This blog post was originally posted 12/07/2010 on thinktanK blog. I wrote it to share with the parents of online education students some ideas about getting outside of their homes and learning in out of the box locations. Learning can happen anywhere — & you don’t have to be at home all the time to do it. I thought it was fitting to repost it with spring break coming up…
As I have written previously, Learning Happens Everywhere! With that in mind – I want to share with you what my family did over the Thanksgiving break in hopes that it will inspire you to take advantage of your own local opportunities to expand and extend your family’s classroom!
Since my family had no travel plans over the recent holiday, I decided to schedule some staycation activities so my kids felt like they had been on a ‘trip’. ‘Staycation‘ means taking advantage of and enjoying what is available in your own area – and mine just happens to be the suburbs of Washington D.C.
Have you seen these new group sales discounts that are popping up nationwide – where you can score a great deal on something if a certain amount of people opt in to buy it as well. By researching and taking advantage of a few of these offers, I was able to put together fun and educational plans that helped keep my kids engaged during their Thanksgiving break. And it didn’t break my bank – which I know for many of us parents, tends to be one of the biggest challenges when planning family-friendly outings.
ICE! – I was able to find a BOGO free ticket offer for this show which features “a whimsical winter wonderland hand carved from nearly TWO MILLION pounds of ice, breathtaking decorations live entertainment, themed events and more” at a local resort at the National Harbor in Maryland. Walking through room after room of the intricate ice sculptures was fascinating. It was cold too – they keep the ‘wonderland’ at a crisp nine degrees Fahrenheit! For my kids and me, what made it even more special was an extensive display beforehand that showcased the history and works of Dr Seuss. We spent a lot of time examining his original paintings and reading about his life. If you want more info, visit parent blogger Mommy Musings, who gives a good description of ICE! along with a review of her own experience from last year’s attraction.
I also scheduled a cooking class for the kids at the local mall. I was able to get 50% off the normal price! Call me a Deal Finder! The cooking class was called “Exploring Your Culinary Senses” and was specifically designed for kids. For two hours, the group was taken on a tour of their own taste buds, first with a hands-on popcorn flavor experiment to help them discover the difference between sweet, salty, sour and spicy. And then each one learned how to make homemade hot pockets, s’mores cupcakes, and apple-berry slushies. Each budding chef had their own work station and it was all hands on – they even got to use a torch to melt the marshmallow on top of the s’more cupcake! At the end of the class, while they were enjoying the fruits of their labor, the chef reviewed what they learned. She asked them questions like “what does yeast do?” and “why do they use flour?” Both of my kids loved the overall experience, but were mixed about whether they actually liked what they made – eh, can’t win them all can you?
To round out our staycation, I was able to find discounted tickets for a live action show of the holiday story of Rudolph and friends- LIVE! at Adventure Theater, the longest-running theater program for children and families in the Washington, D.C. Area. The show featured the classic characters – Hermey the Elf, Sam the Snowman, the Misfit Toys, the Abominable Snow Monster, Yukon Cornelius, Santa, and of course Rudolph! The kid’s were completely mesmerized by the singing, dancing and set design, which even had snowflake bubbles, and the show ran about an hour, which was just the right amount of time to hold their attention! Since then, both kids have asked me find another show to take them to! That’s a win in my book!
So as you can see, with a little planning and some outside of the box thinking, you really can make learning happen anywhere! I would love to hear some of your Learning Happens Everywhere experiences – so please share them by leaving a comment below!
And on a related note, I hope you and your family have a great holiday season full of family, fun and learning!