I hope that April vacation week has found you enjoying a bit slower pace. A later 'wake up' time is being enjoyed by everyone in my house! We'll enjoy it for a few more days and then return to the work at hand for the last push before the end of the school year. We still have so much left to do!
Friday before vacation found us enjoying perfect weather as we hiked to the top of Inspiration Point, in Bristol, from school. Truth be told, the most difficult part of hike was the walk to the parking area from school. The children and I had done that hike earlier in the spring, just as the maple sugar buckets were going up. It is amazing how much quicker the children were able to hike without their winter boots! They did a great job!
While we did think to apply bug spray and sunscreen before we left, those little black flies made an appearance. I have found that there is really little defense against these early spring visitors, well aside from perhaps a bug net. You can bathe in bug spray, but it does little to keep them from swarming around your head. As long as we kept moving and the wind kept blowing, we were okay. However, sitting to eat our lunch proved to be a challenge!
One of our students had previously been to the top of the point and knew that there was a geo cache up there! At first he was a bit confused about its location, and thought that it had been taken, but then after a bit of investigative work, the boys located it! Unfortunately, the little bin that houses the cache has cracked and been exposed to the weather, many of the notes inside are wet now, but none the less our students left a little container of play dough for the next child to find! You would have thought the kids had struck gold, upon finding the caches location!
Home schooling families know this next statement to be very true, however, in a time of increased accountability in public schools, with teachers having to submit lesson plans to their administrators ahead of time, outlining designated learning outcomes correlated with grade level expectation and core standards, spontaneity and diversion from prescribed lessons has diminished or all but been eliminated (largest complaint of every public school teacher I know). Yet sometimes the greatest learning opportunities come from the most unexpected and unplanned activities. This was true of this hike as well. Completely unplanned, we had an opportunity to talk about the requirements of a good map.
Earlier this week we read Mapping Penny's World by Loreen Leedy. While I had not planned a mapping lesson with this story, the children took off and started making their own maps, maps of their bedrooms, maps of the route to school, and maps to the playground. Each map was complete with a compass rose, scale, title, and key. So when we arrived at the parking area and found a hand drawn map of the recreation area, the children inspected it carefully and then decided it was missing a few essential elements. I wish I had taken a picture of the map so that you could see it, but unfortunately I forgot to snap a shot on our way back by. However, the kids decided that the map was in need of a title, it was missing a scale and key and the one arrow that indicated north, made them think that it also needed a proper compass rose! Learning outside of the classroom, perhaps the most powerful experience!
On the way down the hill we collected trash in honor of Earth Day. Thankfully, there was not a great deal of trash left along the trail. We collected the most under a bush just bellow the historic fire station. The children were happy to pick up this mess, helping to keep our planet beautiful.
Enjoy the rest of vacation, we'll see you all again next week!