Learning on the Road
I am preparing to take “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” on tour! As this is my first book and first book tour, this is a new experience for me. I will be heading to the Dallas, TX area in early March. I am just a little excited. Or a lot.
So are the kids.
I am taking them with me. As a homeschooling mom of three, I don’t have a lot of options other than to take them with me. Thankfully, I picked Dallas as a destination because we lived there for almost six years. We have friends there who will help me out during events. That will make our trip so much easier. This trip is basically a trial run to see if I can handle touring with the book to other destinations with my sweet little brood tagging along.
My kids are great travelers. We’ve done a lot of road trips with them. We’ve had a lot of fun and learned so much that can’t be learned at home or in a classroom. It’a one thing to read about dolphins. It’s another thing all together to watch them jump and play in the Gulf of Mexico. But where there’s lots of driving, there’s often antsy kids. And when kids are away from their routine, be it homeschool or traditional schooling, a lot of parents get anxious about learning. I thought I would put this post full of tips together to help remind myself of all of the great experiences we’ve had on the road and to help other families as they embark on their own adventures.
Stephenie’s Tips For Keeping Learning Alive and Keeping Parents Sane on the Road:
Two of my three kids are great readers. They will happily read for hours, at home or on the road. We always bring stacks and stacks of books with us on the road. If you are worried about keeping up a school schedule, this can be a great way to keep up on assigned reading. We usually bring books they’ve chosen as well as some that relate to our destination. On our last few trips, we’ve added audiobooks as well. There is something wonderful about audiobooks. They keep everyone happy and engaged and as a bonus, their eyes are free to take in all the changing scenery. We’ve been going through the “Harry Potter” series on car trips and I enjoy that as I am also a huge fan of the books. It makes the time pass by more quickly for the parents as well as the kids.
If you will encounter geological features vastly different from those in your hometown as you drive, this is a wonderful time to discuss and explore geology. The depth of this discussion will obviously vary based on the ages of your kids, but if you are going to be passing somewhere like Mount Saint Helens or the Grand Canyon, you can learn a ton!
Whatever your natural surroundings may be, take time to stop and explore. First off, as much as you may want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, your kids will be happier if you stop and stretch your legs from time to time. Also, kids can benefit a ton from nature study. We always bring nature journals with us on the road. That way they can make observations about the world around them on a short hike. Younger kids may just doodle, but older kids can take notes on animals they encounter, plants they want to identify later, or tracks they find in the dirt. And did I mention they can get out some pent up energy? Because that matters on a a long trip. A lot.
If you pass a battleground, get out of the car and explore. Go slightly off course if it will make a trip to a great art museum possible. Get out of the car and enjoy new areas as you pass through them. There’s always something to learn if you just look for it.
While driving and when you get to your final destination, don’t forget that it’s okay to relax! You don’t have to schedule every moment. You and your kids will be happier and more open to learning if there’s time for fun as well!
I hope these tips help you enjoy a roadschooling adventure! I can’t wait to get on the road for my “Nellie Nova” tour with my sweet little assistants by my side.
15 Fantasy Writing Prompts For Kids
After yesterday’s post, I thought it would be fun to share more writing prompts. If you have a reluctant writer who loves fantasy, check these out! I hope you enjoy them!
1. You wake up one morning and find that unicorns have taken residence in your backyard. What do you do?
2. You follow a rainbow to the end. What do you find?
3. Your cat speaks one morning and tells you that she is really a girl who had a spell put on her by an evil witch. What do you do? How do you help your cat?
4. On a trip to the beach, you meet a young mermaid named Coral. She invites you to visit her undersea home. Do you go with her? If you go, what do you see. If not, why not?
5. You’re given a magic paintbrush. Anything you paint will come to life! What do you paint? What happens?
6. On a hike with your two best friends, you decide to explore a cave. Inside the cave, you find a dragon! What do you do?
7. Your Great Aunt Matilda has a large collection of garden gnomes. You begin to suspect that they are actually alive when one throws a pebble at your little brother. What happens next?
8. A huge storm hits your town. Thunder and lighting rage for hours. A bolt of lightning hits your local library and inexplicably brings your favorite literary character to life. Who is it and what do you do together?
9. You think that your piano teacher is actually a wizard. Your suspicions are confirmed when he puts a spell on you for not practicing! He shrinks you to the size of an ant for two hours. What do you do?
10. One day, you wake up to find that you have wings! Where do you fly?
11. At a birthday party, the hired magician accidentally turns the birthday boy (your best friend!!) into a toad! What do you do?
12. You little sister tells you that she thinks your father is a ware wolf. What do you do?
13. You hear beautiful music coming from your garage every night at midnight. What do you find when you get brave enough to explore?
14. One day, the fish in your fish tank start talking to you. What do they tell you?
15. While playing in the forest behind your home, you find a village of fairies. Do you approach them? What do you learn about these tiny creatures?
15 Sci-Fi Writing Prompts for Kids
My oldest child is a reluctant writer. As a homeschooling mom and an author, that’s really hard for me. I want him to share my passion! He is the kind of kid who needs a little push to get started when it comes to writing. I know a lot of kids have similar struggles when it comes to creative writing. Sci-Fi can be a great way to pull in some kids who may not usually want to engage in creative writing. With that in mind, I compiled this list of fun Sci-Fi writing prompts. I hope you and the little ones in your life enjoy them.
- Imagine you wake up on a strange planet. What might you find there? How would you get home?
- A strange creature followed you home from the park. It’s green, has three heads, twelve eyes, and scales. It seems to be friendly. What do you do?
- You found an alien spacecraft in the woods behind your house. Would you fly it? If so, where would you take it?
- There is a portal to another dimension in your laundry room. What adventures do you have in this new land?
- A 45 foot tall flamingo has moved into your neighborhood. What do you do?
- One day, you build several alien creatures with Lego. You begin to think that they come alive when you are not looking. What might they do when you turn your back?
- You father brings home a robot butler. At first, it seems great. It cleans the house, makes you snacks, and helps with your schoolwork. Then, something goes terribly wrong…
- You’re an astronaut on a mission to Mars. What do you see on your long journey?
- Your dog speaks to you one day and tells you that he’s come from the future to prevent you from making a mistake. Do you listen to him?
- You have a dream about a strange land where everything is yellow, there is little gravity, and everyone speaks in riddles. When you wake up, your house has turned yellow. What do you do?
- You keep hearing a strange noise in your closet. You get brave and check inside. What do you find?
- You find out that if driven in reverse, your mom’s minivan can take your to the past. What time do you visit?
- For your birthday, you godfather gives you a jetpack! What do you do with it?
- While playing in the park, you find a green egg the size of your head. What hatches from it?
- You begin to suspect that your karate instructor is actually a cyborg. What do you do?
STEM-Inspiring Gifts Under $20 for your Little Valentine
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, why not skip all the candy and stuffed animals and foster a love of science in your little Valentine? I’ve included a list of products under $20 as I know most parents are always looking to save a bit of money.
This post include affiliate links.
Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit
All three of my kids love Snap Circuits. They are a great way to encourage STEM play and enjoyed by a wide age range.
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit
Lego and STEM- need I say more? My oldest got this for Christmas and we’ve been LOVING it.
Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set
Why not give them science tools made for their little hands?
Extract DNA from fruit! Build a double Helix! Help your kids to learn the basics of molecular biology in a fun, easy to understand way.
I love eco-friendly toys! The kit can make up to seven different toys, including a race car, a gravity-powered walking robot and a tornado inside a bottle. All for under $10!
Ok, you knew I had to throw it in the mix, right? If you don’t know about my book yet, here’s the premise:
Nellie appears to be a normal nine year old girl. But Nellie is not normal. Nellie is an amazingly gifted scientist who lives in a family of amazingly gifted scientists. One day, her brother, Niles, who is eleven, teases her (as all respectable big brothers do). This time, however, Niles goes too far when he tells Nellie that girls are silly and no woman has ever changed the world. This sets off a spark of an idea in Nellie’s most amazing mind and sends her down the path to create a time machine and meet wonderful women who made a mark on the world. First stop, Amelia Earhart! With a few bumps along the way and a government agency out to steal her technology, Nellie and Niles are in for an incredible adventure!
If you don’t have a copy yet, it is a great way to encourage kids, especially girls, to love science.
STEAM: Preschool Activities for STEM Enrichment
This book looks great for the five and under crowd!
This looks great for little engineers over the age of seven!
Unexpected Benefits of Homeschooling
Families choose to homeschool for a variety of different reasons. Some are looking to escape bullying. Some want the flexibility so that they can travel. Some want to be able to use a religious curriculum with their kids. Whatever the reason they start, people often find some unexpected benefits along the way.
1.Board Games For Learning
I mean, who wouldn’t rather play Scrabble than write out lists of spelling words over and over again?
2.Grade-Level Means Nothing
My son decided that he wanted to play the cornet last year when he was in 2nd grade. I can’t tell you how many people acted totally shocked that we were “letting him.” The local school started band in 6th grade and people were taken aback that he was allowed to start an instrument “early.” His teacher said he played better than most of his middle school students, so obviously, waiting would not have changed that! We have the flexibility to decide when the right time is to learn an instrument, write in cursive or learn Algebra.
3. No Dress Code
Why not learn German wearing a princess dress or shark costume?! I mean isn’t it easier to remember that shark is der Hai if you are dressed like one?
4. Nearly Empty Museums
Have your ever been to your local science center on a Tuesday morning? It’s great! There’s almost never a crowd. Better yet, the staff has time to answer questions and give demonstrations you may not get to experience on a busy Saturday.
5. Sibling Bonding
My kids are so close. They love to be together and always look out for one another. I have no doubt that homeschooling has helped that. (Also- see Number 3. We obviously love the lack of dress code around here!)
6. More Time in Nature
We love being outside. Homeschooling means that we can read in the backyard or take a day off for sunny weather. Trust me, they learn plenty on a nature hike.
Obviously, a lot of these are little things and probably not a deciding factor in education. That said, these added bonuses make our days happier and I am so happy that my kids are having these experiences.
Homeschoolers- what are your “Unexpected Benefits?”