Archive for Homeschooling

July 13, 2008

April Field Trip: Walden Pond

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s July, but I’m still trying to catch up with my blogging. In any case, back in April, after spending too much time at home during the winter months, I went a little field-trip crazy and signed the us up for a grand total of 12 field trips or activities — out of 20 weekdays in the month. By the end of the month, as you might imagine, I was hearing things like, “Where are we going this time?” and “Do we have to go?”

We’re going here and yes, we have to go, because I already paid for it.

Hey, I was a homeschooling rookie this past year. Now I’ve learned my lesson: take it easy on the spring activities, no matter how eager you are to get out of the house.

Luckily, Walden Pond was one of our first trips early in the month, so we had yet to succumb to field-trip malaise. The weather was mild (for April) and sunny. Our tour guide did a nice job of summarizing Henry David Thoreau’s life in his Walden Woods cabin.

Of course, you can read all about Thoreau’s two years there, sometimes in excruciating detail, in his book, Walden. One detail he left out — I know, because my 7-year-old asked the tour guide — is where he read the Sunday paper, if you catch my drift. Apparently, Thorough avoided writing about such unseemly bodily functions in Walden. But if you’re into famous-people quotes, Walden is the book in which Thoreau penned the “live the life you’ve imagined” and “march to the beat of a different drummer” lines, except that’s not exactly what he wrote in either case, but most people don’t exactly care as long as the gist is right, and it is.

I understand why Thoreau wanted to live near Walden Pond: as you can see from the photos below, 160 years later, the pond is still beautiful, even before the leaves on the trees around it are in full bloom. Unfortunately, my photos don’t show just how sparkling blue the water is. The pond was formed by receding glaciers from the last ice age, and the water is still absolutely brilliant and blue.

Makes me want to jump in, now that summer is here.

Walden Pond swimming area

In the summer, this is where you find the swimmers.

Walden Pond beach

During the two years Thoreau lived in Walden Woods,
he measured the pond’s dimensions and depth,
and amazingly,
more recent measurement with modern tools have shown
Thoreau’s to be accurate.

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January 11, 2008

Oh Those Busy Homeschoolers

What do homeschoolers do when they’re not busy winning spelling and geography bees? They make things. Give homeschoolers a simple tool, and look what they choose to do with a little free time. And a lot of snow.

Because, you know, it’s important wrap up your study of the Alaskan Inuit with a hands-on project. Or something like that.

igloo on front yard

The kids did have help from Dad to finish the igloo. Well, okay, they had a lot of help from Dad, especially when it came time to put the roof on. And then that night, it warmed up and rained. And rained. And rained. And by morning, the igloo was nothing but a mushy foundation.

No worries, no tears. Around here, we enjoy the process as much as the product. Or something like that.

But then, like a phoenix from the ashes, another igloo emerged from the snow, this time in the backyard.

left-hand shot of igloo in backyard

Hey kids, you must really love igloo building, huh? Congratulations on some fine brickwork in that there v2.0 igloo. What? You didn’t build this one. Not a single snow brick? Dad made it all by himself? It took him all afternoon?!

right-hand shot of igloo in backyard

He must be planning to show the kids the proper use of a keystone in an arch. No, wait: he wants to show them how the laws of thermodynamics apply to life in Alaska. Yeah, that’s it. Next, when we study ancient Greece, we’re going to build our own Trojan Horse and storm our next-door neighbor’s yard.

Because we homeschoolers really like to immerse ourselves in our learning.

Or something like that.

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