I’m so mentally tired and just a little bit stressed out. You see, I have just spent the last hour helping my middle son learn the difference between proper and common nouns. The work was tedious, but it’s also important information for him to know, if he ever plans to become a decent writer. Thank goodness, he seems to be getting it.
I really hate book work, but it does seem to be a necessary evil. You may be able to avoid it altogether, but if your kid wants to work in the real world some day, they are going to have to be able to read and write at the level that their profession requires. All that said, we spend the bare minimum time possible in the books. I prefer to take my kids and my classroom on the road, whether it be camping, shopping or a museum.
My Favorite F Word
Living near the fourth largest city in the country, there are tons of museums to visit. The only problem is they are usually pretty expensive, especially when there are eight of us. So, any time I hear about something free and educational for my kids, I jump all over it!
Family Date Night
During the summer months (which was when we visited the museum) the admission is Free from 6:00-9:00 pm. Since our goal was to take advantage of the whole three hours, we decided to drive down early to have dinner at a restaurant near the museum. Combining the two events into our outing gave the whole evening a family date night feel.
Museums are a Great Way to Find Out Your Kid’s Interests
Because museums generally have a wide variety of displays, you can watch your kid’s reactions to the exhibits as you walk through. All three of the boys got a kick out of the dinosaurs (of course). My oldest daughter enjoyed the rocks and gems, and my youngest daughter absolutely loved the art displays featuring bugs, fish, feathers, and other biological mediums.
The museum was too big for us to see everything before we ran out of energy and time. I’m really looking forward to going back a couple of times during the school year. During our fall visit, I’m going to keep careful notes on what interest each of my kids the most. This will allow me to develop a lesson that each of my kids will be able to execute during our spring visit. My plan is to make each kid’s lesson seem like a game or to somehow disguise it as some fun (unschooly) activity.
The most important thing for me to remember will be to make sure that my kids don’t even realize that they are doing a lesson. As far as they are concerned, I just want them to think that they are looking at the cool dinosaurs and mummies!
Ditching the Classroom
Of course, there are all sorts of “outside of the classroom” activities that serve as useful opportunities to teach your kids, science, history, geography etc. Taking your kids to the museum is just one of them. During the next year, I will be exploring as many “outside the classroom” activities as possible. These activities will include such things as:
- Taking our microscope with us on trips to the lake, when we go camping and out to the bayou behind our house and, identifying, logging and learning about the creatures that we find.
- We will use our cameras, to identify the flora and fauna that we see on our camping trips. We might even use an app like FlowerChecker or NatureGate.
- Of course, our family will visit ancient settlements like we did this summer.
- I plan on going up into the attic to retrieve our telescope, so that we can use it throughout the winter.
- There are plenty of construction projects awaiting my kids, which will provide them with lessons in engineering, architecture, measurements and more.
- Cooking and cleaning (yes they are important skills too).
- and much more!!!
Yes, we will continue to use workbooks and computers to learn the three Rs, but my goal is to spend at least 50% of our learning time, in the woods, on the beach, or perhaps even in a museum.
A Quick Note
During the school year, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is free on Thursdays from 2:00-5:00 pm. Only the permanent exhibits are free. To view the temporary exhibits, you still must buy tickets. But the permanent exhibits are AMAZING and can more than fill your 3 hours in the museum.
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