Monday, April 7, 2014

Field Trip Fridays

Who doesn't love a field trip? I know I do. I know my boys do. I hope you do.

I will admit that, when left to its own devices, my life tends toward chaos. Schedules and routines break down. Cleanliness? Well. The house begins to look a bit more like piles of slightly related stuff cleared off any surface the OCD clean freak very tidy (and actually, very helpful) hubby might need to use in the near future and shoved in the laundry room, the basement, or (for those urgent matters) the buffet.
I am 100% sure that the"coffee" was drinkable 2 days (at minimum) before this picture was taken)
Over this first year of homeschooling, I have found that this chaotic (read: disastrous) trend leaves school plans in shambles by the end of the week. Let's not talk about what it does to dinner. Or plans for a shower. For now we will stick to confessions of a homeschool mom rather than of a wife, housekeeper, homemaker, or just plain mommy. Or probably just confessions of a grown woman who has trouble taking care of herself. Yeah. Let's just stick to school.

In order to create a routine I will stick to, add some adventure into our week, and ease my end-of-the-week burden, we have started having Field Trip Fridays. So far, they have been the absolute highlight of nearly every week. We do our best to tie them into the lessons we have been working on, at least in part, and use them as a hands-on extension of the school week.

When we were studying A New Coat for Anna, we headed to the Magic House. In the book, Anna's mother takes yarn to a weaver, who weaves it into a bolt of cloth. I could have sworn there was one of those giant looms with ribbon and fabric there. We were going to see how long it takes, and what hard work it is to weave cloth. Well, we didn't find it. Now, the Magic House is gi-normous, so I'm not going to say I was wrong. It is possible that we just didn't find it. I might also have been thinking of our local children's museum. Oh, well. We had plenty of other things to discover there!
mixing cement
every construction worker needs safety gear
ready to build with bricks!
reviewing simple machines with Sid the Science Kid...this is how a pulley works!
Lego art
and more Lego art
art with stencils and shapes (while the brothers make Lego art in the background)
We may not have found what we were looking for, but we had a great time learning and playing together. I couldn't have asked for a better day. We decided to weave construction paper placemats at home, instead.

While we studied Wee Gillis, we took a field trip to the Watershed -- both the bike trail and the nature trail. Honestly, I think I just planned this excursion because it was a beautiful warm and sunny day. We haven't seen too many of those this spring. I really racked my brain trying to remember if there was some grand reason I thought of this particular field trip. I think the sunshine was reason enough.

W is dying to see beavers. Gnawed-off trees and wood shavings are as close as we got.
sunshine and my sweet little one -- he LOVES walks and hikes
Grandad helped with bicycle lessons
full steam ahead for these two!
We read Mirette on the High Wire, and the pictures are reminiscent of French Impressionism. It just so happens that our amazing (and free!) art museum is having an exhibit of French Impressionist artwork right now. I decided that we would stick to the few rooms in the main museum hall for our impressionist art, but there was plenty there to see and talk about. We ventured to the classical section to compare and contrast the styles. The boys do really well in museums for about an hour or two. Once we've been there for two hours, though, they start to grow weary of being told they must STAND BACK and NOT TOUCH anything, even if they find it beautiful, intriguing, or strange. So then we go run for a bit and they remember what a good time they had.
happy birthday, St Louis!!
the boys really, really wanted to climb through this piece of art/tunnel, but behaved themselves for a groovy photo op instead
The piece that tickled W's fancy that day was this Gauguin 
N and L really liked this galloping horse by Degas
The boys enjoyed reading Owl Moon and liked the idea of going owling. We don't have any woods near our house to venture out in at night, but decided to go for a hike at a nearby state park to see if we could see any animals or evidence of animals. We talked about being quiet and having silent steps just like the little girl in the book and her daddy. We discussed how loud noises and running can scare off any wild animals that might be nearby. They agreed that they wanted to be quiet and to see what they could discover. I'll just let you imagine how long that determination lasted with my wild boys. The desire to run, scream, fight is stronger within them than the desire to find a toad.
they stopped running for a few seconds so Grandad could show them some sap and talk about maple syrup
they found walking sticks that soon became swords
in an eagle's nest
happy to be hiking, even without seeing any wild creatures
I learned that the story of The Giraffe that Walked to Paris is actually, almost unbelievably, true. I love when I am learning right along side the kids. This world is full of amazing things, and I want to be a life-long student of it. Naturally, since that poor Giraffe went to the zoo, so did we. Once again, it wasn't exactly a "successful" field trip. That is, the giraffes were still inside for the winter, and we weren't able to observe them. 
here we are, outside the giraffe habitat, still smiling
We had had the goal of watching how they walk. Did you ever consider that they have to swing both left legs together, then both right legs together? Their legs are so long that, if they didn't, they would trip on their own feet. I had never thought about that before.

Despite that setback, we still saw tons of animals, and had a great time learning about them.
tiny box turtle
stretching lion
shiny peacock
ringtailed lemur, just chillin
chatting with the docent about primate skulls
 I had such a fun day in store for the Field Trip Friday that went along with the book Three Names. We were going to story time at the history museum. Then we were going to explore the exhibits at the history museum, looking at what life was like in the States long ago. Then we were going to purchase a bag of marbles, take them home, and learn how to play the "old-timey" game. It was even a warm and sunny day! Who could ask for a better day? The museum went off pretty well, the kids each got to pick out a shooter that they loved, and I filled the bag with enough marbles to play the game, plus some extras in case they got lost. I had all my bases covered. At home, we drew our chalk circle and went over the rules. The boys thought it was great fun!

Unfortunately, not every field trip has a happy ending. A friend just happened to be jogging by while we were playing. One of the boys decided to show off. "Watch what I can do!" he shouted as he picked up his shooter and threw it with all his might toward the driveway. We heard the crunch. We saw pieces fall the the ground. We thought, surely, he just broke that marble. He's going to be sad. We walked up to the back of the car to discover this:
Yeah. The boy wasn't the one who was sad.

I handled it all quite calmly and gently. I was stern, but showed grace. The boy learned a lesson on what "less than zero" means in regard to his bank account. There were apologies and hugs and forgiveness.

I was really thankful that our friend was still standing there. 

If she hadn't been, the scene may have been more colorful. There might have been screaming and tears. From more than one member of the family. We might have moved inside so that things could be said and done out of the neighbors' earshot. I might have been plagued with mom guilt for a long time because of how it was handled. Maybe I need to hire a witness for every day. I seem to be a better mom when others are watching.

And now I've literally lost my marbles. Honestly. I don't know where I hid them.

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