Archive for the ‘ Trips We’ve Taken ’ Category

Ringing Rocks, PA – A Boulder Field Where You Can Make “Rock Music”!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

We’ve been studying Earth Science and this trip to Ringing Rocks fit in perfectly!! Ringing Rocks State Park in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania is a seven acre boulder field… a paradise of climbing for my kids!! What is especially neat is that if you take a rock or hammer and tap on the boulders, they ring! Different rocks make different tones, so we were all enthralled with making “rock music”!!

Approximately 200 million years ago stretching of the Earth’s crust allowed basaltic magma to travel up from the upper mantle and inject as sills into a series of shale formations of the Newark Basin. These sills extend the length of the Appalachian mountains, but only a narrow band of outcrops in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey develop ringing rock boulder fields. The probable reason is that these areas were at the southern edge of the Pleistocene glaciers, and would have been subject to extreme periglacial conditions, according to Wikipedia.

Just to give you a quick idea of what it’s like I’ve shared this rather shaky video clip. It doesn’t capture the musical tone as well as I’d've liked, but it at least gives you a flavor. The kids sure had fun!!


We also walked down (and to the right) to the waterfall I remembered visiting as a girl. There wasn’t much water flowing, but the ice sure was interesting!

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A Visit to Washington Crossing State Park and Yorktown, VA

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

It’s  COOooooold here!  That was the perfect time to visit Washington Crossing State Park. That’s where George Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night (Dec. 25-26, 1776) and turned the tide of the Revolutionary War.  I told the kids they should take off their shoes and nice warm jackets for a real authentic experience. They weren’t buying it, but we did enjoy our visit and got a lot out of it!

Each Christmas, people re-enact Washington crossing the Delaware in the huge boats you see in the collage below. If you live in the area or can make a trip to eastern Pennsylvania, you can see that December 7th (full dress rehearsal) and December 25th (2014). See the Washington Crossing State Park website for more details.

There was a short film (about 20 minutes long) where they house a huge replica of the famous painting by the German painter, Emanuel Leutze. This was the first move in a surprise attack against Hessian soldiers at Trenton, New Jersey.

There was a small museum and then you could go out and visit the various buildings with a guided tour. The edges of the Delaware had a sheen of ice, but certainly nothing like the painting above!

There are so many fabulous learning opportunities here on the East coast. We talked a lot about our visit to Yorktown, Virginia earlier this fall. Life got away from me and I didn’t write about it on the blog, but this is the perfect post to talk about our experience and share our photos!

Yorktown, Virginia was the base of British General Charles Cornwallis during the siege of 1781. This was the last battle of the American Revolution. George Washington moved his army down south to Yorktown; meanwhile, the French fleet defeated the British fleet and cut off Cornwallis’ retreat. Cornwallis surrendered his army of more than 7000 on Oct. 19, 1781.

We toured the museum at Yorktown, but the real winner for the kids was the outside encampment where they really got to explore. 

DD got to participate in the firing of a cannon too:

By far the best part of Yorktown was when we learned about the medical conditions during the Revolutionary War (1775-1781).  We learned how bullets were removed, how limbs were amputated (without anesthesia), and how they dealt with illness.  We were all very grateful to live in this day and age!

We absolutely love being able to travel and learn on the go. You might enjoy browsing through the “Trips We’ve Taken” category which highlights our adventures away from home (or use the Search This Blog feature if any of our posts are of interest)!

  • Travel School: Homeschooling on the Go!
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Algonquian Indians (Powhatan Village in Jamestown, VA)
  • What? A Safari in Ohio to see Rhino, Giraffe, and More? It’s True!
  • COSI, Hands-On Science Center 
  • Tecumseh! — An Extraordinary Outdoor Drama in Ohio
  • Our Visit to West Virginia – Harpers Ferry, Adventure Ropes Course, Blackwater Falls
  • National Aquarium in Baltimore
  • A Tour of Jamestown, Virginia – Fabulous for Kids!
  • Wild Horses and Light House Tour – Outer Banks, NC
  • Fun in the Blue Ridge Mountains (VA)
  • Garden of the Gods – Manitou Cliff Dwellings (Colorado Springs)
  • Olympic Training Center and Ghost Town Museum — Colorado Springs
  • Renaissance Festival – Fun Family Day (Maryland Season Opens Soon)
  • Arches National Park — A Must See for Families!
  • Back From Our Trip Out West! (Colorado at 10,000 Feet)
  • Pretty Pacific Northwest (Washington State)
  • Be a Weekend Paleontologist – Fossil Collecting Trips
  • Traveling this summer? Here are some other trips we’ve taken…
  • Antietam, Civil War Battle Site in Maryland
  • Global Village, Heifer International (Maryland)
  • The Tourist Town of Branson, Missouri
  • Road Trip to the Smokies (Gatlinburg, TN)
  • Aquarium of the Smokies
  • An Amazing Nature Center in Nashville, TN
  • Homeschool Week at Colonial Williamsburg — Hands On Experiences at Colonial Williamsburg
  • The Mansion with 32 Secret Doors (Washington D.C.)
  • Arkansas: The Plantation Agriculture Museum, Toltec Indian Mounds
  • Baltimore Aquarium
  • Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s Home
  • The Liberty Bell (Philadelphia); Statue of Liberty; Ellis Island
  • Tennessee: Grey’s Fossil Site, Davy Crockett’s Cabin, Parthenon (Nashville)
  • Jamestown, Virginia, Powhatan Indians
  • La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles
  • Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO
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Travel School: Homeschooling on the Go!

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Do you homeschool in the car and on the go?  Lots of family use time in the car to learn a new language, learn about history,  listen to stories.  Then you hear about the homeschoolers who do extraordinary things for extended periods of time.

  • In the spring and into the summer I followed the adventures of a homeschooling family that hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. That’s 2,000 miles, for those of you who don’t know!! They produced an entire video series of their adventures over at ToeSalad! What an extraordinary feat for the entire family. The kids were almost 15, 13 and 11 when they started last April and they successfully finished the momentous journey just recently.
  • There are numerous families who have spent a year traveling around the country or around the world.  We’ve been following some of the world travels of Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple, who is traveling with her husband and three kids. She’s been sharing a lot of their photos of China and now Thailand over on her twitter -Tsh and instagram-Tsh Oxenreider accounts. What an adventure!

Now that I am over my crazy year of health problems (ear issues that led to incredible dizziness, balance problems, vision problems and noise sensitivity that was so bad that I couldn’t hear the phone ring or being near people without cringing, feeling seasick and having my vision blur!)… anyway, now that I’m over all that, I’ve been itching to seize the moment and get out and about when we can!

We already shared all our adventures in West Virginia and Ohio six weeks ago…  the beautiful water falls in West Virginia, the historic town of Harper’s Ferry, the wonderful historical drama about Tecumseh, the amazing Safari we went on (yes in Ohio!) with rare and endangered animals on 10,000 acres…

Then a few weeks after that, a friend and I took a trip together to Williamsburg to participate in homeschool days there.  Still not quite ready to head out on my own, I was grateful that she drove (all 7 of us!). We took in so many wonderful experiences — from learning to be a tinsmith, to archaeology, to a ghost walk, the Rev Quest adventure (complete with secret codes to decipher) and all the shops and displays there. We learned about sheep sheering and old fashioned games, wigs, printing and much more!

When my Dad invited us to the beach this week, it took only a few minutes to decide (first, considering whether I could drive the distance on my own… I felt that I ccould. What a great place to be!)… We packed our bags and set off. After a long drive (we got in after midnight on Sunday!!), we were at the ocean! Since we weren’t making the trip educational in and of itself, we put lots and lots of books together and set off. I tried to take a picture of our books with the beautiful scene in the background (below).  And while our days weren’t as action packed (educationally, that is) as at home, we did do some school while we were away. The weather was perfect, hovering around 75-80degrees (23-26C) this week!  Perfect for long walks along the beach and even some time in the water for those brave children of mine! And, of course we spent a couple nights hoping to see the launch of the Antares Rocket (and since we were so excited about it, we were devastated to hear about the explosion just 6 seconds after liftoff).

We feel so lucky to be able to do homeschooling… not just at home!

We won’t be setting out on any 6 or 12 month adventures, but I’m trying to take advantage of my new found energy, enthusiasm, zest and zeal to just break loose and head out when the opportunity arises! How about you? Do you travel with your homeschooling family? Come tell us over at our Homeschool Den Facebook page! That’s also a great place to check over all our latest posts and latest free printables.

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Do You Have Trouble Getting Everything All Done?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Sometimes our family is on such fast-forward speed, I have trouble getting to everything I want to.  I have a list of about 10 blog posts to write (we’ve done such great things in our homeschool lately!)… but somehow life gets in the way of actually putting pen to paper — errr… fingers to keyboard! Happily, it’s fun stuff that’s getting in the way these days (rather than all my doctor’s appointment and ear dramas last year).

The kids are happy and busy with activities… They really enjoy everything, but sometimes getting everybody everywhere keeps my head spinning… not to mention the car wheels!!

We’ve also packed in fun stuff this fall.  Last week when Hubby had off for Columbus Day, we took a family trip to the National Museum of the American Indian.

One of the highlights for us was their exhibit, Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and Native American Nations.  We talked about Wampum belts the week before and were excited to see those!

And since we had begun talking about Indian Removal, the movie they had at the museum was fabulous and we read all the materials about Andrew Jackson, the Cherokee, Muskogee and Seminole Indians with particular interest.

Another of the highlights of the museum was the cafe where we got to try buffalo steak and various other Native American dishes…

  • Cedar planked salmon
  • Grilled buffalo skirt steak
  • Artichoke puree
  • Roasted sunchoke, quince and wild onion dressing
  • Grilled cucumber, radish, seaweed, fireweed honey

We’ve enjoyed a number of hikes — like Saturday’s hike with DD and ED (while LD was at gymnastics practice).

We went to a pumpkin carving party with friends…. The girls are posing with some of the finished jack-o-lanterns:

DD and I went on a two hour trail ride. DD had a birthday recently and she didn’t want a birthday party. Instead she wanted to go horseback riding with me. We sure had fun!

With everything we’re packing into our schedule these days, it’s been harder to keep on top of everything else. But I’m certainly not complaining (about having too much fun!) ;)

Have a great day! ~Liesl

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Native Americans of the Northeast Unit (Part I, Algonquian Indians)

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

This fall we are learning about different Native American groups. The past few weeks we learned about the two language groups of the Northeast — the Algonquian Indians and the Iroquois and some of the tribes that make up these groups.

A few weeks ago, we went to Williamsburg, VA for homeschool week. That was truly wonderful and is the topic of another post!  We went with some friends who had never been to Jamestown Settlement and decided to go there for the day while we were in the area (Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia are all within 30 minutes of each other). This was just perfect because we (I!) really wanted to spend time at the Powhatan Village. The kids got to grind corn, help scrape the hair off a deer hide with clam shells, help in building a canoe (scraping out the ash), see traditional foods being cooked over a fire and so forth.

The museum was absolutely incredible and the kids learned so much about life at that time both for the Native Americans and for the Jamestown settlers.

We also purchased a book about the Powhatan Indians while we were there and read that over the course of several days, Life of the Powhatan:

While we were at the Powhatan Village (at Jamestown), we paid very close attention to the way the dwellings were made as I told the kids they would try to make their own small version at home.

Once we were home we gave it a go. We took a close look again at the way the Powhatan dwellings were made.  We tried creating a similar structure with pipe cleaners.

Then it was time to layer the “mats” over top.  The kids really got a huge understanding of what a big project that must have been creating the “real thing.” In fact, the girls quickly resorted to taping all the layers on top of one another!

The girls decided to test and see how well their dwelling would hold up outside overnight.  DD decided hers needed to be staked down like a tent (I thought that was pretty clever of her!).

One of the other main books we are using is a book by Suzanne Strauss Art called Native America on the Eve of Discovery. We’ve been reading it aloud together. The kids always look forward to listening to this book. It has a lot of rich detail. (We used her book last year on Ancient China and loved it, so we thought we’d give this one a try as well.) She wrote it for Middle Schoolers, but it works well for my kids (6, 8, 11).

We also went over some things for our history notebooks, but I’m about out of time and will have to share that in another post.  I’ll talk about what we did as we studied the Iroquois Indians and will share the printable I made for the kids then. Be sure to check out the second part of this post:Native Americans of the Northeast (Part II, Iroquois Indians) where I shared our Wampum belt project and the printable you see below:


You might be interested in this post about Jamestown: A Tour of Jamestown, VA–Fabulous for Kids. We stopped through last May and I shared pictures of the fort and ships as well.

You may be interested in these related posts:

See you soon here or at our Homeschool Den Facebook page!

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