Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! What is your family doing today? This is the holiday where we stay home. My amazing husband cooks a big feast to share with whomever may be joining our table. This year, we are excited to have a few families joining us.
We will watch the parade. We will feast. We will run around outside with marshmallow shooters made from PVC pipe. It’ll be a marvelous day!!!
What are your family traditions?? One of my favorites is a table cloth I picked up several years ago. We put it out, along with some sharpies, and have our guests sign it with whatever they are thankful for. We’ve been doing it for so long that I may need to add a second cloth this year.
I wanted to share a couple of FREE printables with you today. I love to doodle. I always have. Please feel free to download and print these Thanksgiving ZENTANGLE coloring sheets. You can download the printable version by clicking the words beneath the image.
I know so many people who stress out so much about working everything into their homeschool life. We homeschoolers want to make sure we get all the school things done. One of the questions I see come up over and over again in homeschool groups and forums that I am part of is “Am I doing enough?” … or some variation. Everyone wants to make sure they do it all… Bible, Science, Art, History, Grammar, Literature, Math… ALL. THE. THINGS.
What if school didn’t have to fall into so many categories. What if the subjects beautifully merged. What if science and art intertwined. Literature can come and join the fun as well. What the heck… throw some math in there too!
What on earth am I talking about??? Hang in there. I promise I’m going somewhere.
We live in Western North Carolina. It is a beautiful, giant playground. We have woods and hiking trails and rivers and overlooks all around us. When Spring arrives, the beautiful weather draws us out of hibernation. For the first time in months, my children will head out into the sunshine and not want to come back inside. And I don’t want to make them.
So… how do we still “homeschool” when the beautiful weather is calling? Enter the art of nature study. Nature study really only requires a couple of things… nature… and you. Nature study can teach the art of observation and attention to detail. It invites us to slow down and take in.
Nature studies can be as simple as going into your own backyard and turning over a rock or looking under the stairs, collecting leaves, pressing flowers, watching clouds, listening to the sounds… start simple.
Go for a walk. Point out the colors you see. Look for animals. Check out the different plants you see along the way.
How can you turn a nature study into an all in one homeschool experience???
PE– Go for a walk
Art- Take some colored pencils, oil pastels, water color paints, etc…. sit outside and record what you see.
Science– Start an observation journal. Give your child a notebook. Have them pick an object in the yard… a rock, a leaf, a feather, the bark of a tree, an acorn… anything. Have them write down the date, time, season, weather. Have them draw the object and write down all their observations.
Math– Pick five leaves and compare and contrast. Count the petals on a flower, sort rocks. Take your math page outside to work.
Literature– Sit outside and write a poem. Write an essay about the nature walk you went on. Create a list of words to describe your time in nature.
While I do plan for school and have some things that we rely on, there are times when the activity comes first and I later see how school fit into it all.
Are you tracking with me? Can you see how a simple trip to the park can be school? A day spent outside playing on the trampoline and riding bikes can be school. A day spent playing in the river, collecting rocks and building towers from them is definitely school! We let the fear of not doing enough take away our opportunities to slow down and step outside of the house and classroom.
I have put together a Nature Journal Printable Pack on Teachers Pay Teachers. It includes record sheets for nature walks, suggested nature study activities, blank pages for notebooking or creating art, observation pages, and more. Below is a FREE SAMPLE from the pack. You can download the FREE Printable by clicking below the image.
When my two oldest were itty bitties, we went ot the Georgia Aquarium. I remember one of the employees talking about how they have groups that come and spend the night under the ocean tank. I thought at the time how amazing that experience would be. As with most things, I tucked it away in things we probably won’t do, but really want to do. I didn’t ask, but I imagined it would be way out of our price range.
**If you are just here for the FREE Printable Aquarium Field Trip Pack, feel free to scroll to the end.**
I am living in a way that is vastly different from how I grew up. Growing up, I did not want for much. If I wanted something, either my parents bought it or I did with my allowance or money I earned babysitting. I did not have to wait long to get what I wanted. The only thing I disctinctly remember not getting was a pair of Doc Martins… but I am pretty sure that is because they were associated with “undesirables” and my parents did not want me presenting that image.
In the thick of my college career, I was met with the fact that others did not live like me. I mean, I knew that in my head, but to see and experience different socio economic levels and lifestyles was eye opening. It was the beginning of letting go.
Over the last fifteen years, God has done a work on my heart. A letting go. A trusting Him for all our needs and even our wants. It is hard. Money is hard. Money decisions are hard. I have seen God provide in miraculous ways, yet I still doubt his care in my every day.
ANYWAY… you came to this post to hear about the Tennessee Aquarium, right??? Well… I’ll get on with it. Hang in there. It all connects. We had an opportunity come up with a co op my son attends to go to the Sleep in the Deep at the Tennessee Aquarium. My friend that was coordinating it had told me about it years ago and I always thought when she did it again, we would go. My husband and I talked it over and we decided it was just too expensive. Time was counting down and she needed an answer. We decided to pass.
I told my kids that we weren’t going and they were more disappointed than I had anitcipated. I told them that if it was important to them. If it was something they wanted, to pray. I said that the Lord has a will. He sees things we cannot see and if He felt this was the best thing for us, He would provide. I left it at that.
My friend called. She said that she could get me a ticket at low to no cost. I told her thank you, but no. It was still too much. She called again. How about two tickets? No. I couldn’t justify picking one kid over the other. I told her that if somehow three tickets came available in the range we could handle, I couldn’t deny God’s hand in it. She texted me at the last minute, “How spontaneous can you be?” Some kids had gotten sick and their spots had opened up. The two big kids and I rushed and grabbed our stuff. We hit the road, met with the group and headed out on a four hour road trip, arriving just in time.
It was an amazing trip. The Tenessee Aquarium is divided into two buildings- ocean and river. We started with a behind the scenes tour of the ocean building. We got to ride on the staff elevator and see the top of the big tank that holds sharks and rays and turtles and such. We had broken into groups of about fifteen. We toured around the building. It was fantastic. No one but our group and the employees were there. The kids got to ask all kinds of questions. We saw where food is prepared for the animals, got to touch sharks and sting rays, saw lemurs and butterflies. It was great.
After the ocean building, we took a break for dinner. A word to the wise. If you choose to to the experience and you have food allergies, pack your own food. Dinner was pizza from Papa John’s and cookies for dessert. I knew to bring my own dinner, but didn’t consider that there wouldn’t be any options for breakfast. Thankfully there is a Starbucks within walking distance. And, thankfully, another mom had packed some gluten free muffins.
After dinner, we toured the river building. It was just as fascinating. We got up close to the giant tanks and saw the river giants. When the river building tour was over, we headed back to the auditorium for a snack and creature encounter where the students learned about legless lizards and pine snakes.
After that, the girls headed to the ocean building to sleep under the big saltwater tank and the boys headed to the river building to sleep next to the river giants. I use the term sleep very loosely. There was not much sleep to be had. One end of the tunnel area where we slept had a tidepool with waves crashing all night. The other end had a video with a banjo playing on a loop all night. I can get past the sleep though. It was beautiful. All around were viewing tanks. The anticipation of a shark swimming by was so fun. Another word to the wise. Almost forty year old bodies need extra padding when sleeping on the floor. Take an air mattress or something a little more cushy than just your sleeping bag.
We woke up bright and early to have breakfast and go see the otters being fed. Then we headed to a classroom where the students learned all about plankton. They had a competition to build plankton and test how slowly it took to sink to the bottom of the tank.
We then viewed the Imax Ocean movie before hitting the road to come home. It was a super fast and super packed trip. I am so thankful that God listens to our hearts. He goes above and beyong providing for our needs and showers us with blessings. He gives good gifts. I pray my big kids will tuck this away in their hearts to remember in times of doubt and want.
I put together a printable pack for those who may be taking a field trip to an aquarium any time soon. This is not specific to the Tennessee Aquarium. It can be used anywhere.
Simply click the words below the image to download. The pack includes activities for elementary and middle school students. It includes the scavenger hunt pictured as well as coloring, math, drawing and writing activities.