29 December 2013

Learning through Travel in 2013

I love to travel and think it's very educational because you learn when you pay attention to your surroundings and are curious on each adventure.  I've written previously about how my husband and I try to enhance the fine public school education our children are receiving.   As we near the end of 2013, I've decided to share five little trips our family took this year.  In no way do these trips represent world-wide travel or extensive excursions to exotic places (out of our current budget range).  Instead, I am sharing these small family trips because trips like these are more doable for an average family, and it's a great way to think about how weekend trips to visit family in another state or activities in a local city can also be a learning experience too.  

 Bob Dylan Concert & a Lego Store

For years I've wanted to see Bob Dylan live in concert, and I know my chances are growing slimmer with each passing year, so when we learned Dylan would be in nearby Cincinnati, Ohio, we decided to check on ticket prices.  Fortunately, there was a special for four tickets at a very reasonable rate.  We thought about finding a babysitter for our boys, but then decided we should take them to the concert because seeing Bob Dylan in concert could be a historical moment in their young (10 & 12 years old) lives.  At first they were not thrilled with the idea, but when we told them we would stay overnight in a hotel and go to the Lego store the next day, they were up for the experience.  There was a moment at the concert when my husband took the boys aside and whispered to them to look on the stage and take mental note of Bob Dylan in his white jacket because that would be a moment for them to remember forever.  Afterwards they both said it was pretty cool to see someone with such history, but then they were ready for the visit to the Lego store the next day.

A Civil War Train Ride and Battle Reenactment

Kentucky has its share of Civil War history, so this year we decided to take the boys on a Civil War train ride in Versailles, Kentucky, a short twenty minute drive from where we live.  The experience was fascinating and informative.  Actors and actresses from children to middle-aged adults rode in the train cars with us and carried on in ways that would have been typical of their class status in the 19th century.  We were victims of a Civil War train robbery and it was all in the name of educational fun.

Museums and Monuments Galore in Washington, D.C.

In the early part of the year, I did some freelance writing and consulting to earn money for a desired family trip toWashington, D.C. during spring break.  I had long wanted the family to make this trip because after all the business trips I took to D.C., I knew my family would enjoy seeing the sites and experiencing the history of the city. We found amazing deals on airfare, so the boys took their second ever airplane ride (though they are too young to remember the first one).  We rode the Metro, we walked until our feet were numb, and we rode in a taxi back to the airport.  I highlight modes of transportation because they were one of the highlights for my curious boys who have always enjoyed playing with planes, trains, and automobiles.  Other highlights of the trip were some of the tourist staples--the Smithsonian Museums, the Capitol, Abraham Lincoln's Monument, and Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard.  Coincidentally, the day we watched the changing of the guard was the same day the high school from my husband's home town (Perry, GA) was there laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.  

Tybee Island Lighthouse 

Since all of our family live elsewhere, the holidays generally mean a trip of some sort for us.  This year, my husband's dad and step mom (who live in south Georgia) decided to rent a condo on Tybee Island for our Thanksgiving weekend visit. We toured the Tybee Island Lighthouse (and yes--climbed all 178 steps) and we took a historical tour of Savannah too.  My oldest son has been interested in the invention of the light bulb since he was a toddler, so seeing the giant light bulbs they used at one point in the lighthouse's history was especially interesting to him.  The wind was strong the day we visited, so we all stayed close to the building when we walked out on the lookout platform.

The trip would not have been complete without our roadside stop to see and touch the cotton remnants in a field.  My youngest was learning about the plantations in the south and the history of slavery in school, so the cotton field brought very vivid ideas to his mind based on the atrocities he studied in his social studies class.

White Squirrels in the Fall and Christmas in Brevard, North Carolina

My parents and all of my sisters and their families live in North Carolina, and generally we visit in the summer for hiking, picnicking, and seeing waterfalls.  This past summer, however, I started a new job and had numerous work related trips and the boys had various summer camps, so we skipped our summer trip to Brevard.  Instead, we traveled to Brevard during fall break and again during Christmas break.  Being in Brevard in the fall is gorgeous because of the mountain views and fall tree colors.  We even saw a legendary white squirrel on our fall visit.

Our visit at Christmas was momentous because we hadn't seen one of my sisters and her family in over a year since they live in the middle part of the state.  For Christmas though, we were all there with my parents carrying on with family traditions and making memories with cousins playing together in the woods near my parents' house.