“Little School in the Big Woods”

For the past 23 years we have homeschooled our kids. Over the years that often included extended travel. This is the first time, however, that we have tried “Little School in the Big Woods.” Outdoor education

While our primary focus for the past six weeks has been life skills in the context of daily backpacking, we have included relevant academics as well. Sometimes this was in formal settings such as visiting museums, earning a Jr Ranger badge at a National Park, or attending a historical reenactment event. Museum

Jr Ranger

Civil War Reenactment

Natural Science is obviously easy to cover.  (See blog post HERE about critters we have seen in the trip.) We also made time for drawing, journal writing, storytelling, and singing. Journaling

Drawing of Backpack

Schoolwork

Finally, we carried my kindle so we had access to literature about the great outdoors. Most evenings we read out loud: poetry by Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Robert Service, and from Psalms; and historical fiction about early exploration and settlement of the Ohio Valley in “The Frontiersmen” by Allan Eckhart. (We would love to hear YOUR favorite literature or poetry about the great outdoors! We want to continue exploring this theme throughout the rest of the schoolyear.) Traveling library

Daughter was so enthralled by “The Spell of the Yukon,” a poem by Yukon gold miner Robert Service, that she now has it memorized. She gives dramatic recitations to all who are interested (and even to those who are just being polite!) If you don’t have the chance to hear her in person, you can read the poem HERE.

When we get home, we will continue to explore what we have learned in our outdoor education. Possibilities include making posters and brochures, writing stories or even a children’s book, building a model of an AT shelter, designing quilt squares, and more. We will keep you posted…

(Note: we finished this year’s epic adventure on Oct. 21 but still have plenty of photos and posts to share with you!)

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Fun in the Forest…

Walking in the woods is wonderful. But eventually, it can get boring–putting one foot in front of the other, slogging up a mountain or down the other side. What is a teen to do when she wants a little fun?

Daughter has a new appreciation for critters. It can be entertaining to add “words” to the bird sounds we hear. And hopping toads are fun to watch. Even insects (the most common critters we see) can be intriguing to watch as they wander through our camp or across our path. Spiderweb spotting is another favorite pastime for daughter.

We brought a few art supplies and we sing many songs together. We read bits of poetry out loud from our kindle. A favorite right now is “Song of the Yukon” by Robert Service. (You can read it HERE.) These final lines are quite applicable to our journey:

It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

Whenever we have extra time at a shelter (by hiking quickly or covering a shorter distance), daughter practices her favorite activity: SWORD-FIGHTING! Yep, her hiking staff becomes a lethal sword and she is the (s)hero of the hour.

Sword play 1

Sword play 2

Sword play 3