Educational experiences don't have to be boring. Add in some adventure and the family will have a great time while you learn a thing or two.
Everyone will have more fun when you're doing something they're interested in to begin with. Give your kids a few options to pick from before you start planning. If everyone can't agree (and let's face it, do they ever agree?), let everyone take a turn choosing the day's adventure.
Your local botanical garden is a great opportunity to learn about different kinds of plants and how they grow. Prepare by talking about different plant categories at home. Looking at pictures online will help to identify them when at the botanical garden. (Science)
The blogger behind Magistra Mommy took her kids on a botanical adventure. Read her post to see how she made the learning experience fun.
Chances are, the botanical garden will be full of plants from around the world. Get a local spin on what grows in your area by visiting a plant nursery. Kids can learn about growing their own plants, what supplies they will need and how to budget their expenses. Hands-on experiences are always the best for learning. (Science, Math)
Visiting a local rescue for cats, dogs or wild animals will help instill a respect for animals. Before the visit, have a discussion on what happens to injured animals and animals with no homes. Kids can learn the role animal rescues play in treating and finding homes for abandoned animals. (Community Awareness)
Lindsey, who blogs at A Journey of Hope, took the opportunity to bring the shelter some much-needed supplies. Talk with your kids about what they might need and work together to gather some items before your visit.
There's a wealth of information and fun at the public library. Talk about the different things you can do and find at the library before you go. Then, reinforce this information during your visit with a scavenger hunt involving an exploration of what the library has to offer. (Research Skills)
The teacher and blogger behind The Bliss Project turned a simple trip to the library into a full day of adventure. Check out her ideas for how to interest kids in new books, and how to take the fun outside.
Let's face it, kids love animals. You shouldn't have to twist their arms to get them to visit a local zoo or aquarium. While you're there, don't just breeze by all the animals. Take the time to read the information at each exhibit, and try to visit a demonstration or two, as well. While on the excursion, kids can take pictures and jot down notes for creating a scrapbook of the adventure. (Science, Photography, English, Art)
What gets made in your town? Many local production plants give tours of their facility. It's always interesting to learn how something is made. Whether it's candy, shoes or an ice cream production line, kids will walk away learning something they didn't know before — and maybe even get a trinket or treat for later. Call ahead for specific arrangements. (Social Studies)
You remember maps, right? They're more than ancient artifacts. It's still important for your kids to be able to negotiate a map, and you can help make it fun. Start out small by making a map of your house, then work up to a walk around the neighborhood with a community map. Finally, graduate to the kids being in charge of the road map on longer trips and vacations. It can be an adventure for kids to learn that there's more to getting around than a GPS. (Geography, Social Studies, Art)
Fill their bellies and their minds. A restaurant outing can be a delicious learning experience for skills like proper behavior and etiquette, how to order from a menu and how to figure the bill and tip. Selecting an ethnic restaurant can also make it an interesting cultural experience, as well. Be sure to have family input in the selection of the restaurant. Spend some time, beforehand, discussing the particular culture and what's to be expected at the restaurant. (Etiquette, Social Skills, Social Studies, Geography, Math)
Shana Draugelis of Ain't No Mom Jeans is lucky enough to live in area immersed with culture. She makes sure her kids know and learn about the other cultures around them, with trips to Chinatown and their favorite local restaurant.
Do you dread grocery shopping with your kids in tow? Turn it into an educational adventure. Not only will you all have a great time, but they'll be so busy participating, they'll forget about touching everything in sight and throwing fits about sugary cereals. Have your kids help write the grocery list, clip coupons, estimate expenses and find the best buys. Show them how to read labels and find the healthiest foods. Back home, determine if the bill was more or less than originally estimated (after they help you put away the groceries). (Math, Health)
The Vintage Mom's other half, "Vintage Dad," loves to shop with his kids. He finds ways to not only make it educational, but turn those learning moments in games they all adore.
Open up a whole new world to kids with theater and symphony performances. Frequently, more inexpensive matinee tickets are available for making the outing more affordable for families. As always, a pre-adventure discussion will pave the way for better understanding. (Drama, Music)
No matter where you live, there's a wealth of historical sites waiting to be explored. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, an AAA guidebook or your old friend Google to find a ton of historic sites just waiting to be explored. The kids can even use their map reading skills for the adventure. There are so many things to learn about your own community and region just by visiting these sites. Have the kids make a scrapbook of brochures from these places and pictures of the family taken on the excursion. The scrapbook will be great to look back on in years to come. (History, Geography)
Amanda, homeschooling mom and blogger at A Homegrown Life, took her kids on a day adventure at a local museum where they immersed themselves in ways of the past. Panning for gold was only one of the day's many activities.
Kids can learn the value of giving at an early age. Your community is probably overflowing with volunteer opportunities, from picking up litter to helping out at animal shelters or retirement homes.
The blogger at Mommy Has to Work! got her kids involved at a homeless shelter. Adventures like these not only teach kids about the importance of community service, but also help to put things in perspective for the older children.
These are just some ideas to get you started. Be creative and see how many more ideas for family educational adventures you can come up with on your own.
Take lots of pictures so you can recap the experience a few days after the adventure has ended.
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