I look at our school room and it’s a mess; I wonder what we did all week. Then I remember: last week we weren’t home very much, because we went on 3 different field trips to the zoo and a museum or two!
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Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
Last weekend, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry on Saturday before celebrating our family’s August birthdays, including Cub’s on Sunday. The kids had a blast and we didn’t even see half of the museum.
When we visit big museums or parks, I let the kids each pick one “must-see” exhibit or activity and we focus on doing at least those 3 things. Anything else we see between those 3 stops or in addition to them is a bonus. That way, we don’t feel like we have to do everything, and everyone gets a say in what we do. Cub picked the Fairy Castle and was disappointed: he thought it was a playground or tree-house to climb, so the intricate miniature house was not what he was expecting. Dad got to look at his own DNA during a live demonstration in the Genetics exhibit.
DID YOU KNOW… as an Illinois Homeschooler you can receive free Museum Entry and school group discounts on Giant Dome Theater films and special exhibits. Just sign up ahead of time.
We made it to more than our top 3 exhibits. Farm Tech was full of information on the technology that now goes into farming corn and soybeans and dairy, the primary crops in Illinois. There was also information an all the byproducts of these 3 crops and we really do rely on these things more than we realize in modern food production. The Great Train Story is a large model train layout that shows Chicago to Seattle and various industries and landmarks in between. Both boys enjoyed pushing the interactive buttons to make animations happen on the train layout.
Museum of the Grand Prairie
Museum Stop #2 of the week was Museum of the Grand Prairie. It’s a free museum run by the Champaign County Forest Preserve. They have exhibits on prairie life as well as Abraham Lincoln’s early career as a circuit lawyer in the area. There is also a one-room school house and gardens on the grounds to explore. The kids’ favorite part was the Discovery Room on the lower level. In this area they pretend to live the Prairie Life.
The day we went there was also special programming. During the summer they offer weekly programs for families and during the year they often offer weekend programs as well. The program we attended was about recycling. The kids has access to all kinds of materials that they could re-purpose into their own creation. AJ made a musical instrument, Cub made a droid and Lynn made a doll. They also provided a scavenger hunt to help the kids discover how people in the past repurposed other items to make what they needed. Be sure to get on the mailing list for any museums in your area to find out about education events near you.
We took our last field trip of the week to a local zoo on the first day of the school. Back to School Homeschool style meant enjoying the less crowded zoo while other students were back in the classroom! Cub liked the penguins best, probably because we recently read Mr. Popper’s Penguins for a bedtime story. Lynn and AJ enjoyed riding the train and got to see some larger animals including giraffes, camels, and zebras!
When we returned home from our adventures we did what we always do when go out on adventures. We write and draw in our adventure journals. I take dictation from the not yet writers and each person documents their thoughts about the outing. I don’t tell them what to write and there are no wrong answers. Just journaling about each person’s experiences. Its fun to see what each one decides is the highlight and the moments they find most important to record.
Field Trips will be less often as we add more subjects and other activities begin for the year, but this week was so much fun! How are you starting your school year?
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