We were recently a trip to Chicago. My husband was doing some work there and we, as a married couple, have never spent a night apart. This can present many challenges. If he travels, merrily we roll along! Considering that, it is incredibly fortunate that we homeschool and I work from home so, at least we don’t have to worry about that! This trip left me traveling by myself with our 3 kids to meet back up with Daddy in Chicago.
Related: Read more about Christina.
When Distraction Gets the Best of You…
Here’s the thing. I am easily distracted and have a tendency to think I can accomplish more in a set time period than I really should…this can be problematic. Lists and planners are my friend; most of the time. The thing is, in order for a list to work, you have to remember to put things on it. I’m sure you catch my drift here! Trench Mom Nichole uses the Blue Sky Monthly Planner and this is the one I’m buying now that mine is done.
I have taught all 3 of my kids about animal adaptations over the years in science. One of my adaptations is to make plans for when I forget! In other words, I run through all the things I absolutely must have and cannot go without FIRST. Then I make a plan for what to do when I forget everything else; you know, give myself grace before grace is needed! Prepare for being unprepared. It’s a thing.
It all comes down to creative homeschooling on the go. We use iPads and iPhones for some of the school we do, but the rest is done on the fly! Its really because I just don’t want to pack the books. And to be honest, this time I just forgot to pack them. They just didn’t make the list. I did do a little research and found a great site with some bags that would be perfect for traveling with school stuff. You can check them out here.
We do a lot of our schooling in the unschool style. I prefer to plan what we will learn about by looking into the place we’re going and seeing what’s there! Most of the time I do this in advance, but it usually doesn’t go as planned. This trip was no exception.
A City Makes a Fantastic Classroom
Don’t get me wrong. We definitely use our travels to educate. There’s plenty to learn in any location. History, geography, science…we use these notebooks to journal and draw as well as take notes. We use pamphlets, maps, whatever we can find for the area. We also reach out to visitors bureaus in advance and they will send us loads of great stuff we can go over before we go.
Another favorite activity is letting them use the maps to help us navigate. The younger ones do the park maps and my oldest uses the maps in the city. Of course, I must add the importance of double-checking lest you find yourself on the wrong side of town due to miscalculations! Not that I have any experience with that. Bus numbers can be confusing! Just saying.
Homeschool on the Go in Chicago
We stayed just north of Chicago we had to take the train into the city. Maps and train schedules came into play right away.
Once we arrived, we used the map to walk to our first stop; a tiny cafe bakery where we experienced the most amazing macrons. My oldest has a huge pet peeve of macrons vs macaroons. She can give you a dissertation on the baking differences. We discussed this with the bakers who seemed to love talking about it!
We made it to Millenium Park where we found our way to ice skating and got the chance to finally see Cloud Gate! I have seen many pictures of this bean-shaped piece of art but it was magnificent in person giving us an opportunity for landmarks in geography.
Yes, You Can Use Food to Homeschool on the Go
We took the train and then had to navigate the bus system from there. Stay tuned for a post about traveling by public transportation! You see, I had this initial plan of going to see all that there was there and using it for teachable moments. But then, after the train and the buses, all we wanted to do was eat! And Chicago has a lot of food to offer.
The next day, we took the train again and went to the Navy Pier which is on Lake Michigan. Naturally, we had a homeschool on the go lesson on the Great Lakes and frozen lakes which, being from Florida, was a sight for these kids. We tried our hand at some more…cultural type food like falafel and baklava! That was an experience.
It wasn’t until later we realized this was a healthier version of falafel and probably nowhere near as good. I totally knew that and was trying to be a good mom and feed them healthy food. Totally. We also did an enormous maze. It was crazy fun and challenging for all of us. We may have even screamed a little bit.
Museums and Hands-on Learning
From there, we took another bus and headed to the Field Museum. Here we were able to homeschool on the go with our Orlando Science Center membership to get in free. However, true to form for me, we got there less than two hours before closing.
We rushed through as much as we could! It is actually an incredible museum with so much to see. Upon entering, you are met with a Titanosaurus! This is one of the largest known land animals to have ever lived. It lives up to its expectations.
The exhibits are very interactive and with my very nerdy kids, they wanted to get the most out of each section. They had an incredible exhibit inside a pyramid with actual mummies which went along with a lot of previous lessons we’ve covered.
Totally planned that too. Totally.
There’s a great dinosaur exhibit with a T-Rex named Sue, but we never found her because we plain ran out of time and I didn’t plan out our visit very well. However, we did see the sign.
Navigating the city was actually pretty fun. I wish we had more time and, being totally honest, more energy. Be sure to keep your eyes out for more of our adventures traveling and how to homeschool on the go through Chicago.