A few years ago, Minnesota hosted the “Winter That Never Ends”. By the beginning of March, we began dreaming of a sunny vacation. Greg pointed out that with us homeschooling and him working from home, we had the freedom to be anywhere. We talked about how nice a condo in Florida would be, if only we could afford it. And then I remembered.
“Honey, your mom lives in Texas. Texas is warm.”
And so we went.
We made our home in Waco for two and a half weeks, one of which I designated as Spring Break. I wanted to take full advantage of our new environment for our schoolwork the rest of the time. And I wanted to do something creative. We had done lapbooks several times, including one before a trip to Disneyworld, but I felt the boys may have outgrown them.
Have you heard of Smashbooks?
They are essentially a type of scrapbook, but less structured and made on the go. Unlike a scrapbook that you make after an event, a smashbook you put together while you’re doing it.
Smashbooks can be in a regular notebook, or plain scrapbook, or binder.
And having the word “smash” in the name made it more appealing to my two boys.
One of the things I love best about homeschooling is being able to incorporate our circumstances and surroundings into our learning.
Did you know that when you purchase a membership to a local museum, you may also have access to hundreds of museums around the country? And did you also know that as a homeschooler, you can usually receive the Educator Membership, which costs significantly less than a regular membership?
I found a few printables here and here that I printed and packed with the binders/scrapbooks I had picked up for the boys. I also bought some inexpensive scrapbooking do-dahs (stickers and such) for fun.
And I printed out some timelines and other images that coordinated with what we’d be studying.
We spent a couple of days at Grandma’s house doing some studying about the places we’d be visiting. I had the boys label the tabs in their binders with categories.
First, we learned about Texas history, plants and animals.
We studied periods of art, and a variety of artists, since we planned to visit the art museum.
We read about JFK and his assassination in Dallas, and the Alamo, and did a bit of review from our study of Astronomy the previous year.
Our first museum stop was the Dallas Museum of Art. We happened to get there before opening and had some time to kill. We found the neatest little café nearby called, The Mad Hatter, to have breakfast at. It was a fun, unplanned memory. Aren’t those the best?!
I had a plan for the Art Museum, knowing that my boys weren’t terribly excited to be there. We had a sort of scavenger hunt, looking for artists we had studied. It wasn’t my goal to see everything. I knew we’d lose patience before that. What I wanted to be sure to do, though, was to take the time to talk about what we did see.
The day after our museum visit, we went on the museum’s website and found some images that we’d spent more time with to print out for our Smashbooks. I also had the boys pick a favorite piece. You know you’re a mother of boys when their favorite piece is a woman who “looks rather sickly and ghostly.”
Other museums that we visited in Dallas/Ft. Worth were a Science Museum and Planetarium, The Dallas Holocaust Museum, and the JFK Museum at Dealey Plaza. Not all in one day, of course!
Our favorite, by far, was the JFK Museum. Outstanding and well worth the time if you’re ever able to go.
Closer to Waco, we found and visited the Mammoth Dig Site Museum, and several parks. We made sure, at the parks, to look for native Texas plants we had studied. Grandma was kind enough to let us print out some pictures we took to put in the smashbooks.
The Alamo was a bit of a drive, but we took a day and made a whole family trip of it. It’s much smaller than I imagined, but interesting and worth it nonetheless. I let the boys each pick out a couple of post cards from the gift shops to put in their books.
Finishing our Smashbooks
Before we left Texas, I had the boys complete some “favorites” pages for their smashbooks. We also took some time to have them go through their books with dad and grandma.
You should give these a try! They are fun to do, a great way to organize learning, and make memories you can come back to for years.