The Ultimate Field Trip

Postcard image with a traveling family on an ocean tripThe Ultimate Field Trip – Traveling!

Travel is the ultimate field trip! It is so educational. Traveling exposes you to new people, places, language, food, culture, and ideas. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. Travel helps us see the long view instead of our shorter, “close-to-home” view. It promotes wonder, curiosity, research and exploration if you let it!

This past week, my husband traveled to Nashville for a professional conference and our youngest and I went along for the ride. We worked and studied for part of each day and then went adventuring. One day we went to Andrew Jackson’s estate, The Hermitage. The next, the Botanical Gardens and Cheekwood Estate. The last day we met family members at the Grand Old Opry and roamed around the amazing gardens. It gave us a lot to think about.

Have Family – Will Travel

Over the past two years, we’ve had the opportunity to visit three presidential residences: Monticello, home to Thomas Jefferson; Mt. Vernon, home to George Washington; and now The Hermitage, home to Andrew Jackson.

Visiting all three presidential estates has given us the opportunity to compare and contrast Presidents; the impact each has had on the country, their attitudes towards the Union, slavery, and marriage. These inexplicably different presidents, each charted the course of this great nation.  Even affecting the way Americans live today. It’s a great history lesson! Our academic lessons are made all the more powerful by seeing where and how they each lived, ran their personal lives and interacted with others.

The Gift of Travel

Having the opportunity to travel has been a gift and one we don’t take lightly! We’ve worked to maximize travelling opportunities as they’ve come up. In the past year, we’ve taken field trips to the Black Hills in SD, St. Louis MO, South Carolina, San Antonio TX, Washington DC, Gettysburg, VA and Nashville, TN. Some of that travel was for our kids’ activities (Bible Bee participation, graduation from Army Basic) and some for work. We’ve visited Monticello, Mt. Vernon, Gettysburg, Mission Conception, State and National sea-side parks, Botanical Gardens in TX and TN, the Arch in St. Louis, Mansions and Colonial homes, the Museum of the Bible (read my review here), Lincoln Memorial and a host of other D.C. Memorials, and the Grand Old Opry. We’ve eaten the best shrimp and grits in TX, fries smothered in gouda cheese in D.C. and superb hamburgers in TN. We’ve been on the look-out for amazing opportunities and experiences and found them!

Of course, that list also represents admissions fees, gas, and other costs. We are fortunate that we are able to write off some expenses for our work. We have also traded admissions fees for blog reviews and asked for the homeschool discounts whenever appropriate. Planning ahead and discovering off-season discounts can also make family travel more affordable. We count these fees as part of our homeschool expenses because they add so much to our children’s education.

Travel is the ultimate field trip...It promotes wonder, curiosity, research and exploration if you let it! Lisa Nehring, author, and administrator at True North Homeschool Academy and Softskills 101 Podcast Show Host. Click To Tweet

Tips for Planning Amazing Family Field Trips

  • Facebook groups provide great opportunities to connect with natives who know their area. I am in a couple of homeschool travel groups and there are always a few people who just got back from where we’re going or someone who lives where we are going in the group. It’s a great way to get a current perspective and get reasonably priced ideas on amazing places to eat!
  • Google – search “Best Sightseeing” in whatever place you plan to visit. I just searched Tampa and came up with various categories: parks, sight-seeing, air-helicopter-balloon rides, shopping, eating, museums, sights, and landmarks, etc.
  • Pick up brochures at area restaurants or cruise through the Airbnb/Vrbo binder wherever you are staying.
  • Ask the locals – whenever we land in a new location, we ask waitresses and other service professionals what the “must-see” and “must-do” opportunities are in any location.

Wherever we go, we do a bit of research and gather everyone’s ideas ahead of time. Because we are all readers, we might have ideas in mind already- historical places we want to visit, or places my husband and I visited as children. We decide how much time and money we have to spend and make a tentative plan for what we want to get done. In the last several years we have often traveled for work and my husband and I have taken turns going places with the children while the other does the work-related stuff.

The World Is Our Classroom

Finding great field trips while traveling, in many ways, gets back to having a sense of what you believe about education. Do you believe that the world is your classroom? If so, you’ll make a point of being curious about the world and want to explore the nooks and crannies. Your preferences and those of your family will differ from mine. Perhaps you are real foodies and are willing to wait in line to experience the most amazing Hunan food in San Francisco, while I am more interested in the Missions along the coast. Of course, one would expect nothing less!

And when I meet you in an on-line group, or at a conference, and we compare notes, we might both broaden our horizons by doing what the other experienced and found fascinating, further enriching our lives through travel!

About the Author: Lisa Nehring hosts the podcast Soft Skills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age, along with her husband Dr. David Nehring. She is the Director of  True North Homeschool Academy and she and her husband have homeschooled their five kids for the past 27 years. Lisa is passionately committed to resourcing and connecting fellow homeschoolers and Christians with the tools and resources necessary to navigate a complex world in need of a Savior. You can connect with her at the True North Homeschool Tribe on Facebook

Travel Journaling

Travel Journaling #homeschool #fieldtrips #journaling #traveljournalTravel Journaling –  Episode 76

Florida Parent Educators Association’s (FPEA) Chairwoman, Suzanne Nunn talks about Travel Journaling.

Florida Summers – a perfect time for a staycation, or even a vacation. Have you kept a travel journal? This is a great way to both learn from the experience, but also to create lasting memories. In years to come, you and your kids can look back and relive the memories you made on your trips. As they say, the days are long, but the years are short.

List in for ideas on both the why and hows of travel, or field trip, journals.

There are numerous options for field trip journals or travel journals. You can purchase pre-made journals, or you can let those creative juices flow and create your own. There are also many printables available online. Be sure to check our Pinterest boards for some ideas.

 

Find us on FacebookInstagramPinterest and Twitter

Please visit www.fpea.com to learn more about who we are!

 


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Explore cities with digital scavenger hunts

Digital Scavenger Hunts

Episode 41: Explore cities with digital scavenger hunts

 

My oldest daughter, Rachel, suggested I do an episode on this as she and I have enjoyed a number of Digital Scavenger Hunts together. Rachel teaches the Visual Literacy class for FundaFunda Academy.

Digital scavenger hunts can be found in most cities – and sometimes even in specific locations eg museums.

They are a self-paced tour/scavenger hunt /problem-solving game all in one

1. Tour guide: they provide info on the city you are exploring
2. Scavenger hunt – everyone is looking for the solution to the clue
3. Game – you earn points as you progress. There are usually hints but then you lose points.

Benefits

1. Exercise
2. Use thinking skills
3. Educational
4. Find places you never would on your own
5. Go at your own pace
6. Competitive / game element

Where can you find them?

You can Google “digital scavenger hunt “city” mobile device”. You can also often find deals on Groupon / Living Social.

Here are some I have done or gifted to my children.
Scavenger Hunt
Crazydash
Huntzz (this a British one)

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review!

Be sure to join our Facebook group where we carry on the discussion about Homeschooling with Technology.

Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

Digital Scavenger Hunts #familyfun #vacationfun #homeschooltravel

Technology and Travel Planning with your children

Technology and Travel Planning

Episode 31: Technology and Travel Planning with Your Children

 

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast

And visit our sponsor FundaFunda Academy to see the classes they are offering for high school credit this summer. Intro the Theatre is a lot of fun. Students learn not just about acting but also about makeup and props and script writing and stage management and everything else it takes to put on a show!

When I was 12 my dad took our family on a 6 week trip around Europe and I was the one he tasked with planning the itinerary. I had no internet to help me and so had to write to the embassies for information. But I learned so much as I planned our vacation.

So I would suggest, that you get your children involved in your travel planning. They will learn to use technology and learn many other life skills too!

1. Use Google Docs to collaborate or Trello
2. Use Google Sheets for budget / actual costs – math – foreign currency
3. Use Rome 2 Rio or Google Maps to find the best travel options to or in destinations
4. If you don’t have unlimited data or going out of the country, download Google maps offline. Here is a video to help you.

5. Use Google Flights or Skyscanner to find best days (Remember some carriers like Southwest aren’t on those) then book on airline site
6. Booking.com or Hotels.com (free night for every ten you book using them) or Trivago or use Airbnb (Try and book with “superhosts”)
7. Yelp for places to eat
8. For things to do, search “what to do in ??” + “blog” (this will give better results than Tripadvisor) – teaches research skills.
9. Use Google Mymaps to plot it out (refer to episode 28)

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review!

Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

Technology and Travel Planning with your children #homeschooltravel #homeschooltech #travelplanning

For the Love of Florida…Early Tourist Attractions

For the Love of Florida Early Attractions #WildFlorida #FPEA #PodcastFor the Love of Florida…Early Tourist Attractions

Podcast #65

We thought it would be fun to have a love theme for our February podcasts…..so today the topic is……FOR the LOVE of Florida!

Yes, Florida is beautiful……and I could just camp out right here. We live in a fabulous place. You know, since we’ve been doing these podcasts, one of the things that we have seen over and over again, is that some of the most popular episodes are the ones that focus on field trips or just great excursions to take around the state. So, I don’t think I’m alone in my admiration for all things Florida…the wild side, the history, the small town, the big, the famous….whatever it is….we Floridians enjoy sharing and experiencing it, apparently together.

So we’ve picked a couple of new places to explore together. With an underlying focus on the development of tourism in our state too. For you and for me it is hard to imagine a Florida that wasn’t a tourist destination. I mean now it is a challenge to find any small place in Florida that hasn’t been touched by tourism and/or the imprint of people who have vacation homes or retirement homes here. But….there was a time that Florida was a wild frontier and not heavily populated or developed….and then paradise was found. So I wanted to just share some fun facts about some of those places that began to draw visitors and vacationers in….and what those places were like then AND what they look like now.

First…..I should state what may appear to be the obvious…..but Florida was originally a destination that drew wealthy and famous people, people who could afford the time to travel and vacation here. This was, of course, before the invention of some of our common modes of transportation but one man who had discovered Florida and the virtual paradise that it is, was Henry Flagler.  Flagler loved Florida so much that he decided, in the 1880s, to begin investing in building he built railroads and hotels, and hotels along the railroads. With the expansion of the railroad systems, more people could travel to the sunshine state. By the early 1900s, thousands of tourists came to visit. Those tourists were drawn, of course, to the natural beauty, the warmth and sunshine, the salt air and a climate that would bring healing from illness and disease…..soon, there were winter homes being built by those who could afford it….and they would live here for months at a time.

The invention of the automobile opened the opportunity for more affordable travel and people continued to come.

During these years, the attractions were simply natural…..the white sand beaches, the Wild of the Everglades, the coral reefs, the Florida Keys……boating, swimming, fishing, hiking….relaxing, sunbathing…..

It wasn’t long before Flagler started investing in building Florida, that a man by the name of Hullam Jones, invented the glass bottom boat. In the bottom of a row boat, jones installed a pane of glass and charged people 5 cents a piece to ferry them above the crystal clear Silver Springs. Voila…our first tourist attraction is born. Silver Springs features one of the largest artesian springs in the world. It became famous for its glass bottom boat rides which you can still enjoy today. In 1971, Silver Springs as a National Natural Landmark. Definitely worth a visit.

So it is, we begin to move into a season of building attractions that embrace wild Florida…..the springs, the alligators and the flora….as people begin to build beautiful gardens that will become some of the most famous Florida roadside attractions.

Bok Tower Gardens is a prime example. Dedicated in 1929 in Lake Wales, it was one of Florida’s first major attractions during that era. People would drive long distances to see the gardens, the tower and to hear the tower sing. Edward Bok, editor of Ladies Home Journal, built the gardens. The tower was actually built to cover the irrigation system that would water the gardens. There is a 200 bell carillon that plays music in the gardens each afternoon. This is honestly one of the most beautiful and peaceful places.

Weeki Wachee Springs…this old Florida attraction brought international attention…..why?? Well, because of the live, underwater mermaid shows, of course……believe it or not….you can still visit the original attraction where the mermaids are still swimming along with other shows, entertainment and activities. It has now been designated a state park. Sounds like a good day of fun….right?

Cypress Gardens is one of my all time favorites. It was in Winter Haven. It was really the states first theme park (1936). It’s well known for a couple of things…..first of all, an amazing array of flowers and gardens. Girls that wore antebellum-style dresses and walked around, you know, southern belles, we called them, who would pose for pictures. Cypress Gardens was also the birthplace of performance water skiing. The man who opened it, Dick Pope, during WWII, introduced the water ski shows to entertain troops who visited the gardens. Even though tourism was a bit stifled during the war, the military played a role in continuing to bring people into Florida. Cypress Gardens basically became the water ski capitol of the world. The park closed in 2008. In 2010 the land was acquired with plans to turn it into legoland. Legoland opened in 2011.

Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg was built in 1935. The gardens are 100 years old so it is home to some of the oldest tropical plants in the region. Built in an ancient drained lake, it was the perfect place for the owner, George Turner, to enjoy his favorite pastime, gardening. The beautiful gardens he built became a real treat to his neighbors and they would spend hours strolling through them….so eventually, he began charging 5 cents for tours. So it became a destination….the family later purchased the building that is now the housing the ticket office and a children’s museum, it was previously the Coca Cola bottling company, but they purchased it to build worlds largest gift shop and a wax museum. It is a great afternoon/Saturday morning excursion, a beautiful botanical garden with several water features and flamingos.

Another neat little old Florida day trip is Winter Park. This is one of the cities that was developed as a winter resort for wealthy northerners, seeking warmth from the harsh winters. It’s just north of Orlando, so in a very over developed part of the state, but it is like stepping back in time a bit when you visit. The men who developed it did so with a great design that included residential communities and business, a large Central Park in the downtown area. Rollins college, which is still there, was built and winter park developed a bit of a reputation as an art and literary colony of sorts. It was, and still is a gorgeous area, surrounded by several lakes and of course, citrus. It was a little slice of paradise. There were beautiful homes built on the lakes and the lakes are connected by little canal systems. Hence one of the oldest attractions, the winter park scenic boat tour…. opened in the 1930s and is still operating today. Also, a throw back to that art colony, we always visit the Morse Museum of American Art which houses the worlds largest collection of Tiffany glass, plus other beautiful art.

Another great excursions farther south that had some early tourist beginnings are the Theatre of the Sea (1946) which is in the Keys….Islamorada to be exact. It is a marine mammal park with dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, tropical gardens and birds. It’s family owned, beautiful to explore. Plan on visiting it this summer if you and your family decide to join us for our FPEA fun in the sun Florida Keys trip.

Miami Seaquarium…built in the height of the 1950s when families were hitting the road and enjoying these attractions. At the time, it was the worlds largest marine life attraction and quite popular. Then in the 1960s it actually became one of the primary locations where they filmed the TV show Flipper.  The Seaquarium is still a fully functioning park with great options for wildlife experiences. It’s a neat experience and they still play with those bottle nose dolphins.

So there you have it……for the love of Florida….get out there and enjoy some of these places with your family.  Let’s keep them on the map for the generations to come because they truly are a tribute to establishing Florida as the tourist destination that we see today with the more recent theme parks.

FPEA is your source for all of your Florida homeschooling needs. You can check out our website, www.fpea.com for exciting opportunities and valuable resources. Also, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram for other great tidbits and resources that are sure to help you as you create your customized homeschool journey.

 

FPEA Members, Download Your Florida History Adventures+ Bundle

 


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How tech can help you homeschool when you travel

How technology can help you homeschool when you travel

Episode 19: How tech can help you homeschool when you travel

Modern technology makes it far easier to homeschooling when you travel than it was for me when we traveled around the world about 11 years ago with our 4 children.

What devices are good for traveling and homeschooling?

Chromebooks – take a flash drive for storing documents.
E-readers

Relaxed homeschooling on the road

If you have younger students, you can take a break from your regular curriculum. Travel is a fantastic education – but you can use devices to learn about the places you are visiting.

You can also use devices for learning while you are on flights, in the airport etc.

Educational apps – vocabulary.com, is great to build vocabulary for all ages. Also look for other word games.
Podcasts
E-books – for younger students look into Epic. A low monthly fee gets you books, audiobooks, videos and quizzes.
And the library offers free e-book loans usually through Overdrive, and free videos through Kanopy.

Online classes / web-based unit studies

For teens, online classes can provide an easy way to homeschool anywhere. However, if you choose live online classes, make sure it will work to miss the live sessions. Some classes do offer video recordings students can watch if they miss class.

Self-paced, or online classes that don’t have a live component – like our sponsor FundaFunda Academy’s are a better option as they offer more flexible pacing while you are traveling.

Web-based unit studies are great to use with upper elementary and middle schoolers as everything is self-contained online.

And no need to worry about not having a printer for worksheets – just complete them online. Many newer computers already offer the ability to complete pdfs online, but if yours doesn’t then use Type on Pdf which if a free online option.

Where to find free wifi

Most airports have free wifi now
Coffee shops and many restaurants are good places to find free wifi

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review!

Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

How technology can help you homeschool when you travel

Long Distances with Little Ones – MBFLP 216

Long Distances with Little Ones

The Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest time of year on America’s highways, and you may be driving long hours with little ones on board. How do you manage this so you all arrive at Grandma’s in good spirits? We hit the road in 2010 with seven children in the van and we’re crisscrossing the country for six months every year. This episode, we’ll share what we’ve learned about covering long distance with little ones!

You’re Not Alone

Last year, AAA estimated 51 million of us would be on the road for Thanksgiving. That’s like the whole population of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Minnesota on the highway at the same time! It’s hard to guess how many of those millions were riding in booster seats, but you can bet it was a bunch.

There are some practical ways to make this more manageable for everyone: 

Long Distances with Little Ones

Making It Work

    1. Remember kids are kids – you’ve got make allowance for them. When Jacob met his brother Esau on the way back to his home country, Esau urged him to come along – but Jacob reminded him, “the children are weak,” and told him to go ahead, “[and] I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock …, and the children, are able to endure.” (Genesis 33:12-14)
    2. Take it easy on the mileposts. The fact that Dad the Road Warrior can handle 700 miles a day may not be the best plan for Mom and the kids. We were much happier when we slowed down our itinerary.
    3. Be sure that kids who sleep all day will be alert and active when Mom and Dad are ready for bed! We’ve done a few trips overnight or in the wee hours, but it made the parents grumpy the next day – and no child needs that! It’s tempting to pile on the miles while the crew is napping, but you’ll all be happier if you get out and get some exercise during the day. Which leads to our discovery,
    4. We all need regular breaks. On doctor’s advice, we make a brief stop every couple of hours. You’re going to need gas and rest rooms eventually, why not just plan on it? Modern travel plazas aren’t like the seedy truck stops of old – we find they’re usually clean, well-lit, and have large rest rooms. Which reminds us,
    5. “Mandatory Bathroom Stops” make it efficient. We just require everybody to get out and use the rest room, even if they “don’t need to go.” (We found the teenager who insisted he didn’t need to get out was the one who would have an emergency thirty minutes down the road.)
    6. Don’t miss the field trips along the way. We’ve had some great stops at National Parks, state historical sites, or even just picnic areas with a view. Go ahead – you might learn something, and if nothing else, the kids can run around and use up some energy! (Keep a ball or Frisbee handy to encourage some activity). A little research beforehand can highlight neat stuff ahead.
    7. Do like the airlines – distract the passengers with changing activities. You can hand out a snack, then a little while later surprise them with some new crayons or a book, then sing or play a car game, then maybe start a DVD or pop in an audio book (we’ve got some suggestions below!) Older kids might be able to do some schoolwork along the way – but if it’s a short vacation, you might want to just take the days off from book work and let them learn what they can from the travel.

In the old days, an education wasn’t considered complete until the student had experienced some serious travel. Now, it’s so much easier to get around, we tend to rush through it and miss the good stuff along the way. Slow down a bit, let the kids out of their car seats some, and enjoy the journey together!

 



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New Hacks for Family Travel – MBFLP 199

We’ve traveled about 150,000 miles for ministry and business the past several years, so we’ve learned a few things about taking a big family on big trips for small budgets. This year, we have several new tips, trick, hacks, and advice on budget travel, discount lodging, and cheap food along the way – it’s our annual “Cheap Family Travel” update, and it may change the way you look at vacation or business trips forever!

Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor!

 

We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor, The Miracle Season!

Based on the inspiring true story of West High School girl’s volleyball team. After the tragic death of the school’s star player Caroline “Line” Found, the remaining team players must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hope of winning the state championship.

Visit here to learn more.

 

 

Making Travel Work

making travel workMaking Travel Work

Podcast #44

In this episode, Suzanne will talk about some of the ways to make travel work in your homeschool. Both for you and your children. Traveling is a great addition and resource for homeschooling families to take advantage of.

Please join us as we travel along this journey on our podcast adventure. Let’s get connected! Learn more about the Florida Parent Educator’s Association and homeschooling in the beautiful state of Florida.
Please visit www.fpea.com to learn more about who we are!

 

2018 Florida Homeschool Convention

Why Travel

Why travel graphicWhy Travel

Podcast #43

In this episode, Suzanne will talk about some of the reasons travel is important. Both for you and your children. Traveling is a great addition to your homeschool program.

Please join us as we travel along this journey on our podcast adventure. Let’s get connected! Learn more about the Florida Parent Educator’s Association and homeschooling in the beautiful state of Florida.
Please visit www.fpea.com to learn more about who we are!