Friday, January 4, 2013

A Trip to the Zoo

We went to the zoo with some wonderful friends on New Year's Day and it turned into the perfect learning opportunity. We have done these excursions before my son was truly ready and we spent more time worrying if he was tired or hungry than really enjoying it. But now, at almost four, he is ready to enjoy himself to the fullest.

For the first time, he listened and was fascinated when I read the placards in front of each exhibit. He would share the information he learned with any one who would listen. (My dad still has this same exact habit and it was like watching a little mini clone of him.)  "WOW! Daddy, did you know cheetahs can hang upside down on branches," he would ask. "Mommy, what else can cheetahs do???" I loved that he was excited to learn and I wanted to take it home with us.

This morning we printed a few pictures from our day. He and my little one picked out their favorites prints and we glued them onto a book we made from a folded piece of construction paper. We chose one picture per page then decided to add a word that described what they were doing. The first picture was a family picture so we chose, "Zoo," to describe the outing. 

 I dumped out a pile of sticky foam letters for them to find the letters that spelled zoo. After my oldest found them, I held them up to show my youngest the letter then asked my oldest to put them in order on the page. My oldest knows most of the letter sounds but he isn't spelling quite yet. We worked on sounding out the word to figure out how to spell it.

The whole thing only took about 15 or 20 minutes but they both enjoyed it so much. They loved telling stories about their day at the zoo and remembering things we had learned. My baby even had some time learning letters. 

It was such a relief to see them enjoy learning. Sometimes I feel so much pressure knowing they are home schooled and that it is my job to do it right. When they fight against doing reading or puzzles or any idea I have that may help them learn, it's easy to start doubting myself. Today was the reinforcement I needed. I can do this. We can do this together.

How do you turn family excursions into learning opportunities? How do you remind yourself that you are doing a great job?

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