We took another homeschool field trip this week. We went to Chapel Hill, NC to visit the Kidzu Children’s Museum. I found a Kidzu Groupon that allowed 4 of us to get in for essentially half price. I’ve seen a lot about Kidzu on social media over the past few years and have been wanting to take the boys for awhile. It was actually a much shorter trip from our house than I was expecting, it took less than 40 minutes for us to get there and a little bit longer to get home because we hit some rush hour traffic. We left our house around lunch time hoping to avoid some of the morning crowd. It was a little busy when we arrive a little before 1pm but within 30 minutes most of the people with small children left (nap time). (It was just me and the three older boys as Abel was at home taking a nap with Joe.)
The museum is located in a mall type shopping center. In the shopping center is a movie theater, a few specialty shops, A Southern Season, Chick-fil-a, a pizza place and Maple View Ice Cream. Kidzu was much smaller than I was expecting. We visit Marbles in Raleigh frequently and the entirety of Kidzu is about the size of one exhibit at Marbles, although they do pack in a lot of fun into that tiny space. The areas were divided up nicely and all of the toys and play structures were great quality. It was beautifully decorated with vibrant original artwork that complimented each play space.
The Makery was probably our favorite spot. It has special hours and didn’t open until 2pm but the boys loved it. They did science experiments, crafts, played with tools, colored and much more. I really liked that they have different themed activities on a daily basis. The activities were lead by friendly staff members that gave children the space to create within the space’s guidelines. I personally liked the Make It, Don’t Take It rule where you can create whatever you want but you don’t get to take it home, instead they put in on display. It keeps my house from becoming cluttered and the kids feel proud to display their work on the shelves.
Overall, it was a great trip and I recommend anyone that is in the Chapel Hill area to check it out. The regular pricing is a little high, $7.50 per person but I think the Makery itself makes it worthwhile. They do offer memberships which again are on the high side, I think a 6 person membership which our family would need cost around $175 a year. We pay $100 a year for our Marbles membership and we certainly get our money’s worth out of that museum since it’s so close. Basically, get the Groupon deal if you want to go.
After we finished playing we ate some Maple View Ice Cream and strolled around the shopping center a bit before heading home.
This is not a sponsored post.
A few weeks ago we finished up all of our homeschool groups for the year so I decided that during the month of April (and maybe part of May) we’ll be taking as many field trips as possibly. My hope is to take at least 1 a week (depending on weather and other commitments).
We started off at the Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, NC. Since we have a membership to the NC Zoo we got free admission to Sylvan Heights. It’s a little over an hour drive from our home and a nice drive through the NC countryside.
Since we got in free we decided to spend a little on some of the extras they offered. We purchased some duck food ($1 per bag), an endangered species passport ($3), scavenger hunt($2), parakeet food sticks ($1 per stick) and ice cream ($3 each). Here are some of my thoughts on our extra expenses. Next time I would only buy 1 bag of duck food if any. The ducks were well fed and not that interested in the food we gave them although the kids did enjoy trying to give them food. Jude love the endangered species passport, it’s gear toward kids that can read well and has questions they must answer after finding the different birds. We probably won’t buy it next time since we already did it but I would recommended it. The scavenger hunt ended up just being me marking things off the sheet. It’s designed for younger kids that can’t read by my younger kids weren’t really into it. I would suggest to pass on this unless you have a very attentive young child. The parakeet food sticks were a lot of fun although there were a lot of birds trying to eat the food you had. It can be a little overwhelming for young kids. But I would totally do it again, it was a lot of fun to see my kids covered in birds! And of course, Ice cream is always worth it.
My kids favorites from our trip were the ice cream, playground, flamingos, peacock, all the ducks (including 1-day old ducklings) and owls. I liked the macaws, scarlet ibis, great argus, emu and black neck swans.
Overall, we had a great time at the Sylvan Heights Bird Park and I highly recommend taking a trip out that way if you get the opportunity.
Everyday has become a challenge. Homeschool is not what I hoped or expected it to be this year. I feel like I’m constantly wrangling cats when it’s time to get the boys to sit down and do their school work. I also feel a bit like a hostage negotiator, as I’m always trying to get the boys to participate in any activity we have lined up. It’s exhausting. There are days where we have a lot of fun and I really enjoy the opportunity I have to homeschool the boys but those are becoming fewer and fewer.
When we started on this homeschool journey I told Joe that we would take it one year at a time and one kid and a time. We are in a position where we have the luxury of choosing to homeschool or not and I want to do want is best for out whole family, that includes myself. I’ve found that this school year I have been greatly neglecting myself. From the time I get out of bed (7am) until the kids are in bed (9pm) I’m non-stop go. I’m not in a healthy place physically, emotionally or physically because I can barely catch my breath on a daily basis. (It’s also why I haven blogged much lately. Blogging is an outlet for me and something I typically make time for because it helps me organize my thoughts but I haven’t been able to make time for it lately.) I realize I can’t sustain a lifestyle like this and I also realize that some of my stress is only temporary, like having a busy toddler around the house. But instead of killing myself to do it all I’m looking into what changes I can make. We will most likely be adjusting what we do with the boys for school next year, although I’m not 100% sure what those changes are yet. But until then I’m trying to get through the end of this school year without loosing my mind. I’m extremely thankful that Joe works from home, although we probably see him less because he’s always on conference calls in his office, it still frees me up to get stuff done during Abel’s nap time. I’m also focusing on the parts of school that really work for us like field trips and outdoor learning.
I know that whatever we decide to do for school next year the boys will be fine. Kid are great at adapting and as their mom I planned to be heavily involved in whatever form of education we utilize.
When we think about school we typically think of the core subjects of reading and math but we often over look the arts. The arts are deemed a luxury education yet art is an essential building block of childhood development. There are numerous benefits to arts being an essential part of a child’s education, everything from motor skills, problem solving, language development and cultural awareness.
I’m not a particularly gifted artist but I do have an appreciate for all of the arts and I hope my boys learn to appreciate the beauty this world has to offer. In the same way that I’m teaching my boys to observe and study nature (God’s art) I am also encouraging them to study man-made art. Painting, sculptures, music, plays, dance, literature, etc… there are so ways to expose children to the wonderfully creative world that we are a part of. I also want to encourage my children to participate and explore their creativity. Art has a way of allowing us to explore and express our emotions in ways that word can’t.
A few weeks ago we took our first official field trip of the school year. Yes, we do occasional nature walks or trips to the local museums but they are all free and we don’t usually get a guided tour. So our trip to Vollmer Farm was our first official field trip of the school year. We went with a small group of homeschool families and got a small presentation about the farm, animals, butter and bees.
The kids had a great time meeting some new friends, learning and playing. Vollmer Farm has a “back 40” that is filled with fun places for the kids to play. It was rather hot the day we went and the kids were getting thirsty and hungry so we didn’t stay as long but they didn’t seem to mind.
This past weekend Joe took the oldest boys (Jude and Noah) camping with their Cub Scout Pack. I had 3 days with just 2 littles and I’m not going to lie, it was kind of awesome. The house was quiet and I was able to accomplish so many things during nap time/quiet time. I did miss my big boys but I also enjoyed the relaxed environment.
As I was making myself lunch during quiet time I had a realization that this is what my life might look like if I sent the 2 older boys to school instead of homeschooling. It was pretty nice to think of all the things fun things I could do with the little boys and all the stuff I could accomplish on a personal level. The idea of public school didn’t seem so bad.
In all honesty, I never even considered homeschooling my children. We sort of just fell into it out of a place of despair. And I’ve always told Joe that we will just take it one year and one child at a time. I don’t see public school as a bad place and I would be fine sending the boys to public school. But at this point I still feel like homeschool is the best choice for our family. There are definitely days where I want to quit, it’s hard work. But I also really love the benefits of leading my boys each day through their learning and life. We have so many unique opportunities afforded to us because of our flexible schedule.
I like that with homeschool we can explore and study topics that are of interest to each child along with our base curriculum. We can adjust the intensity of our workload each day and can push the reset button on the day if needed. There are days when Abel is ripping all the books of the shelves while I help Jude with his math or Noah refuses to do his reading lesson or Simon gets frustrated that he can do all the stuff the big boys do yet. These hard days when I’d love to quit I have to remember, I want to teach my boys about perseverance and hard work and they learn through my example. My boys are thriving and most days our homeschool journey is wonderful. So on the tough days, the days I want to quit, I look back through my Instagram pictures, Facebook posts and blog posts and realize how blessed I am to have the opportunity to spend all day with my kid. It’s totally worth it and I actually kind of love it.
About once a week we will be doing drawings/paintings for our nature journals. I’m really excited about our new nature journals as it’s a great way for the kids to take the lead on what they are learning. Over the summer the boys and I have practiced painting with watercolors and copying illustrations from books or drawing bits of nature we found while outside. So I thought nature journals were a natural transition for us.
We frequently go on nature hikes and play outside where the boys are always finding fun little treasures that they want to explore. I recently purchased some research books to help us study the nature we find.
Yesterday, we discovered some cicada exoskeletons at the playground and brought them home. We looked up cicadas in our books and online to learn about their life and why they shed their exoskeletons. We examined the exoskeletons and used color pencils to draw our cicadas.
The boys really took the lead on this project once I set it up for them. We used our National Audubon Society Field Guide to look up an image and a few facts about the cicadas. We also searched YouTube for a timelapse video of a cicada emerging from it’s exoskeleton. After they complete their drawings I will 3-hole punch the card stock and place it in a 3-ring binder so we can look back at all of our nature experiences throughout the year.
What we use to create out nature journals:
Some of our research books include:
Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World
National Audubon Society Field Guide
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America