Friday, June 10, 2011

Around the world in 8 short weeks

    It is summer time!  My blog has been pretty depressing lately but today  I am going to focus on the positives.   Every year since I started home schooling, we have spent our summers working on “fun” learning projects.   Not that we don’t have any fun during the school year, but in summer I am more laid back and our “schooling” is even more fun than normal. 
    This year as I thought about our summer plans, I decided we’d go on an around the world trip.  A trip around the world with 5 children in a few short months- quite a lofty goal, huh?  Thankfully I’ve planned our trip to be simple and cheap.  You see, we live in an area with dozens of libraries.  Within a 10 mile radius of our house there are probably 10 of them.  A few miles out farther there are, at least, another 10.  Yet, when we set out each week for our regular library outing (usually coming home with 30-some books practically bursting out of the canvas bags that hang from our sagging shoulders) we always head to the closest one.  It is one of  the smallest in the area and my children are convinced they have read everything worthwhile there.  I am inclined to agree, not only because they are such voracious readers but also because the shelves are lined with a lot of garbage and the good books can be hard to find to begin with.   In fact, the canvas bags have been a little lighter and less full in recent weeks as the selection gets harder and harder.  Anyway, I decided we would spend the summer checking out all the other nearby libraries- taking a trip around our town to explore a new selection of books that will open up the world to us as we delve into their pages.   A different library, every week, all summer.
    So far, we have visited two new libraries.  The children have enjoyed so much seeing the amazing children’s sections they have, much better than our own library’s boring line of shelves and tiny rack of puzzles with missing pieces.  The first had a gazebo in the middle with soft cushions inside for curling up on top to read the array of beautiful books displayed all around the room.  It had tables of toys and bright colorful decorations.  And the books!  It took only moments to fill the bags to overflowing and I had to tear the children away from the shelves before they checked out the whole library.  Library exploration number 1 was a huge success.  Yesterday we hit library number 2.  If our first outing was a success, our second was an absolute triumph!  Library number 2 was quite a bit farther away but we had errands to run in that area and I figured it was worth the time to stop in.  Was it ever.  Library number 2 had a whole wing for the children.  A wing full of toys-- it looked like a preschool classroom with stations of playthings- blocks, a pretend store, a boat to climb on, a toddler-sized teeter totter.  The little ones played so happily that for once the older ones could explore to their hearts content.  No leaving this place because the baby was whiny and had had enough of the stroller.  This time she was the one we had to tear away.  With all the playtime, I personally never got a chance to browse the shelves of books but when we did leave, the bags were full, the children were happy, and the rest of the day was spent engrossed in interesting stories.   Clearly, our trip around the world is off to a great start.
    In addition to all our “travel plans,” we are finishing up the history lessons we never quite got to.  I had ordered a new history program last year, all excited about the great reviews it got, but was disappointed in it once we got started. We really gave it a good try but it got tossed aside around December.  This summer we are going to learn history the right way- through stories.  
    So, in a way, we are traveling not just around the world but through time as well.  I’m pretty sure there’s no better way for the kids and I to spend the next few hot, humid months than discovering new and exciting places and times through a summer-full of stories.

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