When I say the words “first day of school”, what do you think of?
Sharpened pencils, that first swipe of crayon on a page, cracking open the glue sticks?
As a homeschooling family, we have tried to remember to take advantage of the freedom afforded us. We’ve incorporated travelling into our schooling, for one thing. Another thing that I’ve tried to do is make the first day of school unique.
Since we’re still several weeks out from school starting for most folks, I thought I’d share some of our best first days with you to hopefully get your creative juices flowing!
The boys were in elementary school when we decided to homeschool. The first few years, we made a tradition of going out for lunch the first day of school. We’d make a big deal about how lucky we were to get to eat out at a restaurant while all the other kids were in school. There was usually ice cream involved.
First Day of School Field Trips
One year we decided to take a field trip on the first day.
What kid wouldn’t want to spend his first day of school hiking in the woods?
The next year, I spent the day before the first day telling the boys about the exciting work I had planned for them. We’d still go out for ice cream, I told them.
I had a surprise planned, however. I woke them up in the morning and we loaded up in the car for another first day field trip.
This year, instead of heading north, we headed south. We drove down to Walnut Grove to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum and other pioneer sites. Because we were going to be seeing sites related to pioneers and those having to survive in nature, I had tailored our audiobook selection to fit. We listened to Hatchet, the story of a boy stranded in the wilderness; and on the way home we started My Side of the Mountain, also about a boy, but this time one who chooses to live in nature (off-the-grid, as we might call it today).
Our first stop was at an authentic sod house.
We got to wander through and explore at our own pace. We even pretended that we were living in the house, talking through what our day might be like. Since we were the only ones there, we could really spend some time doing this.
Next we stopped at Nellie’s for lunch. Yup! There really is a Nellie’s Café in Walnut Grove.
Then we headed over to the museum. While we enjoyed the historical artifacts, we didn’t find the museum overall to be that great. Part of it might have been that we had just come from the authentically built sod houses. At the museum, they have replicas of various buildings. But compared to the sod houses, where you really felt like this is how people lived, it seemed fake.
We got the feeling that the museum was as much about the TV show as the history. Not that that’s bad, just not what we were hoping for.
Last, we drove to see the Jeffer’s Petroglyphs. Petroglyphs are essentially carvings in rock that have stood the test of time. The Jeffer’s Petroglyphs are on huge quartzite outcroppings called Red Rock Ridge. There are thousands of individual carvings on the rock.
We made some special memories on those trips, for sure.
Now that the boys are in high school, our first day traditions have reverted back to a special breakfast or lunch out.
What special traditions do you have for the first day of school? A family breakfast? Picnic? Treat?