We love books! We love visiting far away places and learning new things without leaving the comfort of the couch. Occasionally, we a blessed to have learning expeditions – those amazing moments, whether planned or not, when we get to tie the adventures and information in our books to adventures in our lives!
One of our first expeditions involved penguins. Since a trip to the Antarctic was a little out of our scope, we were thrilled to discover a limited-time penguin exhibit at a local children’s museum while visiting my mom and Nana. Nadya had just finished reading several books about penguins, including Magic Tree House: Eve of the Emperor Penguin, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Penguins and Antarctica, and the Magic School Bus Chapter Book: Penguin Puzzle. The girls had a great time watching the penguin movie at the IMAX theater and exploring the exhibit while making memories with their grandmother and great-grandmother. This visit was also an excellent pre-cursor to Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which we read this past year.
Another expedition opportunity presented itself shortly after we had worked through an American History unit as part of our 1st grade year. The girls and I joined grandma on a road trip from the Southern US desert to the mountains of the NW. Mount Rushmore was AMAZING! Nadya was able to participate in the Jr. Ranger program sponsored by the National Park Service. We watched the lighting of the monument service before having to evacuate due to a heavy rain and flash flood; which led to a nice discussion on emergency services and preparedness.
The following evening we visited the Crazy Horse Memorial for their laser light show – another stunning presentation that really brought history to life!
A trip to South Dakota wouldn’t be complete without a trip to visit the giant concrete dinosaurs at Dinosaur Park and to see and play with our favorite bedtime story fairy tales and nursery rhyme characters at Storybook Island. The trolley ride was a fun deviation to our normal mode of transportation as well.
Charlotte’s Web is one of our all-time favorites and we’ve read through it more than once. An expedition to our local county fair had the girls petting animals and looking for Templeton amongst the food bins. A thorough examination of the livestock pens failed to reveal any wordsmithing arachnids but did confirm that geese tend to be as loud as described in the book. A trip through the Quilt Room was as close to a time-machine as we had found – bringing to life items and techniques we had read about in many of the In Grandma’s Attic and Little House books.
After reading the Usborne World of Animals book, we visited our local zoo scavenger hunt style. The girls had a checklist of animals to look for – pictorial for my toddler and by continent/biome for my 2nd grader. Though we weren’t able to see the lions as they were introducing a new female to the pride, we were able to hear a fantastic talk by the elephant handler. Nadya now reads the labels on almost everything in search of Palm Oil and Cool Whip has been banned from our house due to the deforestation resulting from Palm Oil manufacturing – one little girl’s plan to help save the elephants and their native habitats.
Since we will be studying the 2nd Half of World History (Core C) this year, we have a surprise expedition to the Museum of Natural History in northern NM planned for the Spring. Their dinosaur displays are phenomenal! The following Summer, we’re planning on attending the International Folk Art Festival – a perfect complement to Window on the World.
On a smaller scale and more frequent basis, we enjoy visiting our Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum and Natural History Museum for the rotating displays/events. We plan on exploring the Museum of Art this year as well as Nadya is old enough to perhaps enjoy it and Katya has playgroup to keep her busy!
Looking for more ideas on combining books with real life experiences? Check out the Sonlight Blog for more great ideas!