Monday, August 3, 2009

Vacations can be Fun Learning Opportunities

My husband and I returned from a New Hampshire vacation this weekend rested, relaxed, and energized to begin the work week. It is amazing what a week away from the world can do for your perspective and attitude towards the world.

What occurred to me on my vacation is how many learning opportunities were available to families across the curriculum. Learning was being continued in fun, exciting ways engaging parents and children in exploration of science and social studies with lots of math, language arts, music, and art thrown in for good measure.

The historical sites were obvious locations for learning opportunities. Some had wonderful prepared learning opportunities and others required more preparation and engagement from the participants. A tour of Castle in the Clouds provided a great example of directing children to specific learning objectives before the lesson begins. Each person was handed a tour package but in our group those with children had a specific paper handed directly to children in the group. When I pulled the package apart later I realized that while the adults were given a detailed map and description of the room, a creative planner had designed a pamphlet that listed specific items for visitors to find on the other pamphlet. It was a great method to get children’s attention and watching several groups it became the focus of a hunt to find the specific objects in the home.

This is a great strategy to use with kids if you have the materials to prepare ahead of time when visiting any historical site. If you can use the Internet to access specific highlights to create a list of “treasures” your child must locate during the visit, it helps keep them focused and interested in what is not always their first choice for a vacation stop. If the child has access to a digital camera and the site allows it, taking a picture of the “treasure” can become part of the game. I will confess I used the list we had as a review after the fact to remember what we had seen. This is something to do with your kids as well. It is a way to encourage memory using the list and any pictures to help them remember what items were and what they did. If you are visiting a popular site search the Internet before your trip. Sometimes the museum or school groups create guides and games to help engage students. They are generally free to download. Consider sharing yours with others.

Castle in the Clouds

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