Thursday, March 31, 2016

Homeschool Field Trip!

One of the wonderful benefits of homeschooling is the opportunity to explore! I love taking field trips and with the beautiful weather this week I decided a trip to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm was in order.

I've been before, but not since having children. It was only $5 to get in (kids 13 and under are free), and there were plenty of free activities for the kids to enjoy. Slides, swings, hay bales, bigger slides and more. There were several paid activities, like riding ponies, jumping on a souped-up trampoline while harnessed to bungee cords, or climbing up a giant rock wall.

My boys opted for the two-tiered stunt jump that was set up. They only went off the 15-20' ledge, onto the huge air mattress cushion-like inflated landing, but I was still pretty impressed. Asher first noticed it and asked "Can I do that?" What surprised me even more was Cole, the child you cannot even lift over your head without him squealing, crying, and clinging to you for dear life, decided he wanted to jump too! From all appearances, you would think it was no big deal for him. But afterwards, he said "I felt like I was almost going to throw up, but I just went for it." His innocent bravery might be my favorite memory from our time there.

Jovi had a great time too. She was going to ride a pony, but freaked out when the man went to adjust her on the saddle and buckle her in. She practically jumped back into my arms and couldn't bring herself to get back on the pony. Ah well, next time.

We went with friends and amazingly, all six children were wonderful! We played, roamed the tulip fields, posed for pictures (mostly willingly), ate lunch, and played some more. I could have stayed for hours longer, but the kids might have gotten bored with me squatting in front of flowers, snapping images for hours on end. Still, I might have to plan one more day out with the Tulips; it was that glorious.

Here are some pictures from our time there…

Jovi would swing for hours if you let her.

Seriously. I crack up every time.

At this point the kids were all still happy to have their pictures taken.

Love. Beauty. Happiness.

This suits him so perfectly.

Again. Can't help but laugh!

Cole was less enthusiastic about pictures at this point.


Like I said, less enthusiastic.

She was happy the entire time! Well, except the pony incident :)

Honestly, I'm not great at getting my kids outdoors. I often blame allergy season and how it wreaks havoc on all the boys in the family, including my husband. I often use Jovi as my main excuse, as she is temperamental and doesn't do well in the car. In the Winter as an excuse I just say "Oregon". We have so much rain, and mud! But I'm determined to get better at exploring nature, experiencing the weather and not just observing it. Last week, we hit up the Singer Hill Trail in Milwaukie (which is all paved), and just like this week, we all had a great time. Next week, I am hoping for more good weather and plan to take the drive up to Mt. St. Helens. I've never been, and Asher has always been incredibly interested in the geology and events surrounding the volcano.

Some other "field trips" we take revolve less around being outdoors, but we still get out of the house for more than just errands almost every week. Sometimes we take the Max down to a nearby Starbucks to do some of our schoolwork, sometimes we visit a new park, or swing by a craft store on the way home from errands. As Jovi gets better at missing a nap without torturing the family all evening and can ride in the car without wailing for more than half of the drive, I plan to venture out on longer day-trips to the Gorge, the beach, or other sites within a couple hours.

During the gloomy Winter months we've ventured out to OMSI, the Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals, the Oregon Children's Theater, and the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. During lovely Spring days, mild Summer days, and warm Fall days, we've gone to the Portland Zoo, the Singer Hill Trail (find me on instagram @jojococamo to see those pics), Cleveland High School's track, and the Rhododendron Gardens, just to name a few. I have an ever growing list of places to hit, but I want to sit down and plan out where to go when, in hopes of avoiding the crowds.

What are your favorite places to take your children? Where have you gone and vowed never to return? What is your biggest hurdle in making field trips happen more consistently?

It's a great practice for me, to go somewhere new and explore with the kids. It keeps me humble, makes that anxious feeling of not knowing what I am doing a little more familiar, and gives the kids more and more experiences. These times of exploration will enable them to relate better to the world, to literature, geography, and other people in general. I want my kids to embrace the world around them, to be unafraid of places they aren't familiar with, and to grow in their curiosity (despite all the question-answering this requires of me).

I hope this inspires you to go somewhere new with your children. It's good for them to see you branch out and go beyond your comfort zone, whether it's reading new books, trying new science activities at home, or exploring somewhere farther from home. I've only been going new places for the last couple months, but I already feel like it has become an easier task. You will love what it does for the experience of your family.

Growing together, creating memories you all participated in making, and watching everyone learn something new (including mom) is a huge part what makes homeschooling a special opportunity. It doesn't matter so much where you go, or what you do, but the fact that you did it together is what will stick with all of you. Embrace it, enjoy it, and you will be savoring those joy of those fun-filled memories much longer than the sting of anxiety, or frustration of plans gone awry.

Stay tuned for our next adventure - I'll do my best to snap a few pictures!

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