 hanger set on a hill, there is a small collection of interesting displays highlighting and honoring these women and all that they did for the war. The museum admission is free but they won’t say no to your donation. We also purchased a book titled “We Were WASPS” by Winifred Wood with drawings by Dorothy Swain, both WASPs.

We found the example of the barracks very interesting – one of the girls kept commenting on the cots they slept on. We saw examples of the types of transmitters and other communication boxes. We viewed a memorial to the women who lost their lives during the WASP program. We read about Jacqueline Cochran, who began the WASP program (interesting story and background!). We were able to view a film about the program with footage from Avenger Field. The girls sat in one of the trainers, or simulators, that were used and there were handprints from some of the WASPS along with their biographies. We were able to see pictures of many, if not all, of the graduating classes and textbooks that they used.

It did not take more than an hour to dawdle our way through the museum but we did enjoy it quite a bit. I had been wanting to stop since we pass it every time we make a trek to New Mexico. I am glad we were able to make the stop this time and enjoy this bit of history.

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Shared as part of the Homeschool Review Crew Field Trip Inspiration round-up.

Field Trip Inspiration {Round UP}

Degas – Middle School Monday

Middle Schoolers benefit greatly, as do all students, from putting real life together with book learning. When this happens with art, it is a surprising and fun experience.

After Christmas, we were able to take a trip to Houston to see a wonderful exhibit – Degas! Approximately 200 of Degas’ works were on display at The Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibit was titled Degas: A New Vision and included examples of all of the media he worked with throughout his career. The following video is their promotional video for the exhibit.

(warning: this video does have one image from Degas’ bathers series)

Degas: A New Vision from Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Vimeo.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834–1917) had a long a varied career. His work spanned the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. He is often known for his ballet dancers (which we definitely some of my favorites that we saw). However, he focused on many other themes throughout his career – horses, jockeys, portraits, bathers, milliners, and more. From drawing to sculpture to photography (I had no idea!), the depth of Degas’ work was extraordinary to view.

Degas also had a strong influence on other artists. From the way he used various media to working with new ways of printing, Degas was a leader.

It was really quite interesting to see all of the sketches and early work Degas did on some of these works of art. There were some where a number of sketches to work out the plan for the piece we displayed next to the final work. Also, there were many works that Degas did multiple variations of and seeing those next to each other with the changes that were made was interesting. It was almost as if we were looking at a Find The Differences game page.

We were allowed to take a few photographs and so I did take just a few for the purpose of sharing some of the amazement we felt walking among these works of art.

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This was a unique and unparalleled experience. We were very blessed to be able to take the girls to see these marvelous works of art. This was a joy and we hope to be able to find other wonderful art exhibits to take the girls to see over the years.

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Tomorrow, I will share a couple of books about Degas that were very good. So tune in for the D post in Blogging Through The Alphabet.

River of Lights

river-of-lights

We were treated to a visit to Albuquerque’s River of Lights this year. It was absolutely breath-taking in so many ways. The sheer number of lights was amazing but the delicate lines and shapes they were able to create with the lights was unbelievable.

Millions of lights lit up the night and smiles were seen on every face. With family surrounding us, we explored and enjoyed. From life-sized dinos to delicate butterflies that flew out of flowers, it was a night filled with wonder. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the lights were so very special.

My phone camera is not very good so these pictures do not do justice to the beauty of the light filled night. Just the same, here are just a few of the many, many wonderful scenes we were able to view.

What a wonderful night it was for all of us.

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